Pluses and Minuses: BU misses opportunities, falls at Lowell in Game 1 of quarterfinals

PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

LOWELL — Both head coaches after Game 1 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals agreed that the contest came down to one thing — special teams.

But as Boston University head coach David Quinn noted, the other team executed and his team didn’t.

In what was a tight game throughout the full 60 minutes, No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell pulled ahead to stay with two third-period goals, defeating No. 8 BU, 3-2, at the Tsongas Center on Friday night.

The decisive goal for Lowell (22-8-5) came off the stick of forward Adam Chapie, a power-play strike with 4:38 left in the final period.

Bounces one way or the other could have changed the outcome of this one, as things tend to happen in playoff games. Puck luck remained mostly on the side of Lowell on Friday, but we’ll explore the negatives and positives a little further in this Pluses and Minuses.

Minuses

Special teams fail

It’s noted early in the piece, and for good reason, as the respective power plays were the difference. To briefly summarize, BU (21-11-5) went 0-for-2 with a man up, while the River Hawks did their part on the power play, finishing at a 50 percent clip (2-for-4).

“If you’re going to have a successful power play, you’ve got to be alert, you’ve got to be ready to do a few things,” Quinn said, “and both their goals, we just blew our responsibility.”

We could probably break this down for hours, but, in short, BU’s effort on special teams was just not good enough to win a hockey game, especially one of this magnitude.

But, if you want to read more about the issues on special teams, Sarah has your back in her sidebar.

Lowell’s second goal 

Quinn said after the game that he liked the way his team played 5-on-5, and for the majority of the game, BU did indeed play well at even strength. One mishap in the neutral zone, however, proved costly halfway through the third period.

The Terriers pressed in Lowell’s end for most of the third, but the River Hawks took advantage with space in neutral ice, converting on forward Michael Louria’s goal at 11:35.

Louria got the puck through the neutral zone and into the high slot uninhibited, allowing him to wrist a shot in the low corner of the net, under senior goaltender Sean Maguire‘s blocker. Louria said his shot hit a stick in front of him, which helped him score, but any way you put it, a well-placed shot in open space is a tough matchup for any goaltender.

Chances pile up, results don’t

The shots were there but the goals were not. BU racked up 35 shots, including 18 in the final 20 minutes of play, as compared to Lowell’s game total of 19. BU outshot Lowell by six in the first, but skated to the dressing room in a scoreless tie, which Quinn noted was frustrating.

Yet, even as BU pressured goaltender Kevin Boyle in the final minutes, he continued to make all of the necessary stops to prevail in the series opener. In two of the three games that BU has faced Lowell this season, Boyle has limited the Terriers’ to three or fewer goals.

“Sometimes shots can be deceiving but we held a team to 19 shots and we get 35, you might think you’ve got a better chance to win” Quinn said. “But again, it comes back to special teams. And you can’t go 2-for-4 on the penalty kill.”

It could very well be a product of playing good defenses (and strong goaltenders), but BU has scored more than three goals in a game only twice since February, both against last-place University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Scoring three goals should be enough to win you most hockey games, but for a team that scored at a good pace in the first half, goals have been harder to come by over the last two months.

Pluses 

JFK — the good streak 

In such a fickle game like hockey, scoring can come and go in bunches. Example — freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. 

BU’s first-line center proved early in the year to not only have adept passing skills, but he had some scoring touch, with seven goals through Jan. 22. But good streaks can lead to empty ones, and Forsbacka Karlsson felt that through much of February and into early March. The freshman had no goals and just five points in a 12-game stretch lasting from that Jan. 22 game through March 4.

Finally, in the second game of BU’s first-round series with UMass (8-24-4) he broke through with two goals. He continued that scoring against Lowell, tallying BU’s first of the night early in the second period, walking in from the left circle and beating Boyle five-hole on a quick wrister to open up the scoring at 6:22.

“Obviously when you’ve got your first-line center scoring goals, it’s certainly a great sign,” Quinn said. “He’s had a great year, and as we all know, sometimes scoring can be streaky, and he went through a stretch where he was a little bit snakebitten, but obviously two goals in the last game we played and a goal tonight — hopefully that trend continues.”

The silver lining 

Moral victories mean almost nothing when it comes down to the postseason, but there is something that BU can at least take some solace in after Friday’s loss.

If there’s one thing Quinn’s bunch has done exceptionally well the past two seasons, it’s that it hasn’t lost two games in a row very often. In fact, since last year, the Terriers have only lost back-t0-back games just once, and that came early on in this campaign on Oct. 27 and 30 in games against the University of Connecticut and Merrimack College.

“It’s been a resilient group, we’re going to have to be very resilient tomorrow night, that’s for sure,” Quinn said. “I liked a lot of the things we did tonight, we’re just going to have to clean up obviously the penalty kill and a few other areas to create offense, we’ve got to go to the net more consistently.”

Pluses and Minuses: Carpenter, Maguire carry Terriers in playoff-opening victory

The University of Massachusetts Amherst gave the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team quite the challenge in the first game of the Hockey East Tournament, pushing BU into an overtime contest. Ultimately, though, the Terriers earned a 2-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series at Agganis Arena on Friday night.

There were a couple things we didn’t like, but a whole, whole, whole lot of things we really, really, really didn’t like. Here’s just a sampling:

Pluses

Bobo
My pretty immediate reaction after the game is that my only plus on the night was for freshman forward Bobo Carpenter. Judy has more about his two-goal night in her sidebar.

Maguire in OT
After immediately feeling like Carpenter was the only good thing about BU in Friday’s game, I decided that was an unfair sentiment toward senior goaltender Sean Maguire, who had some mindblowing saves in overtime — including one on a delayed penalty where he dove in front of a wide-open net and made a blocker save to keep the score knotted.

“I thought the game was over,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He makes a phenomenal save to allow us to regroup.”

Twenty-eight saves on 29 shots isn’t too shabby of a night, either. His save percentage on the year is now at .930 and his goals-against average sits at 2.09.

Minuses

Urgency
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how lightly the Terriers were taking UMass entering this game, considering they’d beaten them by scores of 7-2 and 6-3 already this season.

You could point to the fact that it’s a playoff game, a fresh start, where UMass has nothing to lose. But BU showed next to no urgency through the first two periods — looking like, quite possibly, they have have underestimated just how hard the Minutemen would come out in this game.

Here’s what Quinn had to say:

“Well, they’re 18-to-22-year-olds, and you beat a team 7-2 and 6-3 and there’s 700 people in the building,” Quinn said. “I without question thought that human nature was a factor in the first two periods from our end of it.

“That being said, I thought they played very well. They played hard, they were physical, they blocked a ton of shots, so I don’t want to discredit the way UMass played.”

Here’s Carpenter’s take:

“I don’t think so, I just think it’s playoff hockey,” he said. “And everyone’s got a chip on their shoulder to get the championship. I think the rest of the games are going to be the same way, everyone’s going to give it their best so they don’t end their season early.”

And here’s senior forward Ahti Oksanen’s take:

“That’s what coach told us too, just that obviously we really destroyed them the first two games,” Oksanen said. “So it might’ve been that we started a little slow and thought that would be just an easy game for us, but obviously that wasn’t the truth.”

Couldn’t solve Renyard — or get a rebound
While Maguire had a good night, UMass goalie Nic Renyard’s was even better. He had a career-best 46 saves in the game, and BU couldn’t figure out how to get past him, save for some great play by Carpenter.

That being said, Renyard left plenty of rebounds up for grabs in the slot, however, and BU couldn’t seem to capitalize, as nobody was ever in the right position. Forty-eight shots on goal is an impressive number, but there were even more chances there that the Terriers couldn’t seem to grasp.

Power play
BU had three total shots on three power plays.

That really says it all, but Oksanen had more to say about what’s going wrong on the power play, which hasn’t been right for quite some time. They’ve gotten just one power-play goal in seven attempts over the past three games.

“That’s a good question, if we know what we’re doing wrong, we would change it right away,” Oksanen said. “But … I guess we’re a little much in so-called ‘power-play mode,’ just not playing normal hockey. We have our setup, and we just stand there, and not really do anything. We just need to play simple hockey and get the puck in.”

Basically — too much passing, not enough shooting.

Attendance
Quinn exaggerated a bit when he said that there were only 700 people in the building, but just 1,752 fans showed up to Agganis Arena on Friday night, which, according to BU Sports Information Director Brian Kelley, is the lowest total in building history for a men’s hockey game.

That can probably be partially attributed to the fact that spring break is underway for BU students. Regardless, though, even though it’s UMass and only a first-round matchup — yikes. This weekend’s the last time BU will play at home this year, so just a bit unfortunate.

Last home game with the three of us
Andrew’s headed off for spring vacation, so he’ll miss tomorrow’s game — thus making Friday night the last time all three of us will cover a game together at Agganis Arena. We’ll have our friend Nick Frazier helping us out tomorrow, but regardless, sad to see our last time together at a place with many, many good memories.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers shut out in loss to No. 10 Notre Dame to close out regular season

Charlie McAvoy. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP FILE PHOTO
Charlie McAvoy. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP FILE PHOTO

SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Golden chances were there for the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team, but as head coach David Quinn put it, his team could not take advantage of a single one.

Call it poor luck or having the challenge of going against a sharp goaltender, either way BU (19-10-5, 12-6-4 Hockey East) could not pull this one out Saturday night, falling to No. 10 University of Notre Dame, 1-0.

Senior goaltender Sean Maguire kept BU in it for most of the night, but his opposer, sophomore Cal Petersen, made 39 saves to preserve the Notre Dame (19-8-7, 15-5-2 Hockey East) shutout.

Freshman Dylan Malmquist provided the only offense needed with a power-play goal at the 11:47 mark of the second period.

BU’s loss, in conjunction with No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell’s win over No. 2 Boston College, means the Terriers slipped to the No. 5 seed in Hockey East, so there will be no first-round bye in the cards.

We’ll take a look at the bad and the good in our breakdown from Compton Family Ice Arena:

Minuses 

Opportunity knocks, no answer 

BU had the chance to clinch the third or fourth seeds in the conference playoffs under a few scenarios, the easiest of them being a win or tie against the Fighting Irish.

But, as I’m sure you’ve read up to this point, BU did neither of those in its regular-season finale. Instead of getting a first-round bye and home ice in the quarterfinals, the Terriers will play host in the first round and have to travel to a road site in the quarterfinals, if they advance out of the opening series.

The silver lining in this? BU will host 12th-seeded University of Massachusetts Amherst, a team BU has defeated four times in as many games the last two seasons, outscoring the Minutemen (8-22-4, 2-16-4 Hockey East) by a combined score of 30-11.

“Obviously you’re hoping to get a point tonight, allow yourself to get a bye, but didn’t happen and, as a I told our guys, ‘You’re hockey players, you get to play more hockey,'” Quinn said. “That’s how you got to look at it. Right? Obviously lick our wounds from tonight, they can feel sorry for themselves for the next 24 hours, but you get to play more hockey. That’s how you got to look at it.

“It’s an opportunity to get better, it’s playoff time, it’s the best time of year.”

Sarah takes a look at the playoffs in her sidebar.

Can’t get it by Cal

Before Saturday, Petersen had 15 games this season in which he stopped at least 30 shots. Make that 16 now.

Whether it was the glove, pads or blocker, Petersen made some terrific saves all night, and Friday for that matter, too.

At times, BU was hemmed in its own zone and couldn’t get any offense going toward net, but especially toward the end of the game, the shots came in and Petersen was there for each one.

“It’s frustrating, I thought we had some good chances,” said senior assistant captain Matt Lane, who registered one shot on net. “I thought at times we could have challenged a little more, but he’s a great goaltender and he was on his game tonight.”

Power play ineffective

This has been a recurring theme in this section of our articles, so we’ll try and keep this part brief.

At times in this game during BU’s power play, it was difficult to even see that the Terriers even had an extra man on the ice. There were a lot of passes in the neutral zone (sloppy ones at that) and not a whole lot of shooting on net. All three man advantages came in the second period, and at least on the first one, BU did next to nothing.

On those three power plays, BU totaled four shots, and it wasn’t as if Petersen was pressured in any of these particular instances.

More than one thing attributed to the lack of success, Quinn said.

“Just, we lost a lot of battles,” Quinn said. “Sometimes what can happen on a power play is you lose sight of the fact that you’ve got to play hockey within a power play. Go here, do this, do that, and you’ve got to play hockey within the power play and I think when we’re not effective on our power play, we don’t play hockey within our power play. We go to our spots.

“I just thought we lost some one-on-one battles, I thought we were a little inept coming up ice, and it cost you.”

Pluses 

Maguire hangs in, shots come late 

BU’s senior goaltender didn’t face a tremendous number of shots through two periods (13), but he saw a lot of action his way in the early stages of the third.

Notre Dame pressed for a game-breaking goal, but Maguire hung in there, making 15 saves on 15 chances. Quinn said Maguire did all of the things he’s been doing all season to be successful in this one.

And while the Terriers could not make their final push come to fruition, it wasn’t for a lack of effort. There was almost nothing going on in the Fighting Irish zone in the opening minutes of the third, but around the halfway point, BU made a rush to get the score even. BU had 13 shots and goal and attempted 24, including one in which senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan was denied on in the final five minutes.

McAvoy’s big hit 

Freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been on the top pair for most of this season, bringing an offensive element to the game any time he’s on the ice.

But tonight, we’ll give him a plus for the crushing hit he put on forward Connor Hurley late in the first period.

That’s an impressive use of the body that we haven’t seen all that often from the freshman.