One hundred and forty days later, the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team’s 2016-17 regular season will come to a close on Saturday night.
The Terriers will host No. 13 University of Notre Dame for a weekend set at Agganis Arena, with the action getting underway Friday at 6 p.m. and wrapping up one day later at 7 p.m.
Heading into the series, BU has a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs clinched, but can still capture the regular-season crown. For a full rundown of what’s set to unfold, check out Jonathan’s preview on The Daily Free Press.
Aside from playoff implications, Saturday’s game will mark the last regular-season contest of Doyle Somerby, Nick Roberto and Tommy Kelley’s careers. They’ll have their Senior Night, capping four years of throwing on the scarlet and white.
The trio means a lot to head coach David Quinn, too, because his first year at the helm was also their freshman season.
To recount their time on Commonwealth Avenue, Jonathan caught up with Somerby, Roberto and Kelley to reflect. Click here for the full story on The Daily Free Press.
The 65th annual Beanpot Tournament is less than a week away. Tickets are selling, fans are rejoicing and the teams are preparing. The Boston Hockey Blog got thoughts from head coach David Quinn and senior players about the Feb. 6 faceoff between No. 3 Boston University and No. 6 Boston College.
Senior forward Nick Roberto said his biggest fear going into the tournament is beating BC a third time, as the Terriers already defeated them twice this season.
NR: “Beating them a third time is going to be extremely hard. Hopefully we’re focused for that game, and come out and work hard just like we did the first two games.”
“Oettinger for sure,” Roberto immediately answered when asked what he considered his teams secret weapon. “Ah no, secret weapon … I think our compete level is probably our secret weapon. When we out compete teams, we’re very good. When we play down to teams or let teams hang in with us it’s a close game.”
Senior Captain Doyle Somerby wants his team to have fun with it, but knows how difficult the game will be on Monday.
DS: “I don’t think you realize how special [the Beanpot] is until you actually take the ice for it. Local guys understand it because they grew up coming to it but when you’re not from around here it definitely takes the first 10 minutes or so of the game to grasp the full concept of it. It’s really unique and special because no one else has this.”
What do you tell your team to get them in the right mindset for such a big game?
DS: “Honestly, just have fun with it as much as you can. If you grip the stick too tight, you’re too nervous and thinking too much about it, it’s going to be a long night. Especially playing BC. We already have that rivalry. People comprehend that and understand how special that is to play against them. They just need to enjoy it as much as they can on Monday night.”
This could be one of the last big games of your college hockey career. What’s going through your head as your senior season winds down?
DS: “Just trying to enjoy it as much as I can. Being a local kid – I’m about 35 minutes away – so this is something I grew up coming too every single year since I was 4 or 5. With this one you just need to enjoy it. This might be the last time I ever play BC, so on top of the big games you got your last rivalry game. I’m just trying to have fun with it, hoping to come out on top and play for the championship the next Monday.”
How hard will it be to beat BC a third time this season?
DS: “It’s really hard. When you play a rival like that it doesn’t matter what the stat sheet says. It doesn’t matter what your record is. Especially in the Beanpot. It’s going to be a one-goal game no matter what. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play them but it’s also going to be pretty interesting. It’s going to be a tight game.”
Head coach David Quinn agrees it’s going to be a close game.
DQ: “Obviously anytime BU and BC get together, in any situation it’s an exciting game. It draws a little extra attention from both fan bases, and usually the college hockey world pays a little extra attention to it. But when you put that game in the Beanpot it’s even more special. Usually you get great competitive games. Someone has a goalie pulled at the end of the game. Both teams have talent. Both teams compete hard. Both teams are at the top of the league and in the national rankings. It’s going to make for an exciting Beanpot, as it usually does.”
How hard will it be to beat BC a third time this season?
DQ: “It’s always hard to beat BC. I don’t care whether you’ve beaten twice or not. I’ve got an awful lot of respect for them. It’s been such a great rivalry for so long. We still understand what’s ahead of us. We’re not thinking about the two games that happened three weeks ago. We’re going to focus on Monday night.”
Quinn, Somerby and Roberto all agree that although the Terriers are the youngest team in college hockey, they won’t appear to be on the ice.
NR: “Maybe for the first five minutes the crowd will get into it, the atmosphere will be good. We’ve played in some hostile environments out in Denver, Michigan and at BC, so [the freshman] will be all set. And a lot of them played in the World Juniors as well. Especially USA-Canada. That was a loud game for them.”
DS: “I think Christmas break definitely helped [the freshman], playing in the World Juniors. Playing in Canada against Canada is a pretty chaotic place to play. They definitely learned a lot from there. We learned a couple lessons last week. Definitely I’ll just tell them to enjoy as much as they can because you don’t get this experience too often.”
DQ: “We’ve been fortunate this year, whether it be at Denver or Michigan or up in Vermont or up in Maine, we’ve played in some very very big atmospheres. The guys who played at the World Juniors certainly played for 20,000 people up in Canada so we can draw from experiences. I don’t think nerves will be an issue for us.”
The New Year often brings about new goals, a new perspective on the ebbs and flows of life. For the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team, 2017 ushers in two things: the 2016-17 season’s second half and an unwavering outlook.
That’s right – poke around Agganis Arena, the Terriers’ sanctuary, and the same laser-focused rhetoric arises.
“It’s staying in the moment for sure,” said senior forward Nick Roberto. “We didn’t really play a lot of Hockey East games [in the season’s first half], so the schedule is going to be tight with that. Every point matters. A tie here, a loss there really affects us come March when the final seedings come out for playoffs, so you take it game by game.”
For David Quinn, who marshaled his team to a 10-5-2 record throughout the first semester, much of the same held true.
“It’s more you want to win your next game and you want to continue to improve and have good practices and shorten your mentality up and live in the moment,” BU’s fourth-year head coach said. “At the end of the day, if you take care of that, then the big goals will take care of themselves.”
It feels like yesterday that the Boston University men’s hockey team got its 2016-17 season underway, but the halfway point is here. As things stand, BU is 10-5-2, sits fourth in the Pairwise rankings and sixth in the Hockey East standings.
Of course, the state of the Terriers is not that simple, so we’re here to break down some of the subtler nuances and trends that developed in the fall of 2016. It’s also important to note context, as BU entered the year with great hype and expectations, largely the byproduct of rostering 11 NHL Draft picks. The jury is still out on whether all that talent will translate into silverware of some kind.
Before we get underway, it’s important to give these two quotes from disparate parts of the semester a read through. The first came on Sept. 27 at Hockey East’s annual media day, and is from junior assistant captain Nikolas Olsson. Meanwhile, the second is from head coach David Quinn and came after BU’s 5-2 win over Yale on Dec. 13.
Quote 1: “We want to hold ourselves to our own standard, so we don’t want to pay attention to what everyone else expects us to do. We tune everything out and when we’re all in the locker room, we have a saying of, ‘Close that up and everything that’s in here matters – this is what matters, whatever is outside doesn’t.’ If we can figure out our affairs in here, then we can do great things.” – Olsson
Quote 2: “It’s been a really good first half for us. We feel our best hockey is ahead of us. It’s a great group. I love coming to the rink every day with them. They work hard, they care for each other, they’re forming some of those characteristics you need to have as a group to win important games in late March and April. We feel really good about where we’re at.” – Quinn
Patrick Harper – Who would have thought that freshman Patrick Harper would lead the team in points by the end of 2016? Heading into this season, the hype centered around Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows, but it’s been the 5-foot-9, 160-pound playmaker from New Canaan, Connecticut who has led the way early on. With seven goals and 13 assists, Harper ranks fifth in scoring among Division I freshmen. He will head into the next half of the season with a three-game point streak, and it’s safe to assume that the Nashville Predators draft pick will look to extend that run of form on the first line. – Nick
Kieffer Bellows – Yes, Kieffer Bellows has disappointed in his freshman campaign, but there’s a very good chance he turns it around. Just look at sophomore Jordan Greenway, who totaled one goal and seven assists in the first half of the 2015-16 season. After the holiday break, Greenway scored four goals and notched 14 helpers to finish the season top-5 on the team in points (26). Of course, Greenway didn’t have a plus/minus rating of -8 halfway through his freshman year, but you get the point. Sometimes, freshmen need some extra time to adjust before they flourish, and that very well could be the case with Bellows. His penalty problem can be easily fixed, and he’s flashed his trademark scoring ability at points. Let’s hope playing with Team USA in the World Junior Championships will energize Bellows so he can begin the 2017 on a high note. – Nick
Third line – Oft-overlooked, especially on a team with five forwards drafted by NHL teams, BU’s third line deserves ample credit for wins against powerhouse and mid-level teams alike. The contingent typically features senior Nick Roberto and junior Nikolas Olsson as wingers, with freshman Patrick Curry at center. They all have subtly good hands, play heavy on the forecheck and consistently skate with the pace and intensity Quinn so ardently desires. They’re chipping in on the scoreboard, too, as they’ve combined for 19 points from eight goals and 11 assists. What’s perhaps most significant about the third line, though, is that it affords BU’s top two lines the chance to catch a breather, all the while maintaining the level those elite forwards (Keller, Greenway, etc.) demand. Lastly, any team looking to make a deep postseason run with only two lines is in deep trouble. Luckily for Quinn, this Roberto-Olsson-Curry group won’t cause that worry to arise. – Jonathan
JFK – It’s natural to watch BU’s top-end players and make NHL comparisons. When it comes to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, a sophomore and assistant captain, one of the highest honor surfaces: Patrice Bergeron. Both are centers, both were picked 45th overall by the Boston Bruins in their respective drafts and both offer forth the same skill set. Bergeron, now a two-time participant in the NHL All-Star Game, has smooth hands, makes smart hockey plays like clockwork and has won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times, which is annually given to the NHL’s top defensive forward. As for Forsbacka Karlsson, the scorer of 45 points in 56 career games for the Terriers, he’s an expert at using his body to protect the puck, plays a 200-foot game in every sense of the phrase and does so many of the little things right. Who knows if “JFK” will ever reach Bergeron’s notoriety or respect throughout the professional ranks, but it’s still a joy to watch the 20-year-old Swede lead BU night in and night out. And for those who feel JFK isn’t chipping in on the scoreboard, he boasts three goals and 12 assists. That puts him a tie with Keller for the third-most points on the Terriers. – Jonathan
Sixth Man – There’s really not much to complain about in this department, as BU ranks fourth in the nation in goals allowed (2.06). The core four of Charlie McAvoy, Chad Krys, Dante Fabbro and Brandon Hickey have been excellent, but perhaps the most important piece of the defense has been the sixth man, usually paired with captain Doyle Somerby. For the most part, that has been John MacLeod, who has four assists in 13 games but has also been dealing with injuries. When he’s unavailable, Brien Diffley and Shane Switzer stepped into his spot on the blue line, making smart choices with the puck and seamlessly slotting into the defensive zone. Expect the D-unit to continue to shut down top offenses in 2017. – Nick
LaCouvee –Jake Oettinger has been terrific in net, but a shoutout has to go to his backup, Connor LaCouvee. He’s only started twice, but knowing that there’s a solid netminder behind Oettinger is comforting for Terrier fans. He earned victories in both of his starts, and has a save percentage of .938. Sure, a small sample size, but so what? He’s been awesome in limited play. Should the 18-year-old Oettinger fall in a slump or require some rest, LaCouvee can slide right into the starting lineup and keep the Terriers in it. – Nick
Oettinger – Speaking of Oettinger, it’s hard to ask for more from the freshman. It’s commonplace in postgame press conferences for his teammates to shower the recently-turned 18-year-old with praise, and that’s because he deserves every plaudit thrown his way. In his young career, the former U.S. National Team Development goaltender has three shutouts, blanking Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Vermont. He also boasts a .932 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average, which both lead Hockey East. In terms of a grander scope, the former statistic stacks up as the eighth best in the country, while the latter is fifth best in the nation. To the credit of critics in and around Agganis Arena, Oettinger did have an incredibly rough outing at home – BU’s 4-0 loss to UConn on Nov. 11 – but he has since bounced back with aplomb. Looking ahead, the Lakeville, Minnesota native seems stout enough to lead the Terriers when playoff hockey rolls around, as he instills confidence in the squad and can stymie the nation’s best forwards. Do you know what’s scariest of all? This kid is so young he isn’t even draft eligible until the summer. – Jonathan
Fourth line – While BU’s defense has largely been resolute, one area in need of marked improvement arises through the fourth line. Whether it’s freshmen Johnny McDermott and Gabriel Chabot, sophomores Ryan Cloonan and Oskar Andren, junior Chase Phelps or senior Tommy Kelley, a worrisome theme has surfaced against tougher opponents: an inability to break out of the defensive zone on a consistent basis. This note is based on the eye test and isn’t easily measurable, but too often has some combination of the aforementioned group been hemmed below its own blue line. There are several reasons for this trend – being mismatched against an opponent’s top line, a changing cast of characters and general fatigue late in games – but it needs a firm resolution. On the other hand, when this is the biggest complaint about the Terriers’ defense, they’re in pretty good shape. – Jonathan
Net value – Special teams have been the strongest part of the Terriers’ game in 2016. They have scored on 16.87 percent of their power plays, while going 91.2 percent on the penalty kill, second best in the nation. What’s the most impressive stat from special teams? The Terriers have allowed nine goals on the penalty kill, yet they have scored six shorthanded goals this year. That makes them a fantastic -3 on the PK, which is even more impressive when you consider the number of penalties this team has been whistled for. Stick taps to all involved. – Nick
Freshmen –So who have the stars of the power play been thus far? You may want to sit down for this … it’s been the freshmen. Harper, Keller and Fabbro have three power play goals each, which lead the team. In fact, the only other Terrier with multiple power play goals is … Bellows. It’s obvious that these guys are well-coached when it comes to the PP, so another shoutout to the coaching staff for a job well done. – Nick
QB1, QB2, QB3 – In his weekly sit-down with the media, Quinn routinely talks about the importance of learning what a professional-level power play looks like. From BU’s first 17 games of the year, it appears as though Keller, Fabbro and McAvoy have firmly grasped every coaching point. The trio often operates from the point, quarterbacking the Terriers’ man advantages and always seems willing to pull the trigger. There’s proof in the pudding, too, as Keller and Fabbro both have three tallies on the power play. McAvoy hasn’t registered a point on the power play, but his contributions surface in other ways. – Jonathan
The magic number –During October and November, as was the case throughout college hockey, penalties dominated the conversation. Truthfully, BU has been one of the worst culprits in this regard, as its 16.24 penalty minutes per game is the 15th-highest total in the NCAA. Given that fact, you’d never guess this, but coach Quinn considers four to be his team’s magic number. And that’s a reference to taking no more than four penalties across all three periods. When that’s been the case, meaning BU is playing 5-on-5 hockey, it’s a dominant team that makes mediocre teams look poor and great teams look OK. This was the case in the 3-0 win over Northeastern on Nov. 5, as BU took five penalties, and the same pattern repeated in the 4-0 win over Vermont on Dec. 10, when it took six penalties. The Terriers are far from perfect in this regard, but the trend is clear. – Jonathan
Surprise, surprise – Perhaps the most fun I’ve had watching the team so far was the last game of the semester, when Shane Switzer scored twice to propel BU to a 5-2 victory over Yale. Can’t say anyone saw that coming. It was great to see the guys hype the crowd up when Switzer was named the No. 1 star after the game. – Nick
Breakout moment – Another shining moment came in the exhibition against Prince Edward Island, when Pat Harper scored five times. Obviously, the competition wasn’t the best. But after Harper’s third or fourth goal, it became pretty clear that this guy was going to be integral. I remember being surprised that Harper was on the first line with Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter. Can’t say it was a bad move. – Nick
Bye bye Crimson – Outside of the result itself, pre-break games boast an extra layer of significance in that the scoreline will linger around for quite some time. So when then-No. 9 Harvard University visited Agganis Arena on Nov. 22 – just before the Thanksgiving break – an essential opportunity was before the Terriers. Its next game wasn’t for 10 days either, so a win or loss would remain fresh. In back-and-forth fashion, BU edged out a 5-3 win over the Crimson. Furthermore, coach Ted Donato’s side is now ranked fourth in the nation, making the win better than advertised at the time. – Jonathan
UConn at home – While adulation usually follows the Terriers at every turn, a low moment arose on Nov. 19 at Agganis Arena. The visiting UConn Huskies blanked BU, 4-0, cementing the fact that Hockey East wins won’t come easily for this squad. Quinn’s side didn’t play poorly against the likes of Tage Thompson and Max Letunov, so perhaps the result was an outlier without much of an explanation. After all, sometimes the better team goes home empty handed. – Jonathan
The big get: Oh yeah, we almost forgot about the commits the Terriers secured during the season. It appears the biggest one was forward Shane Bowers, a 17-year-old currently with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. He currently has nine goals and 10 assists through 26 games after totaling 33 points with the Black Hawks last season. With a few present Terriers likely to move on to the NHL next season, Bowers should contribute right away in 2017-18. – Nick
Reinforcements –On top of that, Finland defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo (at least it’s easier to spell than Grzelcyk) committed to BU and is likely to play next season. Kotkansalo, 18, measures up at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds and has a reputation for hard hits on the boards. He is also currently in the USHL, totaling a plus/minus rating of +7 in 20 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede. – Nick
Red, white and blue – When BU scrimmaged the U.S. National Team Development Program on Oct. 6, Terrier fans got a major glimpse into the future. The coveted squad featured defenseman David Farrance and forwards Brady Tkachuk and Logan Cockerill. While none registered a point – largely the product of BU skating to a comfortable 8-2 win – it was still interesting to see what the young guns could do. Lastly, Tkachuk is second on the NTDP in points with 22, Farrance is seventh with 18 and Cockerill is ninth with 17. – Jonathan
Don’t forget about me – While so much attention, understandably, is given to BU’s big-name recruits, it’s important not to lose sight of those who might not boast as lofty of a pedigree. This is certainly the case with Ty Amonte, who will call Agganis Arena home in the fall of 2017 and currently skates with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. That’s the same squad that Fabbro used to play for, and Amonte currently has 28 points in 35 games for them. – Jonathan
We pumped out some content this week for you loyal Boston University hockey fans. In case you missed it, here are links to the articles over on The Daily Free Press.
Nick Roberto – What really happened to the forward last year? How did he and his teammates respond to the gambling probe? What’s his mindset like? Jonathan Sigal sat down with the senior, coach Quinn and two teammates to find out.
Patrick Harper – Let’s all stop kidding ourselves for one second: You didn’t expect this sort of production from the freshman forward. Neither did your friend, and it turns out Quinn didn’t either. Our Nick Frazier sat down with Harper to uncover what has led to his early-season success.
Northeastern weekend – BU gets its Hockey East slate underway this weekend with a series against the Huskies from Northeastern University. Read on for several lineup updates, as well as how the Terriers have been preparing through their 12-day hiatus from NCAA play.
Junior forward Nick Roberto, who has not played a game for the Boston University men’s hockey team this season, has been suspended and will not play for the remainder of the season, sources confirmed to The Daily Free Press.
Roberto has been out of the lineup for BU as part of a team suspension.
“According to several sources, Roberto’s suspension is the result of gambling activity he participated in during last season. Sources indicate that Roberto was not the only BU player involved, though those players are no longer with the hockey program. The identity of those players could not be confirmed. Other sources have indicated that players from other teams were involved, too.”
BU released a statement saying, “Beyond confirming that Mr. Roberto will not play for the Boston University hockey team this season, federal privacy laws prevent us from discussing his status.
“However, we can say that several months ago, we heard rumors that a BU hockey player had engaged in gambling. Although the rumors did not involve gambling on either college or professional hockey games, we nonetheless immediately conducted a thorough investigation and turned the results over to the appropriate authorities at the NCAA. Based on that investigation, the NCAA made its own findings and took remedial action, and we would refer you to that organization for further information.”
CHN’s report also cited the NCAA’s rule that “a player who is found gambling on any sporting event, amateur or pro in any sport, via a ‘bookie’ or the Internet, faces a minimum one-year suspension,” adding that for some of the players involved, “the gambling activities incurred ‘large’ debts, which eventually led to the situation coming to light.”
The report also said this instance of gambling at BU could be tied to a Massachusetts gambling ring that was broken up last month by state and federal investigators:
“In a 122-count indictment handed down after a year-long investigation, 33 people were indicted by a grand jury as part of the operation, which was based out of Boston and the South Shore. One of those was Keith O’Connell, who, sources indicate, is the same Keith O’Connell that is a former defenseman at Boston College and Massachusetts.
“O’Connell was charged with registering bets, using the telephone to register bets and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”
In addition, per a report from WEEI.com, “Roberto is not currently being investigated by any law enforcement agencies. He is still enrolled at BU and still a member of the hockey team, and that is not expected to change.”
CHN wrote that Emily James, a spokesperson for the NCAA, said “the NCAA will have no comment regarding a potential investigation into the BU hockey program stemming from the alleged gambling.”
She could not be reached for immediate comment when The Daily Free Press tried.
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.”
HARTFORD, Connecticut — A quick turnover from Friday night’s game against the University of Maine was not enough to hinder the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team on Saturday afternoon versus the University of Connecticut.
The Terriers (8-1-1, 6-1-1 Hockey East) jumped out to a 1-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the first and extended the advantage to a three-goal margin by the beginning of the third period. UConn (3-6-4, 2-3-1 Hockey East) got back in the game with two tallies in the middle of the final frame, but BU hung on for a 5-2 win at the XL Center.
As with every game, certain things went right and wrong for the Terriers. Here’s a closer look at the positives and negatives:
Extra-man Unit Thrives
The BU power play started Friday night 0-for-3 before freshman forward Jack Eichel won the game in overtime with a goal on BU’s fourth chance. Building off some of that momentum, the Terriers scored their first two goals against UConn with an extra attacker.
Junior forward Ahti Oksanen one-timed BU’s initial goal at the 7:28 mark in the opening period, and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann redirected a point shot from freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey past goaltender Rob Nichols. For more on BU’s power-play success, check out Conor’s sidebar.
A Trio of Firsts
Yes, BU’s top line totaled three of the team’s goals, but the win did not come without a different cast of characters contributing. About 2:30 into the final period, freshman forward Chase Phelps jumped on the ice as fellow freshman forward A.J. Greer skated back to the bench.
Phelps took a pass from junior center Matt Lane, skated through the slot and patiently waited for a chance. As he got close to the goal, he fired off a wrister. Sophomore forward Nick Roberto was in the right place at the right time and deflected the puck into the net for the Terriers’ third goal.
The tally gave Phelps his first career point at the collegiate level and Roberto his first goal of the season.
“When you go to the net like that you get rewarded,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I felt we had a lot more grit and grind to our game as the game went on.”
Although his name did not appear on the scoresheet, redshirt junior forward J.D. Carrabino made his first appearance in the scarlet and white since transferring to Commonwealth Avenue last year. He did not have a ton of ice time, but Quinn said the 6-foot-6 forward made his presence felt.
“He’s a big, strong, physical guy,” Quinn said. “I just felt this was a good game to get him in, smaller rink. They’re a normally stronger team and I thought he would be effective and he was.”
An Effective Timeout and An Equally Effective Regroup
When freshman Corey Ronan put the Huskies within one goal at the 8:46 mark in the third period, a crowd of 7,712 that was silent for most of the contest erupted as UConn scored its second goal in 57 seconds. Quinn then used his one timeout in attempt calm his team down after a poor minute of play.
Whether the timeout that was the reason or not, the Terriers answered back.
Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor made a few key stops on chances low in the slot to keep the Terriers in the lead after the stoppage. The netminder and his defense hung on long enough for the Terriers to get the fourth goal, which all but clinched the game.
Oksanen banked a pass of the glass near the penalty box and set up Eichel near the blue line. As the freshman has done time and time again, he took the puck, skated into the offensive zone with speed and created his own chance. Nichols robbed him with a sprawling pad save, but junior winger Danny O’Regan was there to pick up the loose change at the 17:16 mark, scoring his seventh goal of the year.
“The timeout, team scores two goals in that short period of time, it seemed like the right thing to do and I don’t know if it was but it felt like I needed to do it,” Quinn said. “Crowd was getting into it, they were feeding off their energy, they had a couple of good shifts after that but I thought we defended a lot better. They got some zone time and I thought we did a good job not giving up any chances and we get in the fourth goal.”
Fifty-Seven Seconds of Poor Play
Roberto’s goal at the beginning of the third gave the Terriers a comfortable three-goal lead and put BU seemingly in command. UConn, however, fought back in a hurry. In a short span, forward Cody Sharib knocked in a rebound and Ronan wristed a shot from the left circle, beating O’Connor glove side.
The breakdown gave the Huskies life and a chance to tie up the score. UConn couldn’t get that third goal, but the chances were there. Quinn’s aforementioned timeout was a key in making sure the tide was steadied.
More Time on Special Teams
A special teams unit that worked off four power-plays a night ago had to kill just as many against the Huskies. Right off the bat in the first period, freshman defenseman John MacLeod took a boarding penalty, one of his three on the afternoon. His three penalties now give him eight for the year, which is tied for the team lead with freshman forward Nikolas Olsson. By the end of the contest, Hickey skated along with junior captain Matt Grzelcyk on the top defensive pairing during most shifts.
The penalty kill did work off all eight power plays this weekend, but going forward, staying out of the box is something the Terriers need to improve upon.