Best of 2014-15: Top 10 photos from the season, as picked by Maya Devereaux

This year, we had the absolute pleasure of having a phenomenal photographer accompany us to most of our games. Maya Devereaux was there the whole year to capture visually what we couldn’t capture in writing — and did a phenomenal job with that.

We had Maya narrow down some of her favorite pics from this memorable season to a top 10, and give a little background behind each photo. You can also find more of her photos from this season on our Flickr.

10. Hockey East final, the team exiting the rink

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

Maya Devereaux: “Until I stood by the rink exit to the locker room after the team won the Hockey East title, I never realized how much these young boys look up to and idolize the players. I remember security had to tell them to stop hanging off of the stands because they were completely blocking the doorway.”

9. NCAA Regional Final, the post-win celebration

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “Postgame celebration photos are pretty standard, but Cason’s spill made it a much better shot. I couldn’t help but laugh when he crashed into the group and fell while I was taking it.”

8. BU vs. Notre Dame, Evan Rodrigues’ celebration

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “When someone scores a goal, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll turn to the crowds or get pinned up against the glass in a group hug. Thankfully, he happened to be right in front of me, otherwise I would not have gotten such straight-on angle.”

7. Frozen Four first round, After Ahti Oksanen’s goal

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “Ahti Oksanen had just scored a goal, tying the score 1-1 against Yale. There’s not much to the photo, it’s just a sweet moment.”

6. National championship game, Matt O’Connor eyeing the puck

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “It’s hard to get a good shot of any goalie with the puck, since the offensive side is usually hovering the goal area, but this was completely unobstructed.”

5. Hockey East final, second period right after Nikolas Olsson’s goal

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “This was one of my favorites because it’s not often that I get a photo that includes the celebrating team, the puck AND the opposing side’s goalie staring back at it in shock.”

4. National championship game, second period after Cason Hohmann’s goal

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

“Though Hohmann isn’t even pictured in this frame, the guys are celebrating his goal that was assisted by Ahti Oksanen. Most celebration photos are exciting, but this one was even more so since it put BU in the lead 3-2.”

3. National championship game, Connor LaCouvee comforting Hohmann

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “I felt really guilty taking these photos after they lost, but they ended up being some of the best ones from the game. These photos made it clear how close-knit this bunch was and how supportive they were of one another.”

2. NCAA regional semifinal, BU beats Yale

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “The quality of this shot isn’t even great but the juxtaposition makes it worthwhile. Everyone was really tense during overtime, even the photographers in the press booth.”

1. Hockey East final, Matt O’Connor holding Lamoriello Trophy

PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MD: “There isn’t much to say about this one because Matt O’Connor’s face basically says it all.”

Best of 2014-15: Ranking the top 10 games from last season

In our next installment for the “Best of 2014-15” BU hockey season recap, the Boston Hockey Blog went through the difficult task of narrowing our favorite games from last season down to 10 picks.

Disagree with our list? Give your own rankings in the comment section below! And without further ado, here are our picks:

10. Jan. 9 — BU at Wisconsin, T 3-3 (OT)

A tie most certainly wasn’t the result BU wanted, especially given that BU on paper was a much stronger team than Wisconsin. But in a lot of ways, it exemplified what the Terriers were made of this year — even when they were buried in a hole, they managed to salvage at least a somewhat adequate result.

This is the game where that ugly, ugly own goal happened, where a puck that Matt O’Connor should have had under control ended up hitting Brien Diffley in the head and careened into BU’s net.

But Ahti Oksanen scored two goals in the final 1:51, including one with 2.2 seconds left, and BU eked out a 3-3 tie.

Also importantly, as we learned from The Season (at around 3:24), this is the game where the now-infamous move of Evan Rodrigues to the first line happened. This game, in many regards, was perhaps one of the biggest turning points of the year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDmtW2_D6as — Sarah Kirkpatrick

9. Nov. 21 — BU vs. Maine, W 3-2 (OT)

 

BU’s first of six overtime victories during the 2014-15 season was generated from freshman center Jack Eichel’s first of three OT tallies on the year.

Following along with a trend set throughout the season, BU entered the final period of play down, 2-0, against the Black Bears.

Maine could do little to keep BU’s high-powered offense in check during the third, as junior forwards Ahti Oksanen and Matt Lane scored to knot the game at 2-2 going into the extra period.

As he exhibited countless times throughout the season, Eichel then left Maine skaters in the dust, soaring into the Black Bears zone before ripping a wrister into the net to hand BU the dramatic 3-2 win.

For a team that made its bones on gritty, tenacious play in the third period and overtime, BU’s thrilling victory against their Hockey East foe from Orono proved to be one of the first signs of this Terrier squad’s resilience in the face of adversity. – Conor Ryan

8. Jan. 18 — BU vs. Lowell, W 4-3 (OT)

Getting the “W” against the River Hawks had proved to be a difficult task for the Terriers entering this January matchup at Agganis Arena.

After posting an 0-6-1 record in its last seven tilts against Lowell, BU seemed destined to add another notch in the loss in the win column, falling behind 3-1 early in the second period.

In typical Terrier fashion, however, the home team would storm back, lighting the lamp twice in the second before a missile of a one-timer off the stick of Jack Eichel ended the contest at 1:18 in overtime. — CR

7. Jan. 24 — BU at Vermont, W 2-1 (OT)

BU’s late-January road trip up to Burlington to face then-No. 12 University of Vermont in a two-game set was one of the most crucial series all season. The Terriers handily beat the Catamounts in the Friday game, 4-2, but in the second game, it looked for a while like BU might have to settle for just the two points.

Vermont clung to a 1-0 lead until the final 2:18 of regulation, when Evan Rodrigues knocked home the tying goal. He later assisted on Jack Eichel’s overtime winner.

The win gave BU a four-point lead in the Hockey East standings, and also gave the Terriers an important confidence boost, according to Rodrigues.

“You look around the room,” he said said after the game, “and from top to bottom, you believe in the guys that are sitting next to you.” — SK

6. March 28 — BU vs. Minnesota Duluth (NCAA Regional Final), W 3-2

This game had a little bit of everything — blood, nifty goals (Evan Rodrigues’ golf swing early in the game wouldn’t even be his most fun goal to watch that day) and a spot in the Frozen Four on the line.

Expectedly, the game had plenty of nail-biting moments, too. The game remained tied until the final 2:24, when Rodrigues’ beauty of a toe drag and ensuing goal pushed BU into the Frozen Four. Rodrigues was named Most Outstanding Player of the regional tournament as a result. — SK

5. Nov. 7 — BU at Boston College, W 5-3

Any rivalry game is bound to be entertaining, but this game, between then-No. 5 BU and then-No. 3 BC, remains one of the best games we watched all season.

BC controlled play for the most part, and BU was forced to rally from three deficits in the game before eventually coming out on top in the third period. Thanks to the game-winner from Evan Rodrigues and an empty-net sealer from Nikolas Olsson, the Terriers left the BC fans at Conte Forum stunned.

It was one of the biggest impact wins of the year, and it enriched the tone that BU had set in the early part of the season — you couldn’t ever count BU out, especially in the third period.

4. March 27 — BU vs. Yale (NCAA Regional Semifinal), W 3-2 (OT)

BU had its hands full in its first tilt of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, facing off against a Yale squad that boasted the nation’s best defense at 1.59 goals per game.

Things appeared bleak after 40 minutes, with a power-play goal from Yale defenseman Nate Repensky standing as the lone score of the contest.

BU’s third-period magic once again took hold at Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, with the Terriers outscoring the Bulldogs 2-1 in the period to force overtime.

With the game on the line, Danny O’Regan managed to cash in on a rebound off of Yale netminder Alex Lyon at 7:27 in overtime, sending the Terriers onto the regional final against Minnesota Duluth.

The thrilling match stood as BU’s sixth overtime victory of the season — setting a new program record. — CR

3. Feb. 23 — BU vs. Northeastern (Beanpot Final), W 4-3 (OT)

It would be a cardinal sin to leave off any Beanpot title game from this list — especially one that resulted in a BU championship.

Thankfully, this one lived up to the hype.

The conclusion to the 63rd annual Beanpot Tournament had a little bit of everything, with BU jumping out to a 3-1 advantage before a late run by the Huskies forced overtime — with both teams deadlocked at 3-3.

Under the bright lights of TD Garden, BU’s captain led the way, as Matt Grzelcyk scored twice — including the game winner on the team’s first shot in overtime — to help the Terriers secure its 30th Beanpot title and first since the 2008-09 season. — CR

2. Oct. 25 — BU vs. Michigan, W 3-2

The Michigan game, for all of us on the blog, stands as one of the earliest moments in the year where we first thought, “wow, maybe this team could actually be pretty good.” The Terriers had shown flash in games prior to that — BU’s 8-1 win over UMass was fun to watch, and of course, OC’s first career shutout against Michigan State the night before the Michigan game was a big win.

But at the time, then-No. 14 Michigan was BU’s toughest test so far. And BU found themselves in a 2-1 deficit entering the third period. But as they would become known for as the season progressed, the Terriers rallied in the final frame, with Jack Eichel scoring the tying goal and Matt Lane giving BU a 3-2 lead with 3:10 left in the game.

From our viewpoint in the press box, and for perhaps all BU fans, this was the game where we got an initial glimpse that BU could be resilient and, indeed, elite. — SK

1. Feb. 3 — BU vs. Harvard (Beanpot Semifinal), W 4-3 (2OT)

It seems rather fitting that the longest game in Beanpot history stands as our favorite game from the 2014-15 season.

In a game that featured yet another late comeback from the scarlet and white, along with both superb goaltending from both squads and over 22 minutes of nail-biting overtime drama, the Boston Hockey Blog staff were universal in picking BU’s 4-3 victory over Harvard in the first round of the Beanpot tournament.

The Terriers were on the ropes midway through this match, with the Crimson jumping out to a 3-1 lead just over eight minutes into the second period. There would be no third-period turnaround for BU on this night, however.

Rather, the Terriers made use of what time was left in the middle frame, as both Nikolas Olsson and Ahti Oksanen lit the lamp to even the score.

After Oksanen’s tying goal with 23 seconds remaining in the second, neither team managed to find netting for the next 42:42 of play. During that time, BU peppered goalie Steve Michalek — who set a Beanpot record with 63 saves.

Ultimately, there was little that Michalek could do to stop Danny O’Regan’s bid in double overtime. With just over two minutes eclipsed in the period, Evan Rodrigues intercepted a pass in the Crimson zone, holding onto the puck before feeding O’Regan in the slot.

O’Regan tipped the puck past Michalek to send BU off with the dramatic 4-3 win.

In a season filled with a bevy of incredible games and moments, BU’s double-overtime triumph against Harvard stands alone as our favorite game from 2014-15. — CR

Best of 2014-15: Counting down the top 10 BU goals from the season

In our next segment for the “Best of 2014-15” BU hockey season recap, the Boston Hockey Blog decided to rank our top 10 favorite goals from the Terriers last year.

Check out our list below, and feel free to share your picks in the comments as well:

10. A.J. Greer vs. North Dakota (4/9/15)

Freshman winger A.J. Greer picked an awful good time to snag his third goal of the season, as his one-time blast helped keep the Terriers ahead against North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinal game.

Greer helped BU reclaim a two-goal cushion after receiving a pass from freshman center Jack Eichel just past the UND blue line. Greer uncorked a blast that soared past the reach of North Dakota goaltender Zane McIntyre to help build the Terriers’ lead.

9. Jack Eichel vs. Maine (11/21/14)

 Eichel’s first of three overtime goals during the 2014-15 season sent Agganis Arena into a frenzy, as his power-play strike in overtime pushed the Terriers past the Black Bears and completed an impressive comeback win.

Freshman defenseman Brandon Fortunato left the puck behind the Terrier net, with Eichel then carrying the play all the way into Maine’s side of the ice. Eichel eluded one Maine skater before using another skater as a screen in front of Maine goaltender Sean Romeo. The young center then unleashed a wrister that sailed past Romeo’s left shoulder to give BU the 3-2 win.

8. Danny O’Regan vs. Providence (4/11/15)

Danny O’Regan’s backhand score against the Friars in the national championship game helped cap a two-goal outburst for the Terriers in just four seconds.

After junior forward Ahti Oksanen scored to tie the game at 1-1, Eichel secured the ensuing faceoff at center ice. Eichel pushed the puck into PC’s zone, casting it over to Danny O’Regan, who was about to be knocked down by a Providence skater. With just a split second to spare, O’Regan fired the shot past goalie Jon Gillies to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the Terriers at TD Garden.

7. Jack Eichel @ Wisconsin (1/10/15)

BU’s first line of Eichel, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and junior forward Danny O’Regan dominated the Badgers in this contest — with the trio combining for 10 points on the night.

However, Eichel’s first point of the game stands as the most impressive takeaway from BU’s 6-2 Madison massacre. The freshman skated from the left circle to the right circle, holding onto the puck until goalie Joel Rumpel fell down in the crease. With the net open, Eichel fired into the empty cage to tie the game at 1-1.

6. Evan Rodrigues @ Vermont (1/24/15)

In the midst of a crucial two-game road series against Vermont, Rodrigues put the Terriers up for good in the first tilt of the weekend with this impressive end-to-end goal.

The Etobicoke, Ontario native’s impressive goal gave the Terriers a 3-0 lead at the time, with BU eventually skating off the ice at Gutterson Fieldhouse with a 4-2 win in hand.

5. Danny O’Regan vs. Harvard (2/3/15)

Junior forward Danny O’Regan closed out the longest Beanpot game in tournament history with this quick shot.

With BU and Harvard knotted at 2-2 in double overtime, Rodrigues intercepted a pass in the Crimson’s zone before firing a centering pass to O’Regan, who fired the puck from the low slot past goalie Steve Michalek to give the Terriers the dramatic victory.

4. Jack Eichel vs. UMass Lowell (3/21/15)

Jack Eichel capped the Terriers’ Hockey East championship with this impressive breakaway goal against the River Hawks.

BU already had a reassuring 4-2 lead over Lowell in the conference title game with under six minute left on the clock, but Eichel’s second marker of the contest helped put the final nail in the coffin for UML.

After possessing the puck near the BU blue line, Eichel stepped on the gas, zipping past the Lowell defense all the way into the River Hawks’ side of the ice before sliding the disc through goalie Kevin Boyle’s five-hole to hand BU a late three-goal advantage.

3. Evan Rodrigues @ BC (11/7/14)

Rodrigues once again puts his stamp on our list with this nifty goal against the Eagles at Conte Forum.

Looking to erase a 1-0 BC lead, Rodrigues seized the puck, dangled around a multitude of Eagles and faked out goaltender Thatcher Demko before easily tucking the puck into the net by way of a backhand shot.

Rodrigues would finish the night with two goals, as the Terriers defeated their hated rivals by a score of 5-3.

2. Matt Grzelcyk vs. Northeastern (2/23/15)

BU captain Matt Grzelcyk might have had the Terriers’ only shot of overtime against Northeastern in the Beanpot title game, but he certainly made it count.

Not even a minute had passed in extra time before junior forward Ahti Oksanen corralled the puck along the boards and passing it over to Rodrigues. Rodrigues quickly dished the puck over to Grzelcyk, whose shot from beyond the left circle beat NU goalie Clay Witt and sent the scarlet and white skaters into a frenzy.

Grzelcyk’s overtime strike helped BU claim its 30th Beanpot and first title since 2009.

1. Evan Rodrigues vs. Minnesota Duluth (3/28/15)

The final submission on our list goes to the goal that helped carry the Terriers to the Frozen Four.

Facing off against the University of Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA Northeast Regional final, BU was staring at a 2-2 tie with just under three minutes left to play in the contest. With BU on the power play, Rodrigues gathered the puck, toe-dragged around a Duluth skater and then hesitated before firing the puck from the right circle.

The wrister sailed past Minnesota netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo to give BU the late lead. Ultimately, the Terriers would hold on for the 3-2 win and a trip back to TD Garden.

A Few Honorable Mentions:

Jack Eichel’s overtime strike against UMass Lowell (1/18/15)

Eichel’s shorthanded tally @ Northeastern (2/28/15)

Danny O’Regan’s mini-breakaway goal vs. UConn (11/8/14)

Evan Rodrigues’ golf swing against Minnesota Duluth (3/28/15)

Mike Moran’s batted-in rebound vs. UConn (11/8/14)

 

From the FreeP: Evan Rodrigues to sign deal with Buffalo Sabres

UPDATE (12:50 p.m.) The story has been updated with quotes from Rodrigues. Check it out here.

Boston University senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues will sign an entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres, sources confirmed with The Daily Free Press.

A skilled two-way forward who was able to impact the game in multiple facets, Rodrigues often drew praise from his coach, David Quinn, who lauded his ability to make his presence felt both on and off the score sheet.In four years with the scarlet and white, Rodrigues tallied 121 points, helping BU clinch a Beanpot title, a Hockey East Championship and an appearance in the national title game during his senior campaign.

A skilled two-way forward who was able to impact the game in multiple facets, Rodrigues often drew praise from his coach, David Quinn, who lauded his ability to make his presence felt both on and off the score sheet.

“I’ve seen it ever since I got to BU,” Quinn said on Feb. 7. “He’s just an incredibly smart player, works hard, competes, has a great skill set and he can skate. Other than that, he can’t really do too much.”

Read more on dailyfreepress.com. 

TRANSCRIPT: Evan Rodrigues and Matt Grzelcyk following BU’s 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth

Rodrigues on his first goal

“At the end of practice we play games where we bat pucks up in the air and just start wacking them. So I kind of knew I had a beat on it and I’d make contact.”

Grzelcyk on Evan’s game-winning goal

“It was unbelievable. It’s something that he’s done quite a lot over his four years here. To have that patience down that stretch-we’ve really relied on him, Jack, Danny and guys who can perform in the clutch. As soon as I passed it to him, I wanted him to shoot because he seemed to be wide open, but he made a great play and just a great shot after that.”

Grzelcyk on a senior scoring the game-winning goal

“I honestly can’t think of anyone who is more deserving. Him and Cason just meant a lot to this program and we’ve been through a lot of adversities these past couple years. I’m sure it’s a great feeling for him to see the puck go in the back of the net.”

Grzelcyk on Rodrigues being the hottest scorer in the nation since January

“Getting the opportunity to play with Jack and Danny is second to none. When we came back from Christmas, we wanted to make sure that we amped up our play, but he’s been electric all year. Seems like every time he gets the puck it seems like he’s making a play. Everybody knows that he has the skills, but not everybody knows he is one of the hardest workers on the team and he really sets the tone for the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

Rodrigues on Brandon Fortunato’s play tonight and his assist

“He’s been strong for us all year. We have four Freshman defensemen and it seems like every game they show up and they’re very consistent for being Freshmen. He’s been good all year. He seems to always make the right play and he’s extremely smart. He never gets caught in bad situations and he never makes the wrong play which is kind of surprising for a Freshman. It was a great play. The puck came across and he pinched up on the D, there was a battle for the puck and he just wacked it. It went flying up in the air and I took a nice swing at it.”

Rodrigues on his four years at BU

“Me and Cason have been through quite a bit of diversity starting our Freshman year. Then we came back, we had a good Sophomore year. We were one goal away from making it to the tournament. We were one of the hottest teams in the country going into that game and that was kind of heartbreaking. Then, obviously, last year was the exact opposite of what BU hockey is. it just seemed like nothing went our way. One goal games. Bounces. So this is just an incredible feeling. Even our juniors have been through it all. They came in the full front of the task force and they’ve done an unbelievable job of playing through adversity and leading this team. Especially ‘Grz’, you couldn’t ask for a better captain. To get back to the garden and into the Frozen Four for our Senior year, you couldn’t cap it off any better way.”

Grzelcyk on getting to the Frozen Four in Boston

“It’s obviously pretty cool. I think I’d be just as excited if the Frozen Four were anywhere else. Obviously, we’ve had a pretty good amount of success at the Garden so it’ll be nice to get back on familiar ice. I’m sure the guys will be excited to be back in the environment.”

Rodrigues on being a clutch leader

“I think my sophomore year I had a good stretch and a good season. After what we went through last year, coming into this year I knew I didn’t want my senior year of my career at BU to not be what I expected to be. I’ve been putting as much work as I possibly can to make this a special season. I think I’ve just gained more and more confidence throughout this year and I’m getting to play with two great linemates. I’m trying to keep my work ethic consistent to help me with the results and our team.”

Pluses and Minuses: BU claims 8th Hockey East title in program history

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

For the way this past month has gone for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team, two weeks without a championship trophy must’ve felt like an eternity. The Terriers made sure Saturday night that they wouldn’t go empty-handed.

BU (25-7-5) rolled to a decisive 5-3 win over the No. 12 University of Massachusetts Lowell, taking home the Hockey East championship at TD Garden. It’s the eighth time BU has accomplished this and first since 2009.

“I just couldn’t be happier for our players,” said head coach David Quinn. “Because I know what a special feeling this is. As great of players as these guys are, they’re unbelievable kids, they’re unbelievable people. And I can’t tell you how happy I am for them.”

Freshman center Jack Eichel led the way with three points (two goals, one assist) en route to being named Hockey East Tournament MVP.

Of course, not everything was coming up roses for the Terriers. We’ll take a look at the good and the bad in this edition of Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses

Eichel does it again

What more can be said about this freshman from North Chelmsford? Each time he steps on the ice, it seems like he finds a way to outdo himself. Saturday was much the same.

He used his speed and puck skills to either create or score three of BU’s five goals. His toe-dragging goal through the right circle at 15:02 in the first period was a thing of beauty.

Sarah will have much more to say on Eichel in her sidebar.

Making the most of the situation

There were two times in this game where Lowell (21-12-6) fell into bad defensive position and BU had great 2-on-1 opportunities. Both times ended with a BU celebration.

The first one, early in the second period, started with a strong defensive play by sophomore blueliner Doyle Somerby. He fed freshman winger A.J. Greer, who was on the rush with senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann. The senior held the puck for a few seconds until he got into the low portion of the right circle, then slid the puck through goaltender Kevin Boyle’s pads for a goal.

The score put the Terriers up by two, but the one that extended the lead to three goals might’ve even been better. With 45 seconds remaining in the second, freshman forward Nikolas Olsson capped off a brilliant goal.

Junior center Matt Lane started the play with a perfect outlet pass from the defensive-zone boards to center ice. Olsson picked up the puck and had junior captain Matt Grzelcyk to his right. He dished to Grzelyck, who in turn passed it back off Olsson’s stick for the goal. Boyle tried to follow the puck, but he had little chance to stop this one.

Grzelcyk’s streak continues

Speaking of BU’s junior captain, he’s been on quite the roll in the second half. He now has 16 points in his last 11 games, with three points in the championship win.

He started off the game with a power-play goal off a feed from Eichel at 13:08 in the first, his 10th goal of the year. What makes that goal total more impressive is the fact that he didn’t have any until 24 games into the season.

But is this offensive stretch all that important to Grzelcyk? Not really.

“It doesn’t mean much to me, it’s not something I pay attention to,” Grzelcyk said. “I think it’s just a product of playing with some great players and I think our team in general has really barreled down.”

Quinn attributes Grzelcyk’s play over the past two months to a combination of work ethic and ability.

“He just wants to be the best player he can possibly be, he’s incredibly competitive and tough,” Quinn said. “This kid practices like it’s a game, which is a hard thing for players his age to do. He sets the tone in practice, he works on his game, he’s coachable. He wants to be the best player he can be.”

Line change pays off for Greer

It’s hard to think that BU is experimenting at this point in the season, but that’s exactly what has happened.

Starting in Friday’s game, Greer moved up to the second line left wing position, while sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon slipped to the third line. Greer, who’s been in and out of the lineup this season, has made the most of the move.

He had four shots on goal with two breakaways against the University of New Hampshire and added two more chances on net Saturday.

Greer finished with one point on the weekend, but his play, at least from just watching, was better than that. His combination of physical and skilled play was fun to watch.

O’Connor and Rodrigues get well-deserved honor

Neither senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues nor junior goaltender Matt O’Connor were named the conference first team. They can, however, take some consolation in the fact they were named to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team.

Rodrigues has been a helping hand on the offensive end through most of the season. He continued that trend in the postseason tournament, finishing with seven assists — a Hockey East Tournament record.

As Quinn noted Friday night, O’Connor essentially stole away multiple goals from UNH (19-19-2) in the first period. His presence was important, as a young defensive corps made uncharacteristic mistakes in front of him. Through the first three games of the tournament, he allowed just three combined goals.

He made some terrific saves Saturday night, including this fantastic glove stop in the second period.

“You win with everybody on the roster, you win with everybody within your program,” Quinn said. “I just couldn’t be happier for everybody associated with our team because after what we all went through last year, for people like Matt [Grzelcyk], and Cason, and E-Rod, and OC, and Laner, and all the guys that returned, they would not be denied.”

Minuses

Penalty hurts momentum
Lowell was letting the game slip away after Eichel’s goal late in the first period, and pendulum was swinging in BU’s favor. With one penalty, though, the complexion, at least early in the game, flipped.

Freshman defenseman John MacLeod, who had a good weekend, was called for an arguably questionable elbowing penalty with less than two minutes left in the first. Six seconds later, Lowell had a goal. Instead of being up by two, the Terriers held a one-goal lead heading to the first intermission. It’ll be tough to get away with that in the NCAA Tournament.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers down Merrimack 6-2, take game one of Hockey East quarterfinals

In its first game in two weeks and its first of the Hockey East Tournament, the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team beat Merrimack College soundly on Friday night, pushing the Warriors aside to the tune of a 6-2 score at Agganis Arena.

Evan Rodrigues. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
Evan Rodrigues. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO

With the win, the Terriers put themselves in a position to advance to the conference semifinals if they can grab another victory on Saturday afternoon. And if BU pieces together another performance like the one in the opening game, it’s not unreasonable to think that’s a likely possibility.

Here’s a look into what went right and wrong tonight in this edition of Pluses and Minuses:

Pluses

Larrys and Joes

When a team has the most prolific top line in the country, you can expect a lot of highlight reel goals. And while that was the case for at least one of BU’s tallies on the evening, three of its markers came off second chances near the netmouth.

About 14 minutes into the second period, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues let a shot fly on goalie Rasmus Tirronen. The netminder made the initial stop, but the puck slid behind him in the crease and sat stationary before freshman center Jack Eichel knocked it in for his first of two goals.

Three-and-a-half minutes later, Rodrigues picked up a puck near on the doorstep as well that had come off a rebound and roofed it from in close under the bar. Junior forward Matt Lane gave the Terriers even more insurance as he batted in a second-chance shot as well to extend the lead to 5-1.

“For the most part, it was just roll your sleeves up and win a battle along the wall and stay with rebounds at the net front and don’t be denied,” said BU head coach David Quinn.

Quinn also noted that he felt his team displayed the grit and toughness required to beat a defensively strong Merrimack team.

“At the end of the day, it comes to, when you throw a puck into the corner, who’s willing to win the battle and the grit and determination,” he said. “I know as coaches, we get caught up in the video and the X’s and the O’s, but it’s more about the Larrys and the Joes and not the X’s and the O’s.”

Offense from defense

For much of the year, the Terrier defense’s proclivity for generating shots and making plays has helped power the second-best team offense in the country. Friday night was no different, as four of the five defensemen dressed for BU tallied at least a point. For more on this, read Sarah’s sider.

Offense against good defense

The Terriers looked locked in from the drop of the puck, outshooting Merrimack 18-4 in the first period and out-attempting the Warriors 29-8. By night’s end, BU would post a 46-shot performance and held Merrimack to just 19.

The victory also marked the Terriers’ third straight game with at least five goals and second consecutive with six. The half dozen pucks that BU put past Tirronen is even more impressive when you take his .928 save percentage into account. And when Merrimack was outshot in both games it played against Northeastern University last weekend, Tirronen stopped 99 of 102 shots faced, good for a .971 sv%.

Before Friday’s game, the Warriors allowed 2.28 goals per game on average, a total that placed them at 13th in the nation.

“Six goals is a lot, especially against that team and that goalie,” Quinn said. “They do a great job defending, and you got to have a physical aspect to your game offensively if you’re going to create chances for yourself and I thought we did that.”

Eichel also pointed out that, with a goalie and defense as stalwart as Merrimack’s, every shot is a good one.

Netting six goals isn’t too shabby, either.

 

Minuses:

The power play (sort of)

Although it’s tough to really harp on this considering the Terriers converted on two of their eight chances with the man advantage,  Quinn said there was still room for improvement, despite firing 20 shots on Tirronen on the power play.

“I didn’t love our power play tonight,” he said. “I know I sound like the grumpy coach, but I thought we kind of slowed it up a little bit. I thought we allowed them to get in shooting lanes, and I was surprised we had 20 shots on the power play, but I think we need to be better. I thought we got a little bit away from doing the things we’ve been doing for the most part all year, thought our pace kind of slowed down a little bit.

“But I’ll take 2-for-8 all day long.”

Pluses and Minuses: BU settles for tie after late Notre Dame goal

Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

It wasn’t a win, but it got the job done.

Well, sort of.

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team tied, 2-2, with the University of Notre Dame on Friday night at Agganis Arena. With the point in hand, the Terriers (19-5-5, 13-3-3 Hockey East) clinched a share of the Hockey East title and gained a first-round bye in the conference playoffs.

Sophomore forward Nick Roberto scored halfway through the second to tie the score at one, and senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues netted his 14th goal of the year early in the third to give BU its first lead of the evening. However, on the strength of a late goal, the Fighting Irish (13-15-5, 8-6-5 Hockey East) forced overtime and eventually a draw.

A bounce here or a rebound there and this game could’ve swung in a different direction. As always, there were positives and negatives, so here’s a closer look at the pluses and minuses:

Pluses

Defensive corps stands out

When you have five underclassmen manning the blue line, there might the be expectation that there will be a lapse at some point in the game. But for the most part of the season, this young group has risen to the occasion. That didn’t change Friday night.

Just looking at the numbers, it’s fair to say the defense kept BU in the game from start to finish. The blue liners kept the Fighting Irish outside of prime real estate and forced outside shots. By the time the game ended, Notre Dame finished with 19 shots on goal, the second-fewest BU has allowed in a single game this season.

What stood out most for BU head coach David Quinn was the play of freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey. The first-year defenseman again showed his prowess with the stick and body.

“He can really close on people,” Quinn said. “He’s got a great stick, he’s strong. He plays through people not to people, which is important at this level. For a kid 18 years old he certainly has a great grasp of that. But again, I thought in general, I thought we did a good job defending. I thought we did a nice job keeping them on the perimeter.”

Everyone deserves a second chance

We’ve seen some highlight-reel goals this season, mainly from BU’s top line, but when it came down to it tonight, it was plays in the gritty areas that got the Terriers on the board.

Down a goal in the second, freshman center Jack Eichel pushed through near the crease, jamming at a few chances in front of netminder Cal Peterson. Not before long, Roberto came down through the left side of the crease and gave a whack at a loose puck. On a second attempt on the backhand, Roberto drove home just his third goal of the year.

Thirty-one seconds into the third, Rodrigues got his own chance at a second opportunity. Junior winger Danny O’Regan failed to put his shot past Peterson, but a trailing Rodrigues deposited the puck into the the twine.

Fourth line quietly produces chances

Roberto had his name appear on the scoresheet, although his linemates didn’t play all that bad either. Centered by junior Mike Moran and flanked by freshman wing Chase Phelps, the unit hemmed the puck in deep and created some turnovers with a good forecheck.

The line had six shots combined for the night — double the total BU’s first line had. Moran and Phelps had a few good chances in the first period, but Peterson stood tall.

Kudos to this trio. The three of them don’t get the most ice time by a long shot, but they played well when given the chance.

Minuses 

Late goal re-writes ending

With four minutes and 43 seconds to go, the Terriers held a 2-1 lead that appeared pretty safe. The defense had held its own and didn’t give Notre Dame many chances.

It wouldn’t have been much longer until the Fighting Irish would most likely look to pull Peterson for an extra attacker. Sole possession of Hockey East appeared imminent.

But what looked as a benign rush ended up as a game-changer. Freshman Anders Bjork skated the puck through the slot, wristing the puck toward junior goaltender Matt O’Connor. The shot beat him clean, and instead of celebrating with a trophy, the Terriers settled for a tie and share, at least for the night, of the Hockey East Crown.

The ceremony will have to wait another night.

“[Notre Dame gets] a big goal towards the end of the third period there to tie it,” Quinn said. “Give them a lot of credit, I thought they made life difficult for us as coach Jeff’s [Jackson] teams usually do — they got good skill.”

Missed Opportunities 

It wasn’t like the Terriers didn’t have chances two points Friday night. BU garnered 36 shots on goal, yet also had chances that either missed the net entirely or were blocked.

The clock dwindled in the third period and BU looked to break the tie. Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk fired a shot from the point that careened perfectly for O’Regan to tap in. Instead, he couldn’t get a clean handle of the puck and shot it a mile high of net.

BU’s power play, which has been a strength of this team, also failed to come through, going 0-for-3. Playing a man up in the third, the Terriers recorded only one shot on the advantage and had trouble entering the zone.

“Space was hard to come by, I thought both teams well defensively,” Quinn said. “Both power plays unable to capitalize on their opportunities.”

Transcript: Senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues after loss to UNH

Did you guys think that you had a chance to come back entering the third? 

“Yeah, definitely. We’ve never given up all year long. I think the goalie was making a few good saves and we knew that If we got one, that more would come. I think that’s what happened, we just knew that we had to stick to the game plan and things would turn our way. Just too little, too late.”

How good was it to get back on the score sheet?

“Obviously, it’s nice. I mean, I’d rather take a win than points, but I’m not going to complain.”

Matt Grzelcyk has been on a pretty good streak the last couple games. What do you think has been different about his play, at least offensively?

“I think he’s just getting the bounces now. He’s been great for us all year, he’s been a great captain for us. I just think that at the beginning of the year, some of his shots were getting blocked, they were off the post — this and that — and I think things are just starting to go his way and it’s good to see.”

How much do you think last night’s game contributed to the slow start today?

“I think we were ready, we just didn’t execute. We had a good first couple shifts, they got the first one and then we kind of got away from our gameplan and didn’t work as hard as we wanted to and the results obviously showed. We took way too many penalties and I think they had two or three power play goals. It’s been a trend as of late and it’s something that we need to stop doing.”

Down 3-0, [Quinn] called a timeout and pulled [junior goaltender Matt O’Connor.] What was the message in that timeout?

“I think just to get back. We knew we were not playing the way we wanted to. It wasn’t O’Connor’s fault at all. I think it was one of those things where we needed to figure it out, get back to our gameplan and we just needed a fresh start. We obviously weren’t playing the way that we’re capable of and we just tried to shake things up.”