Mark Dennehy out as Merrimack coach

After completing his thirteenth year with Merrimack College, head coach Mark Dennehy was informed that he will not be returning to the Warriors’ bench next season.

He was told of the move after losing game two of the Hockey East quarterfinals to Boston College saturday.

The 21 losses this season are the most since 2014 in which their record was 8-22-3, Before his hiring, Merrimack lost 20 or more games in six of eight seasons.

In the 2016-2017 season, Merrimack swept then No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team.

Assistant coach Curtis Carr will remain with the team and run the day-to-day operations while Merrimack searches for a new coach which will begin immediately. 

Associate Bill Gilligan was also relieved of his duties.

Dennehy had a record of 168-243-60 at Merrimack, and made a NCAA tournament appearance in 2011.

 

Weekend Roundup: Lowell series, end of semester thoughts

The Boston University men’s hockey team finished 2017 with two matchups against the University of Massachusetts Lowell. This was the first time the two teams had faced each other unranked since Dec. 7, 2007.

Jordan Greenway recorded three goals and one assist on Saturday. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Jordan Greenway recorded three goals and one assist on Saturday. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Friday night at Tsongas Center, the Terriers had a 2-1 lead going into the final period of the game after freshman forward Brady Tkachuk and graduate transfer forward Drew Melanson struck less than a minute into the first and second period respectively.

However, BU couldn’t maintain the lead as the River Hawks found the back of the net twice in the third and the Terriers couldn’t get the puck past Lowell junior goaltender Christoffer Hernberg.

Saturday ensued much differently. BU notched three goals in each period for a 9-3 win to end the semester. Junior forward Jordan Greenway tallied a hat-trick, which included a short-handed goal.

Sophomore forward Patrick Harper scored twice on the power play, freshman defenseman Cam Crotty got his first collegiate goal and sophomore defenseman Chad Krys notched a goal the following shift after being hit hard in the leg by a shot from River Hawks senior defenseman Chris Forney.

Chad Krys was helped off the ice, but returned back to the BU bench quickly. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Chad Krys was helped off the ice, but returned back to the BU bench quickly. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

While the Terriers will go into the winter break on a high note and the team appears optimistic about the next half of their season, the Lowell series continued to highlight an ever so familiar sequence of events.

Over BU’s past three Hockey East series, the squad has been limited to two goals or less on one night then puts up seven or more goals the next. This was seen specifically in the Terriers’ splits with the University of Maine, then-No. 15 Boston College and this past weekend.

BU is currently tied for No. 3 in the conference with No. 9 Providence College and in the upcoming half of the season, it will face many opponents again and play Hockey East series against Merrimack College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Vermont.

This latter portion of the season will certainly provide a challenge to the Terriers who have proven they can play against a top team like BC, but they have yet to see a full sweep and take home four points.

BU’s next game will be an exhibition game against the United States National Team Development Program on Jan. 5 where many of the Terriers will see their former teammates. Following that game will be another matchup against Maine at Agganis Arena.

Another note before the articles and media below: I (Nikki) will be assuming the role of the sports editor of The Daily Free Press during the spring semester so Liam O’Brien and Matt Martin will be the main writers for men’s hockey and the Boston Hockey Blog. I may come back to cover a couple games, but I’d like to thank everyone for a great semester, hanging in with us through the technical difficulties and keeping along with the blog.

What are you thoughts on the Lowell series and the first half of the 2017-18 season?

Read our articles from the weekend below:

Friday’s Articles

Recap – “Men’s hockey unable to sustain lead in 3-2 loss to UMass Lowell

Sider on Melanson – “Drew Melanson finds success on men’s hockey top line

Saturday’s Articles

Recap – “Men’s hockey trumps UMass-Lowell, 9-3, behind hat trick from Jordan Greenway

Sider on players that benefitted BU’s lineup – “Addition of Fabbro, Chabot and Curry help men’s hockey beat UMass Lowell 9-3

Here are some Twitter posts, highlights and post-game press conferences from the weekend:

Pluses and Minuses: No. 9 Terriers notch 3rd consecutive win

Danny O'Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn praised his team last weekend for giving full, 60-minute efforts in two wins over the University of Maine.

Those are the kind of games, he said, that are needed down the stretch drive as points become even more valuable. Even against a team like Merrimack College, one that had lost nine in a row coming into Friday, the Terriers would need another complete performance.

In another wire-to-wire effort, the Terriers (14-7-4, 8-4-3 Hockey East) shut out Merrimack, 4-0, with the combined efforts of two netminders, senior Sean Maguire and sophomore Connor LaCouvee.

Four different Terriers scored en route to BU’s third consecutive win and fourth game in a row which the team has earned at least a point.

“I thought we played smart hockey, we possessed it, we didnt turn the puck over,” Quinn said, “a lot of good things and a tough game to play, tough game to play.”

We’ll take a look at the good, the bad and the straight up weird in this Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses 

Lane at the top

We’re going to go out on a limb and assume not many people had Matt Lane as their preseason pick to be the team leader in goals.

But as of the end of this game, that’s where Lane finds himself, though he is technically tied with his classmate, winger Ahti Oksanen.

A week after Maine head coach Red Gendron said his team had “no answer” for Lane and his linemates, Lane scored his 14th goal of the season about halfway through the third period of this one, getting his own rebound and tapping the puck past Merrimack (7-14-5, 2-8-5 Hockey East) goaltender Collin Delia.

The goal was one portion of his three-point night, the second straight game that Lane has recorded three points. In his last four outings, Lane is averaging two points per game.

A lot of what Lane has done to get better in the goal department, according to Quinn, is the fact that he is adding more practice time to his shooting.

“Well, number one, he skates so well,” Quinn said. “Two, he’s really worked on his shot, he’s scored some goal-scorer’s goals. He can really snap it, he gets it off quick, he understands you gotta get inside the hash marks to create some offense and it’s great to see him get rewarded.

“I mean, 14 goals for him is a heck of a senior year.”

Oksanen’s milestone 

Speaking of the other skater with 14 goals, Oksanen added his latest tally at the 18:42 mark of the third period, BU’s fourth and final goal.

But the goal, in the grand scheme of the game, was irrelevant. However, for Oksanen, it was more than just stat-padder.

The empty-netter was Oksanen’s 50th-career goal in the BU uniform, a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that he was a full-time defenseman at this time two years ago. He also joins senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan as the second Terrier to reach the half-century mark in career goals this season.

For as much as he shoots the puck — both during games and practice — Oksanen makes it work and continues to be a force any time he touches the puck in the offensive zone.

Seniors stand out 

If it hasn’t been apparent already, the big takeaway from this game was the fact that the seniors played well.

Four elder statesmen (Lane, Oksanen, O’Regan and captain Matt Grzelcyk) combined for six points in the win. O’Regan’s lone point of the night came on a shorthanded attempt in the second period where he took the puck from center ice and broke all alone on goal, beating Delia up high.

“Danny played great tonight, had a lot of energy in the third period,” Quinn said, “him and Matt Lane I thought had really good third periods and, again, your seniors, your seniors have to deliver and three of them get goals tonight so good night for them.”

In the crease, Maguire made all the stops he needed to (27 total), including 10 on Merrimack power-play chances. But that’s only a smidgen of what happened with Maguire tonight. More on that in the minuses…

Minuses 

Bad break for Maguire

Early in the first period during a Merrimack rush, Maguire didn’t quite look himself. It wasn’t the fact that he wasn’t stopping the puck, but he couldn’t move from post-to-post with the quickness that he normally has.

But it was no fault of his own. In an unfortunate incident, his skate blade somehow popped off, and he was forced to come out of the game for a 5:49 stretch to get it fixed.

In that brief span, Maguire not only lost his bid for a shutout (he would have had to have played the full game), but he also lost his chance for a win. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored what turned out to be the decisive goal, which gave LaCouvee the victory.

Sarah has more about this “peculiar” situation in her sidebar.

Penalties add up, power play fails to convert 

It wasn’t as if the BU penalty kill wasn’t good, as it went a perfect 6-for-6 for the evening.

But the fact that the Terriers took six penalties in one game is definitely on the negative side. The second period could have gotten out of hand, with the Warriors garnering seven shots on net.

BU’s power play had ample opportunity to get an extra-man goal, but went 0-for-4. Going back to the Terriers’ 1-1 tie with No. 5 Boston College, BU is 1-for-18 on the power play.

Quinn held no secrets about his feelings toward the power-play unit on Friday.

“Didn’t like it,” Quinn said. “Not surprised we didn’t have success. Just, we’re too slow. We’re too methodical, we’re too slow, there’s no pace to our power play right now, which is kind of funny because it was clicking at a great pace when we came back from Christmas but we’re just, we don’t have a shooter’s mentality, we don’t pass it quick enough.

“Other than that, it’s unbelievable.”

Odds and Ends: Day after No. 2/3 BU beats No. 18 Merrimack

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team ended its two-game winless stretch with a 4-2 victory over No. 18 Merrimack College on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

Junior forward Danny O’Regan recorded his first hat trick in college and freshman center Jack Eichel added four assists in the BU (10-3-2, 7-1-2 Hockey East) win.

In case you missed it, here are a few links from our coverage of Saturday’s game:

— The game recap of BU’s 10th victory of the 2014-15 season.

— Sarah took a look at the play of freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey and the rest of the young defensive corps.

— Conor broke down what went right and wrong for BU in Pluses and Minuses.

Postgame comments from BU coach David Quinn, O’Regan, Hickey and Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy.

Other Notes

— Boston College defeated the University of New Hampshire at Conte Forum last night.

— No. 7 University of Massachusetts-Lowell came back to beat the University of Maine.

— Northeastern University held Providence College in check for a 2-1 win.

— No. 8/9 Harvard University won its ninth game of the year with a victory over ECAC foe Quinnipiac University.

Tweet of the Day

Pluses and Minuses: O’Regan’s hat trick helps push No. 2/3 Terriers past No. 18 Merrimack

Freshman forward Jack Eichel posted a four-point showing for the second time this season. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Freshman forward Jack Eichel posted a four-point showing for the second time this season. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

After two unsuccessful attempts against Dartmouth College and Merrimack College over the last week, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team finally matched its win total from the 2013-14 campaign, besting the Warriors 4-2 Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

The Terriers (10-3-2, 7-1-2 Hockey East) scored four goals over the first two periods to pad a comfortable cushion against the Warriors (10-5-2, 4-4-1 Hockey East), with junior forward Danny O’Regan notching his first collegiate hat trick in the process.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers Saturday night:

Pluses

Hats off to O’Regan

Less than a week after seeing his 10-game point streak come to an end against Dartmouth (5-4-1), O’Regan acclimated himself back on the BU box score Saturday, lighting the lamp three times en route to his first-career hat trick and four-point game.

The San Jose Sharks draft pick was a constant presence on offense anytime he was out on the ice, leading the team with 10 shots while compiling a plus-4 rating.

O’Regan’s most notable play might have been his first tally, as the junior skated his way into the slot, picked up a centering feed from freshman center Jack Eichel and deked past Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia before depositing the puck by way of a backhand shot into the Warriors’ net.

Standing at 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) on the year, O’Regan is tied for first in Hockey East in goals and is just one point off his total scoring output from last season.

“Yeah, it was awesome,” O’Regan said about his three-goal night. “Really exciting. I was lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time, and had the benefit of some really good plays by my teammates.”

Eichel shares the wealth

Reports of Eichel’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

After being held pointless in three of BU’s last four games, the freshman center tallied four assists against the Warriors — his second four-point showing this season (Oct. 10 at UMass-Amherst).

Eichel, who was named Hockey East Player of the Month on Wednesday, paces all Hockey East skaters in points (25), assists (17) and plus-minus (plus-20).

“You just kind of have to get to the right spot and I know he’s going to get around a couple people and find me,” O’Regan said of his linemate. “I just have be patient and go to the right areas. He’s got the ability that nobody else really has to just skate around people. I just keep it simple, try to get him the puck with speed, and he’s always looking to give it back.”

Hickey cashes in

Entering Saturday’s game tied for the team lead in points amongst defenseman (seven) freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey’s strong first-half play was finally rewarded when the Leduc, Alberta native notched his first collegiate goal at 2:46 in the second period.

After entering into Warrior’s zone, Eichel sent off a centering pass to a trailing Hickey, who promptly roofed the puck over Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia’s right shoulder to give BU a commanding 3-0 lead.

For more on Hickey’s performance and the strong play from BU’s first-year blueliners this season, check out Sarah’s sider.

Minuses

Somerby’s costly penalty

While the Terriers entered the second intermission with a comfortable three-goal advantage, a costly play from sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby could have changed the entire complexion of the third period.

The Marblehead native was flagged for both a game misconduct and a five-minute major penalty after crushing freshman Brett Seney into the boards behind the BU net at 6:34 in the final stanza.

While the Terriers penalty-kill unit negated the Warriors’ extended power-play, Merrimack would eventually cut the deficit to two after forward Brian Christie scored his second goal of the game at 14:45.

Third Period … Woes?

In what has been a major departure from a prevalent narrative this season, the Terriers’ dragged themselves to the finish line over the final 20 minutes of play.

For the first time all season, BU was outscored in the third period, with Christie’s score standing as the only mark for either team in the final stanza. While BU outshot the Warriors by a 34-20 margin over the first 40 minutes of play, both squads settled for 12 shots apiece in the third, thanks in large part to four BU penalties.

“Obviously, the third period disappointing with the four penalties and the five-minute major, that kind of made it interesting,” said BU coach David Quinn. “But, a great weekend for us.”

Pluses and minuses: No. 2/3 Terriers escape with draw at No. 18 Merrimack

Freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey tallied his seventh assist of the season against No. 18 Merrimack College
Freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey tallied his seventh assist of the season against No. 18 Merrimack College

NORTH ANDOVER — For the second time this season, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team skated to tie, this time with Merrimack College, 1-1, Friday night at Lawler Arena.

A sluggish beginning and a sloppy second period slowed the Terriers (9-3-2, 6-1-2 Hockey East) until junior forward Matt Lane lit the lamp early in the third. They forced overtime, but the Terriers could not get the game-winning tally despite a power-play opportunity in the final minute of sudden death.

As always, things went both right and wrong for the Terriers. Below is a detailed look at Friday night’s contest at Merrimack (10-4-2, 4-3-1 Hockey East):

Pluses

Life in the fast Lane

Lane finds himself toward the middle of BU’s statistics page, although his play this season has been better than a middle-of-the-pack point-getter.

His net-front presence has been crucial for the Terriers this season, especially in third periods. Two of his three goals before Friday night’s game came in situations to either tie or win a game. And at 1:37 in the third stanza tonight, Lane added to this total.

Standing at the right place at the right time, the Rochester, New York native tapped in loose puck past goaltender Collin Delia to knot up the score.

“He’s had a great year. He’s played very well,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He’s skating, he’s being more physical, he’s going to the net more. Maybe that was his third or fourth, and 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.”

The killers

If you looked toward the penalty box Friday night, chances are you saw a BU player sitting in it. The Terriers had a combined penalty-minute time that totaled more than a third of regulation.

That tally was skewed by a 10-minute misconduct from freshman defenseman John MacLeod, but the number of penalties the Terriers took was staggering. But as bad as the infractions were, the penalty kill was just as good.

The four-man unit stuck bodies in front that stood in shooting lanes. When it came down to it, junior goaltender Matt O’Connor made the saves, and his defensemen chipped pucks out of the zone at opportune moments.

Hickey continues to move it along

Along with freshman forward Jack Eichel, his classmate in defenseman Brandon Hickey has time and again proven the strength of BU’s rookie class. The blueliner’s play on the penalty kill can’t be understated, but it’s been his ability to move the puck that has stood out the most.

Hickey found open forwards in tight windows and pinched down low for chances when he had the opportunity. When he threw the puck toward the net a little over 1:30 in the third period, he set up Lane for the tying goal. The helper was Hickey’s seventh of the year, good for fourth in assists on the team.

Everybody clap your hands

The Merrimack sound crew provided quite the array of songs for this game, and for that, they make the cut with a plus. It was a good selection of hits spanning multiple generations. The players even got into the fun, as Hickey was spotted clapping along to the “Cha-Cha Slide” from the bench.

The only minus? They played Sail by AWOLNATION twice.

Minuses

Man down … over and over again

The Terriers played with four skaters. A lot. BU was called for six penalties in the second period, including successive penalties to freshman forward Chase Phelps. The referees called the game tight to the vest, and the Terriers ended up on the wrong side of most calls.

For more on the penalty issues, check out Judy’s sider.

The ice shrinks and so do the shot totals

Lawler Arena is a smaller venue, both in capacity and in ice size. For a team like the Terriers that rely on speed to create open looks at the net, the rink proved to be an issue.

Eichel, who’s consistently stickhandled his way into open areas, could not really use his usual tricks on this night. BU’s vaunted first line really had nothing going for most of the contest aside from a few chances.

The Terriers had trouble getting pucks toward the net as whole, putting 22 on goal for the game, a season-low.

“There’s not a lot of room out there and we that’s why you need to move the puck quicker, to not allow them to smother you, which they’re very good at, and I mean that in a complimentary way,” Quinn said. “We don’t shoot the puck enough either. I mean we had some chances to shoot the puck and 22 shots is just not acceptable.

“I mean we’re definitely a little bit snake-bitten, but we’re not shooting enough. You become snake bitten when you get 22 pucks on net. You’d be a lot less snake bitten if you got 35.”

Second period misses

In what proved to be a poor period, the Terriers did have two golden opportunities to score twice. But they shot themselves in the foot both times.

Senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann got a partial breakaway and walked right in on doorstep. Instead of deking to get Delia out of position, Hohmann shot it right at his glove.

Hohmann’s fellow senior assistant captain, Evan Rodrigues, charged up the ice on a 2-on-1 with junior forward Ahti Oksanen. Instead of taking an open shot, Rodrigues attempted a saucer pass to the junior. Merrimack’s defense poked away the pass, and BU was left shaking its head again.

“We had a 2-on-1, clear as day we should shoot the puck, and we don’t,” Quinn said. “We’ve gotta bear down more, we gotta get more pucks to the net, and we’re getting too cute, we’re getting too cute, and we drive people wide, throw pucks to the net.”

Transcript: Comments from Matt Lane following tie vs. Merrimack

Talked to junior forward Matt Lane, who scored BU’s only goal against Merrimack on Friday, on his way to the buses. Here’s all of what he had to say:

On his goal:
“It was just a power-play goal. We were trying to get pucks to the net, and luckily I got to the net and jammed home the rebound.”

Big-time goals this season:
“Just getting to the net. I guess if you look at all my goals, they’re all in tight. The bounces have gone my way at an opportune time. But basically just getting to the net, being a net-front presence and that’s how I’ve been creating my scoring opportunities.”

How to clean up penalties?
“We’ve definitely got to move our feet. It’s a small ice surface out there, a pretty chippy game. We’ve just got to move our feet more, keep our sticks down, not take stick penalties and stay out of the box more.”

Smaller ice detrimental?
“I don’t think it plays in our hands, but I also don’t think it’s an excuse. But you’ve got to give them credit. They play a jam-packed style, they lock it down and I’d say a 1-1 game is their ideal goal.”

Young team, how can you be a leader?
“Just that. Just be a leader. Be vocal, help these guys when they need it. It’s a long season, and as we move into the second half here, they’re not really freshmen anymore. And if we’re going to have a good team, we’re going to need all of them, especially since there’s so many, and they’re all in the lineup. I’d say as an upperclassman, just being a vocal presence and being there for whatever those guys need.”

Personal improvements needed?
“Just working every day in practice. Working on my shot, working on moving my feet, playing on my advantages. I think I’ll be alright.”

How to win tomorrow?
“We’ve got to stick to the game plan. We’ve got to get to the net, we’ve got to win our one-on-one battles, and we’re back on our home ice. If we do that, we should be okay.”