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

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

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

10. Hockey East final, the team exiting the rink

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

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

9. NCAA Regional Final, the post-win celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. National championship game, Connor LaCouvee comforting Hohmann

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

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

2. NCAA regional semifinal, BU beats Yale

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

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

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

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

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

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: BU claims 8th Hockey East title in program history

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pluses

Eichel does it again

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

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

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

Making the most of the situation

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

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

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

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

Grzelcyk’s streak continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

Line change pays off for Greer

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

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

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

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

O’Connor and Rodrigues get well-deserved honor

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

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

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

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

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

Minuses

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

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

Pluses and Minuses: O’Connor’s strong play in net helps Terriers advance to Hockey East title game

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

For the second time in three seasons, the Boston University men’s hockey team will play for the Hockey East championship.

Facing off against a red-hot University of New Hampshire squad that had won nine of its last 10 contests, the Terriers (24-7-5) ricocheted from yet another slow start to best the Wildcats (19-19-2), 4-1, Friday night at TD Garden.

The Terriers will have little time to rest following their victory, as they will face off against two-time defending conference champion University of Massachusetts Lowell Saturday night.

As with every hockey game, there were a good amount of positive and negative takeaways Friday night. Here they are.

Pluses:

O’Connor stabilizes Terriers in uneven first period

Fresh off of earning Hockey East Second Team All-Star honors Thursday night, junior goaltender Matt O’Connor lived up to newly awarded accolade against the Wildcats, standing tall in the Terrier crease to the tune of 32 saves — his highest save total since stopped 32 shots against the University of Vermont on Jan. 23.

The Toronto native especially came up big over the first 20 minutes of play, negating a multitude of sloppy plays from the blueliners in front of him by holding an opportunistic and aggressive Wildcat offense to just one goal.

A pivotal moment came in the closing minutes of the stanza, with UNH holding onto a 1-0 advantage. As the Wildcats vied for yet another tally, forward Andrew Poturalski fired a puck on net that a sprawling O’Connor deflected at the last second with his pads, keeping it a one-goal game. Less than 20 seconds later, the Terriers capitalized, with senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann lighting the lamp at 17:38 to knot the score at one goal apiece.

O’Connor is now 21-3-4 on the year with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

MacLeod impresses in return

Despite sitting out the past three games due to an upper-body injury, freshman defenseman John MacLeod failed to show any rust in his return to action Friday night.

The blueliner was steady out on the ice, tying defensive partner Matt Grzelcyk with a game-high plus-four rating on the night while also earning his seventh assist of the season on Hohmann’s first-period score.

The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect also paid dividends on defense, stopping a potential Wildcat goal in the third period. With the Terriers clinging to a 2-1 lead, sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby sent a shot from the blue line that was blocked by a UNH skater, generating a breakaway opportunity for New Hampshire.

As the UNH skater coasted into the Terriers’ zone, MacLeod hustled back and swooped into the skater’s lane, disrupting his easy look on net.

Good timing from Chase Phelps

Freshman forward Chase Phelps picked an awful good time to score his second goal of the season.

With Friday’s match locked in a 1-1 draw, the Terriers’ fourth line buzzed around the UNH net, attempting to generate some semblance of an opportunity against New Hampshire goaltender Danny Tirone.

Junior forward Mike Moran coasted the puck along the end boards to sophomore forward Nick Roberto, who motioned from behind the UNH cage and put the puck on net. As the puck settled near the crease, Phelps quickly flipped it over Tirone, handing BU its first lead of the night.

It was the Shattuck St. Mary’s product’s first goal since Nov. 29 against Colgate University.

Eichel keeps doing Eichel things

While BU’s formidable first line was mostly held in check over the first 40 minutes of play, freshman center Jack Eichel could not be muted for long.

The young forward capped the Terriers’ scoring on the night with two goals in the final 10 minutes of play, both off of rebound offerings off the stick of senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues.

With his two strikes, Eichel has extended his point streak to 11 games, notching 23 points during that stretch. Now standing at 63 points on the season, Eichel needs just one more to stand as the second-highest scoring freshman in NCAA history.

Minuses:

New day at the garden, same slow start

For the third time this season, the Terriers dropped the puck at TD Garden. And for the third time in this arena, the Terriers underwhelmed with their performance in the first period.

BU appeared sluggish and indecisive both in terms of defense and offense over the first 20 minutes, with the Wildcats outshooting the Terriers by an 11-8 margin.

While it appeared that the Wildcats consistently outplayed their opponent throughout the period, O’Connor’s strong play and Hohmann’s goal were able to help the Terriers escape the stanza still locked in a 1-1 tie.

“After the first period we all knew we didn’t play well. I’m careful to say that, because I think a big part of that had to do with the way UNH was playing,” said BU coach David Quinn. “For us to come out of that period 1-1 I thought it bode well for us moving forward because I knew we couldn’t play much worse than that. Hopefully we get off to a better start tomorrow night because I don’t think we’re going to be able to get away with it with Lowell.”

Freshman blueliners struggle in opening frame

Throughout the first period of play Friday night, BU’s four freshman defensemen sure looked like … Well, freshmen.

A key factor in the team’s lackluster performance in opening frame can be attributed to a few choice plays from its rookie defensemen. In particular, Brandon Fortunato and Brandon Hickey coughed up a costly turnover in BU’s own zone, directly leading to a goal from UNH forward Tyler Kelleher at 14:34.

For more on the Terriers’ sluggish defensive play (and subsequent redemption), check out Andrew’s sider.

Pluses and Minuses: BU’s goaltending highlights Hockey East quarterfinal sweep of Merrimack

The No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team handily advanced to the Hockey East Tournament semifinals with a 5-0 win over Merrimack College on Saturday, sealing the quarterfinal series sweep and a trip to TD Garden next weekend.

Matt O'Connor. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
Matt O’Connor. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO

There was plenty to like from BU this weekend, but since we’re us, we found some things to complain about, too. Here are some of both:

Pluses

OC shines
Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor has been solid in net all season for BU, and had yet another stellar performance on Saturday. He turned away 26 Merrimack shots, including 15 saves in the second period, playing 58:58 of shutout hockey.

He even recorded an assist in the game, passing the puck up to freshman forward Jack Eichel during a penalty kill on senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann’s shorthanded goal at 4:11 in the second period.

“It’s usually off of Eichel,” O’Connor joked. “If I can just get it back the forecheckers, maybe I‘ll get lucky. … I’ve really been working on playing the puck, moving it quicker this game, because they have more of a dump style and it really helped us.”

O’Connor was pulled with 1:02 remaining in the game on the brink of the second shutout of his career, however, because there were more important matters to tend to.

Moccia sighting
When BU held a 4-0 advantage with a little more than a minute remaining, it was clear that it would be the last game of the season at Agganis Arena. A third game to determine the series winner between BU and Merrimack wouldn’t be necessary, so all games would be played at a neutral site from there on out.

For several Terriers, it would be their last time ever touching the Agganis Arena ice for a game — including graduate student goaltender Anthony Moccia. BU head coach David Quinn acknowledged that and gave Moccia some time in net for his final game at Agganis.

“At the end of the day, Moccia’s going to remember that for the rest of his life,” Quinn said. “OC I’m sure would’ve loved to have the shutout, but that moment’s going to mean a lot to Moccia than O’Connor finishing the last minute and a half of that game.

“I talked to OC about it, I’m sure initially he was a little bit frustrated, but by the end of it, by the time we were in the locker room, he was beaming and happy as heck for Moccia.”

Was O’Connor fine with the decision?

“Absolutely,” O’Connor said. “It’s not for the stats, it’s playoff hockey and it’s a full-team sport.”

Moccia entered the game when Merrimack had a 6-on-4 man advantage, but stood on his head, even recording a save — the third of his career in just more than 10 total career minutes — to hold Merrimack scoreless in the game.

Defense
Like Friday night, BU played shorthanded on defense, with just five players available due to upper-body injuries to freshman John MacLeod and sophomore T.J. Ryan. But that posed no trouble for BU’s blue liners.

Sophomore Doyle Somerby and freshman Brandon Hickey each had five blocked shots. The team had 16 total in the game.

In addition to holding Merrimack to just two shots on goal during the second period, BU got some work in on offense during the game. Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk scored an empty-netter with 4:21 remaining in the game, and freshmen Brandon Fortunato and Brien Diffley each had an assist apiece.

“I thought all of our D played all weekend,” Quinn said. “All five of them had real good weekends.”

Second period
For the second straight night, the Terriers were able to swarm the Warriors in the second period, recording three in the second frame on Saturday. Conor has more about the team’s second-period play in his sidebar.

Minuses

Chippy play
At the end of the second period, with BU holding a 3-0 lead over Merrimack, tempers began to fly and a post-whistle scrum broke out.

For Merrimack, defenseman Jonathan Lashyn received a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct, and forward Brett Seney received penalties for roughing and cross-checking in addition to a 10-minute misconduct.

Hohmann also received a cross-checking penalty and 10-minute misconduct. Sophomore forward Nick Roberto had a roughing call against him in addition to a 10-minute misconduct of his own.

In all, each team received 38 penalty minutes in the game – a season-high for BU. The Terriers played a very good game, but it’s a major concern when things start to get so chippy — a suspension or injury caused by fighting or a temper tantrum would be the last thing BU needed entering the Hockey East semifinals.

Pluses and Minuses: BU ends Beanpot losing streak, advances to tournament final

It might’ve felt like an eternity. In fact, it was 1,093 days.

Nikolas Olsson.  PHOTO BY EVAN JONES/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Nikolas Olsson.
PHOTO BY EVAN JONES/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

But at long last, the losing streak is over.

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team overcame a two-goal deficit and record-breaking goaltending performance to dispatch No. 4/6 Harvard University, 4-3, in double overtime in the Beanpot semifinal at TD Garden.

Sixty-seven shots later, the Terriers (17-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) won it on a goal from junior forward Danny O’Regan 2:18 into the second overtime period. Down by two in the middle of the second, freshman forward Nikolas Olsson and junior winger Ahti Oksanen tied the game up, which set up a dramatic third and overtime periods.

BU dominated for large portions of the game, but it wasn’t perfect. As always, things went right and wrong for the Terriers. Here’s the Beanpot semifinal edition of Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses

The final play

It seemed at just about every turn, Harvard (12-6-2) netminder Stephen Michalek bailed out his defense. With 63 saves, a new Beanpot record, he at times looked impenetrable. One Crimson turnover changed everything.

As Harvard attempted to clear its own defensive zone, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues got in the way of the exit pass. O’Regan saw this, and immediately charged toward the crease. Rodrigues made a crisp centering pass to the Needham native, who finished off the play with a wrister into an almost-open net.

Michalek had no chance to make that 64th save.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play with Evan [Rodrigues] for awhile now,” O’Regan said. “He’s a great player, so I just kind of put my head down and went to the net and knew he would find me — he did just that.”

Cason Hohmann’s resurgence

BU’s other senior assistant captain went all the way from Nov. 22 to Jan 23 without scoring a goal. At certain points over the last month-and-half, BU coach David Quinn even moved the center to the third line at points.

Over the last few games, including Tuesday night’s, Hohmann looks to be back in form. He opened up the scoring at the 16:50 mark of the first, as he found himself perfectly positioned in the crease to finish off a good passing play from Rodrigues.

Arguably even bigger was assist he made to Oksanen that tied the game in the waning seconds of the second period.

Second-period comeback

Believe it or not, but the Terriers were actually getting outshot and outplayed by the Crimson at the end of the first and beginning of the second. Harvard capitalized on sloppy in-zone defense and went up 3-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second frame, but more on that in the minus section.

After awhile, though, BU found its groove and fought back.

What initially looked to be a failed BU opportunity actually led to the first goal of the comeback. Olsson sprang Nick Roberto on a long lead pass through the neutral zone, all but giving Roberto a 1-on-1 showdown with Michalek. But on the ensuing breakway, Roberto shot well high of goal.

Undeterred, the third line kept the puck in the zone and created another opportunity. This time, the unit cashed in.

Roberto worked his way open in the slot and fired off a shot that created a big rebound. Olsson, as he’s done so many times this season, crashed the front of the net and picked up the loose change for his fifth goal.

Four minutes later, Oksanen connected on his 17th of the year off a nice feed from Hohmann. And like that, the tide of the game turned.

“I thought there was a point early in the second where it looked like a pond hockey game — we were giving up way too many odd-man rushes,” Quinn said. “And then I thought there was a point where we kind of settled down and started playing more responsible.”

Scoring chances … many scoring chances 

After a little bit of a lull at the end of the first period and start of the second period, the Terriers kicked it into high gear and amped up the pressure on Michalek. In the third period and first overtime, the Terriers generated 72 total shots, 32 of which hit net.

By the time O’Regan scored, the Terriers had attempted 123 shots — more than double Harvard’s shot attempts. It took some stellar goaltending, a few key blocks and some puck luck for Harvard to force the game as far as it did.

Minuses 

Bad defensive lapse and a sloppy start of the second

The Terriers already let the Crimson back into the game after they let Harvard rush the net at the end of the second period. Another misplay in the defensive zone at the start of the second period was, as Quinn put it, “deflating.”

The aforementioned second goal came off a bad exchange behind junior netminder Matt O’Connor. Freshman defenseman John MacLeod fed junior captain Matt Grzelcyk behind the net, who in turn gave the puck right to Harvard. The turnover all but set up forward Alexander Kerfoot’s goal 22 seconds into the frame.

It didn’t end up costing the Terriers in the long run, but it, and some other bad defensive plays later, put the team in bad position to start the second frame.

Record-breaking goaltender

Not exactly a clear-cut minus for BU, but Michalek’s performance for Harvard is worth at least a mention. Admittedly battling cramps, the backstop made a combined 32 saves in the third period and first overtime. A few times he was bailed out on some blocks, though for the most part, Michalek was impressive during his career-best day.

Rodrigues, strong blueliner play helps BU secure 4-point weekend over Catamounts

BURLINGTON, Vermont — Don’t call it a comeback. The Terriers have been there all season long.

Matt O'Connor. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Matt O’Connor. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Horrendous LL Cool J references aside, the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team was able to manufacture another impressive late-game turnaround Saturday night, besting No. 12 University of Vermont to earn a series sweep against its Hockey East foe.

Starting at a 1-0 defeat for most of the contest, the Terriers were able to net the equalizer by way of a tally from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues with a little over two minutes remaining on the clock.

The Gutterson Fieldhouse crowd would ultimately vacate the rink on a sour note, as freshman center redirected a shot from Rodrigues past Catamounts’ netminder Steve Santaguida to hand the Terriers a vital four points for the weekend.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for BU on Saturday night up in The Green Mountain State.

Pluses

“Ice in our veins”

After BU’s 4-2 victory over Vermont Friday night — in which the Terriers held off a late-game UVM comeback to hold on for the two points — BU coach David Quinn admitted that his team “has a little ice in our veins” when it comes to late-game situations.

The Terriers exemplified that trend again Saturday night, albeit in a different fashion.

Instead of shutting down a third-period surge, the Terriers were the ones orchestrating it, as Rodrigues and Eichel’s goals in the third period and overtime, respectively, handed BU its third win a row.

For the ninth time this season, the Terriers faced a deficit in the third period and managed to come away with either a win or a tie.

For Quinn, the key to his team’s success in high-pressure scenarios lies in his players’ mutual respect and trust in one another.

“I think our guys have confidence, respectful confidence,” Quinn said. “And they just trust each other. They look around the locker room and I think they think every guy in there is pretty good. That’s where you get some confidence, not only within yourself but throughout the lineup.”

Defensemen

Just hours before the game, the Terriers blueliner corps was dealt a significant blow, as sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby was suspended for one game by Hockey East after being called for an interference penalty during Friday’s match against UVM.

Despite only dressing five defenseman Saturday night, Quinn praised the play of his defensemen, who excelled at both limiting Vermont’s chances in front of BU netminder Matt O’Connor and moving the puck up the ice.

Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk in particular was impressive, as the Charlestown native was active on the backcheck, breaking up a UVM odd-man rush at one point while later poke checking the puck off the stick of Vermont winger Mario Puskarich on a prime scoring bid in the second period.

“I loved our D corps tonight, I thought they did a great job breaking the puck out,” Quinn said. “I thought the poise with the puck was a lot better than it was last night. I thought we defended well.

You beat a team on Friday, they’re a lot more desperate on Saturday and that’s what we were very happy with, with the first period because I thought weathered the storm a little bit and just really did a lot of good things. Our D corps was huge tonight.”

Red-hot Rodrigues

Once again, Rodrigues made his presence on the box score Saturday night, scoring his ninth goal of the season while later tallying the assist on Eichel’s overtime winner to tie him with linemate Danny O’Regan for second in conference scoring with 28 points in 23 games.

Rodrigues has registered a point in BU’s last eight games, compiling 15 points during that stretch.

For more on Rodrigues’ performance, check out Andrew’s sider.

OC

While Eichel and Rodrigues might have stolen most of the headlines following Saturday’s game, the play of O’Connor helped keep the Terriers within one goal throughout the contest.

After relinquishing a goal to Vermont captain Mike Paliotta with 18 minutes left on the clock in the second period, O’Connor did not let another puck enter BU netting, finishing with 31 saves en route to his 13th win of the season.

O’Connor is second in Hockey East in both goals-against average (1.91) and save percentage (.937).

Minuses

Penalties prove costly

While even Quinn admitted that the Terriers performed better in their second game of the weekend, the team was sullied by a few costly penalties.

The game was still locked in a 0-0 stalemate when freshman forward Nikolas Olsson was whistled for elbowing, handing Vermont its third power-play opportunity of the contest.

UVM’s extra-man unit would make Olsson and Terriers pay, as Paliotta fired a quick wrister from the top of the point, beating O’Connor glove side to put Vermont on the board at 2:00 in the second period.