In light of those seesaw-like performances, we offer up some thoughts on BU’s current run of form. Hint: There was some good, some bad and some ugly.
Penalties: BU surely wishes it came home with more points from its trip to Michigan, but the brightest takeaway was reduced penalties. After totaling six penalties in Friday’s loss, the Terriers spent only six minutes in the box on Saturday. The young Terriers have had difficulty limiting careless penalties to start the season, but last weekend was a positive sign for Quinn’s squad. Quinn’s goal for his team is no more than four penalties per game, and Saturday’s win was the first time that the Terriers were under the limit. If BU can continue this trend and keep five guys on the ice more consistently, they’ll be just fine. – Nick
Patrick Curry: He didn’t total a point in the two games at Michigan, but Curry is making his presence felt on the third line. With so many forwards struggling with injuries, the freshman has relied on his physicality and smart play to surpass expectations. He scored his first collegiate goal Nov. 4 at Northeastern, and if Curry keeps it up, we’ll likely see his name on the score sheet a lot more. – Nick
Road games: After splitting a pair of games with Michigan last weekend, the Terriers are now 2-3-1 on the road, as opposed to 3-0 at Agganis Arena. This is definitely a bit troubling considering how talented this team is from top to bottom. There’s no doubt that BU won’t get very far come springtime if they can’t figure out how to win away from Comm. Ave. BU next plays on the road this Friday at UConn, and doesn’t travel again until a conference matchup with Providence on Dec. 2. Still, something to keep an eye on. – Nick
The Small Five
Jake Oettinger: The freshman netminder possesses enormous talent, and his 6-foot-4 frame boosts his NHL potential. But fans sometimes forget Oettinger is only 17 years old, an age that’s typical associated with peaks and valleys, with highs and lows. Friday’s game was definitely a low, as Oettinger let in three of the 20 shots he faced, only to rebound on Saturday and make 27 saves. The fact the former U.S. NTDP ‘tender didn’t wilt in the face of adversity is an encouraging sign, and he now boasts a 1.79 goals against average and .932 save percentage. – Jonathan
Jordan Greenway: Last weekend’s series against Northeastern was a tough one for the sophomore forward, who received a 10-minute misconduct in the 4-4 overtime tie and was benched during the first period of the 3-0 win. But his showing on Saturday was immense, as he registered a goal and two assists, all in the third period. Even when BU was blanked in Friday’s 4-0 loss, Greenway was leading the charge, firing three shots on goal.– Jonathan
Injuries: While the Terriers will shy away from excuses, the absence of freshman forward Clayton Keller, sophomore forward Ryan Cloonan and junior forward Nik Olsson was tangible. All three bring a little something extra – Keller the top-end skill, Cloonan the simple things and Olsson a physical presence – that BU would have benefited from. They’re top-nine forwards, too, so anyone discounting their injuries is misguided. – Jonathan
Lineup change: Perhaps the most surprising part of Saturday’s tilt was that junior Brien Diffley and sophomore Shane Switzer didn’t play defense. That’s right, they played as forwards, respectively earning their second and first appearances of the year. This shift likely isn’t a long-term solution, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless. – Jonathan
Skill vs. grit: We had an interesting discussion in Friday’s live blog about how NHL-level skill translates to college hockey. In other words, is silky-smooth hands and a high hockey IQ more valuable than veteran savvy and grit? BU definitely has a surplus of the later with 11 NHL Draft picks, but the former category isn’t nearly as present. Is that a problem? We’re not entirely sure, but it’s surely something Quinn’s staff has discussed at some point. – Jonathan
The Terriers have now earned a point in six consecutive games.
Junior defenseman Doyle Somerby capped off the rally with his second goal of the year with 2:54 left in the game.
For large chunks of the game, though, BU looked sloppy and played inconsistent hockey, so we’ll take a look at what went right and wrong in this Pluses and Minuses.
These two teams were locked in a tight game when they met last October, a game in which BU prevailed with two third-period goals.
Although BU was down two goals after the first 40 minutes this time, the third period felt eerily similar to how last year’s played out. Senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored in 12-second span about halfway through the period, and Somerby scored the winner at 17:06.
Sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee had a relatively quiet third period, making just four saves.
But one stop could not have been more timely for the Terriers.
Moments after BU had tied the score, Michigan forward Tyler Motte broke loose from center ice on a breakaway. Somerby came from behind him and prevented a pure 1-on-1 chance with LaCouvee. But in the process, the referees determined that Somerby had slashed Motte’s stick as he went in on goal, and Motte was awarded a penalty shot.
LaCouvee, anchored in the crease, held his position throughout the chance, and was in great position to stop Motte’s penalty shot, which went low blocker side.
A save and a pump of the fist later, and the score stayed tied.
“Obviously the momentum is on our side, and then we give up a breakaway,” Quinn said. “Connor makes an unbelievable save.”
Quinn said he didn’t see LaCouvee’s celebration after the save, but said that his goalie’s mentality has been important in this recent stretch.
“He’s got an unbelievable personality,” Quinn said. “And he’s a great kid, and he’s really, really playing well. So love that emotion. You need emotion.”
What they’ve also received is consistent play in net, which appeared to be a question mark early in the season. But LaCouvee has allowed three or fewer goals in his last four starts, and now owns a .920 save percentage for the season.
Third line comes up big
For most of the game, like every other unit, BU’s third line was shut down by the Michigan defense and goaltender Steve Racine. The line composed of sophomore winger A.J. Greer, Baillargeon and freshman forward Bobo Carpenter had chances, especially near the doorstep from Greer, early on but could not find the back of the net.
Just a tick before the 11-minute mark in the third period, they finally were rewarded.
Baillargeon took a pass from Carpenter behind the net and then curled the puck on a wraparound past Racine for the tying goal. All three skaters earned a point on this tally.
“I thought that line played well tonight,” Quinn said. “I thought they were probably our best line early on. I thought AJ had a good night, I thought Robbie had a good night, Bobo played well. It’s always nice to spread the wealth in the scoring department.”
ESPN personality, and avid lover of college hockey, John Buccigross was in attendance for Friday night’s game.
For those who don’t know, the last three BU games — and two this season — that Buccigross has either announced or attended has ended in a Terrier loss.
That changed against Michigan, and the so called “Buccigross Curse” has been lifted, if there ever really was a curse to lift.
Slow 40 minutes
BU prided itself on playing a strong end-to-end game against No. 1 Providence College last weekend, but that was far from the case Friday.
The Wolverines displayed a quick forecheck and won just about every puck battle in the first two periods. BU had trouble matching the pace and quickly fell behind on the scoreboard and in shot attempts. Michigan also had net-front presence and clogged the middle on the defensive side to prevent prime opportunities.
Through two periods, Michigan had out-attempted BU 52-35, which was pretty indicative of how the Wolverines controlled the game.
“Those first two periods were tough to watch,” Quinn said. “I didn’t think we had a lot of jump in our step, I thought they were much quicker to loose pucks. They were quicker in general, they were much more alert than we were. We didn’t really have a lot going on for ourselves.”
For the second week in a row, moments after the Terriers took a late lead, a penalty followed. Last week, senior assistant captain Matt Lane’s slashing minor led to the tying goal.
This week, Greer took a hitting from behind penalty with 2:28 remaining on the clock, setting up a frantic rush by the Wolverines. A few deflections and shots that went inches wide could have ended up tying the game if they had gone the other way.
As strong as LaCouvee was in the series opener, this area of the net seemed to give him some fits.
Michigan’s first goal from forward Alex Kile was an odd-angle shot that snuck between LaCouvee’s pad and the post. A similar play happened in the second period on the other side of the ice, and LaCouvee looked bewildered on where the puck was.
Fortunately for him, it was stuck between his pad on the post and not over the goal line.
It was a weird group of plays, but it’ll be interesting to see if Michigan looks to attempt more on the nearside of the net Saturday afternoon if LaCouvee gets the starting nod.