Pluses and Minuses: Terriers punch ticket to Frozen Four

Game Photos 

Matt Lane. MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF
Matt Lane. MAYA DEVEREAUX/DFP STAFF

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team has had its fair share of success at TD Garden this season, posting a record of 4-0 while taking both the Beanpot championship and the Hockey East title.

Now, it’ll try to win a national title on Causeway Street.

The Terriers (27-7-5) defeated No. 7 University of Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, Saturday night in the NCAA Northeast Regional final at Verizon Wireless Arena, clinching the Icedogs’ 22nd Frozen Four appearance and their first visit since the 2009.

Facing off against a physical Bulldogs (21-16-3) squad, BU relied on two goals from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues to help secure its bid back to TD Garden.

As with every game, there was a fair share of good and bad takeaways from BU’s performance out on the ice. Here’s a look:

Pluses:

Terrier depth shines

Looking at the big picture, it appeared that Duluth accomplished its goal of shutting down freshman center Jack Eichel — holding the North Chelmsford native off the scoresheet for the first time since the Beanpot semifinal game against Harvard on Feb. 3.

While Rodrigues picked up the slack on the first line with two tallies in the contest, BU received a big boost throughout the game from its deep roster.

With the game tied at 1-1 in the second period, freshman forwards Chase Phelps and J.J. Piccinich — BU’s fourth-line wingers — created space around the Bulldogs’ net, generating an opportunity for junior forward Matt Lane.

Piccinich dished the puck to Lane, who promptly snuck the puck past Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo at 3:32 to hand BU a 2-1 lead.

BU’s versatile group of players also came up big on the defensive end, especially after freshman defenseman John MacLeod went down with an injury just about halfway through the game.

BU coach David Quinn was forced to roll out five blueliners for the remainder of the tilt, but scarlet and white D-corps stood firm, keeping the Bulldogs off the board through the final 32 minutes of play.

Somerby leaves his mark

He might not have registered a point over the weekend, but sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby was a huge presence (literally) for the Terriers out on the ice.

While the New York Islanders prospect used his 6-foot-5 frame to impact Saturday’s game — including a bone-crushing hit on UMD forward Tony Cameranesi at center ice in the second period — he also impressed with both his offensive and defensive awareness.

On multiple shifts, Somerby pinched up on the ice, using his size to win puck battles along the boards while keeping the pressure on the Bulldogs. Later, Quinn noted that Somerby was one of the few skaters unfazed when UMD pulled Kaskisuo in the closing minutes of the game.

“He was immense,” Quinn said. “Very active on the forecheck. Did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. You have a tendency when the other team has six and you have five to kind of sit back and watch. We did that when they almost scored. I thought after that, ‘OK, the guy’s got the puck let’s go defend him.’

“Everybody else has to protect, but don’t give him time. He did a great job jumping. The guy had the puck down by the left of our goalie with about eight or nine seconds to go and people were indecisive and Doyle took charge.”

Evan almighty

He might have been snubbed from the Hockey East First Team earlier this month, but Evan Rodrigues just keeps producing out on the ice.

The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Northeast Regional, Rodrigues once again came up big for the Terriers, scoring twice — including the game winning goal with just under 2:30 left in the match.

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

Minuses:

Terriers falter in middle frame

Coming out of first intermission, it appeared that the Terriers had the Bulldogs right where they wanted them — jumping out to a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.

Ultimately, though, Lane’s second-period strike proved to be the one bright part of the stanza, as the Bulldogs out-muscled and out-hustled the Terriers throughout the period. UMD bested BU goaltender Matt O’Connor twice in the period, first off of a slapshot goal from defenseman Willie Raskob just 37 seconds into play to tie the game.

Just under four minutes after Lane’s goal, Duluth capitalized again, with forward Kyle Osterberg firing a wrister from outside the blue line that bounced off O’Connor’s glove and trickled into the Terrier cage, once again knotting the game at two goals a piece. Minnesota outshot the Terriers by a 13-6 margin in the period.

“I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded,” Quinn said. “It was kind of like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds. Almost had a couple of opportunities to deliver a knockout punch. Then they’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes.”  

Hohmann takes a tumble

Lost in the scrum at BU’s net following the win was senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann, who wiped out while skating out to his teammates. Hohmann was a good sport about it, however, posting a replay of his slip on Twitter.

TRANSCRIPT: Minnesota Duluth reacts to 3-2 loss to BU

Head Coach Scott Sandelin

Opening Comments

“First of all, congrats to David [Quinn] and BU. It was a great hockey game, just unfortunate the way it ended. Hats off to them…a lot of back and forth, zone time for both teams in certain situations but they made a play at the end, right at the end of the power play, won a hockey game…they’re moving on and we’re not.”

Penalty call near end of game

I was surprised [at the call]. There are things you can’t control, all we can control is trying to kill it, we almost did and they ended up making a great play and scoring the winning goal. It’s frustrating sometimes but just trying to get our guys focused on the penalty and we almost did. Tried to keep it 2-2, keep the game going…try to win in regulation or try to win it in overtime.

Game control in third

“We talked about the same thing. They came out and had probably a little more jump. It’s tough to generate anything when they were winning races and getting pucks to the net, which they do very well. We had some long, extended shifts. They only had two shots one time they had the puck a lot and sometimes you have to weather those. They’re a good hockey team with some offensive players and we knew that they were going to put pucks at the net all night and they came pretty hard in third. At the end of the day, it was still 2-2 and they had some chances and we had a few, not as many as in the first couple of periods just unfortunate it has to end on that.”

Willie Raskob’s play

“He went through some ups and downs this year but the second half and certainly the latter part of the year, he really played well and I think you saw a real strong weekend from him, things that he can do. He’s still young—he’s a sophomore, but he was a true freshman, it was nice to see. Next year he’s going to be a key component back there [on defense] like he was this year, but a year older.”

Kasimir Kaskisuo’s play

“I think he’s played great all year, he’s had a tremendous year for a freshman and he’s been a backbone for us. He made timely saves, key saves at a lot of moments in the year….you need great goaltending to win games and they got to steal games for you. Today was no different, he was just solid, it was nice to see him grow as the year went on. For me, it was just another game that he played well in.”

Eichel and Minnesota Duluth Defense “You can sit and focus on him…you have to pay attention on any team to the best players. He’s certainly a great hockey player that’s a threat any time he’s out there and our guys did a good job. Like every team there’s other players, that’s no different throughout the year, his linemates are good. I thought their fourth line had some good shifts, some good energy shifts with some good looks. It happens sometimes when they don’t get points but they’re still a factor in the game and he certainly is one of those players. Most of the times it might not seem like those guys are getting points but they are doing other things but they find a way to make that play….he’s a pretty special player.

Younger Players Experience (this weekend)

“When you start the year you have goals for your team—regular season, regular season championship, tournament championship and then the ultimate is to be one of the teams playing at this time of the year. We fell one step short of step three, which is getting to the Frozen Four. You can talk about all the experiences but they have to go to live this, for our seniors, this is the second time for them unfortunately it had to end this way just like it did when they were freshman but hopefully our young guys can get some experience knowing how hard it takes to is to get to this point, how hard it is to continue past this point…in one game shots they’re difficult.

You can’t control bounces, you can’t control those types of things but I think any of these experiences are good for all your players especially your young guys. Hopefully they come back extremely motivated and try to get here again and to try to go further, the ultimate goal is to win a national championship, we had a chance but we just fell a little short so they should take some good experience from it.”

Sophomore forwards Kyle Osterberg and Alex Iafallo

On how this experience will help next year

Osterberg: “It’s our first time coming to the tourney so it was a pretty special experience. Being still young, I think we can take out the experience and do it next year.”

On the senior leadership

Iafallo: “Our seniors had great leadership throughout the whole year. I’m proud of them and I want to thank them for the whole season. They showed us all the ways to score and to play hockey, so it was fun being with them.”

On the team’s offensive effort

Iafallo: “I thought we had a couple chances and we could have buried those. We could have had a couple bounces but that’s how hockey is. BU had a good game so you have to respect them. It’s a tough one to swallow, but that’s how it goes, I guess.”

On BU taking control late in the game

Iafallo: “I guess they just through everything at us but we held our ground. I thought it was going our way but they just kept throwing pucks on the net.”

On being a victim of tough breaks

Osterberg: “It’s things that we can’t control. We did what we had to throughout the game by playing the way that we should have. Give credit to BU for taking advantage of that opportunity.”

On if the close loss stings more than a blowout

Iafallo: Of course it stings. It’s not how you want to end a season. I didn’t expect that to happen.”

On if the team got the effort they wanted

Osterberg: “Yes, definitely. I thought everybody played their hearts out. The seniors got us ready for each and every game and I think it was shown on the ice that those guys were the ones that really carried the team throughout the weekend.”

TRANSCRIPT: BU coach David Quinn after 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth

Opening statements

“Well, I’m running out of things to say. I can’t tell you how proud and happy I am for every guy on our team. It’s just been an incredible season so far. We know that there’s still a big challenge ahead of us. But we’re certainly going to enjoy this over the next few days. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a bunch of guys that work as well together as our guys do, that care about each other as much as our guys do. The work ethic is second to none. The commitment to each other is unmatched. It’s just been an incredible six, seven months. We certainly understand that our work isn’t done yet, but we’ll think about that after these next few days because these guys deserve to enjoy what they’ve just experience. Especially the guys who return from last year after what we went through.”

A huge reason is the two guys to my right (Matt Grzelcyk and Evan Rodriques). Not only are they star plays, they’re star people. Our room is littered with star people and it’s really been a special, special group.

I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded. It was kind of like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds. Almost had a couple of opportunities to deliver a knockout punch. Then they’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes.

After two periods you’ve got a 2-2 tie and then I thought that we did what we do best. I thought we played a great third period. We were relentless. We were smart. And we just did the things we needed to do to win an incredibly important hockey game and extend our season”

On the thin margin between winning and losing

“At this time of the season, every opponent is going to give you a lot of difficulty. They wouldn’t be playing if they weren’t. In the all-important third period I thought we took control of the game. Whoever we play a week from Thursday, they’re going to pose a problem for us or they wouldn’t be in the Frozen Four. There’s a lot of good hockey teams out there. There’s a small margin of error in every college hockey game and that margin gets smaller and smaller the later you player.”

On winning 39 of 61 faceoffs

“If you look back, we have actually come a long way on faceoffs because the first few months we were so horrific. . . . We’ve been a much better faceoff team. It’s tough to shake a reputation because we were a bad faceoff team early and people just keep saying that. I guess I’m surprised at how well we did tonight, but it’s been a much better part of our game over the last two or three months.”

On defenseman Doyle Somerby

“He was immense. He had a great first half. Thought he was kind of OK for a period of time and he’s really elevated his game. He’s been a lot more decisive. He’s making good decisions. Very active on the forecheck. Did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. You have a tendency when the other team has six and you have five to kind of sit back and watch. We did that when they almost scored. I thought after that, OK, the guy’s got the puck let’s go defend him. Everybody else has to protect, but don’t give him time. He did a great job jumping. The guy had the puck down by the left of our goalie with about eight or nine seconds to go and people were indecisive and Doyle took charge.”