Pluses and Minuses: Terriers rebound with win over Bentley

Andrew Battifarano also helped write this but we can’t do co-bylines on the blog. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


A midseason Tuesday night game against an Atlantic Hockey Association opponent might, in the big picture of an entire schedule, be one of those games that you could see as a possible letdown.

Sandwiched in between two weekends that involve No. 12 University of Michigan and Red Hot Hockey, Tuesday night could have been a game the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team might have overlooked.

But this was not the case for the Terriers (7-4-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East), who defeated Bentley University, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Agganis Arena.

From start to finish, BU controlled the pace of play. The Terriers got an early goal from senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and never let up from there.

There was a lot to like in this rebound win for BU, so we’ll breakdown what exactly went right, and wrong, in this weeknight edition of Pluses and Minuses.


 Mike Moran and the fourth line

 If you take one quick glance at Tuesday’s scoresheet, you won’t find any of the fourth-line skaters at the top of it for being involved in any goals. So why are we including them as a plus?

They didn’t record any points, but the entire fourth line had a consistent effort all three periods that shouldn’t go unrecognized.

Moran had a season-high six shots on goal, which all seemed to be in and around the net. He had golden opportunities in the first and third periods, but was robbed by Bentley (5-5-1) goaltender Gabe Antoni each time. He put his head back in frustration after a missed chance of the third, but not all hope was lost for Moran, as he was recognized as the No. 2 star of the game.

As for junior winger Tommy Kelley and sophomore forward Chase Phelps, they recorded a combined three shots, but also made smart chip passes into the zone and pressed hard on the forecheck.

“That line played very well,” Quinn said. “All three of those guys were impactful. Mike probably had his best game of the year. I liked the way he was skating, and he had a nose for the net. Tommy Kelley had a really great night too. I was really happy with his night. Obviously he’s been in a tough situation, but to get a chance and take advantage of it, I’m happy for him.”

Sean Maguire

The senior goaltender hadn’t played in nearly a month, as Quinn continued to ride sophomore goalie Connor LaCouvee over the last seven games. But Maguire got the chance to play against Bentley and made the most of it.

It wasn’t as if Bentley peppered him from all angles of the ice, but Maguire was solid when he had to be, finishing the evening with 15 saves and a shutout. His moment of the quiet night came in the third period when he robbed freshman Alexy Solovyev of a would-be goal when he stopped the puck with a combination of his stick and right arm.

It was the fifth shutout of Maguire’s college career and first since March 15, 2013 when he blanked Merrimack College in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

“That’s not an easy game to play,” Quinn said. “And he looked good. He looked good. The few times he was tested, I mean, he made an unbelievable save at one point with his stick, reaching back.”

Consistent effort
After a pretty awful showing against Michigan, at least in terms of putting in a “full 60” effort, the Terriers managed to come back together and put forth a consistent effort.

In the two games against Michigan, BU totaled 52 shots on goal for the weekend. Against the Falcons, they almost matched that total, with 47 in the game. And in general, BU controlled possession, made better passes and was overall a whole lot less sloppy.

Quinn credited his team’s leaders with helping to energize the team, despite the short turnaround.

“I thought our captains did a great job of pulling our guys together after a disappointing loss,” Quinn said. “Not only the fact that we lost, but how we lost, and how lethargic we looked and slow we looked over the weekend, but to bounce back and be mentally engaged and focused … [we were] thorough and control the pace of play.”

Quinn said there were only about five or six minutes at the beginning of the third period against Bentley where BU might not have played at the same standard of intensity, but overall, it was a lot more consistently pressing from start to finish than either of the Michigan games.

We made a cool video
We haven’t plugged this on the blog yet, so we figured: Why not now?

A few weeks ago we came up with the idea to have some of the hockey players design hand turkeys as part of a small Thanksgiving feature, and it turned out to be absolutely hilarious and awesome to see which players were capable of anything artistic. You can see the end results in the gallery here.

And our new pals Claudia DeTrempe and Matt Guthrie helped construct a video of the whole process, which you can watch here:


We’re really scraping from the bottom of the barrel on this one. Other than the aforementioned five or six less-intense minutes, and maybe a mild criticism of the quality of the shots BU took as the game progressed, there’s really not much to criticize when BU out-attempts its opposition 82-35.

If anything major can be criticized, it could be that frankly, this game was, well, boring. It wasn’t anything unexpected, given that it was a. a Tuesday-night matchup b. two days before Thanksgiving c. against a non-conference, non-marquee opponent. But with just 3,475 fans in attendance, the building completely lacked energy. That’s not the lowest attendance at Agganis this season, as that distinction belongs to the University of Denver game on Halloween, where just 3,084 people showed up. But at least that game had a back-and-forth energy, and the building had something to get excited and invested in.

Tonight, Agganis was quiet from start to finish. Again, nothing unexpected, and a win is a win. But this was one of the harder games for fans — and us — to stay engaged in, I think it’s fair to say.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers win in thriller, continue 6-game unbeaten streak


David Quinn has reiterated all season that his team has a “that was then, this is now” mentality. Leave the past in the past.

It might be tough for the third-year head coach of the No. 10 Boston University men’s hockey team might to admit it, but just from the look of it, this one felt a lot like one from last year.

With BU (6-3-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East) down two goals after two periods, the Terriers came storming back with three goals in the third period to steal a win from No. 12 University of Michigan, 3-2.

The Terriers have now earned a point in six consecutive games.

Junior defenseman Doyle Somerby capped off the rally with his second goal of the year with 2:54 left in the game.

For large chunks of the game, though, BU looked sloppy and played inconsistent hockey, so we’ll take a look at what went right and wrong in this Pluses and Minuses.


Déjà vu

These two teams were locked in a tight game when they met last October, a game in which BU prevailed with two third-period goals.

Although BU was down two goals after the first 40 minutes this time, the third period felt eerily similar to how last year’s played out. Senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored in 12-second span about halfway through the period, and Somerby scored the winner at 17:06.

These come-from-behind third periods have been a trend over the last two weekends, as BU has totaled seven goals in its last three third periods. Judy has you covered in her sidebar about BU’s success late in the game.

Penalty shot denied

Sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee had a relatively quiet third period, making just four saves.

But one stop could not have been more timely for the Terriers.

Moments after BU had tied the score, Michigan forward Tyler Motte broke loose from center ice on a breakaway. Somerby came from behind him and prevented a pure 1-on-1 chance with LaCouvee. But in the process, the referees determined that Somerby had slashed Motte’s stick as he went in on goal, and Motte was awarded a penalty shot.

LaCouvee, anchored in the crease, held his position throughout the chance, and was in great position to stop Motte’s penalty shot, which went low blocker side.

A save and a pump of the fist later, and the score stayed tied.

“Obviously the momentum is on our side, and then we give up a breakaway,” Quinn said. “Connor makes an unbelievable save.”

Quinn said he didn’t see LaCouvee’s celebration after the save, but said that his goalie’s mentality has been important in this recent stretch.

“He’s got an unbelievable personality,” Quinn said. “And he’s a great kid, and he’s really, really playing well. So love that emotion. You need emotion.”

What they’ve also received is consistent play in net, which appeared to be a question mark early in the season. But LaCouvee has allowed three or fewer goals in his last four starts, and now owns a .920 save percentage for the season.

Third line comes up big 

For most of the game, like every other unit, BU’s third line was shut down by the Michigan defense and goaltender Steve Racine. The line composed of sophomore winger A.J. Greer, Baillargeon and freshman forward Bobo Carpenter had chances, especially near the doorstep from Greer, early on but could not find the back of the net.

Just a tick before the 11-minute mark in the third period, they finally were rewarded.

Baillargeon took a pass from Carpenter behind the net and then curled the puck on a wraparound past Racine for the tying goal. All three skaters earned a point on this tally.

“I thought that line played well tonight,” Quinn said. “I thought they were probably our best line early on. I thought AJ had a good night, I thought Robbie had a good night, Bobo played well. It’s always nice to spread the wealth in the scoring department.”

BucciCurse BucciBroken

ESPN personality, and avid lover of college hockey, John Buccigross was in attendance for Friday night’s game.

For those who don’t know, the last three BU games — and two this season — that Buccigross has either announced or attended has ended in a Terrier loss.

That changed against Michigan, and the so called “Buccigross Curse” has been lifted, if there ever really was a curse to lift.


Slow 40 minutes 

BU prided itself on playing a strong end-to-end game against No. 1 Providence College last weekend, but that was far from the case Friday.

The Wolverines displayed a quick forecheck and won just about every puck battle in the first two periods. BU had trouble matching the pace and quickly fell behind on the scoreboard and in shot attempts. Michigan also had net-front presence and clogged the middle on the defensive side to prevent prime opportunities.

Through two periods, Michigan had out-attempted BU 52-35, which was pretty indicative of how the Wolverines controlled the game.

“Those first two periods were tough to watch,” Quinn said. “I didn’t think we had a lot of jump in our step, I thought they were much quicker to loose pucks. They were quicker in general, they were much more alert than we were. We didn’t really have a lot going on for ourselves.”

Late penalty 

For the second week in a row, moments after the Terriers took a late lead, a penalty followed. Last week, senior assistant captain Matt Lane’s slashing minor led to the tying goal.

This week, Greer took a hitting from behind penalty with 2:28 remaining on the clock, setting up a frantic rush by the Wolverines. A few deflections and shots that went inches wide could have ended up tying the game if they had gone the other way.

Nearside post 

As strong as LaCouvee was in the series opener, this area of the net seemed to give him some fits.

Michigan’s first goal from forward Alex Kile was an odd-angle shot that snuck between LaCouvee’s pad and the post. A similar play happened in the second period on the other side of the ice, and LaCouvee looked bewildered on where the puck was.

Fortunately for him, it was stuck between his pad on the post and not over the goal line.

It was a weird group of plays, but it’ll be interesting to see if Michigan looks to attempt more on the nearside of the net Saturday afternoon if LaCouvee gets the starting nod.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers complete home-and-home sweep over Northeastern


The only last-second stress the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team had in this one was whether or not the shutout would be intact by the time the 60 minutes was up.

The shutout didn’t happen, but the win sure did, and the Terriers (5-3, 3-2 Hockey East) completed a weekend sweep over rival Northeastern University.

The Terriers controlled the play from the outset and used that early momentum to propel themselves to an end-to-end 4-1 victory over the struggling Huskies (1-7-1, 0-3-1 Hockey East).

There were a lot of things to like and some to dislike, so we’ll discuss them further in this Pluses and Minuses.


Grzelcyk’s back… Back again

How would senior captain Matt Grzelcyk follow up in his second game back on the ice after offseason knee surgery?

A lot like his first game, actually.

Grzelcyk, just like he did on Friday night, opened up the scoring in the first period. Only this time it wasn’t from the left point. He skated up the left wing and in close on net, wristing a shot high over Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck’s blocker for the goal. It was an aggressive play, a lot like the rushes he would make during his first three years at BU.

The opening tally would be his only point on this night, though Grzelcyk again looked sharp both on and off the puck. He quarterbacked the top power-play unit and made a lot of smart and strong plays on the puck on the defensive zone.

By the look of it, it’s hard to tell that the captain had missed any time at all.

“He’s obviously a guy that’s an elite player at this level,” said head coach David Quinn. “And anytime you get a guy back like that, your lineup instantaneously becomes better, everybody gets better. You have a little bit more swagger and play with a little bit more confidence.”

First period dominance 

As Quinn put it, this opening period might have been the best first frame he’s seen out of BU since he’s been head coach.

The Terriers dictated pace of play before and after Grzelcyk’s goal. By the end of the first 20 minutes, BU held a commanding 18-2 shot advantage. The puck possession was boosted by three power plays (one of which was successful), but BU really did control the game even during 5-on-5 play.

The only downside? They only scored once.

“Obviously our first period is probably the best period we’ve had this year without question,” Quinn said. “And I don’t know, since I’ve been here, if we’ve had a better period from start to finish. That being said, we were only up 1-0.”

Somerby’s defense leads to offense 

Sarah talked last night about how sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby‘s tough-minded defensive play came up huge, especially in the second period.

It was déjà vu on Saturday night, except this time, Somerby was rewarded for his effort.

Along the left defensive wall, Somerby closed in on a pass and batted it out of midair. With the Huskies pinching in for a chance, Somerby saw space in the neutral zone to do some damage. So on a two-on-one opportunity, Somerby skated zone-to-zone and finished the play with a goal at the 13:54 mark of the second period.

It was just his third career goal, but for the Terriers, it was the 12th goal of the year for a defenseman. Yet, for Quinn, the scoring says more about Somerby’s effort on the defensive side of things.

“Well, that came off great defense,” Quinn said. “He and [sophomore defenseman] Johnny MacLeod did a great job down in the corner there. And [senior forward] Mike Moran as well. Our defense was really good in that sequence and it allowed us to get a two-on-one. And he buries it.

“We scored some goals this weekend off a good defense, in-zone defense, and if we’re gonna go anywhere or have any success we’ve got to defend.”

LaCouvee steps up

Sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee admitted Friday night that he may have lost his focus during a second period in which he allowed four goals.

On Saturday night, however, LaCouvee needed all of his focus in both the second and third periods to keep BU in the game. He did just that, falling just short of his first collegiate shutout. You can read more about LaCouvee’s improved play in Judy’s sidebar.


Losing the shutout

LaCouvee was in good position all night and made a number of key saves during the third period to keep BU in the lead.

But after the Terriers seemingly put the game away with an empty-net goal from senior winger Ahti Oksanen, there was a momentary lapse in the defense that led to a quick NU rush, and subsequently a goal. Forward Adam Gaudette pounced on a rebound chance and got the Huskies on the board for the first and only time with 55.4 seconds to go in the game.

“We’re still learning,” Quinn said. “Disappointing we didn’t give Connor the shutout, just really ridiculous that we gave up a shorthanded goal with a minute to go, but it cost him a shutout. That’s really unfortunate.”

Losing puck possession 

The first period saw a great showing from BU on both ends of the ice. It made good plays in the offensive zone and largely kept the Huskies to the outside when Northeastern controlled.

It was a bit of a different story in the second and third periods, with Northeastern outshooting BU by a combined 32-16. There were sizable chunks of the game where the Huskies carried play and BU was back on its heels.

After an 18-2 shot advantage to start the game, both teams finished the night with 34 chances on goal.

Pluses and Minuses: Return of captain, lock-down goaltending propel BU to win

Photo Gallery

For the second straight game, the No. 11 Boston Univeristy men’s hockey team eked out a 5-4 victory — though this week, it didn’t need overtime.


The matchup against Northeastern University was highlighted by some big goals and some stressful back-and-forth action — and an even more stressful final few minutes. But in a game with that much action, it gives us a lot to talk about in this edition of Pluses and Minuses.


Connor La-kept-his-cool?-Vee
Forgive that terrible attempt at a joke. But man, was sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee huge in that third period. He calmly turned away 19 shots from Northeastern in the frame, preserving BU’s 5-4 lead and holding off a 6-on-4 attempt from Northeastern for the final minute-and-a-half of the game. He ended the game with a career-best 36 saves.

Despite some shakiness in the middle period — LaCouvee admits to perhaps losing some focus in the second — he was able to turn in a staunch performance in his second straight start.

In a year with some uncertainty as to who the starting goaltender will be, BU head coach David Quinn has mentioned time and time again that he doesn’t think his goaltenders’ stats this year are indicative of the performances they’ve had. LaCouvee, too, said that as he’s grown as a goaltender, he’s become less focused on individual stats and more keeping his team in the game.

“It’s a team game, and you let four goals in the second period, that’s kind of tough, just mental lapses on my behalf,” LaCouvee said. “But I think it’s more important to focus on the win at the end of the game, and just, not focus so much on individual plays … the guys battled really hard, and just take it to the end, you never know how it’s gonna end.”

Doyle Somerby
We’ve praised junior defenseman Doyle Somerby for much of this season for his increased speed and poise on the offensive end. But in Friday’s game against Northeastern, Somerby went back to his old, aggressive ways, with one of the — forgive the clichéd word — grittiest plays of the game.

In the second period, with BU attempting to limit the Huskies’ scoring attempts, Somerby blocked a shot off his leg, then collapsed to the ice in pain. He attempted to get back up probably about three or four times, falling back to the ice each time. Then he managed to stand mostly upright, and block ANOTHER shot, though it’s sort of unclear whether that he actually meant to do that — “I’m not sure if that was intentional or if he was just kind of in the way,” LaCouvee later said about the play.

Regardless, it was a “huge” play, according to Quinn.

“He was immense tonight, he was physical, he did a great job on the penalty kill [and] blocking shots,” Quinn said.

Defensemen still scoring
Quinn is pretty modest about the offensive ability of his team’s defensemen.

“Well, I think in this day and age, you need five guys involved offensively,” Quinn said. “If you’re just going to rely on three forwards, you’re gonna be really starving for goals and I don’t think we’re much different than other teams asking their D to get involved.”

Nonetheless, defensemen accounted for three of BU’s five goals on Friday, and they’ve accounted for a significant chunk of their offense this season – 10 of the Terriers’ 26 goals have come from defensemen, to be exact.

Sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey is tied with freshman forward Ryan Cloonan for the team lead in goals, as Hickey had a third-period, game-tying tally to bring his season total to four goals.

With his third goal this season, tripling his goal total from last year, sophomore Brandon Fortunato ranks second among all Hockey East defensemen in scoring with seven total points.

And, well, there was one more defenseman who was big on offense…

Captain’s back
On that same note of defensemen getting on the board, senior captain Matt Grzelcyk had a goal and an assist in his first game back after recovering from offseason surgery. Andrew has more on Grzelcyk’s triumphant return to the ice in his sidebar.


In his postgame comments, Quinn kept bringing the topic back to the number of penalties the team committed in the game. BU had nine penalties in the game — one matching — thus giving Northeastern 16 power-play minutes. The Huskies were able to capitalize, recording 12 shots and earning one goal from their power-play unit.

“You can’t have eight penalties, that’s just, you can’t,” Quinn said. “You really put yourself at a disadvantage when you take eight penalties and it’s just, that’s 16 minutes, almost a full period shorthanded and that’s just, that’s too much.”

It’s hard to ignore the glaring fact that BU did allow four goals in the second period. As we stated earlier, LaCouvee admitted to his lack of focus, and Quinn noticed a similar theme, which caused him to call a time out after Northeastern’s fourth goal.

“I just talked about the focus, lack of focus, we reacted, we give up a goal, it’s 2-1 and all of a sudden it’s 4-3 because we lose focus,” Quinn said. “We blow our responsibilities off the neutral zone faceoffs and we actually batted one of them in.”

“I thought we lost focus … people just not paying attention and taking on their responsibilities,” he added.

Pluses and Minuses: Late surge propels Terriers against Michigan

The Boston University men’s hockey team faced a situation it had not been in all year — a deficit.

Freshman forward Jack Eichel scored the game-tying goal in the third period of BU's win over Michigan.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Freshman forward Jack Eichel scored the game-tying goal in the third period of BU’s win over Michigan.

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.”