ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The last seconds of the game meant virtually nothing in the final decision for the Boston University men’s hockey team, but senior forward Mike Moran skated hard to the net to try and make something happen.
Down by six goals with under 20 seconds to play, a goal, even two, would not get BU to the next game of the NCAA Tournament.
But still, in those waning ticks of the clock, Moran looked to create a play for the Terriers. Camped in front of University of Denver goaltender Tanner Jaillet with 14.7 seconds left to play, he did just that, redirecting a pass from senior assistant captain Matt Grzelyck into the back of the net for BU’s (21-13-5) second goal in a 7-2 defeat to Denver (24-9-6) at the Xcel Energy Center.
Cutting the lead from six goals to five, by the time the goal was scored, was just mere bookkeeping for most. But Moran’s classmate, assistant captain Matt Lane, said after the game that the Terriers could have trailed by even more, but the tally would never just be a simple statistic for Moran.
As Lane skated over to Moran after the goal and put his hand on Moran’s scarlet helmet, Lane realized the goal was emblematic of the way his teammate had played during his four years with BU.
“I just kind of put my hand on his head after he got it,” Lane said after the season-ending loss. “I couldn’t be happier for him. Guys like him play until the finish no matter what the score is — that’s the way you gotta do it.”
They played well in what would be described by BU head coach David Quinn as a playoff atmosphere, and we thought so, too.
Here’s what we liked and didn’t like in the victory:
Depth and the fourth line
BU’s second goal of the evening was scored by senior forward Mike Moran, who was back to centering the fourth line as junior forward Robbie Baillargeon returned to the lineup after missing last weekend’s slate with the University of New Hampshire. Moran and his wingers, sophomore Chase Phelps and junior Tommy Kelley, provided an energetic and physical presence on the ice.
In his postgame press conference, Quinn praised the way the win on Friday seemed to come from the top of the lineup all the way through the bottom. He said it was like a postseason hockey game in a lot of ways, and that the Terriers’ effort was that of a “true team win.”
“I thought our goalie was really good. I thought our forwards to our first line to our fourth line played well. Our D played well. And just really proud of our guys,” he said. “To come in to this building and beat a very good hockey team, well-coached, they’ve got a lot of good players there. It takes all 20 guys pulling in the right direction. I thought we had that tonight.”
Quinn added that this is the time of year when the little things really start to matter. Not that they don’t early in the year, he clarified, but they tend to mean more now.
“Just really proud of our guys,” he said. “They really answered the bell.”
Much of that had to do with the way the Terriers defended throughout the game. Neither of the Irish’s goals came at 5-on-5, and Quinn attributed that to the way BU played its opponent.
“I thought we did a really good job of closing on them down low, we were really conscious of our body positioning, keeping our body between the net and offensive player,” he said. “We were quick, our second defender did a good job getting to their second guy, supporting the play, and I thought we were consistent with that.
“There weren’t a lot of times we didn’t do that and against that team we’d better to that because they’ve got a lot of big, strong forwards,” Quinn continued. “They’re elusive down low, and I thought we did a really good job defending.”
It seems like putting senior netminder Sean Maguire in the pluses category has become an almost weekly occurrence, but he came up big for the team again on Friday. Maguire recorded 33 saves on 35 shots and was named first star of the game, bumping his season save percentage up a couple points from .925 to .927.
“He made some big saves …” Quinn said. “He missed an awful lot of hockey last year, and he didn’t play at all and got off to a bit of a slow start, but he’s been a rock back there since early December. And if you’re going to have a chance in our sport you’d better have a goalie, and we have a goalie.”
At 5-on-5, Maguire was perfect, as the two goals he allowed during the evening came at 5-on-4 and 6-on-5. And even with Notre Dame’s extra skater on the ice, the goaltender recorded five saves on six Irish power-play shots and fended off all but one chance during the 2:28 goalie Cal Petersen was pulled at the end of the game.
That shot, however, was put in the back of the net a bit at the fault of Maguire, who had flung the puck down the ice at the empty net for what we assume was an attempt at a goalie goal (which would have been awesome), but it missed and wound up being an icing. The faceoff came back to BU’s end, and the Irish benefited from a rebound and bodies in front to pull within one.
From there, though, and aside from the other goal Notre Dame scored, Maguire’s positioning and play acted as a brick wall for BU.
With the Terriers’ win on Friday, things have obviously become more clear when it comes to the conference playoff picture. BU is capable of clinching a top-four seed in the Hockey East tournament and a first round bye in the following ways (also thank you Hockey East for providing this):
1. BU gets the No. 3 seed with a win on Saturday
2. BU gets the No. 4 seed with a tie on Saturday
3. BU gets the No. 4 seed with a loss AND the University of Massachusetts Lowell loss or tie to Boston College on Saturday
4. BU gets the No. 5 seed with a loss AND a UMass Lowell win over BC on Saturday
Senior forward Ahti Oksanen and Moran both notched goals in the win Friday, and senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan also registered a pair of assists for four of nine BU points in the game coming from the senior class.
Updated point total for the Terriers: 113-193—306
Updated point total for the seniors: 56-70—126
First win at Compton Family Ice Arena
Just a quick fun fact, but Friday’s win marked the Terriers’ first against the Irish since Oct. 10, 2010, and, subsequently, their first victory at the Compton Family Ice Arena, which opened in Oct. 2011.
BU ended both the first and second periods on the penalty kill Friday night, which is less than ideal for sure, especially since the Terriers gave up a goal at the end of the first. This hasn’t really been an issue during the rest of the season, so I’m being a little nitpicky since it’s not a trend, but naturally it’s something BU doesn’t want to and probably won’t continue.
I know, I know, it got a goal, but the power play did not look great in its one chance on the ice Friday. BU had trouble with its breakout and could not enter the zone cleanly while operating with the man advantage. It really took until Oksanen’s tally for the unit to generate much of anything at all. Still, a goal’s a goal, and the Terriers now have four markers on their last 11 power plays.
Andrew Battifarano also helped write this but we can’t do co-bylines on the blog. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A midseason Tuesday night game against an Atlantic Hockey Association opponent might, in the big picture of an entire schedule, be one of those games that you could see as a possible letdown.
Sandwiched in between two weekends that involve No. 12 University of Michigan and Red Hot Hockey, Tuesday night could have been a game the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team might have overlooked.
But this was not the case for the Terriers (7-4-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East), who defeated Bentley University, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Agganis Arena.
From start to finish, BU controlled the pace of play. The Terriers got an early goal from senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and never let up from there.
There was a lot to like in this rebound win for BU, so we’ll breakdown what exactly went right, and wrong, in this weeknight edition of Pluses and Minuses.
Mike Moran and the fourth line
If you take one quick glance at Tuesday’s scoresheet, you won’t find any of the fourth-line skaters at the top of it for being involved in any goals. So why are we including them as a plus?
They didn’t record any points, but the entire fourth line had a consistent effort all three periods that shouldn’t go unrecognized.
Moran had a season-high six shots on goal, which all seemed to be in and around the net. He had golden opportunities in the first and third periods, but was robbed by Bentley (5-5-1) goaltender Gabe Antoni each time. He put his head back in frustration after a missed chance of the third, but not all hope was lost for Moran, as he was recognized as the No. 2 star of the game.
As for junior winger Tommy Kelley and sophomore forward Chase Phelps, they recorded a combined three shots, but also made smart chip passes into the zone and pressed hard on the forecheck.
“That line played very well,” Quinn said. “All three of those guys were impactful. Mike probably had his best game of the year. I liked the way he was skating, and he had a nose for the net. Tommy Kelley had a really great night too. I was really happy with his night. Obviously he’s been in a tough situation, but to get a chance and take advantage of it, I’m happy for him.”
The senior goaltender hadn’t played in nearly a month, as Quinn continued to ride sophomore goalie Connor LaCouvee over the last seven games. But Maguire got the chance to play against Bentley and made the most of it.
It wasn’t as if Bentley peppered him from all angles of the ice, but Maguire was solid when he had to be, finishing the evening with 15 saves and a shutout. His moment of the quiet night came in the third period when he robbed freshman Alexy Solovyev of a would-be goal when he stopped the puck with a combination of his stick and right arm.
It was the fifth shutout of Maguire’s college career and first since March 15, 2013 when he blanked Merrimack College in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
“That’s not an easy game to play,” Quinn said. “And he looked good. He looked good. The few times he was tested, I mean, he made an unbelievable save at one point with his stick, reaching back.”
After a pretty awful showing against Michigan, at least in terms of putting in a “full 60” effort, the Terriers managed to come back together and put forth a consistent effort.
In the two games against Michigan, BU totaled 52 shots on goal for the weekend. Against the Falcons, they almost matched that total, with 47 in the game. And in general, BU controlled possession, made better passes and was overall a whole lot less sloppy.
Quinn credited his team’s leaders with helping to energize the team, despite the short turnaround.
“I thought our captains did a great job of pulling our guys together after a disappointing loss,” Quinn said. “Not only the fact that we lost, but how we lost, and how lethargic we looked and slow we looked over the weekend, but to bounce back and be mentally engaged and focused … [we were] thorough and control the pace of play.”
Quinn said there were only about five or six minutes at the beginning of the third period against Bentley where BU might not have played at the same standard of intensity, but overall, it was a lot more consistently pressing from start to finish than either of the Michigan games.
We made a cool video
We haven’t plugged this on the blog yet, so we figured: Why not now?
A few weeks ago we came up with the idea to have some of the hockey players design hand turkeys as part of a small Thanksgiving feature, and it turned out to be absolutely hilarious and awesome to see which players were capable of anything artistic. You can see the end results in the gallery here.
And our new pals Claudia DeTrempe and Matt Guthrie helped construct a video of the whole process, which you can watch here:
We’re really scraping from the bottom of the barrel on this one. Other than the aforementioned five or six less-intense minutes, and maybe a mild criticism of the quality of the shots BU took as the game progressed, there’s really not much to criticize when BU out-attempts its opposition 82-35.
If anything major can be criticized, it could be that frankly, this game was, well, boring. It wasn’t anything unexpected, given that it was a. a Tuesday-night matchup b. two days before Thanksgiving c. against a non-conference, non-marquee opponent. But with just 3,475 fans in attendance, the building completely lacked energy. That’s not the lowest attendance at Agganis this season, as that distinction belongs to the University of Denver game on Halloween, where just 3,084 people showed up. But at least that game had a back-and-forth energy, and the building had something to get excited and invested in.
Tonight, Agganis was quiet from start to finish. Again, nothing unexpected, and a win is a win. But this was one of the harder games for fans — and us — to stay engaged in, I think it’s fair to say.
On Friday night playing against the U.S. National Development Team Program Under-18 Team, David Quinn said he saw what you might expect to see out of a young team playing in an exhibition game — immaturity.
But, Quinn said when the games mattered again, his team would get its act together and right the ship.
True to his word, the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team won when it counted, defeating the University of Wisconsin on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Ten different Terriers chipped in at least one point in what was an all-around, clean win.
As always, though, it wasn’t perfect, so we’ll take a look at what went right and wrong in this Pluses and Minuses.
Lane’s score flips the script
It was beginning to look a lot like Friday night early on in Saturday’s game.
Much like the first period against the U-18s, the Terriers held a sizable shot advantage over the Badgers to start the game, more than doubling Wisconsin’s first-period shot total. However, there were no goals to show for it.
But senior assistant captain Matt Lane changed all of that 1:36 into the second period.
Taking a fortuitous carom off the end boards, Lane backhanded a shot over high over goaltender Matt Jurusik to put BU on the board. It looked a lot like much of Lane’s goals from the previous three years — close and down low in the dirty area.
They haven’t been from far out, but Lane’s scoring has been effective nonetheless.
“He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s got a good stick. He’s got good hands, he’s not easily denied,” Quinn said. “I don’t think his goals traveled, last year, he had eight or nine goals, I don’t think his goals traveled more than a foot combined. He’s off to a great start, both of his goals this year are the same. Back door, quick, picking up a puck, having the athleticism to corral it and get it in the net.
“That’s how you’ve got to score these days.”
Fortunato turns it around
Back in the lineup for the first time this season on Friday, sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato looked like a player that needed to shake off the rust. When it was all said and done, he finished the night with a team-worst minus-4.
But whatever rust was there was nowhere to be found against Wisconsin.
He came away with two points (a goal and an assist) and a plus-1 rating. Better yet, his defensive coverage was strong and he was effective quarterbacking BU’s top power-play unit.
Having a more shoot-first mentality translated in what proved to be a game-winning goal for the sophomore.
“Last year Coach had a lot of individual meetings with me and he said if I were to get my shot a lot better, then I would improve as a player tremendously,” Fortunato said. “And I worked a lot with him last year and went home for summer. This summer I worked on it every day and the first month since I’ve been here I’ve been working on it every day and I feel like I’m getting stronger and I feel like it’s getting better so I’m just going to keep on working on it.”
Fortunato was just one of many players to make an improvement from Friday to Saturday. You can read more about that in Judy’s sider.
New line combinations pay off
Looking for a shakeup, Quinn adjusted all four lines and two of the three defensive pairs.
To say the least, it worked.
Most impressive were BU’s second and fourth lines, which registered four points and three points, respectively.
The second line of freshman forwards Ryan Cloonan and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Lane combined for a speed game that Wisconsin had trouble keeping up with. Each had at least one point, with Cloonan registering two. They were quick on the puck and caused a lot of trouble for the Badgers in the neutral zone.
As for the fourth line, senior Mike Moran centered, while the wingers, sophomore Chase Phelps and freshman Bobo Carpenter, all contributed. Phelps and Carpenter scored the Terriers’ final two goals and Moran had the primary assist on the last goal score.
“I like the speed on Forsbacka Karlsson, Lane, Cloonan line,” Quinn said. “I thought that Bobo Carpenter and Phelps had great nights. So did Mike Moran. So it’s a little bit of everything on those lines.”
BU already has a lot of jerseys and alternates, and they added to that count Saturday night.
The Terriers wore a jersey that was similar to the retro red one they unveiled last season, but the base of this uniform is white and the letters and numbers are red. It’s a nice, clean look that I’m sure BU will use at some more home games this year.
Early goal and struggles
Not even a minute and a half into the game, forward Adam Rockwood somehow snuck in a shot through sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee and the retreating BU defense.
It wasn’t a pretty goal, but it gave a winless Wisconsin team some early excitement.
There was a response and chances from BU, but it seemed that all of the “Grade-A” chances either went wide or were turned aside by Jurusik. They recorded eight shots on three power plays, but the Terriers just could not hit the twine in the first period.
It didn’t come back to bite them, but it could down the road against tougher competition.
Low power-play percentage
It’s a tough complaint, especially just two games into the regular season, but BU still hasn’t found its groove on the power play.
Yes, they had seven power plays and recorded an impressive 21 shots on goal, but the Terriers just converted once for a 14.3 percent conversion rate.
“Well, we have to capitalize,” Quinn said of the power play. “We had 21 shots on the power play. So again, there are going to be nights where it’s not going to go in, tonight happened to be one of those nights. We certainly obviously have to do some things better on the power play.”
The Hockey East regular-season title will have to go unclaimed for at least another week.
The No. 2/3 BU men’s hockey needed either a win or a tie Saturday night against the University of Notre Dame to earn outright possession of the conference regular-season title, but ultimately came up short — dropping a 3-2 game to the Fighting Irish at Agganis Arena.
BU (19-6-5, 13-4-3 Hockey East) bounced back after Notre Dame j(14-15-5, 9-6-5 Hockey East) jumped out to a 2-0 lead almost midway through the second period, but the Terriers were unable to push the tying score past Irish netminder Cal Petersen over the final minutes of play, sealing the three-point weekend for BU’s opponents from South Bend.
As it’s been throughout the season, there were plenty of good and bad points to take away from Saturday’s contest. Here’s a look:
Terriers continue to slump on the penalty kill
For the fourth time in five games, a team managed to orchestrate a power-play goal against the Terriers, highlighting a disheartening trend in BU’s penalty-kill unit over the past month.
Notre Dame left Agganis Arena Saturday night with a 50 percent showing on the power play, scoring twice with an extra-skater to build up a lead that the Terriers ultimately could not catch up to.
After the Terriers managed to hold the University of Wisconsin’s power-play unit off the scoreboard seven times on Jan. 10, BU’s penalty kill has operated at a success rate of just 72.3 percent in the following 11 games. During that stretch, BU’s penalty-kill percentage has dropped to seventh in Hockey East at 82.8 percent.
“It’s correctable, it’s not like we’re scratching our heads wondering, ‘Geez, how are they scoring?’ We got a way that we prefer to kill penalties and the two goals they score, we don’t kill them the way we should,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “And that’s coaching. Obviously, I’ve got to do a better job coaching, because it they’re not doing it, then that’s on the coach. It’s February.”
Fighting Irish pounce on last-second opportunities
Costly mistakes at the end of both the first and second periods proved to be the difference maker Saturday night at Agganis Arena, with Notre Dame taking advantage in both cases.
A goal from forward Mario Lucia with .1 seconds left on the clock broke a scoreless stalemate going into the first intermission, while a roughing call on freshman center Jack Eichel at the end of the second period handed Notre Dame a power-play chance at the start of the final frame.
Notre Dame would make good on Eichel’s blunder, with sophomore Vince Hinostroza scoring the eventual game-winning goal with just 15 seconds left on the man advantage.
Freshman goaltender Connor LaCouvee saw his record drop to 3-3-1 once the game clock expired Saturday night, marking the second straight appearance in which the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL) product has been handed a loss.
LaCouvee ultimately finished with 19 saves on the night, while Quinn maintained confidence in his backup goaltender after the game.
“I thought LaCouvee was good,” Quinn said. “I thought he was strong, made some big saves. He’s strong in that crease. You can’t fault him on any of the goals.”
Grzelcyk jumpstarts BU man advantage
The Terriers have been hard pressed in terms of finding success on the power play as of late.
Entering the third period of Saturday’s game, BU had failed to convert on its last 13 extra-man opportunities, with their last special-teams strike coming on Feb. 13 against the University of New Hampshire.
Ultimately, BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk would put an end to BU’s listless power-play streak, scoring his fifth goal of the season at 7:50 in the third period.
The Bruins prospect corralled the puck off a pass from Eichel and promptly blasted a shot from the right circle that sailed into the Irish’s net, making it a 3-2 game with a little over 12 minutes to play.
Grzelcyk — not especially known for his goal-scoring prowess — has now found the back of the net four times in BU’s last four games.
Moran lights the lamp
For the first time in 22 games, junior forward Mike Moran found the back of the net, scoring his third goal of the season at 15:39 in the second stanza.
After freshman forward Nikolas Olsson gathered the puck behind the Irish net, he sent the disc to a waiting Moran near the slot. Moran did not hesitate, firing the puck past Petersen to put the Terriers on the board.
“It’s good to see him get on the scoresheet,” Quinn said. “He’s played much better lately. He’s done a good job. I’m not surprised. He plays a hard game, he’s heavy, strong on his skates, gets to the net.”
Hickey dodges a bullet
Well, not literally, of course.
But after the freshman defenseman collided with Fighting Irish defenseman Luke Ripley early on the third, many feared the worst.
The Leduc, Alberta, native immediately fell to the Agganis Arena ice and spun around at a dizzying rate before coming to a stop near the right circle. Hickey was eventually helped off the ice by junior forward Ahti Oksanen and a trainer, and was quickly brought off the bench.
No more than five minutes after exiting the game, however, Hickey was back on the bench, loosened up during a break in action and was back in the game for the final stretches of play.
The Calgary flames draft pick has been an invaluable addition to the Terriers on both offense and defense, placing second amongst Terrier defenseman with 14 points, while also logging a plus-17 rating in 30 games.
“He’s fine, he’s fine,” Quinn said. “Obviously that’s a scary situation when a guy gets hit like that, but obviously was just something that he was able to shake off.”
The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team tied, 2-2, with the University of Notre Dame on Friday night at Agganis Arena. With the point in hand, the Terriers (19-5-5, 13-3-3 Hockey East) clinched a share of the Hockey East title and gained a first-round bye in the conference playoffs.
Sophomore forward Nick Roberto scored halfway through the second to tie the score at one, and senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues netted his 14th goal of the year early in the third to give BU its first lead of the evening. However, on the strength of a late goal, the Fighting Irish (13-15-5, 8-6-5 Hockey East) forced overtime and eventually a draw.
A bounce here or a rebound there and this game could’ve swung in a different direction. As always, there were positives and negatives, so here’s a closer look at the pluses and minuses:
Defensive corps stands out
When you have five underclassmen manning the blue line, there might the be expectation that there will be a lapse at some point in the game. But for the most part of the season, this young group has risen to the occasion. That didn’t change Friday night.
Just looking at the numbers, it’s fair to say the defense kept BU in the game from start to finish. The blue liners kept the Fighting Irish outside of prime real estate and forced outside shots. By the time the game ended, Notre Dame finished with 19 shots on goal, the second-fewest BU has allowed in a single game this season.
What stood out most for BU head coach David Quinn was the play of freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey. The first-year defenseman again showed his prowess with the stick and body.
“He can really close on people,” Quinn said. “He’s got a great stick, he’s strong. He plays through people not to people, which is important at this level. For a kid 18 years old he certainly has a great grasp of that. But again, I thought in general, I thought we did a good job defending. I thought we did a nice job keeping them on the perimeter.”
Everyone deserves a second chance
We’ve seen some highlight-reel goals this season, mainly from BU’s top line, but when it came down to it tonight, it was plays in the gritty areas that got the Terriers on the board.
Down a goal in the second, freshman center Jack Eichel pushed through near the crease, jamming at a few chances in front of netminder Cal Peterson. Not before long, Roberto came down through the left side of the crease and gave a whack at a loose puck. On a second attempt on the backhand, Roberto drove home just his third goal of the year.
Thirty-one seconds into the third, Rodrigues got his own chance at a second opportunity. Junior winger Danny O’Regan failed to put his shot past Peterson, but a trailing Rodrigues deposited the puck into the the twine.
Fourth line quietly produces chances
Roberto had his name appear on the scoresheet, although his linemates didn’t play all that bad either. Centered by junior Mike Moran and flanked by freshman wing Chase Phelps, the unit hemmed the puck in deep and created some turnovers with a good forecheck.
The line had six shots combined for the night — double the total BU’s first line had. Moran and Phelps had a few good chances in the first period, but Peterson stood tall.
Kudos to this trio. The three of them don’t get the most ice time by a long shot, but they played well when given the chance.
Late goal re-writes ending
With four minutes and 43 seconds to go, the Terriers held a 2-1 lead that appeared pretty safe. The defense had held its own and didn’t give Notre Dame many chances.
It wouldn’t have been much longer until the Fighting Irish would most likely look to pull Peterson for an extra attacker. Sole possession of Hockey East appeared imminent.
But what looked as a benign rush ended up as a game-changer. Freshman Anders Bjork skated the puck through the slot, wristing the puck toward junior goaltender Matt O’Connor. The shot beat him clean, and instead of celebrating with a trophy, the Terriers settled for a tie and share, at least for the night, of the Hockey East Crown.
The ceremony will have to wait another night.
“[Notre Dame gets] a big goal towards the end of the third period there to tie it,” Quinn said. “Give them a lot of credit, I thought they made life difficult for us as coach Jeff’s [Jackson] teams usually do — they got good skill.”
It wasn’t like the Terriers didn’t have chances two points Friday night. BU garnered 36 shots on goal, yet also had chances that either missed the net entirely or were blocked.
The clock dwindled in the third period and BU looked to break the tie. Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk fired a shot from the point that careened perfectly for O’Regan to tap in. Instead, he couldn’t get a clean handle of the puck and shot it a mile high of net.
BU’s power play, which has been a strength of this team, also failed to come through, going 0-for-3. Playing a man up in the third, the Terriers recorded only one shot on the advantage and had trouble entering the zone.
“Space was hard to come by, I thought both teams well defensively,” Quinn said. “Both power plays unable to capitalize on their opportunities.”
Trying to earn its second weekend sweep of the season, the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team played to a 4-4 draw with the University of Connecticut Saturday night.
The Terriers (5-1-1, 3-1-1 Hockey East) scored within the first 40 seconds of the game on junior forward Danny O’Regan’s goal, but the Huskies (2-4-3, 1-2-1 Hockey East) battled back in a neck-and-neck, fast-paced affair.
Here’s a closer look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers on the back end of a two-game weekend:
An Early Tally
Against Boston College at Conte Forum Friday night, the Terriers didn’t get any sustained attacking time early. It took over three minutes for the team to get a chance on net.
Saturday was a completely different story.
Even without junior forward Ahti Oksanen in the lineup, the first line was aggressive from the get-go. Freshman forward Jack Eichel skated down the left wing, and fed O’Regan on a cross-ice pass down low. After a few pretty deke moves, O’Regan buried the shot past goaltender Rob Nichols.
“Well you always like to get on the board early — it’s easier said than done,” said BU coach David Quinn. “One of the things that I thought happened on that first goal, Jack did a great job driving wide and then pulling up and finding Danny.”
The Eichel-O’Regan Connection
The top BU forwards continued their impressive play even after the opening goal. After multiple chances throughout the first and second periods, the two were rewarded for their hard work with less than five minutes to go in the third.
Eichel started the rush when he sped out to center ice. As O’Regan charged toward the blue line, the freshman split the defense with a pass, allowing O’Regan to spring forward. The junior did the rest, and after fancy stickhandling in front of Nichols, O’Regan found himself on the scoresheet again.
The two finished the night with three points each — Eichel with three assists and O’Regan with the two goals and an assist.
Unsung Heroes Come Up Big
When the 2014-15 season started, junior forward Mike Moran was out of the lineup with an injury. Freshman defenseman Brien Diffley found himself on the third defensive pairing. On this night, though, both made big contributions in the tie.
Moran, who scored his first goal of the season on Friday night, added his second of the year against UConn 30 seconds after the Huskies grabbed a late lead in the third.
After Diffley took a shot from the point, Moran batted in the puck out of mid-air — and under the crossbar — for the goal at 9:30 of the second period.
“He’s a smart player, he’s got some skill, he shoots the puck a ton and he’s a very physical player and he goes to the net,” Quinn said of Moran. “I’m happy to see a guy like that get rewarded. He’s getting a lot of ice time because he’s earning it.”
An Early Tally
How does a plus become a minus? When complacency sets in, issues can arise and create chances for the opposition. This is what Quinn said happened after BU’s first goal of the game.
“It was nice to get that first one, looking back, as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know if you want to score 20-plus seconds into the game because, like I said, all of sudden we thought this was going to be easy,” Quinn said. “We all know it wasn’t going to be easy.”
After O’Regan’s opening tally, things were far from being painless. UConn scored about three minutes later on a rebound by forward Shawn Pauly, his first of two on the night.
BU held two one-goal leads throughout the game, but none lasted more than 3:08. As much as Quinn has used the word “resilient” to characterize the Terriers, UConn threatened all night and was not deterred by the initial goal.
Penalties Upon Penalties
What seems to be a recurring theme for this Terriers team is the amount of time it spends on the penalty kill versus the man advantage. Before the game against UConn, the Terriers had 66 total minutes shorthanded against 40 on power-play chances.
By the end of the night, the Terriers added seven more penalties to its season total.
There were two infractions, though, that hindered the Terriers the most. BU was forced to work with one less skater on its bench after freshman forward Nikolas Olsson’s game misconduct for making contact to the head at 15:29 in the second period. Quinn used a combination of players like Moran and sophomore forward Kevin Duane on the second line to keep things stable.
Then at the end of the third and teams in the midst of a 4-on-4, junior captain Matt Grzelcyk held forward Trevor Gerling as he drove to the net. On the ensuing Huskies power play, Pauly scored his second goal of the game, which was the final score of the contest.
“It’s nothing new, Quinn said of the penalties. “You look at what’s happened this year, we probably have the biggest discrepancy between power plays and penalty kills. I can’t explain it, I don’t want to talk too long about it.
“[UConn] played well, they deserved the chances that they got. They had the five-minute major, they capitalized on it and the four-on-three goal.”
Trouble with Pauly and Gerling
Other than penalties being a major issue, the Terriers had their difficulties defending the second line. Pauly, who did not have a goal coming into the game, finished with two tallies, five shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. Gerling doubled his season output with two goals, while also adding two helpers.
UConn’s first unit had trouble keeping up with BU’s top line, but the Huskies’ second line combined for seven of UConn’s 12 points.
CHESTNUT HILL — The No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team left Conte Forum Friday evening with a 5-3 comeback win over No. 3 Boston College. Junior forward Mike Moran, freshman forward Jack Eichel, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and freshman forward Nikolas Olsson all notched third-period goals for the Terriers (5-1-0, 3-1-0 Hockey East).
As with any win or loss, though, there are several positive and negative takeaways from Friday’s result. Here’s some of what went right and what went wrong for BU against the Eagles (4-4-0, 1-3-0 Hockey East):
Rodrigues only had five goals all of last season, but BU head coach David Quinn doesn’t think that speaks to the season Rodrigues had in 2013-14. Quinn noted in his postgame press conference that “people just look statistically” at Rodrigues’ junior season, without taking into account the impact he had on the team in other areas.
In 2014-15, Rodrigues is starting to take charge statistically as well.
Against BC on Friday, Rodrigues moved up to the first line after junior forward Ahti Oksanen left following a collision in the first period. Rodrigues handled the task marvelously, notching two goals to boost his season total to three.
“This kid’s a great player. This kid does everything. He competes, he’s a great penalty killer, he’s a great power-play player,” Quinn said. “He’s a very good hockey player and he’s underrated. He’s a great teammate and I’m lucky to have him, I’ll tell you that. There’s nothing he can’t do out here at this level. He plays defense at times in practice and takes 1-on-1s as well as anybody.
“He’s a heck of a hockey player and I’m happy for him he’s getting rewarded.”
Quinn talked about the resilience and maturity of his team to battle back from deficits three times, and pointed to the team’s resolve in the third period.
He said he was particularly proud of freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey, who gave up a crucial turnover en route to a BC shorthanded goal to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead just more than six minutes into the third period. However, Hickey was able to maintain composure, and he even provided assists on the next two BU goals.
“I couldn’t be happier for Brandon Hickey, tough turnover there on the shorthanded goal — really could have deflated us — but I thought our team responded well,” Quinn said.
BU’s ability to keep the score close despite some adversity also played a factor, according to Quinn.
“The fact that we never got down two allowed us to continue to stay in the game and feel good about ourselves,” he said.
“We lose Oksanen at the end of the first period, so we’re kind of shuffling lines and going with three lines,” he continued. “It’s not easy with that team [BC] to go with three lines, and again, great leadership — the way we stuck together. … It could have gone either way. It could have gone either way.”
How many times have we said it this season? The Terriers had yet another offense-heavy third period, boosting their third-period scoring to a 14-1 margin through six games this season.
Also in the “stop us if you’ve heard this before” category, BU suffered yet another slow start. In Friday’s game, BU got just seven shots on goal to start the frame.
BU has been outscored 3-2 in the first period this season. Friday night was the second consecutive game in which the Terriers could only muster a single-digit shot total, as BU only tallied five shots in the first period against Providence College last Saturday.
“For them, coming off their loss on Wednesday [against the University of Connecticut, 1-0], you knew they were going to come out flying,” Rodrigues said. “I think they took it to us a little bit in the first period and it’s a big game, a lot of young guys on our team and with that crowd, you’re not going to play the way you usually play, and sometimes you have some jitters, some emotions.
“It just took us to the first intermission to really get in the room to tell guys to kind of calm down, have some fun, but just play our game and get back to what BU does, and I think we did that in the second, and especially the third.”
BU got a tad sloppy at the 6:05 mark of the third period, when it gave up a shorthanded goal to BC forward Ryan Fitzgerald for his second goal of the game. The goal came on the aforementioned turnover from Hickey. It was BU’s first shorthanded goal allowed this season.
It proved irrelevant later, though, as BU stormed back with three more goals to tie and take an eventual two-goal lead.
We didn’t see the collision itself from our vantage point — which was an understandably very crowded Conte Forum press box — but Oksanen missed the majority of the game after crashing into a BC defender. Quinn said it was “too early to tell” Oksanen’s status.