One hundred and forty days later, the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team’s 2016-17 regular season will come to a close on Saturday night.
The Terriers will host No. 13 University of Notre Dame for a weekend set at Agganis Arena, with the action getting underway Friday at 6 p.m. and wrapping up one day later at 7 p.m.
Heading into the series, BU has a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs clinched, but can still capture the regular-season crown. For a full rundown of what’s set to unfold, check out Jonathan’s preview on The Daily Free Press.
Aside from playoff implications, Saturday’s game will mark the last regular-season contest of Doyle Somerby, Nick Roberto and Tommy Kelley’s careers. They’ll have their Senior Night, capping four years of throwing on the scarlet and white.
The trio means a lot to head coach David Quinn, too, because his first year at the helm was also their freshman season.
To recount their time on Commonwealth Avenue, Jonathan caught up with Somerby, Roberto and Kelley to reflect. Click here for the full story on The Daily Free Press.
It probably wasn’t how head coach David Quinn drew it up, but he’ll gladly take three out of four points from this past weekend’s series with the University of New Hampshire.
After slumping hard, the No. 4 Boston University men’s hockey team clawed its way back to the status quo, outscoring UNH 12-8 across two contests. It got underway with a 4-4 tie at Agganis Arena on Friday night, then wrapped up with an 8-4 win for the Terriers over the Wildcats up in Durham, New Hampshire on Saturday evening.
The Cloonan line – The third line of Kieffer Bellows, Chase Phelps and Ryan Cloonan looked strong all weekend. It finished with six points on Friday night and displayed some true chemistry. All three players have dipped at various points in 2016-17, so it’s nice to see them hitting their stride.
“I love it. All three of us bring different aspects from our game. Cloonan is such a fast, great skater, makes great plays. Then Chase Phelps is a strong body who gets to the corners. You saw his release out there – it’s nice and quick, gets it on net. I just try to do my best to do whatever I can to help the team out. If that’s chipping it in, hitting a body, I think our whole line has great chemistry going right now.” – Bellows
Shuffled lines – Speaking of lines, who on Earth expected Doyle Somerby to play as a fourth line winger? That’s how crazy the new lines were, but some of the combinations bore fruit. The top line of Jordan Greenway, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Clayton Keller can score at any moment. Meanwhile, the group of Nick Roberto, Patrick Harper and Bobo Carpenter isn’t too shabby, either. For JFK, the changes were necessary after a 6-3 loss in the Beanpot final to Harvard on Monday.
“Sometimes you need to do something after a game like the against Harvard. I think it was reactionary.” – Forsbacka Karlsson
Team Defense – The defense needs to tighten up big time, though. UNH’s top line of Tyler Kelleher, Jason Salvaggio and Michael McNicholas was potent all weekend, and BU had no answer for them. When stronger teams come around, the Terriers can ill afford to let star players shine like Kelleher and Co. did.
“Kelleher is a really good player. Every time he’s out there, he’s extremely dangerous and makes a lot of plays happen. Those other guys seem to find him all over the ice. If they can find open space they’ll be dangerous, and you have to be aware of that.” – Harper
Patrick Harper – Harper had himself quite the weekend, too. He had three points on Saturday night, and quietly now has 31 points on the year. For one, Quinn called hailed his performance.
“He had a great weekend. He didn’t feel great about himself after the World Juniors. You win a gold medal, he didn’t play a lot, so I think people usually come back from that and take off. Our guys haven’t. A lot of our guys have struggled or haven’t played to the best of their ability. This weekend I think a lot of those guys found their stride. He certainly was one of them. I thought this was as good as he’s played all year.” – Quinn
Third Period – This is still a third period team. After struggling in both first frames against UNH, BU bounced back in a major way come the third period. Across the weekend, the Terriers outscored the Wildcats, 6-0, in the stanza when it matters the most.
Tweets of the Weekend
It's official… @TerrierHockey has clinched a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs. We'll host a quarterfinal series beginning 3/10.
The No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team traveled to Gutterson Fieldhouse for a pair of games against No. 12 Vermont last weekend, falling 4-2 in Friday’s tilt before cruising to a 4-0 win on Saturday. A lot happened in the last series of 2016. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives from the Terriers versus the Catamounts.
1.) Keller’s return – Man, it’s good to have Clayton Keller back. After missing seven games, the star freshman forward returned to the ice Friday night, slotting back into his center spot on the second line. He didn’t miss a beat, as he won 12-of-14 faceoffs and notched a helper on Pat Harper’s goal in the second period. It was more of the same on Saturday, as Keller went bar down for his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third period. The Terriers may have gone 4-2-1 in Keller’s absence, but it’s obvious that BU is a much more dangerous team with Keller patrolling the ice. – Nick
2.) Power Play – BU came into this weekend having gone 1-for-24 on power plays in conference play. They really flipped the script on that one, going an impressive 3-for-8 on PP opportunities against Vermont. Bobo Carpenter and Pat Harper scored two on Friday, with Keller’s coming on Saturday. The Catamounts’ penalty kill was ranked 9th in the nation heading into Friday’s contest, so a very positive sign from a Terrier offense that has gone silent at times. – Nick
3.) Jake Oettinger – Sixteen games into the 2016-17 season, BU’s freshman netminder has recorded three shutouts and taken the starting job by storm. He posted 24 saves in Friday’s 4-2 loss, then bounced back on Saturday night and stopped 28 shots for his first goose egg on the road. Looking at the national picture, Oettinger is a top-five goaltender, at least according to USCHO’s statistics. Boasting .932 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average will do that for ya. Oh, and we’d be remiss not to point out that Oettinger soon heads to the U.S. Hockey World Junior Championship preliminary camp, so his stock should continue to rise. – Jonathan
The Small Five
a.) Carpenter – I thought Bobo had a really strong weekend, especially on Saturday. On Friday, the sophomore kicked things off with a power play goal off a rebound, another case of him being around the puck at all times. On Saturday, Bobo was second on the team with four shots taken and was consistently chasing after the puck behind the Catamount net. He’s not going to get on the score sheet a whole lot this season, but he works his you know what off every night, and that was evident this weekend. – Nick
b.) Bellows sits –We mentioned in our Three Thoughts last week that we thought Bellows should sit a game, and that finally happened during Saturday’s win. He did have an assist on Friday, but he also was called for another penalty and finished the loss with a plus-minus of -2. It just hasn’t been the season we hoped the talented freshman would have, at least not yet. Hopefully he’ll turn it around in the second half of the season. – Nick
c.) Hockey East update –BU now sits tied for sixth in the Hockey East standings with 10 points in eight games. The University of New Hampshire, Notre Dame and Vemrmont are in front of the Terriers with 11 points each. Boston College may have a strong grip on the conference standings, but BU is right on the heels of the other frontrunners. Keep in mind, four of the five teams in front of the Terriers have played more games. – Nick
d.) Switzer and Diffley – Shane Switzer and Brien Diffley were pencilled into the lineup on Saturday night – Switzer alongside Brandon Hickey and Diffley with Somerby – and impressed. The moves were prompted by choice and necessity, as Dante Fabbro jetted off to Team Canada’s camp for World Juniors, while John MacLeod didn’t play. Nevertheless, these two blueliners seized their chance, contributing in notable ways to BU’s 4-0 shutout of the Catamounts. Furthermore, it was Switzer’s first appearance since Nov. 12’s 4-2 win over Michigan, while Diffley hadn’t skated since the 4-0 loss to UConn on Nov. 19. – Jonathan
e.) Team Defense – For all the talk about how “stacked” BU’s offense is, it’s team defense is firmly entrenched in the country’s upper echelon. Its 2.06 goals against average is tied for the fourth fewest in Division 1 college hockey, while its 90.8 success rate on the penalty kill is third best nationally. One worrisome trend is the magic number number for opponents seems to be four – as in four goals allowed. BU has surrendered four strikes five times this fall semester, losing four times (t0 UConn, Michigan, Denver and Vermont) and drawing once (to Northeastern). – Jonathan
The Boston University men’s hockey team snagged three of a possible four points against Providence College this past weekend. Friday night’s clash was a 2-1 win at Schneider Arena, while Saturday’s game unfolded as a 2-2 overtime tie.
From the good, the bad and the ugly, we offer several takes on what unfolded. As a bit of foreshadowing, it wasn’t the prettiest weekend of Terrier hockey, even if the results were largely favorable.
1.) Bellows struggles – As much as we don’t want to admit it, it may be time for Kieffer Bellows to sit a game or so. After getting two penalties in the first period on Saturday, including one in the offensive zone, Bellows now leads all Terriers in total penalties with 16. For comparison, Jordan Greenway is second in penalties with 10. Quinn made the decision to bench Bellows for pretty much the rest of Saturday’s contest, and he can’t be blamed. It’s been a tough stretch for the freshman, as he has just one point in his last seven contests. With BU not as deep as it would like to be, hopefully he can get more comfortable in the college game soon. –Nick
2.) Penalties – If you thought the Terriers’ penalty problem had subsided, last weekend seemed to prove you wrong. After averaging 9.6 penalty minutes in their previous six contests, Quinn’s squad logged 47 minutes in the box in the two games versus the Friars. BU still secured three points despite having to kill the power play so much, but it’s obvious that Quinn will be stressing cutting down penalties in practice this week. – Nick
3.) Who’s out – It will be interesting to see which forward gets bumped out of the lineup once Clayton Keller returns from injury (which could be before the winter break, FYI). Pat Curry has stepped up to replace Keller on the second line, and he’s performed well the last few games. Does he stay somewhere on that second line, especially with Bellows’ recent struggles? And where does Ryan Cloonan fit in when Keller and Tommy Kelley are back on the ice? Who on the fourth line gets the boot? If BU can get all of their playmakers back to full health, keep an eye out for what Quinn does with the bottom three lines. – Nick
The Small Five
a.) Oettinger – For anyone claiming that Jake Oettinger can’t handle the starting spot for these Terriers, it’s time to hold your horses. The kid is just fine. Actually scratch that – he’s more than fine. He made a combined 68 saves across both games with the Friars, including 38 on Friday night. The 17-year-old also now has a 1.92 goals against average and .930 save percentage. – Jonathan
b.) D pairings – Coach Quinn tossed a small curveball this past weekend when he switched up the top two defensive pairings. He partnered Charlie McAvoy with Brandon Hickey, and also put Chad Krys with Dante Fabbro. Normally it’d be McAvoy-Krys and Hickey-Fabbro, so perhaps a small point. Meanwhile, John MacLeod and Doyle Somerby stayed together on the third pairing. – Jonathan
c.) McAvoy – Speaking of McAvoy, we’re starting to see some serious offensive production from this past summer’s first-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins. He has one goal and 11 assists, including a helper in each of his last three games. That should come as no surprise, though, as he had three goals and 22 assists in his freshman season. Either way, it’s nice to see McAvoy contributing on the offensive end consistently. – Jonathan
d.) Harper – Is it possible that Patrick Harper is regressing to the mean? He still leads BU with 17 points, but he was kept off the scoreboard in both tilts with the Friars. Many of the team’s top forwards were as well, so it’s hardly a slight. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if Harper returns to his scoring ways or balances out some. – Jonathan
e.) Power play – The Terriers’ power play isn’t up to snuff right now, of that there is no doubt. BU has the 43rd-best success rate in the country, as it scores on 14.29 percent of its man advantages. With copious talent – Keller, Harper, Bellows, Fabbro, McAvoy and Greenway, to name a few – something has to click soon, right? On the contrary, BU’s penalty-kill unit is the nation’s third best, as it clocks in at a 91.1 percent success rate. – Jonathan