The 2017 World Junior Championships will feature talent aplenty of the Boston University variety.
Seven members of the Terriers’ men’s hockey team will play in late December and early January’s collection of the world’s best junior hockey talent, which will take place in Montreal and Toronto. Team Canada will feature freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro, while Team USA boasts freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger, sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy, sophomore forward Jordan Greenway and freshmen forwards Patrick Harper, Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller.
Freshman defenseman Chad Krys, who played in 2016’s World Junior tournament, was the last cut for Team USA. McAvoy also made last year’s competition, which was held in Finland, and will serve as an alternate captain for the 2017 group.
These seven members of head coach David Quinn’s squad have long featured for their respective national teams, with Keller arguably being the most notable. The former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program broke the career record for points with 189 on 71 goals and 118 assists. In a similar vein, Bellows’ 50 goals led the U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2015-16.
Oettinger, in also playing for the NTDP last year, posted a 2.38 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. As for the sophomore contingent, McAvoy and Greenway both claimed a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Harper has the least national team experience, as he had a brief stint with the U.S. National Under-17 Team in 2014-15. Lastly, Fabbro starred for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship.
All that talent will first be on display when the tournament opens on Dec. 26. It will wrap up on Jan. 5 with medal games.
Here is Team USA’s schedule for the tournament’s group stage:
Dec. 26 vs. Latvia; 3:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 28 vs. Slovakia; 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 29 vs. Russia; 3:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 31 vs. Canada; 3:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Here is Team Canada’s schedule for the tournament’s group stage:
Dec. 26 vs. Russia; 8 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 28 vs. Latvia; 8 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 29 vs. Slovakia; 8 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
Dec. 31 vs. USA; 3:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre
It feels like yesterday that the Boston University men’s hockey team got its 2016-17 season underway, but the halfway point is here. As things stand, BU is 10-5-2, sits fourth in the Pairwise rankings and sixth in the Hockey East standings.
Of course, the state of the Terriers is not that simple, so we’re here to break down some of the subtler nuances and trends that developed in the fall of 2016. It’s also important to note context, as BU entered the year with great hype and expectations, largely the byproduct of rostering 11 NHL Draft picks. The jury is still out on whether all that talent will translate into silverware of some kind.
Before we get underway, it’s important to give these two quotes from disparate parts of the semester a read through. The first came on Sept. 27 at Hockey East’s annual media day, and is from junior assistant captain Nikolas Olsson. Meanwhile, the second is from head coach David Quinn and came after BU’s 5-2 win over Yale on Dec. 13.
Quote 1: “We want to hold ourselves to our own standard, so we don’t want to pay attention to what everyone else expects us to do. We tune everything out and when we’re all in the locker room, we have a saying of, ‘Close that up and everything that’s in here matters – this is what matters, whatever is outside doesn’t.’ If we can figure out our affairs in here, then we can do great things.” – Olsson
Quote 2: “It’s been a really good first half for us. We feel our best hockey is ahead of us. It’s a great group. I love coming to the rink every day with them. They work hard, they care for each other, they’re forming some of those characteristics you need to have as a group to win important games in late March and April. We feel really good about where we’re at.” – Quinn
Patrick Harper – Who would have thought that freshman Patrick Harper would lead the team in points by the end of 2016? Heading into this season, the hype centered around Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows, but it’s been the 5-foot-9, 160-pound playmaker from New Canaan, Connecticut who has led the way early on. With seven goals and 13 assists, Harper ranks fifth in scoring among Division I freshmen. He will head into the next half of the season with a three-game point streak, and it’s safe to assume that the Nashville Predators draft pick will look to extend that run of form on the first line. – Nick
Kieffer Bellows – Yes, Kieffer Bellows has disappointed in his freshman campaign, but there’s a very good chance he turns it around. Just look at sophomore Jordan Greenway, who totaled one goal and seven assists in the first half of the 2015-16 season. After the holiday break, Greenway scored four goals and notched 14 helpers to finish the season top-5 on the team in points (26). Of course, Greenway didn’t have a plus/minus rating of -8 halfway through his freshman year, but you get the point. Sometimes, freshmen need some extra time to adjust before they flourish, and that very well could be the case with Bellows. His penalty problem can be easily fixed, and he’s flashed his trademark scoring ability at points. Let’s hope playing with Team USA in the World Junior Championships will energize Bellows so he can begin the 2017 on a high note. – Nick
Third line – Oft-overlooked, especially on a team with five forwards drafted by NHL teams, BU’s third line deserves ample credit for wins against powerhouse and mid-level teams alike. The contingent typically features senior Nick Roberto and junior Nikolas Olsson as wingers, with freshman Patrick Curry at center. They all have subtly good hands, play heavy on the forecheck and consistently skate with the pace and intensity Quinn so ardently desires. They’re chipping in on the scoreboard, too, as they’ve combined for 19 points from eight goals and 11 assists. What’s perhaps most significant about the third line, though, is that it affords BU’s top two lines the chance to catch a breather, all the while maintaining the level those elite forwards (Keller, Greenway, etc.) demand. Lastly, any team looking to make a deep postseason run with only two lines is in deep trouble. Luckily for Quinn, this Roberto-Olsson-Curry group won’t cause that worry to arise. – Jonathan
JFK – It’s natural to watch BU’s top-end players and make NHL comparisons. When it comes to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, a sophomore and assistant captain, one of the highest honor surfaces: Patrice Bergeron. Both are centers, both were picked 45th overall by the Boston Bruins in their respective drafts and both offer forth the same skill set. Bergeron, now a two-time participant in the NHL All-Star Game, has smooth hands, makes smart hockey plays like clockwork and has won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times, which is annually given to the NHL’s top defensive forward. As for Forsbacka Karlsson, the scorer of 45 points in 56 career games for the Terriers, he’s an expert at using his body to protect the puck, plays a 200-foot game in every sense of the phrase and does so many of the little things right. Who knows if “JFK” will ever reach Bergeron’s notoriety or respect throughout the professional ranks, but it’s still a joy to watch the 20-year-old Swede lead BU night in and night out. And for those who feel JFK isn’t chipping in on the scoreboard, he boasts three goals and 12 assists. That puts him a tie with Keller for the third-most points on the Terriers. – Jonathan
Sixth Man – There’s really not much to complain about in this department, as BU ranks fourth in the nation in goals allowed (2.06). The core four of Charlie McAvoy, Chad Krys, Dante Fabbro and Brandon Hickey have been excellent, but perhaps the most important piece of the defense has been the sixth man, usually paired with captain Doyle Somerby. For the most part, that has been John MacLeod, who has four assists in 13 games but has also been dealing with injuries. When he’s unavailable, Brien Diffley and Shane Switzer stepped into his spot on the blue line, making smart choices with the puck and seamlessly slotting into the defensive zone. Expect the D-unit to continue to shut down top offenses in 2017. – Nick
LaCouvee –Jake Oettinger has been terrific in net, but a shoutout has to go to his backup, Connor LaCouvee. He’s only started twice, but knowing that there’s a solid netminder behind Oettinger is comforting for Terrier fans. He earned victories in both of his starts, and has a save percentage of .938. Sure, a small sample size, but so what? He’s been awesome in limited play. Should the 18-year-old Oettinger fall in a slump or require some rest, LaCouvee can slide right into the starting lineup and keep the Terriers in it. – Nick
Oettinger – Speaking of Oettinger, it’s hard to ask for more from the freshman. It’s commonplace in postgame press conferences for his teammates to shower the recently-turned 18-year-old with praise, and that’s because he deserves every plaudit thrown his way. In his young career, the former U.S. National Team Development goaltender has three shutouts, blanking Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Vermont. He also boasts a .932 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average, which both lead Hockey East. In terms of a grander scope, the former statistic stacks up as the eighth best in the country, while the latter is fifth best in the nation. To the credit of critics in and around Agganis Arena, Oettinger did have an incredibly rough outing at home – BU’s 4-0 loss to UConn on Nov. 11 – but he has since bounced back with aplomb. Looking ahead, the Lakeville, Minnesota native seems stout enough to lead the Terriers when playoff hockey rolls around, as he instills confidence in the squad and can stymie the nation’s best forwards. Do you know what’s scariest of all? This kid is so young he isn’t even draft eligible until the summer. – Jonathan
Fourth line – While BU’s defense has largely been resolute, one area in need of marked improvement arises through the fourth line. Whether it’s freshmen Johnny McDermott and Gabriel Chabot, sophomores Ryan Cloonan and Oskar Andren, junior Chase Phelps or senior Tommy Kelley, a worrisome theme has surfaced against tougher opponents: an inability to break out of the defensive zone on a consistent basis. This note is based on the eye test and isn’t easily measurable, but too often has some combination of the aforementioned group been hemmed below its own blue line. There are several reasons for this trend – being mismatched against an opponent’s top line, a changing cast of characters and general fatigue late in games – but it needs a firm resolution. On the other hand, when this is the biggest complaint about the Terriers’ defense, they’re in pretty good shape. – Jonathan
Net value – Special teams have been the strongest part of the Terriers’ game in 2016. They have scored on 16.87 percent of their power plays, while going 91.2 percent on the penalty kill, second best in the nation. What’s the most impressive stat from special teams? The Terriers have allowed nine goals on the penalty kill, yet they have scored six shorthanded goals this year. That makes them a fantastic -3 on the PK, which is even more impressive when you consider the number of penalties this team has been whistled for. Stick taps to all involved. – Nick
Freshmen –So who have the stars of the power play been thus far? You may want to sit down for this … it’s been the freshmen. Harper, Keller and Fabbro have three power play goals each, which lead the team. In fact, the only other Terrier with multiple power play goals is … Bellows. It’s obvious that these guys are well-coached when it comes to the PP, so another shoutout to the coaching staff for a job well done. – Nick
QB1, QB2, QB3 – In his weekly sit-down with the media, Quinn routinely talks about the importance of learning what a professional-level power play looks like. From BU’s first 17 games of the year, it appears as though Keller, Fabbro and McAvoy have firmly grasped every coaching point. The trio often operates from the point, quarterbacking the Terriers’ man advantages and always seems willing to pull the trigger. There’s proof in the pudding, too, as Keller and Fabbro both have three tallies on the power play. McAvoy hasn’t registered a point on the power play, but his contributions surface in other ways. – Jonathan
The magic number –During October and November, as was the case throughout college hockey, penalties dominated the conversation. Truthfully, BU has been one of the worst culprits in this regard, as its 16.24 penalty minutes per game is the 15th-highest total in the NCAA. Given that fact, you’d never guess this, but coach Quinn considers four to be his team’s magic number. And that’s a reference to taking no more than four penalties across all three periods. When that’s been the case, meaning BU is playing 5-on-5 hockey, it’s a dominant team that makes mediocre teams look poor and great teams look OK. This was the case in the 3-0 win over Northeastern on Nov. 5, as BU took five penalties, and the same pattern repeated in the 4-0 win over Vermont on Dec. 10, when it took six penalties. The Terriers are far from perfect in this regard, but the trend is clear. – Jonathan
Surprise, surprise – Perhaps the most fun I’ve had watching the team so far was the last game of the semester, when Shane Switzer scored twice to propel BU to a 5-2 victory over Yale. Can’t say anyone saw that coming. It was great to see the guys hype the crowd up when Switzer was named the No. 1 star after the game. – Nick
Breakout moment – Another shining moment came in the exhibition against Prince Edward Island, when Pat Harper scored five times. Obviously, the competition wasn’t the best. But after Harper’s third or fourth goal, it became pretty clear that this guy was going to be integral. I remember being surprised that Harper was on the first line with Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter. Can’t say it was a bad move. – Nick
Bye bye Crimson – Outside of the result itself, pre-break games boast an extra layer of significance in that the scoreline will linger around for quite some time. So when then-No. 9 Harvard University visited Agganis Arena on Nov. 22 – just before the Thanksgiving break – an essential opportunity was before the Terriers. Its next game wasn’t for 10 days either, so a win or loss would remain fresh. In back-and-forth fashion, BU edged out a 5-3 win over the Crimson. Furthermore, coach Ted Donato’s side is now ranked fourth in the nation, making the win better than advertised at the time. – Jonathan
UConn at home – While adulation usually follows the Terriers at every turn, a low moment arose on Nov. 19 at Agganis Arena. The visiting UConn Huskies blanked BU, 4-0, cementing the fact that Hockey East wins won’t come easily for this squad. Quinn’s side didn’t play poorly against the likes of Tage Thompson and Max Letunov, so perhaps the result was an outlier without much of an explanation. After all, sometimes the better team goes home empty handed. – Jonathan
The big get: Oh yeah, we almost forgot about the commits the Terriers secured during the season. It appears the biggest one was forward Shane Bowers, a 17-year-old currently with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. He currently has nine goals and 10 assists through 26 games after totaling 33 points with the Black Hawks last season. With a few present Terriers likely to move on to the NHL next season, Bowers should contribute right away in 2017-18. – Nick
Reinforcements –On top of that, Finland defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo (at least it’s easier to spell than Grzelcyk) committed to BU and is likely to play next season. Kotkansalo, 18, measures up at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds and has a reputation for hard hits on the boards. He is also currently in the USHL, totaling a plus/minus rating of +7 in 20 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede. – Nick
Red, white and blue – When BU scrimmaged the U.S. National Team Development Program on Oct. 6, Terrier fans got a major glimpse into the future. The coveted squad featured defenseman David Farrance and forwards Brady Tkachuk and Logan Cockerill. While none registered a point – largely the product of BU skating to a comfortable 8-2 win – it was still interesting to see what the young guns could do. Lastly, Tkachuk is second on the NTDP in points with 22, Farrance is seventh with 18 and Cockerill is ninth with 17. – Jonathan
Don’t forget about me – While so much attention, understandably, is given to BU’s big-name recruits, it’s important not to lose sight of those who might not boast as lofty of a pedigree. This is certainly the case with Ty Amonte, who will call Agganis Arena home in the fall of 2017 and currently skates with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. That’s the same squad that Fabbro used to play for, and Amonte currently has 28 points in 35 games for them. – Jonathan
As if we needed anymore evidence that the young guys on the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team are crazy talented.
On Monday, USA Hockey announced the preliminary roster for the 2017 United States National Junior Team. Seven of the 27 athletes are current Terriers. Freshman defenseman Chad Krys and sophomore blue-liner Charlie McAvoy got the invite after leading last year’s U.S. NJT squad to a bronze medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
Along with Krys and McAvoy, freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger, sophomore forward Jordan Greenway, and freshman forwards Pat Harper, Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows made the first cut.
Four of the 27 players will be cut before this year’s IIHF WJC starts Dec. 26 in Canada. The final roster cuts are expected to be made Dec. 24.
Playing for the U.S. National Team is nothing new for most of the Terriers named to the preliminary roster. McAvoy, Oettinger, Keller, and Krys won gold with Team USA at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship, while Bellows joined Oettinger, Keller, and Krys to snatch bronze in the same tournament last year.
Training camp will be from Dec. 16-20 at HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York, then Dec. 20-24 in Ontario. There will also be two pre-tournament games on the 21st and 23rd.
Not to be outdone, freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro was named to the Canadian WJC selection camp. He joins North Dakota’s Tyler Jost as the only NCAA athletes to make the cut. Camp will be held from Dec. 10th to the 14th.
As a reminder, the Terriers host Yale University on Dec. 13th, then take on Union College Jan. 5th.
For the complete schedule for this year’s tournament, click here.
Now that the dust has settled, let’s reflect back on the Boston University men’s hockey team’s weekend series against Northeastern University.
On Friday night at Matthews Arena, the Terriers let up a late equalizer and struggled to tune out the Matthews Arena crowd. Simply, the 4-4 tie in overtime left BU with a bitter taste in its mouth.
In the return affair on Saturday evening at Agganis Arena, the Terriers bounced back in a major way, earning a 3-0 win. Freshmen Patrick Harper, Jake Oettinger and Kieffer Bellows led the way, while BU finally stayed out of the box for an extended period of time.
Now, here are our five thoughts:
1.) Second line – It’s interesting to note that the second line had much more success than the first line this weekend. That second line of Patrick Harper, Clayton Keller and Jordan Greenway scored five of BU’s seven total goals in its two games against Northeastern, while the first line of Kieffer Bellows, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter totaled just one. In Saturday’s game, both of Harper’s goals featured assists from Keller and Greenway, indicating that those three have really gelled together quickly.
While Bellows scored in Saturday’s win, it was a quiet weekend for both Forsbacka Karlsson and Carpenter, who combined for just two assists in the two games. Of course, to refer to their efforts as quiet is more of a testament to that stacked BU offense. Regardless, the Harper-Keller-Greenway line looked fantastic all weekend, while the Bellows-JFK-Carpenter line was cast in the shadows. – Nick
2.) Jordan Greenway – After Greenway picked up a 10-minute misconduct penalty that proved crucial in the tie with Northeastern on Friday, Coach David Quinn responded by sitting Greenway for the entire first period Saturday. In his press conference on Friday, Quinn made it clear he wasn’t going to let those type of penalties slide, and he backed it up by sitting Greenway.
Once he got out on the ice, Greenway was back to his old, physical self. He had a few bad moments, like when he completely whiffed on a one-timer early in the second period, but he still contributed with two assists in the win. Once or twice after the whistle, a NU player would get in Greenway’s face to try and incite him, but Greenway kept his arms down and stayed out of trouble. He was called for no penalties after spending 14 minutes in the penalty box on Friday, so we assume Quinn is pleased with Greenway’s turnaround. – Nick
3.) Clayton Keller – Man, Keller is so fun to watch. Every time the opposing goalie passes out to a defenseman, Keller is there to try and disrupt it. That’s what led to his shorthanded goal on Friday. We’ll update you as soon as we learn more about the severity of his injury. – Nick
4.) Oskar Andrén – With injuries stacking up – Nik Olsson, Ryan Cloonan and Keller could all be out for a while – the return of the Swedish winger was a welcomed sight. The sophomore slotted onto the fourth line in Saturday’s game and brought energy throughout. It was his first game of the 2016-17 season. He didn’t register a shot or make any jaw-dropping plays, but he doesn’t need to right now. He just needs to fill a role. – Jonathan
5.) Tommy Kelley – When BU hockey fans picture Tommy Kelley, odds are they envision a fourth line player who is on the periphery. Now a senior, it’s clear that coach Quinn wants “TK” to take on a far more expansive role for the Terriers.
He’ll never be an offensive powerhouse and likely isn’t a top-six forward, but his contributions are undoubtedly important. He kills penalties, makes smart hockey plays and is gradually growing into a leadership role. He also logs an incredible amount of ice time, far more than most fourth-line players ever would. – Jonathan
The Terriers secured a statement win over Quinnipiac on Saturday night. The final score was 3-0, with Jordan Greenway, Bobo Carpenter and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson all scoring. Freshman goalie Jake Oettinger also posted his second straight shutout.
Without further ado, here’s what coaches and players had to say in the game’s aftermath.
College hockey season may be months away, but there are still opportunities for Boston University fans see some of BU’s finest take the ice.
On Friday, USA Hockey announced the two rosters that will participate in the National Junior Evalutaion Camp, which will be held June 30 to Aug. 6 in Plymouth, Michigan. The rosters come out a day after six Terriers were invited to the camp. Sophomore forward Jordan Greenway, freshman defenseman Chad Krys, sophomore blueliner Charlie McAvoy and freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger have been placed on the Blue Team, while freshman forwards Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller will join the White Team.
This will be the second NJEC for Greenway, McAvoy, and Krys. They were on the beginning roster last season with teammates Brandon Fortunato and John Macleod. Only McAvoy, Fortunato and Krys survived the final roster.
Here are the Team USA Blue & White rosters for the 2016 #NJEC.
The athletes have been separated into two groups for three days of practice, as well as for games against Finland and Sweden. Team USA will trim its roster to a single team on Aug. 2 before finishing the camp with games versus Canada, Finland and Sweden.
This past weekend’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, New York was undoubtedly historic for the Boston University men’s hockey team. A whopping six Terriers heard their name called at First Niagara Center, speaking volumes to the youthful talent that will soon grace Agganis Arena for the 2016-17 season.
It’s important to take a step back, though, and ponder this: Just how many NHL selections does head coach David Quinn have at his disposal? As it turns out, quite a lot.
On any given weekend in Hockey East or out-of-conference play, it’s likely 11 skaters will have been drafted. The numbers break down to five forwards and six defensemen, altogether coalescing into what is – on paper – one of the NCAA’s most talented rosters.
Forwards: The Terriers have nearly two lines NHL scouts have tabbed as ready for the next step. It’s impossible to predict who will pan out as hoped, but potential is abound.
Kieffer Bellows – Freshman – New York Islanders – First round, 19th overall in 2016
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – Sophomore – Boston Bruins – Second round, 45th overall in 2015
Jordan Greenway – Sophomore – Minnesota Wild – Second round, 50th overall in 2015
Patrick Harper – Freshman – Nashville Predators – Fifth round, 138th overall in 2016
Clayton Keller – Freshman – Arizona Coyotes – First round, 7th overall in 2016
Defenseman: Lineup decisions and injuries notwithstanding, Quinn could field an entire defensive unit of NHL draft picks. Somerby, the team’s captain, leads the contingent.
Dante Fabbro – Freshman – Nashville Predators – First round, 17th overall in 2016
Brandon Hickey – Junior – Calgary Flames – Third round, 64th overall in 2014
Chad Krys – Freshman – Chicago Blackhawks – Second round, 45th overall in 2016
John MacLeod – Junior – Tampa Bay Lightning – Second round, 57th overall in 2014
Charlie McAvoy – Sophomore – Boston Bruins – First round, 14th overall in 2016
Doyle Somerby – Senior – New York Islanders – Fifth round, 125th overall in 2012
Here are some remarks from Quinn following the 2016 Draft about the NHL picks that’ll be wearing scarlet and white.
Also, be sure to read this article by Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated. He was on location in Buffalo last weekend, and has some interesting tidbits from McAvoy, Quinn and Jack Eichel.
Here’s a brief preview:
“Just talking about it and thinking about it,” said Charlie McAvoy, the only one of the quartet who skated for the Terriers last season. Not the upcoming first round of the draft, mind you, but the prospect of playing together in the fall. “It’s surreal, the class that we’re coming in with. It’s going to be special.”
But as some have mentioned in comment sections and on fan forums, it seems as if BU’s season began its downward spiral during and after the Beanpot final against Boston College. The team had just five wins in 12 games between the Beanpot and the final game of the season, with six losses and a tie mixed in.
Of course, we can’t really get into the heads of what was going on mentally during that span, but we can point to a few things in particular that we were able to see on the ice over the final weeks of the season that could possibly account for the slip-up.
Offense, defense or goaltending?
Twelve goals allowed in two games. That makes it hard to win at any level, especially in the NCAA against top teams like the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Denver.
And BU didn’t win either of those games, and none down the stretch in what became its final three games of the year. But who’s really at fault? Is it senior goaltender Sean Maguire, who didn’t look exactly like himself during the team’s postseason run? Based on a lot of the discussion on the live blogs here, some believe that to be the case.
But let’s set the record straight. Maguire was nowhere near as sharp as he had been earlier in the season during the past few games. For long stretches, like during the Beanpot, he was absolutely lockdown in the crease. He was far from it during the Hockey East Tournament and one game in St. Paul. But the onus should not fall squarely on his shoulders. Far from it, actually. Because without Maguire, BU maybe doesn’t even make it this far in the season.
Some soft goals were let in, yes, but Maguire’s defense in front of him was poor and did not play particularly well in its own zone. Especially against Denver, there were plenty of turnovers at the defensive blue line, and both he and sophomore Connor LaCouvee were hung out to dry multiple times.
This team’s defense was supposed to be the core, the big factor in why this year’s team would be in contention for another Frozen Four run. And, at times, the unit did play up to its potential. However, there were too many instances, like Saturday’s loss, where the D corps failed to show up.
Senior winger Ahti Oksanen said a lot of the talk and work in practice over the last two weeks was based on defensive zone coverage and just generally being more responsible with and without the puck. Maybe for the first 10 minutes of the game things looked better, but by the time BU failed to convert on its second power play of the first period, everything spiraled out of control.
The attention to detail and lack of control in the defensive zone allowed Denver to walk all over BU for most of the night. For the first time since Frozen Fenway in January 2014, BU gave up seven goals in one game. Defense clearly was an issue, but this argument almost becomes a moot point due to the fact the offense did next to nothing.
It wasn’t as if the offense just struggled against Denver, the issues seem to go all the way back to at least the Beanpot title game against Boston College. Consider this: BU played eight of its final 12 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament (one of those games being in the tournament against Denver). And in those eight games, the Terriers recorded just 11 goals. That’s 1.375 goals per game against tournament-level teams. Three times in those eight games, BU was shut out. The team was not once held goal-less in its first 27 games of the season.
For a team that averaged 3.18 goals per game, and was one of the higher scoring teams in Hockey East for most of the season, the offense sputtered at a time when it was needed the most. It’s hard to have the conversation about bad defense when the offense could only muster so little. — Andrew Battifarano
Greenway move to the first line
It’s hard not to take notice, specifically, of the impact on the offense when freshman forward Jordan Greenway moved back to the first line after playing 15 games on the second line with seniors Matt Lane and Ahti Oksanen.
Greenway had seven points in his final nine games on the first line, but had 15 points in the 15 games he played alongside Lane and Oksanen.
Lane, meanwhile, had three points in the final nine games without Greenway on his line.
In the 15 games he played with Greenway on his line, he had 16 points.
Oksanen, with Greenway on his line, he had 20 points in 15 games. Without Greenway, he also had three points in his final nine games.
Furthermore, in the span that BU had that combination of players on the second line, the team had a 10-4-1 record, and averaged 3.8 goals per game. After moving Greenway, the team went 4-4-1 and averaged 2.22 goals per game.
That’s a small sample size, and obviously other factors come into play, but that’s still three one-point-per-game players when they play together, and with Greenway’s removal from that line, two of them became disappointingly unproductive as the year wound down. There was something about that line that worked, something that clicked — probably some of the best chemistry we saw from anyone this season — and it got taken apart. — SK
Lack of adjustments, lack of accountability
Save for Greenway’s move to the first line, and a brief stint from Bobo Carpenter on the second line, we seldom came to the rink this season and were shocked by any sort of move on the line charts. That goes for both forwards and defense. And there were plenty of arguments from fans about lack of depth, lack of options, but here’s the thing: The Terriers still had options. Not many, but options existed.
The most prominent example of this came on the defense, though. It was something I asked in January when we were at the University of Maine — was Quinn just going to keep rotating that sixth defenseman spot between Brien Diffley and John MacLeod? Was that a tangible solution going forward?
He said he didn’t look at it that way, and he said he’d reward whoever was playing best in practice. Yet that remained essentially the defensive situation — Diffley in sometimes, MacLeod when he wasn’t — for the remainder of the season, with the other five spots locked.
In games where he had his entire defense, all eight players, at his disposal — no injuries, suspensions or World Juniors appearances — the locked-in pairs of Matt Grzelcyk/Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Hickey/Brandon Fortunato never changed. Not once, until Saturday’s game, when he put MacLeod back with Grzelcyk.
We don’t see practice, but we see the lack of adjustments during game time — and that suggests a lack of accountability. A bad performance won’t put your spot in the lineup even remotely at stake, and it didn’t seem like players were forced to prove anything.
Something I don’t think I’ll be able to let go of about this season: The defense that was supposed to be one of the best in the nation, and ranked 30th in the nation after Saturday’s game. It regressed from last year, and didn’t do anything to get better as the season went on. I might be a bit more sympathetic if they’d tried to mix it up during the season and it still didn’t work. But that didn’t happen.
Here’s the bottom line — BU was riding a short bench, but not an empty one. And even if you want to argue that BU didn’t have any further options, there’s still a huge difference between not having enough bodies and not changing anything with those bodies at all. — SK
DURHAM, New Hampshire — For a few seconds in the third period, the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team had what it wanted, and standings-wise, arguably needed.
There was some not-so-pretty play throughout its game at the University of New Hampshire, but BU gained a late lead on senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan‘s goal with 2:32 left in the third period.
In terms of the playoff picture, holding onto the lead would have kept BU within one point of No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell for fourth place in Hockey East.
But just as quickly as BU (17-9-5, 10-5-4 Hockey East) scored, it gave the lead right back.
Thirty-five seconds after O’Regan’s tally, UNH forward Maxim Gaudreault tied the game at 3-3. That’s where things would stay for the final 1:57 of the third and the five minutes of overtime, so the Terriers ended with a draw against the Wildcats (10-15-6, 4-9-6 Hockey East) at the Whittemore Center.
There was some good, some not as good and other stuff in between in this one, so we’ll break it down in this Pluses and Minuses.
O’Regan hat trick, first line clicks
Different wingers, good defenses, anyway you slice it, BU’s first line during its previous three games struggled to get anything going.
O’Regan, in particular, had gone three consecutive games without a point, matching a career-long scoreless streak that only happened one other time in his career, late in Feb. 2014.
That streak would not last into a fourth game, however, with O’Regan striking for three goals, the second collegiate hat trick of his career.
He came through with the first goal 12 seconds into the second, off a nice cross-ice feed from freshman winger Jordan Greenway. A little over six minutes after, while BU was in the midst of a power play, O’Regan one-timed a shot that trickled off goaltender Danny Tirone’s pads and past the the goal line.
The latter of the three saw O’Regan get to the netfront and wrist the puck high over Tirone.
O’Regan’s line has already changed a number of times this year, and it looked a little bit different with Greenway alongside freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. At least for the night, the changes paid off, as the freshmen added two points apiece.
Greenway, who was on BU’s top line to start the year, has gotten back to where he started, in large part because of his ability to use his physicality to his advantage. Two points through the first 13 games, Greenway now has 21 total — fifth on the team.
“Pretty good, they got three goals so I like that,” said BU head coach David Quinn on the first line’s play. “… I just thought that the way [Greenway] was playing and Danny and JFK I just thought that’d be a real good line.”
Shots on the rise, limited UNH chances
You could argue that this could be a minus because BU only scored three times. In the same breath, though, it was not as if BU didn’t get the puck to the net or close to it. In total, the Terriers accumulated 70 shot attempts as compared to UNH’s 30.
Especially in the first and third periods, BU’s shot attempts came from in close range in the slot or near the crease area.
“There was a lot I liked about our game tonight but obviously the result isn’t what we wanted,” Quinn said. “Obviously i thought we possessed the puck well, got pucks to the net, just weren’t able to capitalize and our goals we had to earn.”
BU’s defense, despite giving up three goals, for the most part held it together and limited the chances that sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee saw. It was momentary lapses that really came back to bite BU, which we’ll get to in a titch…
Two quick responses
If momentum does indeed exist, it did not last long for BU on Friday night, and that became more pronounced in the final minutes of the third period.
Off a BU turnover, UNH possessed the puck in the Terriers’ zone and also controlled the area in front of the crease. That’s where Gaudreault was when he rebounded in the tying goal, not even 40 seconds after O’Regan gave BU the lead.
Yet that wasn’t the first time the Terriers allowed a goal shortly after scoring one of their own. After BU’s second score, winger Jamie Hill snuck behind BU’s third defensive pair, junior Doyle Somerby and sophomore Brien Diffley, walking in alone from the offensive blue line to the net, where he slipped the puck under LaCouvee.
Quinn expressed his frustration with his team’s missed assignments on UNH’s final goal.
“Yeah, we turned it over, had possession entering their zone, we turned it over then our transition defense,” Quinn said, “we just blew coverage I mean first forward back did his job, the next two forwards got a little too deep and they get the puck to the point and we don’t block the shot and we don’t pick our stick up at the net front I mean just basic hockey and it’s disappointing.”
Failed five-minute major
Quinn said after the game that he was more pleased with the way his power-play unit played this time out. But there was one disappointing aspect. BU could not break through when given the chance on a five-minute major.
In fairness, the extended man advantage did carry over from the second period to the third, but the Terriers did not get a lot of great looks on net and also were not as quick on the puck as they probably would’ve liked.
The process is getting better for the power play, but Quinn said he would like to see the rubber hit the twine more during such opportunities.
“The five-minute major we didn’t do much with, disappointing it’s kind of disjointed when the period ends and you’ve got 1:40 on one side of it and 3:20 the next,” Quinn said, “so that being said, the power play was better but we’ve just got to do a better job on it.”
BC (20-4-4, 11-1-4 Hockey East) has now won the Beanpot five times in the last six years.
“Certainly an exciting game for everybody in the stands, and the last two periods it was a competitive hockey game,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “That’s what people expect when they see BU and BC play, and up-and-down action, both teams had great chances in the second and the third, they certainly had a majority of the chances in the first and we felt very fortunate to get out 0-0 after one.”
It was scoreless for almost 62 minutes, but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot to talk about. We’ll break this one down in this Beanpot championship Pluses and Minuses.
Senior netminder Sean Maguire was on his game throughout the title game and really the entire Beanpot Tournament. BC had a good deal of chances throughout the first three periods of the game, but Maguire stood on his head just about every time.
One of the few times Maguire didn’t see the puck, though, things went wrong for BU (16-8-4, 9-4-3 Hockey East). After both teams tried to get their legs back at the beginning of overtime, the Eagles got the first real opportunity about two minutes in and made it count.
As Tuch skated into the high slot area, BU’s defense tried to contain him before he could shoot, but the bodies standing in front of Maguire caused an unintentional screen, setting up an unpleasant result.
“I think if I saw all of it I would’ve stopped it,” Maguire said after the game. “But he [Tuch] made a great shot, and the shot crossed body post in. That’s a pro-level shot.”
Slog of a start
Against a rival like BC, and in a game of importance such as this one, it’s generally pertinent to get things started in the first period on the right foot. The Terriers, however, did not have one of their better opening periods on Monday night.
One thing that stands out right away on the shot chart is the fact that BC not only attempted 32 shots in the opening stanza, but a majority of them came in the slot and home plate area. Life was not easy for Maguire, to say the least.
BU was mostly kept to the outside of the faceoff circles and did not really kick things into gear until the second period.
Sloppy play, Greenway to the box
For anyone who’s watched a BU-BC, you know it can get chippy and downright nasty during and after the play. This one was no different, especially on the BU end of things.
Freshman forward Jordan Greenway seemed to be in the middle of it all on Monday, drawing the ire from a lot of the BC contingent in the arena.
Greenway was involved in a play in the third period in which BC goalie Thatcher Demko was knocked down for a few minutes, and he also drew three penalties during one scrum in the second period, including a 10-minute misconduct. BU killed off all of the penalty time, but was without Greenway’s presence until early in the third period.
“Well certainly missed him, but I thought we continued to play a pretty good second period,” Quinn said. “…But any time you’re missing a guy who’s 6 foot 5, 230 pounds against that team with the big, strong D corps that they have for an extended period of time, it’s not going to help you, that’s for sure, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the outcome of the game.”
BU’s offense could not muster a goal in what turned to be Demko’s ninth shutout of the season (a new single-season BC record), but the real issue tonight was the lighting at TD Garden.
With 8:53 to play in the first period, the main lights above the ice slowly dimmed and then turned out. The teams skated around the ice to stay loose, but were eventually sent back to their respective dressing rooms. The situation was finally resolved after nearly 30 minutes, but it took longer than a normal intermission to get the lights up and running.
BC head coach Jerry York said after the game said both teams were offered the chance to play a 29-minute second period instead of finishing the first, but York said he and Quinn declined the opportunity.
Maguire nearly perfect
We’ve mentioned it in this article a few times already, but Maguire was good in this one — really good.
He kept BU in the game with 23-first period saves and finished with 41 stops on 42 chances. Maguire, for the tournament, saved 65 shots on 67 opportunities for a .970 save percentage. He wouldn’t carry the Beanpot trophy, but he did earn Beanpot MVP and the Eberly Award for the highest save percentage in the tournament.
The only two goaltenders to have a higher single-tournament save percentage than Maguire were former BU netminders John Curry (.985) and Rick DiPietro (.981).
Sarah will have more on Maguire’s stellar performance in her sidebar.
The first period was not one BU will be writing home about anytime soon. The rest of the game, especially from a defensive standpoint, the Terriers did a much better job in their own end.
BU pushed the Eagles to the perimeter and limited the number of “Grade-A” opportunities they could get on net. By game’s end, the total shot attempts were closer than the first period may have indicated, with BC holding a slight 68-62 edge.
“…I thought in the second and third period we did a much better job of being decisive and just making a decision and doing it with conviction,” Quinn said, “and that made everybody else’s job easier and that’s why you saw the dramatic drop in shots and scoring chances and made it a hockey game.”