Pluses and Minuses: ‘Better team won’ in No. 11 Terriers’ loss to Vermont

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Junior forward Tommy Kelley. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Head coach David Quinn did not mince words in his press conference following the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s loss to the University of Vermont on Friday.

“Just really disappointed with our performance tonight,” he said.

The Terriers (7-5-3, 3-3-2 Hockey East) started the game strong, but were quickly “deflated” by a first-period injury to sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson and a power-play goal by the Catamounts (4-9-2, 3-4-2 Hockey East).

BU was unable to recover, according to Quinn, and was outplayed as Vermont came away with the 4-2 win.

“They skated faster, hit harder and were smarter,” he said. “That’s all it comes down to. I know a lot can go on out there, it can look like a busy game, it can look like a difficult game, but it really isn’t. When you skate, when you play through people, when you pass pucks to the people that are open, this game becomes easy and we did none of that tonight.”

Here’s what we thought looked good and bad in this edition of pluses and minuses.

Pluses

Tommy Kelley

Junior forward Tommy Kelley has now matched his game total from last year after playing in his fourth contest of the season on Friday night, only he has one more goal to show for it this time around.

Though the Terriers ended up losing to UVM, Kelley got BU on the board first 8:41 into the opening frame. He received a pass from sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato at the center point and let it rip. The puck whizzed through slot to the back of the net and beat netminder Mike Santaguida for his first goal since Dec. 6, 2013.

“It’s always nice to see a guy get his first goal of the season, his first goal in a while and I was happy for him,” Quinn said.

Kelley has played in three straight games for the Terriers now after impressing Quinn in BU’s 3-0 win over Bentley on Nov. 24.

Shameless plug: If BU fans need some feel-good reading after this game, I wrote a story in October about Kelley and his sister, Mary Grace, who plays for the women’s team at BU.

Neutral zone

This could BU

The Catamounts tote four former Terriers or former Terrier commits on their roster in defensemen Alexx Privitera and Ori Abramson and forwards Jarrid Privitera and Liam Coughlin, each of whom had at least a point in BU’s loss. To read more about their Friday night successes, read Sarah’s sider.

Minuses

Nikolas Olsson

In the middle of the first period, Olsson appeared to hurt himself after being involved in a hit by the Vermont bench. On his way back to the BU bench, though, he threw another hit before exiting down the tunnel with an obvious injury.

He did not return to action and instead sat with the healthy scratches for the rest of the game with his left arm in a sling.

Olsson had just returned to play for the Terriers on Saturday after missing four games with an upper-body injury. Friday was his second game back.

Power play

Though it had four opportunities with the man advantage, BU was unable to capitalize on any of its power-play chances on Friday, testing Santaguida six times. The Terriers are one for their last 13 on the power play dating back to their 4-2 loss to the No. 12 University of Michigan on Nov. 21.

“Just lazy,” Quinn said. “No one’s standing at the net, just no urgency, the basics of hockey. They’re talented players, but boy, you’ve got to play with a pace and you’ve got to have simplicity in the game and you can’t stick handle it all around. Pass a puck when you think someone’s going to score, but you’ve got to pass a puck when someone’s open. And we haven’t grasped that yet.”

Immaturity and lack of emotion

Though Quinn said he liked the first five or six minutes of BU’s game on Friday, the way his team responded to Vermont’s first goal as well as Olsson’s injury was “ridiculous” in the way it “never recovered.”

“I actually liked our first five minutes,” Quinn said. “I thought we were pretty good, had some chances and looked like we had life and then Olsson got hurt, and who knows what effect that has on us, and we give up the goal, and we weren’t mentally tough enough to kind of pull it together. I mean you could just feel the emotion on the bench just deflate us, and you can’t get deflated that easily.”

Quinn added that his team played with “complete lack of emotion” and failed to showcase any passion or enthusiasm, noting that “you’ve not no chance” when those things are missing from your game.

“We’re an immature team,” he said. “Not only are we young, we’re immature, and I’ve said that a few times this year, and that could be the case but hopefully they are quick learners and they learn their lesson in a hurry because that’s a good hockey team we just played and the better team won tonight.”