Head coach David Quinn
Senior forward Ahti Oksanen
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team has had its fair share of success at TD Garden this season, posting a record of 4-0 while taking both the Beanpot championship and the Hockey East title.
Now, it’ll try to win a national title on Causeway Street.
The Terriers (27-7-5) defeated No. 7 University of Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, Saturday night in the NCAA Northeast Regional final at Verizon Wireless Arena, clinching the Icedogs’ 22nd Frozen Four appearance and their first visit since the 2009.
Facing off against a physical Bulldogs (21-16-3) squad, BU relied on two goals from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues to help secure its bid back to TD Garden.
As with every game, there was a fair share of good and bad takeaways from BU’s performance out on the ice. Here’s a look:
Terrier depth shines
Looking at the big picture, it appeared that Duluth accomplished its goal of shutting down freshman center Jack Eichel — holding the North Chelmsford native off the scoresheet for the first time since the Beanpot semifinal game against Harvard on Feb. 3.
While Rodrigues picked up the slack on the first line with two tallies in the contest, BU received a big boost throughout the game from its deep roster.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the second period, freshman forwards Chase Phelps and J.J. Piccinich — BU’s fourth-line wingers — created space around the Bulldogs’ net, generating an opportunity for junior forward Matt Lane.
Piccinich dished the puck to Lane, who promptly snuck the puck past Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo at 3:32 to hand BU a 2-1 lead.
BU’s versatile group of players also came up big on the defensive end, especially after freshman defenseman John MacLeod went down with an injury just about halfway through the game.
BU coach David Quinn was forced to roll out five blueliners for the remainder of the tilt, but scarlet and white D-corps stood firm, keeping the Bulldogs off the board through the final 32 minutes of play.
Somerby leaves his mark
He might not have registered a point over the weekend, but sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby was a huge presence (literally) for the Terriers out on the ice.
While the New York Islanders prospect used his 6-foot-5 frame to impact Saturday’s game — including a bone-crushing hit on UMD forward Tony Cameranesi at center ice in the second period — he also impressed with both his offensive and defensive awareness.
On multiple shifts, Somerby pinched up on the ice, using his size to win puck battles along the boards while keeping the pressure on the Bulldogs. Later, Quinn noted that Somerby was one of the few skaters unfazed when UMD pulled Kaskisuo in the closing minutes of the game.
“He was immense,” Quinn said. “Very active on the forecheck. Did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. You have a tendency when the other team has six and you have five to kind of sit back and watch. We did that when they almost scored. I thought after that, ‘OK, the guy’s got the puck let’s go defend him.’
“Everybody else has to protect, but don’t give him time. He did a great job jumping. The guy had the puck down by the left of our goalie with about eight or nine seconds to go and people were indecisive and Doyle took charge.”
He might have been snubbed from the Hockey East First Team earlier this month, but Evan Rodrigues just keeps producing out on the ice.
The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Northeast Regional, Rodrigues once again came up big for the Terriers, scoring twice — including the game winning goal with just under 2:30 left in the match.
— Evan Rodrigues (@evanr17) March 29, 2015
For more on Rodrigues’s performance, check out Andrew’s sider.
Terriers falter in middle frame
Coming out of first intermission, it appeared that the Terriers had the Bulldogs right where they wanted them — jumping out to a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
Ultimately, though, Lane’s second-period strike proved to be the one bright part of the stanza, as the Bulldogs out-muscled and out-hustled the Terriers throughout the period. UMD bested BU goaltender Matt O’Connor twice in the period, first off of a slapshot goal from defenseman Willie Raskob just 37 seconds into play to tie the game.
Just under four minutes after Lane’s goal, Duluth capitalized again, with forward Kyle Osterberg firing a wrister from outside the blue line that bounced off O’Connor’s glove and trickled into the Terrier cage, once again knotting the game at two goals a piece. Minnesota outshot the Terriers by a 13-6 margin in the period.
“I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded,” Quinn said. “It was kind of like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds. Almost had a couple of opportunities to deliver a knockout punch. Then they’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes.”
Hohmann takes a tumble
Lost in the scrum at BU’s net following the win was senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann, who wiped out while skating out to his teammates. Hohmann was a good sport about it, however, posting a replay of his slip on Twitter.
— Cason Hohmann (@cashohmann) March 29, 2015
BU coach David Quinn, junior captain Matt Grzelcyk and freshman center Jack Eichel
UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin and senior captain Zack Kamrass
The Hockey East regular-season title will have to go unclaimed for at least another week.
The No. 2/3 BU men’s hockey needed either a win or a tie Saturday night against the University of Notre Dame to earn outright possession of the conference regular-season title, but ultimately came up short — dropping a 3-2 game to the Fighting Irish at Agganis Arena.
BU (19-6-5, 13-4-3 Hockey East) bounced back after Notre Dame j(14-15-5, 9-6-5 Hockey East) jumped out to a 2-0 lead almost midway through the second period, but the Terriers were unable to push the tying score past Irish netminder Cal Petersen over the final minutes of play, sealing the three-point weekend for BU’s opponents from South Bend.
As it’s been throughout the season, there were plenty of good and bad points to take away from Saturday’s contest. Here’s a look:
Terriers continue to slump on the penalty kill
For the fourth time in five games, a team managed to orchestrate a power-play goal against the Terriers, highlighting a disheartening trend in BU’s penalty-kill unit over the past month.
Notre Dame left Agganis Arena Saturday night with a 50 percent showing on the power play, scoring twice with an extra-skater to build up a lead that the Terriers ultimately could not catch up to.
After the Terriers managed to hold the University of Wisconsin’s power-play unit off the scoreboard seven times on Jan. 10, BU’s penalty kill has operated at a success rate of just 72.3 percent in the following 11 games. During that stretch, BU’s penalty-kill percentage has dropped to seventh in Hockey East at 82.8 percent.
“It’s correctable, it’s not like we’re scratching our heads wondering, ‘Geez, how are they scoring?’ We got a way that we prefer to kill penalties and the two goals they score, we don’t kill them the way we should,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “And that’s coaching. Obviously, I’ve got to do a better job coaching, because it they’re not doing it, then that’s on the coach. It’s February.”
Fighting Irish pounce on last-second opportunities
Costly mistakes at the end of both the first and second periods proved to be the difference maker Saturday night at Agganis Arena, with Notre Dame taking advantage in both cases.
A goal from forward Mario Lucia with .1 seconds left on the clock broke a scoreless stalemate going into the first intermission, while a roughing call on freshman center Jack Eichel at the end of the second period handed Notre Dame a power-play chance at the start of the final frame.
Notre Dame would make good on Eichel’s blunder, with sophomore Vince Hinostroza scoring the eventual game-winning goal with just 15 seconds left on the man advantage.
For more on BU’s costly last-second mistakes, check out Sarah’s sider.
LaCouvee handed another loss
Freshman goaltender Connor LaCouvee saw his record drop to 3-3-1 once the game clock expired Saturday night, marking the second straight appearance in which the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL) product has been handed a loss.
LaCouvee ultimately finished with 19 saves on the night, while Quinn maintained confidence in his backup goaltender after the game.
“I thought LaCouvee was good,” Quinn said. “I thought he was strong, made some big saves. He’s strong in that crease. You can’t fault him on any of the goals.”
Grzelcyk jumpstarts BU man advantage
The Terriers have been hard pressed in terms of finding success on the power play as of late.
Entering the third period of Saturday’s game, BU had failed to convert on its last 13 extra-man opportunities, with their last special-teams strike coming on Feb. 13 against the University of New Hampshire.
Ultimately, BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk would put an end to BU’s listless power-play streak, scoring his fifth goal of the season at 7:50 in the third period.
The Bruins prospect corralled the puck off a pass from Eichel and promptly blasted a shot from the right circle that sailed into the Irish’s net, making it a 3-2 game with a little over 12 minutes to play.
Grzelcyk — not especially known for his goal-scoring prowess — has now found the back of the net four times in BU’s last four games.
Moran lights the lamp
For the first time in 22 games, junior forward Mike Moran found the back of the net, scoring his third goal of the season at 15:39 in the second stanza.
After freshman forward Nikolas Olsson gathered the puck behind the Irish net, he sent the disc to a waiting Moran near the slot. Moran did not hesitate, firing the puck past Petersen to put the Terriers on the board.
“It’s good to see him get on the scoresheet,” Quinn said. “He’s played much better lately. He’s done a good job. I’m not surprised. He plays a hard game, he’s heavy, strong on his skates, gets to the net.”
Hickey dodges a bullet
Well, not literally, of course.
But after the freshman defenseman collided with Fighting Irish defenseman Luke Ripley early on the third, many feared the worst.
The Leduc, Alberta, native immediately fell to the Agganis Arena ice and spun around at a dizzying rate before coming to a stop near the right circle. Hickey was eventually helped off the ice by junior forward Ahti Oksanen and a trainer, and was quickly brought off the bench.
No more than five minutes after exiting the game, however, Hickey was back on the bench, loosened up during a break in action and was back in the game for the final stretches of play.
The Calgary flames draft pick has been an invaluable addition to the Terriers on both offense and defense, placing second amongst Terrier defenseman with 14 points, while also logging a plus-17 rating in 30 games.
“He’s fine, he’s fine,” Quinn said. “Obviously that’s a scary situation when a guy gets hit like that, but obviously was just something that he was able to shake off.”
This time, in overtime, the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team couldn’t get it done.
Against the University of Maine on Friday, freshman forward Jack Eichel scored an overtime goal to give the Terriers a 3-2 victory. But against No. 18 Harvard University on Tuesday, BU couldn’t do it again in overtime, dropping a 3-2 contest to the Crimson by allowing a goal to captain Kyle Criscuolo.
As per usual, there’s plenty to nitpick from this game. Here’s some of the good, bad and ugly that we noticed:
Time to panic, everyone — for the first time this season, Eichel didn’t end up on the score sheet. Season’s over, guys. Pack it in. Eichel’s scoreless-ness on Tuesday snapped a 10-game streak of at least one point in each game. In that stretch, Eichel tallied a total of 19 points, including 12 assists.
Harvard’s crew said it knew coming in that Eichel would pose a threat, but the team’s head coach said he was pleased with how the Crimson matched up against him.
“I had a rosary bead in my coat pocket,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “It certainly didn’t feel like he didn’t have points tonight. He’s dynamic. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jack since he was probably 12 years old. His skill level, his ability to control the tempo of the game — he’s a tough matchup, but I think our guys tried to be aggressive, tried to angle him when we could.”
The Terriers are in the midst of a five-game, 10-day stretch. Playing a Tuesday game after wins on Friday and Saturday is certainly a daunting task, and BU head coach David Quinn noted his team looked sluggish at times, and was unable to adapt as a result.
“They caught us a little bit tired there in overtime,” Quinn said. “I thought we had control and a chance to change. They were able to change. We couldn’t get the puck deep and get off. We’re still learning how to change, they get a breakaway early in overtime because we make a right change and our guy stumbles getting on the ice and they get a breakaway.”
BU outshot the Crimson in every period, including three shots on goal to Harvard’s two in overtime. The Terriers, in total, had a 42-24 shots-on-goal advantage.
Harvard’s defense kept BU’s offensive attempts in check, blocking 33 of the Terriers’ 87 total shots attempted. BU also sent 12 shots wide. Additionally, Crimson goaltender Steve Michalek recorded 40 saves in the matchup.
“I thought there were good chances, but a lot of loose pucks lying around at the net front,” Quinn said. “We just couldn’t get a stick on it. One of the things that we talked about, we were at the net front, but I didn’t think that we were physical enough around the net.
“A lot of times, you get at that net front and there’s a 50/50 puck and you start fishing for it instead of leaning into somebody and throw them off-balance — it gives you better chance to possess it. Obviously, you would like better chances than we did tonight, but I thought we had some good ones. That’s a good team.”
Quality start, well-rounded effort
Quinn noted that the Terriers had their best start to a game in quite some time on Tuesday. BU has been noticeably sluggish out of the gates in many of its games this season — in its last game, against the University of Connecticut on Saturday, it took BU five minutes to record a shot on net.
Not on Tuesday. The Terriers jumped out to an early shot advantage, ending the first period with a 13-5 advantage. Quinn said he was pleased with his team’s effort not just in the first period, but also through the entire game, in which BU saw a number of shots.
“I thought that was the best game we played from start to finish in a while,” Quinn said. “I really did. Our guys were disappointed, but I really liked our effort, our focus, I thought we did a lot of good things. I thought our transition was good, I thought we defended well tonight.”
Freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey has quietly become an effective player for the BU squad, and showed some of his skill against the Crimson on Tuesday. In the game, Hickey had seven shots on net and assisted on junior forward Ahti Oksanen’s game-tying goal at 6:43 in the second period.
“I thought he played very well tonight,” Quinn said about the Calgary Flames prospect. “I thought he defended well, he moves the puck quickly, he skates so well, and he’s got a cannon for a shot, he was active offensively. He’s really coming on, he’s a very good player now and he’s got a great future for us.”
ORONO, Maine — Almost exactly a year ago to the day, the Boston University men’s hockey team was manhandled by the University of Maine in Alfond Arena, dropping a 7-0 decision to the Black Bears on Nov. 15, 2013.
No. 3 BU (6-1-1, 4-1-1 Hockey East) avenged its previous drubbing Friday night, as the Terriers bested the Black Bears (3-7-1, 2-3 Hockey East) by a score of 3-1 in front of a packed rink in Orono, Maine.
After entering the first intermission facing a 1-0 deficit, the Terriers would net three goals over the game’s final 40 minutes to improve their record to 4-0 when playing away from the friendly confines of Agganis Arena.
Here’s a closer look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers Friday night up in “The Pine Tree State:”
Terriers succeed shorthanded
Special teams play was a key component to the Terriers’ success Friday night, with the team’s penalty kill unit in particular making its presence felt against the Black Bears.
The Terriers, who entered the match ranked 27th nationally in penalty-kill percentage (.853), thwarted all three of Maine’s chances on the man advantage due to a combination of strong play from goaltender Matt O’Connor and a stout net-front presence.
“I thought they kind of exploited us down on the goal line on their power play,” Quinn said. “I thought they did a good job taking the puck to the net, that guy to the left of our goalie in particular. But I thought we recovered well, and I thought we did a much better job defending the net front.”
The Terriers penalty kill also paid dividends on the box score, as BU manufactured a shorthanded tally in the final minute of the second period.
Freshman forward Jack Eichel recovered the puck in BU’s zone and sailed by three Maine skaters before sending the biscuit across the crease of the Black Bears’ net to junior forward Danny O’Regan, who beat goalie Sean Romeo to give BU a 2-1 lead at 19:46.
The return of the OREO line
After crumbling last weekend due to an injury to junior forward Ahti Oksanen, BU’s “OREO” line returned once again and — in what has been a recurring trend this season — dominated the competition.
Oksanen, O’Regan and Eichel scored all three of BU’s goals on the night, with Oksanen getting the Terriers on the board at 8:48 in the second with a power-play tally.
“It was huge, it was huge because our power play hasn’t been great,” Quinn said of Oksanen’s goal. “We haven’t had a lot of them, but our power play hasn’t been great. And I thought that we really did a much better job getting pucks to the net.
“We had six shots on the four power plays. Going into the year, we had 24 shots on all of our power plays combined. So we had 18 power plays coming into the game and 24 shots, that’s just not going to cut it. At least we did a much better job getting pucks to the net and being ready to shoot on the power play.”
Weathering the storm
Quinn acknowledged after the game that skating at Alfond Arena as an opposing player can be intimidating enough for any individual.
Adding in the fact that the boisterous Maine crowd was further buoyed by a pregame ceremony honoring the Black Bears’ 1999 NCAA Championship team, the Terriers were forced to hold their own against an energized Maine squad over the opening minutes of Friday’s game.
“Anytime you come up here you really need to weather the storm because sometimes I feel like we’re the New York Yankees — people love to hate us,” Quinn said. “And certainly they hate us up here, I know that because of the long rivalry and the history we’ve had with them.”
The Terriers were pushed back on their heels for most of the first five minutes of game thanks to an effective Maine forecheck, giving the Black Bears a chance to draw first blood in the game.
At just 1:13 in the first period, Maine winger Connor Leen glided into the BU defensive zone, firing a wrist shot towards O’Connor near the right circle. While the BU netminder turned the initial attempt aside, Leen potted in the resulting rebound into the BU net to dig the Terriers an early hole.
Time for a change?
While Maine did not add to its scoring column in the second period, there were chances aplenty.
Multiple times throughout the 20 minutes of play, the Black Bears were given potential gift-wrapped goals as a result of poor BU line changes. Thankfully for the Terriers, key saves from O’Connor allowed the Terriers to claw back into Friday’s contest.
“What killed us in the second period in particular early was our changes,” Quinn said. “We had two horrific changes. And they get a breakaway and they get a 3-on-1. And we have four freshmen defensemen. … changing is a skill. And they don’t realize that yet. You got to learn to lay tired. And that’s something we need to address because it’s cost us in particular in the second period. We gave up a goal to BC because of a bad change and that’s got to stop.”
The No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team dominated No. 8/9 Providence College on Friday night in just about every aspect of the game. What started as a back-and-forth contest finished as a one-sided affair.
After BU’s (4-0, 2-0 Hockey East) goal from freshman defenseman John MacLeod at the 11:26 mark in the first period, the Terriers took hold of the game. In this edition of By the Numbers, again we look at BU’s Corsi and Fenwick numbers during non power-play situations. And just like the scoreboard, the Terriers dominated in these categories.
Corsi Full Game
Corsi For: 59 (Shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots)
Corsi Against: 32
Corsi For Percentage: 64.8
BU Goals: 4
PC Goals: 1
Corsi First Period
Corsi For: 26
Corsi Against: 15
Corsi For Percentage: 63.4
BU Goals: 1
PC Goals: 1
Corsi Second Period
Corsi For: 17
Corsi Against: 14
Corsi For Percentage: 54.8
BU Goals: 2
PC Goals: 0
Corsi Third Period
Corsi For: 16
Corsi Against: 6
Corsi Percentage: 72.7
BU Goals: 1
PC Goals: 0
Fenwick Full Game
Fenwick For : 52 (Shots on goal, missed shots)
Fenwick Against: 26
Fenwick For Percentage: 66.7
Fenwick First Period
Fenwick For: 23
Fenwick Against: 12
Fenwick For Percentage: 65.7
Fenwick Second Period
Fenwick For: 14
Fenwick Against: 11
Fenwick For Percentage: 56
Fenwick Third Period
Fenwick For: 15
Fenwick Against: 3
Fenwick For Percentage: 83.3
Even if you didn’t get to see this game, these numbers tell the story. BU played a nearly spotless game from start to finish. The Terriers had a sizable advantage in these numbers in every period. What stood out for me was that final period Fenwick of the game. The Friars recorded only recorded three shots on goal throughout the period.
But what is really impressive for the BU defense is how it played in even strength-chances. Providence recorded only one shot on goal in 5-on-5 situations in the final frame. The other two even strength opportunities either missed the net or hit the post.
When you put the puck on net and keep the other team from getting any opportunities, it’s easy to win games. That’s what the Terriers accomplished on Friday night at Schneider Arena.
A highly anticipated weekend for the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team culminated in two wins against two Big Ten opponents in Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. The Terriers (3-0, 1-0 Hockey East) had to rely on strong third-period play — and some luck — for the first time this season.
In our third addition of By the Numbers, we look at the Corsi and Fenwick advanced stats for BU’s two-game weekend. I also want to take note that in our first two posts, we focused on the team’s stats in all phases of the game (even strength, power play, penalty kill). In this post, and all of those going forward, I would like to look at BU’s performance in just 5-on-5 situations.
So here’s a closer look at BU’s two wins from the weekend:
Corsi/Fenwick vs. Michigan State (Full Game)
Corsi For: 65 (Shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots)
Corsi Against: 53
Corsi For Percentage: 55.1
Fenwick For: 51 (Shots on goal, missed shots)
Fenwick Against: 34
Fenwick For Percentage: 60
BU Goals For: 1
MSU Goals For: 0
Corsi/Fenwick First Period
Corsi For: 28
Corsi Against: 12
Corsi For Percentage: 70
Fenwick For: 22
Fenwick Against: 11
Fenwick For Percentage: 66.7
BU Goals For/MSU Goals For: 0
Corsi/Fenwick Second Period
Corsi For: 26
Corsi Against: 16
Corsi For Percentage: 61.9
Fenwick For: 20
Fenwick Against: 9
Fenwick For Percentage: 69
BU Goals For: 1
MSU Goals For: 0
Corsi/Fenwick Third Period
Corsi For: 11
Corsi Against: 25
Corsi For Percentage: 30.6
Fenwick For: 9
Fenwick Against: 14
Fenwick For Percentage: 39.1
BU/MSU Goals For: 0
Corsi/Fenwick vs. Michigan (Full Game)
Corsi For: 53
Corsi Against: 62
Corsi For Percentage: 46.1
Fenwick For: 41
Fenwick Against: 51
Fenwick For Percentage: 44.6
BU Goals For: 3
Michigan Goals For: 2
Corsi/Fenwick First Period
Corsi For: 17
Corsi Against: 11
Corsi Percentage: 60.1
Fenwick For: 14
Fenwick Against: 10
Fenwick For Percentage: 58.3
BU Goals For: 0
Michigan Goals For: 1
Corsi/Fenwick Second Period
Corsi For: 15
Corsi Against: 23
Corsi For Percentage: 39.5
Fenwick For: 11
Fenwick Against: 18
Fenwick For Percentage: 37.9
BU Goals For: 1
Michigan Goals For: 1
Corsi/Fenwick Third Period
Corsi For: 21
Corsi Against: 28
Corsi For Percentage: 42.9
Fenwick For: 16
Fenwick Against: 23
Fenwick For Percentage: 41.0
BU Goals For: 2
Michigan Goals For: 0
Looking at these statistics, BU could’ve easily walked away with a huge win on Friday night against the Spartans. Goaltender Jake Hildebrand was named one of the three stars of the game, and this shows why. BU dominated puck possession for most of the game, but he allowed just one goal. BU coach David Quinn wasn’t pleased with the offensive performance, saying his team missed the net a lot and was too fancy with the puck. Though some of this does hold true, BU should’ve had a better showing on the scoreboard.
Saturday against the Wolverines, though, was a different story. Michigan consistently kept up the pace against BU and gave junior netminder Matt O’Connor a challenge in net. He kept the Terriers in it, allowing two goals, part of the reason he was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week. BU’s goals against Michigan all came down low, either on deflections or chances that goaltender Zach Nagelvoort had little chance to save. A win is a win, but according to the numbers, it should’ve been Michigan in the victor’s column.
The Boston University men’s hockey team faced a situation it had not been in all year — a deficit.
Worst of all for the Terriers (3-0, 1-0 Hockey East), they trailed going into the final period against the University of Michigan. With some determination up front and the help of video reviews, BU won 3-2 after a back-and-forth third period.
Here’s a closer look at what went well and what didn’t for the Terriers against the Wolverines (2-3):
A long-awaited third period comeback
The last time the Boston University men’s hockey team won a game in which it trailed heading into a third period, Jack Parker was still coaching. To be exact, the Terriers had not completed the feat since Jan. 4, 2013 in an overtime victory against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
For a team that went winless all last year during those situations, this win felt even more special. Freshman forward Jack Eichel turned a 2-1 deficit into a tie game on a deflection just under three minutes into the frame. Junior center Matt Lane finished off the win on a tip-in of his own at the 16:50 mark.
BU coach David Quinn said having quality play from all four lines has made for improved third periods this season.
“I think our depth up front allows us to kind of keep guys fresh,” Quinn said. “When you kill five penalties and get two power plays that kind of throws things out whack a little bit.
“It’s nice to be winning when you think you’re going to get better and when you think your best hockey is ahead of you.”
One game-changing penalty kill
BU’s special teams unit allowed two goals on three chances through the first two periods of Friday’s contest. When Michigan went to the power play again with four seconds remaining in the middle frame, an already shaky PK would have to work hard to keep the game within reach.
After the Wolverines rattled off shots toward junior goaltender Matt O’Connor, the defensive corps warded off the infraction.
It was not pretty, but according to junior captain Matt Grzelcyk, it set the tone for the rest of the game.
“It was huge. It was something that we focused on going into the third,” Grzelcyk said. “To get that kill was very big and it carried our momentum going for the rest of the game, so, I think it was good to get the crowd back into it and kind of feed off their energy.”
Not long after the penalty was over, Eichel potted the game-tying goal, putting BU in prime position to earn at least one point. As much as the penalty kill had its problems, this one attempt changed the complexion of the game.
Doyle Somerby steps up
Before Saturday night’s game, freshman defenseman John MacLeod was ruled out with an injury. Somerby, the sophomore New York Islanders draft pick, shined in his absence. This play more than juxtaposes his freshman campaign where he led the team in penalty minutes.
Despite being listed on BU’s third pairing, Somerby played significant time with Grzelcyk on the top unit. The sophomore worked hard along the boards, used his body to knock pucks loose and made key clearances out of BU’s defensive zone.
On top of all of that, he recorded the primary assist on the tying goal after his shot from the right point was redirected.
“He’s more physical,” Quinn said. “I mean he’s not just content with keeping people on the outside. He’s been a lot more aggressive in his 1-on-1s. … With a guy with that reach and that size, if he can continue to be physical around puck, he’s going to be a problem for other teams.”
Penalty kill issues
The Terrier defensive unit combined to kill six Michigan State University penalties on Friday night. The story was not the same for the penalty kill unit against the Wolverines. Both of Michigan’s goals came via extra-man chances.
Whether it was failed clearance opportunities or leaving snipers wide open, the Wolverines took advantage of BU’s mistakes.
“The first goal they score, we don’t ice the puck,” Quinn said. “The second power-play goal they score, a 50-50 puck off the faceoff, and we try to clear it and they keep it in. The second one we just completely blew our responsibility.”
Lack of success in the faceoff dot
One area the Terriers have struggled in through three regular season games is their effort on the draw. In BU’s first game of the weekend, it won just 37 percent of its chances on the draw. Saturday night’s effort did not improve, as the Terriers won 39 of 62 efforts in the dot. Eichel especially had problems corralling faceoffs, losing more than he won in both games. For the Terriers to maintain more possession, draw control success is essential.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time on it,” Quinn said. “We spent a little time on it, we obviously need to spend a lot of time on it because we can’t be getting hammered on faceoffs to the level that we are. It really makes a huge difference in the game.”
Second period woes
Junior forward Ahti Oksanen’s goal 34 seconds into the second frame looked to give the Terriers the jolt they needed. After an initial offensive rush, though, Michigan controlled the flow of the stanza and took 12 shots on goal to BU’s nine. The Wolverines attacked in the offensive zone and the young crop of Terriers had trouble regaining momentum.
What started as a good period nearly ended in disaster.
“It was doom-and-gloom at the end of the second when they made it 2-1 because I thought we played in the early second,” Quinn said. “I though we controlled the play, having some great opportunities. And then they get that power-play goal. And we were on our heels quite a bit.”