Defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo commits to Boston University

The 2016-17 season may be underway, but that doesn’t mean that Terrier head coach David Quinn and his staff aren’t still recruiting.

The Terriers seem to have landed another big name, as Jeff Cox of SB Nation tweeted out that ’98 defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo has committed to Boston University. He will be eligible to join the Terriers as early as next season.

The 6-foot-2, 190 pound blue-liner is currently playing with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL. It is his first year playing hockey in North America. Kotkansalo, who is a top prospect for next year’s NHL Draft, also won a gold medal with his native Finland team in the U18 World Junior Championship last year, notching four assists and a plus/minus rating of +5 in six games.

Kotkansalo is a hard-hitting defenseman with offensive upside, totaling 19 points in 48 games with Blues U20 of Jr. A SM-Liiga in Finland last season. Current BU defenders Charlie McAvoy and Dante Fabbro are known for contributing on both ends, so it seems that Quinn and his staff may have a preference for defenders who can score points on any given night.

From the FreeP: The 2016-17 Hockey Preview Issue is here!

At last, the annual Hockey Preview Issue is out! We have some great content on the team this season, and are looking forward to you guys checking it out. Here are the links to each feature in the issue!

  1. Terriers welcome talented incoming class, look to bounce back from last season
  2. Terriers at last, Bellows, Fabbro and Keller look to cherish college hockey experience
  3. Somerby looks to guide young team to a title in final season
  4. Injury free, Nikolas Olsson appreciating life, role as BU hockey assistant captain
  5. Sophomores Greenway and McAvoy, with winning pedigree, look to lead BU to new heights
  6. 20 Questions: Brien Diffley and Brandon Hickey talk rats, team style and Coldplay
  7. The Blue Line: Is BU hockey better than it was the last time?
  8. No. 4 men’s hockey prepares for U.S. NDTP exhibition, Colgate season-opener
  9. With new complexion, BU women’s hockey looks to secure defense in 2016-17
  10. Coomey, Lachapelle reflect on BU hockey memories, close bonds as assistant coaches

You can also pick up a print copy of the issue in several locations scattered about BU campus. If you’re not around BU campus, you can view the PDF of the print edition here.

Thanks as always for your support, and we hope you enjoy the issue this year!

Defenseman Ryan O’Connell commits to Boston University

Yet another recruit has committed to becoming a Terrier.

Canadian defenseman Ryan O’Connell announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he will suit up for head coach David Quinn’s side. The 17-year-old is expected to arrive on campus for the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-1 blueliner last played for Saint Andrews College in Aurora, Ontario. O’Connell totaled 31 points on four goals and 27 assists in 55 games during their 2015-16 CAHS season, earning a plus/minus rating of 14.

Before that, the left-handed shot was a member of the Ottawa Jr. 67s AAA hockey club for three seasons. He tallied 56 points in 74 games, and helped the team to an OEMBHL championship in 2013 and an OEBHL title in 2014.

O’Connell appears to be the first defenseman recruited for the 2018-19 season. He joins center Jake Wise and forwards Jack DeBoer and Tyler Weiss as 2018 commits to BU. O’Connell is NHL draft eligible as early as 2017.

Forward Trevor Zegras commits to Boston University

Chalk up another win for the Boston University men’s hockey team and head coach David Quinn on the recruiting trail.

Trevor Zegras, a prized forward born in 2001, announced via Twitter Monday morning that he’ll one day wear the scarlet and white.

There’s little information about Zegras online, but he is bound for the Avon Old Farms School come fall. That’s the same Connecticut preparatory school that produced Patrick Harper, an incoming BU freshman selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.

According to numerous sources on Twitter, Zegras recently lit up the Chowder Cup, a nationally-renowned youth hockey tournament held in Massachusetts.

Zegras’ committment also gives BU four prized recruits born in 2001, as he joins forward Robert Mastrosimone and defensemen Braden Doyle and Case McCarthy. Without further ado, here are some reactions from those in the know about Zegras’ decision.

 

TRANSCRIPT: BU coach David Quinn following 3-2 OT win over Yale

Opening Statement:

“What a hockey game. I’d like to congratulate Yale on a great season. It’s no mystery why they’re in this tournament. They play as hard as anyone we play against, they’ve got a great goalie. It really was everything that we thought it would be. We knew it would probably come down to a one-goal game — possibility of overtime.

I think this game, in a lot of ways, was a microcosm of our season. I thought we looked a little nervous early, give a lot of credit to Yale for the way we played early, I thought they were at their “A” game, they were just a half-a-step quicker, winning a lot of battles and then it was funny, once they went up 1-0, I thought we just started playing better. It was almost like the pressure was off. We’re a lot more comfortable being down then we are ahead for some reason and I just thought after that, we started playing,

I thought for the most part, early in the game, I thought our defense were backing off quite a bit, they weren’t involved in the offense. We were turning pucks over — again, give Yale a lot of credit, they’ve got great sticks, they’re quick on loose pucks — but I really liked after we went down 1-0, I thought we started playing. It was almost like, it was a little bit of a relief, the pressure is off for some strange reason, don’t ask me why, and after that, I thought we played the way we needed to play.

In the second period, we didn’t have a shot in between the hash marks, and you’re not beating anybody, let alone Yale, if you’re gonna play that way. I thought in the last three or four minutes, we did a good job in the second period, then in the third period, I thought we did all the things we needed to do. I thought we did the things we did against Merrimack and Lowell and we got rewarded for it.

To get the goal in the fashion that we did — our D got involved offensively, Somerby makes a great play on the overtime goal, pinches in, keeps the puck alive — Jack backs him up, Evan and Danny get to the net front, Jack gets a puck to the net and Danny gets a rebound overtime goal and we’ve seen that movie before.

Just an unbelievable game. Again, a microcosm of our season in many ways. We’re just fortunate and excited about playing again tomorrow night.”

On a night where one of your freshmen might have had a little nerves, how important was it to have guys like Rodrigues, O’Regan and Grzelcyk have such good nights and be such integral parts of the win?

“Well, that’s always important. That’s what kind of gets lost in the success we’ve had this season. As Evan alluded to, we are the youngest team in college hockey. Again, because of our record, I think people at times can loose sight of that, but one of the reasons we’ve been able to overcome our slow starts, why we’ve had great third periods, why we’ve had the season we’ve had, is because of our leadership. And I’m not just talking about four seniors, I mean, our juniors, our sophomores have assumed a leadership and its kind of got contagious throughout the roster. It’s just, we never think we’re out of it. … It was eerie the way the feeling kinda changed on the bench when we went down 1-0. Everybody seemed to be a little bit looser and we started to do the things we needed to do if we’re gonna generate offense and have some of the success we’ve had through the season. Without question those guys are pivotal to our success. They really set the tone for our season, They embraced a big freshman class and I’ve said this before — we are a true team — and that certainly plays a large part to how our retuning players accepted the freshmen.”

What does it say about your team that you didn’t let Yale’s comeback offerings deflate them?

 “You know, at this time of year, you’re not gonna spend 60 minutes in the offensive zone. You’re playing good hockey teams and you’re gonna have to weather a storm, you’re gonna have to fight through a difficult shift. I thought we did a good job of that. Obviously our power play goes 0-for-7, that hasn’t happened very often this year. Give them a lot of credit, I thought they did a great job killing penalties, their goalie obviously was a big part of that, they do a great job with their sticks. They make your earn every inch of ice, but again, no matter what the hump is, we’ve seemed to overcome it so far this year. We’re prob going to have a few bumps in the road in tomorrow’s game no matter who our opponent is. That’s the way it’s gonna be from here on in and in college hockey, that’s usually the way it is night in and night out.”

See any similarities to 2009 team?

“Well, we’re similar in that we’re playing to get to the Frozen Four, but I think our teams are different. That team had a big senior class. We weren’t relying on 8-10 freshmen a night. We knew the year before, we almost made the national tournament, we knew we had a good team. There was a lot of uncertainty going to this season. I think people are probably surprised, maybe not now, but as the season was unfolding, I think people might be surprised at the situation we’re in, because we’re picked to finish sixth in Hockey East and rightfully so after the year we had last year. A lot of people probably didn’t think we’d have a lot of success this season. Obviously, Jack brought a lot of attention and fanfare to us, but we had a lot of good returning players too. But to me, the biggest difference between this team and that team is that team had a lot more experience than this team. It was a little bit more of a veteran-laden team, where as this team, we rely on a lot of freshmen.”

What went through your mind when you saw that you had to play Yale?

“I said to this to the team — I’m sure it happens in all the other sports — you get your draw in the NCAA tournament and you think, ‘Oh god, why are we here? Why are we playing that team? We got screwed.’ Everybody says that. You’ve just gotta play. You’re in the national tournament, you’re playing good hockey teams. You can’t sit there and try to figure our why you’re playing who you’re playing and where you’re playing. You just gotta show up and play the hockey game.

I could hear some of the mumblings after the selection show, our guys are no different that everybody else. 18 year olds always think that someone is trying to screw them. Our guys are no different.”

What was Yale doing to stop you from getting zone time early on?

“Well, they were playing quicker than we were, they were more physical than we were and they were winning more battles. I know that may be simplistic, but that’s the truth. We looked nervous, it’s like Evan and Danny talked about, we are the youngest team in college hockey. I know we’ve been in some pressure situations throughout the last month, but never in a situation where if you lose, your season is over.

We played the Beanpot championship and that’s an exciting, pressure-filled game, but you know you’re gonna play another game. We played the Hockey East semifinals and finals, those are pressure situations, but you know you’re gonna play another game. This is a whole new ballgame. I think it really showed early and again, it says a n awful lot about a team when you can play as poorly as we did and again, I don’t want to discredit Yale. One of the reason we weren’t playing well is because they were playing well, but to be able to turn it on like we did says an awful lot about our mental toughness.”

Pluses and Minuses: O’Connor’s strong play in net helps Terriers advance to Hockey East title game

Matt O'Connor. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Matt O’Connor. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

For the second time in three seasons, the Boston University men’s hockey team will play for the Hockey East championship.

Facing off against a red-hot University of New Hampshire squad that had won nine of its last 10 contests, the Terriers (24-7-5) ricocheted from yet another slow start to best the Wildcats (19-19-2), 4-1, Friday night at TD Garden.

The Terriers will have little time to rest following their victory, as they will face off against two-time defending conference champion University of Massachusetts Lowell Saturday night.

As with every hockey game, there were a good amount of positive and negative takeaways Friday night. Here they are.

Pluses:

O’Connor stabilizes Terriers in uneven first period

Fresh off of earning Hockey East Second Team All-Star honors Thursday night, junior goaltender Matt O’Connor lived up to newly awarded accolade against the Wildcats, standing tall in the Terrier crease to the tune of 32 saves — his highest save total since stopped 32 shots against the University of Vermont on Jan. 23.

The Toronto native especially came up big over the first 20 minutes of play, negating a multitude of sloppy plays from the blueliners in front of him by holding an opportunistic and aggressive Wildcat offense to just one goal.

A pivotal moment came in the closing minutes of the stanza, with UNH holding onto a 1-0 advantage. As the Wildcats vied for yet another tally, forward Andrew Poturalski fired a puck on net that a sprawling O’Connor deflected at the last second with his pads, keeping it a one-goal game. Less than 20 seconds later, the Terriers capitalized, with senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann lighting the lamp at 17:38 to knot the score at one goal apiece.

O’Connor is now 21-3-4 on the year with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

MacLeod impresses in return

Despite sitting out the past three games due to an upper-body injury, freshman defenseman John MacLeod failed to show any rust in his return to action Friday night.

The blueliner was steady out on the ice, tying defensive partner Matt Grzelcyk with a game-high plus-four rating on the night while also earning his seventh assist of the season on Hohmann’s first-period score.

The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect also paid dividends on defense, stopping a potential Wildcat goal in the third period. With the Terriers clinging to a 2-1 lead, sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby sent a shot from the blue line that was blocked by a UNH skater, generating a breakaway opportunity for New Hampshire.

As the UNH skater coasted into the Terriers’ zone, MacLeod hustled back and swooped into the skater’s lane, disrupting his easy look on net.

Good timing from Chase Phelps

Freshman forward Chase Phelps picked an awful good time to score his second goal of the season.

With Friday’s match locked in a 1-1 draw, the Terriers’ fourth line buzzed around the UNH net, attempting to generate some semblance of an opportunity against New Hampshire goaltender Danny Tirone.

Junior forward Mike Moran coasted the puck along the end boards to sophomore forward Nick Roberto, who motioned from behind the UNH cage and put the puck on net. As the puck settled near the crease, Phelps quickly flipped it over Tirone, handing BU its first lead of the night.

It was the Shattuck St. Mary’s product’s first goal since Nov. 29 against Colgate University.

Eichel keeps doing Eichel things

While BU’s formidable first line was mostly held in check over the first 40 minutes of play, freshman center Jack Eichel could not be muted for long.

The young forward capped the Terriers’ scoring on the night with two goals in the final 10 minutes of play, both off of rebound offerings off the stick of senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues.

With his two strikes, Eichel has extended his point streak to 11 games, notching 23 points during that stretch. Now standing at 63 points on the season, Eichel needs just one more to stand as the second-highest scoring freshman in NCAA history.

Minuses:

New day at the garden, same slow start

For the third time this season, the Terriers dropped the puck at TD Garden. And for the third time in this arena, the Terriers underwhelmed with their performance in the first period.

BU appeared sluggish and indecisive both in terms of defense and offense over the first 20 minutes, with the Wildcats outshooting the Terriers by an 11-8 margin.

While it appeared that the Wildcats consistently outplayed their opponent throughout the period, O’Connor’s strong play and Hohmann’s goal were able to help the Terriers escape the stanza still locked in a 1-1 tie.

“After the first period we all knew we didn’t play well. I’m careful to say that, because I think a big part of that had to do with the way UNH was playing,” said BU coach David Quinn. “For us to come out of that period 1-1 I thought it bode well for us moving forward because I knew we couldn’t play much worse than that. Hopefully we get off to a better start tomorrow night because I don’t think we’re going to be able to get away with it with Lowell.”

Freshman blueliners struggle in opening frame

Throughout the first period of play Friday night, BU’s four freshman defensemen sure looked like … Well, freshmen.

A key factor in the team’s lackluster performance in opening frame can be attributed to a few choice plays from its rookie defensemen. In particular, Brandon Fortunato and Brandon Hickey coughed up a costly turnover in BU’s own zone, directly leading to a goal from UNH forward Tyler Kelleher at 14:34.

For more on the Terriers’ sluggish defensive play (and subsequent redemption), check out Andrew’s sider.

Terriers lock up another recruit in ’95 defenseman Shane Switzer

The Terriers continued to bolster their future blueliner corps Wednesday, as ’95-born defenseman Shane Switzer announced his commitment to BU on Twitter.

The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, native currently plays for the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, notching 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 17 regular-season games. Switzer has continued to produce in the AJHL playoffs, totaling seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games.

The 6-foot-2 defenseman was a member of the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits earlier this season, chipping in 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 35 games.

Eliteprospects.com has Switzer set to arrive on Commonwealth Avenue for the 2016-17 season.

UPDATE: Switzer later tweeted that he will join the Terriers for the 2015-16 season.

Live Blog: No. 4 BU vs. Northeastern

Time/Location: 7:30 p.m./Agganis Arena

BU Lines: 
Evan Rodrigues – Jack Eichel – Danny O’Regan
Ahti Oksanen – Robbie Baillargeon – Cason Hohmann
Nikolas Olsson – Matt Lane – Nick Roberto
Chase Phelps – Mike Moran – J.J. Piccinich

Matt Grzelcyk – John MacLeod
Brandon Hickey – Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby – Brien Diffley

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Northeastern:
Kevin Roy – Dalen Hedges – Mike McMurtry
Zach Aston-Reese – Mike Szmatula – Torin Snydeman
Nolan Stevens – John Stevens – Dylan Sikura
Mike Jamieson – Brendan Collier – Adam Reid

Dustin Darou – Matt Benning
Trevor Owens – Colton Saucerman
Dax Lauwers – Garret Cockerill

Clay Witt
Derrick Roy
Jake Theut

Officials: 
Scott Hansen
Tim Low
Brendan Kelleher
Matt Riegert

Live Blog BU vs. Northeastern (2-27-15)
 

Live Blog: No. 2/4 BU vs. Northeastern (Beanpot Final)

Time/Location: 7:30 p.m./TD Garden

Game Preview 

BU Lines: 
Evan Rodrigues – Jack Eichel – Danny O’Regan
Ahti Oksanen – Robbie Baillargeon – Cason Hohmann
Nikolas Olsson – Matt Lane – Nick Roberto
A.J. Greer – Mike Moran – Chase Phelps

Matt Grzelcyk – John MacLeod
Brandon Hickey – Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby – Brien Diffley

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Northeastern Lines: 
Kevin Roy – Dalen Hedges – Mike McMurtry
Zach Aston-Reese – Mike Szmatula – Torin Snydeman
Nolan Stevens – John Stevens – Dylan Sikura
Mike Jamieson – Brendan Collier – Adam Reid

Dustin Darou – Matt Benning
Trevor Owens – Colton Saucerman
Dax Lauwers – Garret Cockerill

Clay Witt
Derick Roy
Jake Theut

Officials:
Ryan Hersey
Cameron Voss
Marc Sullivan
Pat Turcotte

Live Blog BU vs. Northeastern (Beanpot Final)