No. 18 men’s hockey set for No. 9 Providence in Hockey East championship

It’s been three years since the No. 18 Boston University men’s hockey team faced No. 9 Providence College at TD Garden. In that game, the Friars (23-10-4, 13-7-4 Hockey East) overcame Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Jack Eichel and downed BU (20-13-4, 12-8-4 Hockey East) to take home the school’s first national championship.

For the Terriers, the options are simple: with a win they secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but with a loss, their season is over.

BU’s season almost ended Friday night at the hands of No. 14 Boston College.

The Eagles (20-14-3, 18-6 Hockey East) jumped out to a 2-0 lead by three minutes and 26 seconds into the second period.

However, the Terriers battled to send the game into overtime, where sophomore forward Patrick Curry cleaned up a rebound from freshman forward Shane Bowers 15:40 into the extended period to send BU to the championship game.

The Terriers have remained undefeated (13-0-2) in games where Curry has notched a point.

The Friars also needed overtime to put themselves in position to win their first Hockey East crown since 1996.

In a battle of two top-10 teams, Providence overcame No. 7 Northeastern University 2-1 in overtime.

The Friars jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the Huskies (23-9-5 15-6-3 Hockey East) knotted the game in the second period thanks to a short-handed goal by senior forward and assistant captain Dylan Sikura.

Freshman forward Austin Goldstein and sophomore forward Kasper Bjorkqvist each tallied goals for Northeastern and Providence, respectively, in the third period, but sophomore forward Brandon Duhaime scored the game-winner for the Friars 9:55 into overtime.

BU and Providence split the three regular season games evenly at 1-1-1, with both wins coming from the home team.

Sophomore defenseman Chad Krys picked up three points against the Friars, including a two-goal game at Agganis Arena on Nov. 3. Junior forward and assistant captain Bobo Carpenter also recorded a two-goal game against Providence at Agganis on Jan. 13.

The Friars are led by Hockey East First-Team All-Stars junior forward Erik Foley and sophomore defenseman Jacob Bryson. Foley recorded two goals against the Terriers this season.

In net, the Friars feature Hockey East All-Star Second Team member junior goaltender Hayden Hawkey — who shutout BU earlier this season at Schneider Arena. He will be tasked with stopping a BU offense that averages 3.14 goals per game, a mark that is good for second in the conference.

Hawkey’s netminding counterpart, sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger, also recorded a shutout in the series on Nov. 3. The Terriers will rely on the Lakeville, Minnesota native to slow down a Providence team that is third in the conference in scoring, as the Friars average 3.11 goals per game.

Providence already has guaranteed its spot in the NCAA tournament, but for the Terriers, it is the definition of “win or go home.”

Jack Eichel to sign with Sabres, part ways with BU

UPDATE: Eichel officially signed a three-year deal with the Sabres this afternoon. Here’s our full report on The Daily Free Press.

Center Jack Eichel will leave BU and sign a deal with the Buffalo Sabres, and is expected to sign a contract on Wednesday, a source confirmed with The Daily Free Press.

Eichel, who was drafted second overall by the Sabres on Friday night, was reportedly weighing his options and waiting to decide whether to turn pro until after the draft.

Shawn Stepner of WKBW, the ABC affiliate in Buffalo, first reported that Eichel will sign his deal Wednesday. And it looks like Eichel is already in Buffalo:

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

From the FreeP: Matt Grzelcyk’s return prompted by more than just unfinished business

Sarah and I were able to chat with Matt Grzelcyk last week about his decision to return for his senior season, his new assistant captains, expectations for 2015-16 and much more. Be sure to check it out! – Conor

_____________________

When Boston University men’s hockey team junior captain Matt Grzelcyk announced during the team’s annual banquet that he intended to return for the 2015-16 season, it appeared that the motivating factors in his decision were easy to map out.

After all, less than a week before he made his return official, Grzelcyk and the Terriers bore the brunt of a crushing loss to Providence College in the NCAA title game, coming up one game short in what was a miraculous turnaround season for BU.

Clamoring for one last championship run would seem to be more than enough motivation for any player to make the call to return to school for another season, but Grzelcyk — speaking with The Daily Free Press outside of the team’s training facilities at Agganis Arena — said that such a scenario wasn’t the case.

Read more at dailyfreepress.com.

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)

 

Best of 2014-15: Ranking the top 10 Terrier assists from the season

As part of our “Best of 2014-15” segment, the Boston Hockey Blog crew is counting down some of the top plays/quotes/games from this past BU hockey season. Here is our second post, in which we rank our top 10 favorite assists from the 2014-15 campaign:

10. Matt Grzelcyk to Nikolas Olsson (3/21/15 vs. UMass Lowell)

We open our list with this impressive set of plays from junior captain Matt Grzelcyk and freshman winger Nikolas Olsson during the Hockey East title game against the River Hawks.

With BU leading 3-1 with under a minute to go in the second period, Grzelcyk and Olsson broke out on a 2-on-1 blitz into Lowell’s zone. Olsson sent the puck to Grzelcyk at the high slot, who quickly launched the disc back to Olsson just a second later. The puck bounced off Olsson’s stick and into the UML net to give BU a commanding three-goal lead.

9. Danny O’Regan to Jack Eichel (2/13/15 vs. UNH)

Freshman center Jack Eichel and junior winger Danny O’Regan teamed up on multiple goals throughout the season, but we figured that this 2-on-1 score serves a great intro for these two forwards.

After O’Regan forced a turnover just outside of UNH’s zone, both he and Eichel traded the puck before the San Jose Sharks prospect careened the biscuit back over to Eichel, who sniped it into the nearly empty net to give BU a 3-1 lead over the Wildcats at 4:14 in the second.

8. Evan Rodrigues and Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (1/30/15 vs. UMass Amherst)

In what eventually resulted in a 9-5 slugfest win for the Terriers over UMass Amherst on Jan. 30, BU’s first line once again orchestrated the most impressive tally on the night.

BU was already holding onto a 1-0 lead in the first when senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues fired a backhand shot to the net. The puck was drawn in by Eichel at the crease, who zipped it over to O’Regan for the easy tap-in goal.

7. Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (11/14/14 @ Maine)

Throughout the season, Eichel used his speed and playmaking ability to generate offense, even when the Terriers were down a skater. One of the best instances of such a scenario occurred when the Terriers faced off against Maine on Nov. 14 up in Orono.

BU was forced to go on the penalty kill with the game tied 1-1 in the closing minutes of the second period, but Eichel and Co. were quickly able to turn the tables on the Black Bears.

BU’s freshman center forced a turnover in the Terriers’ zone before outskating three Maine players down the left side of the ice. After blowing past his opponents, Eichel sent the puck over to an advancing O’Regan at the right post, who flipped the puck over Maine goalie Sean Romeo to give BU a 2-1 lead with 14 seconds left in the period.

6. Nick Roberto to Matt Lane (11/21/14 vs. Maine)

While an impressive set of plays from Eichel and junior forward Ahti Oksanen (found further down on this list) might have landed BU its first goal on the night against Maine on Nov. 21, it was the Terriers’ third line that tied the score midway in the third period.

With just over nine minutes left in regulation, freshman winger A.J. Greer passed the puck from behind the Maine net to sophomore forward Nick Roberto in the right slot. Roberto quickly fired a backhand pass to junior center Matt Lane across the slot, who then tucked the puck past  Romeo to tie the game, 2-2.

5. Jack Eichel to Ahti Oksanen (11/21/14 vs. Maine)

Staring at a 2-0 deficit against the Black Bears in the third period, the Terriers used yet another crafty pass from Eichel and a strong shot from Oksanen to claw back into their contest.

After blocking a shot in BU’s zone, Eichel exchanged passes with O’Regan before coasting into Maine’s side of the ice, eventually dealing a backhand helper across the slot to Oksanen, who one-timed it into the cage to put BU on the board. The Terriers eventually bested Maine in overtime off of a game-winning strike from Eichel.

4. Jack Eichel to Cason Hohmann (3/14/15 vs. Merrimack)

Playing in their final game at Agganis Arena for the 2014-15 season, the Terriers got on the board in the second game of their Hockey East quarterfinal series by way of a shorthanded rush from Eichel and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann.

With the game deadlocked with no score after the first period, BU was forced to head on the penalty kill after Grzelcyk was whistled for cross checking at 2:11 in the middle stanza.

The disadvantage mattered little for Eichel and Hohmann, who broke into a 2-on-1 chance against Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen. Eichel gathered the puck on the right side and faked a pass before eventually sending the puck to Hohmann, who easily slid it past Tirronen to light the lamp for BU. The Terriers would go on to win, 5-0.

3. Jack Eichel to Ahti Oksanen (10/4/14 vs. St. Thomas)

While it might not have officially counted in the record books, Eichel’s impressive helper to Oksanen in the Terriers’ 12-1 win over St. Thomas deserves mention on our list.

On a 2-on-1 bid with Oksanen, Eichel dangled his way to the right slot before dishing the puck at the last second to his junior teammate, who then fired it into the net to give 2-0 lead at 10:31 in the first period. Oksanen finished the contest with four goals, while Eichel chipped in with five assists.

2. Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (12/6/14 vs. Merrimack)

The Terriers concluded a three-goal second period against Merrimack with an impressive set-up from Eichel, who fired a no-look drop pass from the left end boards to O’Regan in the slot.

O’Regan fired the puck past MC goalie Colin Delia to give BU a 4-1 lead. The strike completed a hat trick for O’Regan and Eichel’s fourth point on the night.

1. Ahti Oksanen to Danny O’Regan (2/28/15 @ Northeastern)

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Huskies, the Terriers continued on the offensive, earning a power-play bid with just over six minutes remaining in the first period.

After collecting the puck at the crease off of a pass from Rodrigues, Oksanen promptly pulled off a no-look, between-the-legs maneuver to a waiting O’Regan, who notched his 100th career point with the Terriers thanks to his 19th goal at 13:53.

Best of 2014-15: Counting down the top 30 quotes from the season

With the 2014-15 BU hockey season now in the rearview, the Boston Hockey Blog crew will be unveiling some lists over the next week or so — looking some of our favorite moments from the past year. Here’s our first post, ranking the top 30 quotes from a wild year of BU hockey:

30.  “I don’t like our power play.”

— David Quinn after BU’s 1-0 victory over Michigan State on Oct. 24. BU finished the season ranked second in the nation in power-play percentage.

29. “I found out after my nap.”

— Connor LaCouvee on finding out that he was going to start BU’s first regular-season game of the season

28. “I think if you combine the length that all his goals have traveled it would equal two feet, so that says something for going to the net.”

— David Quinn on the proximity of Matt Lane’s scoring chances

27. “I got choked up for a minute talking, just because I looked down and I saw my mom and she was crying, so it choked me up for a minute, just because of how important my parents are and everything they’ve done for me.

— Jack Eichel talking about his parents after winning the Hobey Baker Award

26. “I just thanked him for not letting any of the guys hit me.”

— Jack Eichel on what he said to David Quinn after BU’s exhibition against the U.S. World Juniors team on Dec. 19

25. “I think last year made all the returning guys in that room hungrier, and I think we added a freshman class that brings a lot of positive attitude, and they’re always upbeat, they’re always positive, they’re always coming to work everyday. It’s made for a special season so far, and hopefully, this is just the beginning.”

— Evan Rodrigues following BU’s Beanpot victory over Northeastern on Feb. 23.

24. “You look around the room and from top to bottom, you believe in the guys that are sitting next to you, and I think that confidence builds throughout the game. We’ve done it time and time again … Keep pressing, keep pressing, it will come. And it did today.”

— Evan Rodrigues after BU’s overtime win against Vermont on Jan. 24.

23. “When you look at their club, boy, Grzelcyk, and O’Regan … Rodrigues, their goaltender, O’Connor’s very strong … They’re gonna be a dangerous team as the season progresses. And they have been already. But they’ve got a lot of good players. Too many good players.”

— BC head coach Jerry York on BU’s roster

22. “He’s [O’Connor] played a lot of hockey and I just thought what the heck. They’re not listening to me up to this point so maybe if I pull the goalie they might actually get a little rattled and pay attention. They [UNH] scored a goal a minute later, so that didn’t really work.”

— David Quinn on replacing Matt O’Connor in net with Connor LaCouvee against UNH on Feb. 14

21. “We’ve bottled it and we can’t reveal it … I have no idea. I wish I could tell you. I have no idea.”

— David Quinn on BU’s “formula” for successful third periods

20. “The reason I think we have the record we have is we have some talent, but I think we have a grit element to our game, for the most part, all year. When we struggle, I think we get away from that. I think we think we’re a little bit more like the Harlem Globetrotters and the ’86 Oilers and we can shoot ourselves in the foot because we have been successful offensively.”

— David Quinn on BU’s playing style

19. “You see his stats and his skills and all those things — don’t get me wrong, they’re elite — but he’s a tough son of a bitch, and he’s competitive, and he’s withstood an awful lot. He’s handled it about as well as anybody could.”

— David Quinn on Jack Eichel’s toughness

18. “There wasn’t a goalie on the planet stopping that one.”

— David Quinn on Jack Eichel’s overtime goal against UMass Lowell on Jan. 18.

17. “I expected the worst and he kind of lived up to it.”

— Danny O’Regan on facing off against Jack Eichel in BU’s exhibition against the U.S. World Juniors team

16. “Just tried to tell him that I love him and it’s been a pleasure playing with him. I’m going to keep telling him that ‘till I’m probably dead.”

— Anthony Moccia on what he said to console Matt O’Connor after the team’s national championship loss

15. “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.”

—David Quinn on Evan Rodrigues’ talent

14. “When we got into the building.”

— David Quinn on when he considered putting Anthony Moccia in the game in BU’s 6-1 win over Northeastern on Feb. 28.

13. “I’ve been coaching for 20 years, and I’ve never enjoyed coaching a team more than the one we had this year.”

— David Quinn after BU’s loss in the national championship game

12. “This is a man’s game, and we better be ready to play like men tomorrow night, and I don’t mean like acting like Joe Tough Guy after the whistle and pushing and shoving. I’m talking about taking a hit, I’m talking about 50-50 pucks, having an attitude.”

— David Quinn after BU’s 6-5 loss to Northeastern on Feb. 27

11. “Probably beating BC was better. I mean, it’s BU-BC.”

— Ahti Oksanen on whether BU’s overtime victory against Maine was better than the win over BC

10. “Tough one to swallow, without question.  But we’ll be back.”

— David Quinn after BU’s loss in the national championship

9. “If I was gonna die, I would probably bring [graduate student goaltender Anthony] Moccia. He’d probably do some good Bible studies. If I wanted to live, I’d probably bring Ahti because he can fish pretty well.”

— Matt O’Connor on which teammate he would bring if he were stuck on a deserted island

8. “It’s not just some silly slogan. …Their work ethic, their enthusiasm throughout the summer, leading up to this…certainly you get the sense that they understand what it’s gonna take to never have to have something like [last season] happen again.”

— David Quinn, prior to the season, on BU’s “Never Again” offseason slogan

7. “We’ve piled up a lot of wins, but like Quinn’s [been] reiterating throughout the week, wins don’t mean anything. It’s trophies and championships.”

— Evan Rodrigues prior to the Beanpot tournament

6. “I had a rosary bead in my coat pocket. It certainly didn’t feel like he didn’t have points tonight.”

— Harvard coach Ted Donato on Jack Eichel’s first scoreless game of the season on Nov. 25 against the Crimson

5. “Just a really weird, indecisive moment there cost us a national championship, I guess you could say.”

— Matt O’Connor following BU’s loss in the national championship

4. “I jokingly say he’s kind of like the Secretariat of a hockey player. If you ever watch Secretariat run, he just looks so different than all the other horses. Jack is very much in that mold.”

— David Quinn on Jack Eichel’s talent

3. “All I can say is that he lives up to the hype. A lot of times, guys are overhyped, but not with Jack. He works hard, on and off the ice. He’s the most skilled guy I’ve ever seen in my life.”

— Danny O’Regan on Jack Eichel prior to the season

2. “I may wear it out of here. Hopefully they’ll let me do that. I really don’t want to take it off.”

— Cason Hohmann, following BU’s loss in the national championship, on the thought of removing his jersey

1. “When I told him we were going to move him up front, I told him we’re not going to put you on the third or fourth line, we’re going to put you up front and we think you’re going to be one of the top six forwards.  I said you’re going to have a chance to play with Danny O’Regan or Cason Hohmann or Jack Eichel.  When I told him Jack Eichel ‑‑ this is in May ‑‑ he said:  ‘Who is that?  Never heard of him.'”

— David Quinn, recalling his decision to move Ahti Oksanen from defenseman to forward

 

 

2015-16 captains announced, team awards presented at Friends of Hockey Banquet

Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn announced junior captain Matt Grzelcyk will serve as the Boston University men’s hockey captain for 2015-16, while freshman forward Jack Eichel, junior forward Danny O’Regan and junior forward Matt Lane were named 2015-16 assistant captains at the 52nd annual Friends of BU Hockey Banquet on Friday evening at the Metcalf Hall in BU’s George Sherman Union.

Grzelcyk also confirmed at the ceremony that he will return for his senior season.

Additionally, eight awards were presented at the ceremony. Grzelcyk was awarded the Clifford P. Fitzgerald Scholarship, presented annually to an “outstanding rising junior or senior defenseman.” In his first season as captain of the Terriers, Grzelcyk collected CCM First Team All-American, Hockey East First Team All-Star and Hockey East All-Tournament Team accolades.

Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor earned the Regina Eilberg Scholarship — dedicated to a player that “combines the highest standards of Terrier athletics and academic performance.”

Freshman center Jack Eichel was named the Ed Carpenter Award recipient, given to the BU skater that leads the team in scoring. In an impressive freshman campaign, Eichel led the Terriers — and the nation — with 71 points in 40 games.

Graduate student goaltender Anthony Moccia and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann received the Bennett McInnis Award for Spirit, given to players that best represent “the spirit of a Boston University hockey player both on and off the ice.”

In its third year of circulation, the Iron Terrier Award — awarded to the Terrier player who best displays “character, strength, dedication and discipline in the weight room and off-ice training” — was handed to Hohmann.

Flying under the radar as an unheralded recruit out of Buckingham Browne and Nichols, freshman defenseman Brien Diffley became a relied upon member of the BU blueline and was subsequently given the Most Improved Player Award.

Hohmann added to his already impressive haul of trophies on the night when he was awarded The Friends Albert Sidd Unsung Hero Award, handed out to the player “who contributes much during his four years and does not garner proper recognition.”

After capturing the third BU player to capture the Hobey Baker Award, Eichel was bestowed with the George V. Brown Most Valuable Player Award.

With the scarlet and white captains already in place for the 2015-16 season, the ceremony ended on a look ahead, as the Terriers will open the new year in Schenectady, New York, taking on Union College on Oct. 10.

Conor Ryan contributed to the reporting of this article.

Long list of firsts ends BU’s magical season in championship

Danny O'Regan gets knocked down.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan gets knocked down.
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

For the last game of the year, there sure were a lot of firsts occurring Saturday night. Unfortunately for the Boston University men’s hockey team, none of those firsts went its way.

In 19 games where the Terriers held a lead after two periods, the Terriers were winners of all 19.

In five games at TD Garden, BU was undefeated.

In games where the Terriers took at least 50 shots, they never lost.

In title clinching, playoff-elimination and tournament games, BU boasted an unblemished 8-0 record.

In the National Championship Game, those streaks came to a crashing end.

The season that had been filled with many trophy ceremonies, new hats and smiles ended only in heartbreak and disbelief. BU did not win its first championship in six years. Providence College celebrated its first national title. The smiles, trophy and new hats were on the other side.

For a team that seemed to have endless magic, one last miracle never happened.

But even in tough moments throughout Saturday’s final game, it didn’t initially seem like the luck would run out.

Like when BU fell down early 1-0, the Terriers answered back with a quick, albeit unusual, goal from junior winger Ahti Oksanen that snuck in between the post and goaltender Jon Gillies’ right pad. By the smallest of margins, the game was tied.

BU’s first line then came out for a faceoff, won the draw and skated it down the ice, with junior forward Danny O’Regan scoring a goal. In four seconds, the Terriers had taken the lead and set an NCAA Tournament record for fastest consecutive goals. In the blink of an eye, BU was back in control.

Even when forward Mark Jankowski tied things up 4:29 in the second, there was no panic. BU peppered Gillies with 22 shots in the period, finally breaking the tie when senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann wristed one in halfway through the period. That all but ensured a one-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

It looked as if everything was all coming to fruition, and it would culminate in one last championship. But everything was not as it seemed.

Providence pushed hard, as one would expect, in the opening ticks of the third. Just like they had against University of North Dakota the game before, BU hung on through the initial storm. At the 11:24 mark, though, everything changed.

Defenseman’s Tom Parisi’s simple chip-in from center ice was flubbed by an indecisive junior goaltender Matt O’Connor, and with the unluckiest of plays, the game was tied. The Terriers had overcome weak goals given up by O’Connor before, including one in each of the two previous games. This time that didn’t happen.

Brandon Tanev celebrates his goal.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Brandon Tanev celebrates his goal.
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Even after a timeout that looked like it might settle the Terriers down, Providence’s Kevin Rooney won a faceoff against freshman center Jack Eichel in the BU zone, winger Brandon Tanev corralled the puck and roofed it high over O’Connor’s left shoulder. With 6:17 left, Providence, not BU, had the lead.

But that’s when BU’s top-six forwards were supposed to step in. That’s when the formidable line of senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues-Eichel-O’Regan was supposed will its way to a tying goal. That’s what happened all season. But it’s not what happened Saturday night.

Rodrigues, who had been so integral to this season’s late run, was held off the score sheet. And although O’Regan and Eichel worked to score BU’s second goal, they were held in check by Rooney’s line. The trio had 11 shots on goal, but none hit twine in the third period.

And in the final push with an extra attacker, Gillies, who had been unshaken throughout the third, left one open opportunity with one minute remaining, one BU had cashed in on time and time again. A diving attempt by both Hohmann and sophomore forward Nick Roberto looked like it would have eyes and head into the gaping net. It looked to be enough to at least force overtime.

Like every other play in the third period, it wasn’t enough. Gillies made a sprawling save, stunning the BU bench. The Terriers wouldn’t get a better chance in the following 60 seconds.

In such a special season, BU came up just short for the first time.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers hang on, advance to national title game

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

Following his team’s 5-3 win over the University of North Dakota, Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn was more than breathing a sigh of relief. With North Dakota making a last-minute surge, overtime looked like more of a reality with each passing second.

“Hopefully we’re going to learn some lessons tonight,” Quinn said. “We dodged some bullets, but we’re living another day.”

The Terriers (28-7-5) did indeed dodge some major bullets during that late stretch, which propelled BU to its first berth in the NCAA Tournament championship since 2009, and 11th overall.

Freshman center Jack Eichel finished with three points (two goals, one assist), including the all-important empty-net goal in the waning seconds of the game. But it wasn’t just Eichel, as some other unsung heroes came up huge.

Here’s a look at some of went right and wrong from the Frozen Four semifinal:

Pluses

Eichelmania rolls on

The North Chelmsford product pretty much has a permanent spot in this section of the blog, and for good reason. You don’t have the year he’s having and not get some positive recognition. Thursday night just added to what has been the best freshman season in Division I college hockey since Paul Kariya’s rookie campaign in 1992-93.

He scored BU’s first goal 4:59 into the game on a backhander down low and set up a game-changing goal (more on that a bit lower down) midway through the second period. But his goal with 18.5 seconds left in the third period from the defensive zone all but ended any chance of a North Dakota comeback.

According to Eichel, though, the credit for the goal shouldn’t go to him, but to the weathered playing surface.

“I just tried to put it on net. To be honest, I thought it was going wide,” Eichel said. “I think it hit a divot in the ice and rolled in. It was a lucky play but Grizzy [junior captain Matt Grzelyck] and [senior assistant captain Cason] Hohmann made a spectacular play in the corner to ice the game.”

Rut in the ice or not, Eichel had a goal and his 70th point in the season. That hasn’t been accomplished at BU since forward Shawn McEachern had 84 in the 1990-91 season.

A special year for the freshman has a chance to end with a championship and a Hobey Baker Award. There were obviously high expectations coming in, but it’s fair to say his performance probably has exceeded whatever people pegged him for at the beginning of the season.

Greer turns the tables

Without the play of junior goaltender Matt O’Connor and some help from the goal posts, North Dakota (29-10-3) could have very well scored three or four times in the second period.

For the first 10 minutes in the middle frame, the puck essentially never left the BU zone.  UND already had one goal in the period, and continued to search for one more. Momentum was swinging and it sure looked like someone was bound to score.

A goal was scored, but it wasn’t from North Dakota. It was from freshman forward A.J. Greer.

Off a bad UND change, Eichel jumped on the ice and passed the puck over to a wide-open Greer just to the right of the slot. Greer unleashed a powerful one-timer that snuck under goaltender Zane McIntyre’s pads for BU’s third goal. Instead of the game being tied, the Terriers went up by two. Talk about momentum swing.

“He works on his shot a lot, and I wasn’t surprised at all,” Eichel said of Greer. “He’s got a great one-timer. It was a big goal in the game. Gave us a little bit of cushion.”

Greer, who moved up to BU’s second line earlier in the postseason, scored his first goal in over three months. His play over the last few weeks, though, has been some of the best hockey he’s played since coming to BU. Sarah will have more on that in her sidebar.

An emphatic recovery 

The puck slid along the end boards and freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey went to try and coral it. As Hickey went to do this, he was slammed hard up against the wall by UND forward Tucker Poolman. Hickey was knocked down on the ice to both knees, clearly shaken up.

It took him awhile to gather himself, but he skated back to the BU bench. He wouldn’t stay put there for long, though. He made his next shift with BU’s second power-play unit, and boy did he make the most of it.

Standing at the left point, he ripped a one-timer off Hohmann’s feed to extend BU’s lead to two goals late in the first period. Give credit to not only his toughness, but the quick recovery to get back on the ice and contribute.

Uncharacteristic strong start 

How many times has the narrative been played out that BU starts slow but finishes strong? More times than one can count on one hand. But that wasn’t the story this game. Thursday, the Terriers looked ready to go from the outset and got a strong forecheck going in the first few shifts.

BU held an advantage in shots through the first 10 minutes (9-9 after 20), and eventually a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.

“It was exciting to see the way we started playing at a pace and possessing the puck,” Quinn said on the first period. “And I think I looked up at one point, the shots were 7-0, seven minutes into the game.”

Minuses 

One that they’d like to have back

There would be no better way to take control of a game than on a power-play chance with a three-goal lead late in the third period. It was an ideal situation for BU, which looked like it had UND down and out. One fortuitous bounce later, though, and North Dakota was right back in the game.

O’Connor mishandled the puck behind his own net, and UND’s lone forechecker, Troy Stecher, tapped the puck into an open net at 12:10 of the third. The goal seemed to energize a seemingly downcast North Dakota team. BU was lucky enough to weather the storm that followed.

Penalty-kill issues

Getting into penalty trouble is never a good thing, and against a quality team like UND, it could very well change the outcome of a game. North Dakota seemingly had the puck deep each time it went to a power-play, which ended up leading to two goals and a 50-percent success rate.

Even when BU would find a way to clear the puck, there was little pressure at the defensive blue line to stop another entry into the zone.