The Boston Hockey Blog crew swung by TD Garden on Tuesday for Hockey East’s media day.
Coaches and captains were in attendance, and the league announced the Boston University men’s hockey team took home the top spot in the preseason poll. For BU’s purposes, that meant we got some reactions from head coach David Quinn, captain Doyle Somerby and the assistant captains in Nikolas Olsson and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.
Here’s our article on the poll, as well as some thoughts on Hockey East as a whole. You can also find the complete poll below:
NEW YORK — It doesn’t count as more than a tie in the standings, but David Quinn and his bunch might be feeling as if they were winners in this one.
Trailing by two goals after two periods, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team rallied for three goals in the third period to finish with a 3-3 draw against No. 16 Cornell University at Red Hot Hockey.
The Terriers (7-4-3, 3-2-2 Hockey East) did win in a subsequent shootout after a scoreless overtime, and thus won the Kelley-Harkness Trophy for the second consecutive time. BU remains unbeaten in the biannual game with Cornell (6-1-2) at Madison Square Garden with a 3-0-2 record.
We’ll take a look at what went right and wrong for BU in this Manhattan edition of Pluses and Minuses.
Greer and Greenway break out
Sophomore forward A.J. Greer hadn’t scored a goal in a game in seven months. Freshman winger Jordan Greenway was scoreless with BU before Saturday night.
Both came through for for the Terriers on the big stage.
Greer and Greenway scored their first goals of the season in a frantic three-goal third period, helping BU earn a point for the eighth time in nine games.
Exiting after the first period of a Nov. 14 game against No. 1 Providence College, sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson sat out the last four games with what the team called an upper-body injury.
He returned to the lineup Saturday and made an impact with the third line, especially in the third period.
Olsson skated along the right-wing boards and made a crisp pass to center ice that helped set up Bobo Carpenter‘s goal at 5:36 of the third. The goal started a swing of momentum in BU’s favor, as the Terriers scored three minutes later on Greer’s goal, one that was also set up by Olsson.
The third line, as a whole, totaled five points and nine shots on goal during Saturday night’s contest.
“I think it’s a collective effort,” Greer said of his line. “The defensemen moved the puck up quick, and the first couple of shifts, we thought we held our stick too tight so we were kind of nervous, but then as the game went on we started working down low and just doing our job and using the back of the net.
“We got bodies out front, and they rewarded us in the third period. Those goals were big.”
Moving in right direction
It’s been a long stretch of tough games in November for BU, which has now played a top-20 opponent in three consecutive weekends. The Terriers came away with five points in those five games, earning one win and three ties in the process.
Though he would’ve liked to see his team take more wins out of these recent games, Quinn said after Saturday’s tie that he is pleased with where the team is headed as it moves to the second half of the year.
“I like where we’re going,” Quinn said. “I like the direction we’re going. Obviously we still have to get better, we have to get off to better starts. Though like I said, statistically, we didn’t score a goal, but I thought we were playing well.”
They didn’t win this time, but the Terriers still haven’t lost a Red Hot Hockey game since its inception in 2007.
BU has earned eight of 10 possible points in the five games played against Cornell, and has now won the Kelley-Harkness Trophy both times since it was created in 2013.
A 20 percent success rate on the power play is usually about average, and that holds true for the Terriers, who are sixth in Hockey East in that category.
Average, however, hasn’t been good enough, and Quinn acknowledged this postgame.
“Our power play was disappointing, weren’t able to capitalize in overtime,” Quinn said. “Statistically our power play looks okay, but we’ve really got to get better on the power play. I think we’re just a little bit too slow, too methodical, we’re stick handling too much, and there’s just too much thinking going on out there.”
BU went 0-for-4 with the extra man against Cornell, but did garner 14 shots on goal. But the problem wasn’t getting the puck to the net, it was about finishing, or lack thereof.
There were power-play opportunities for BU in the second period after each Big Red goal, but neither were converted. The same went for the man advantages in the third period and overtime.
It wasn’t as if BU was completely outplayed in the first period, but the game just felt slow, and the Terriers never really got in a rhythm in the first 20 minutes.
BU did actually lead in shots at 10-9 after one, but there were few high-percentage opportunities. The same could be said for the initial minutes of the second, where Cornell broke through with two goals.
Tonight’s beginning could’ve had to do with nerves, as Quinn admitted even he was battling with “heart palpitations” on the bench.
“I thought early on, they were controlling the play for the first 10 minutes,” Quinn said, “and then I thought we started getting our legs under us a little bit and started playing much better, playing the way we need to play if we’re going to have success.”
This year, we had the absolute pleasure of having a phenomenal photographer accompany us to most of our games. Maya Devereaux was there the whole year to capture visually what we couldn’t capture in writing — and did a phenomenal job with that.
We had Maya narrow down some of her favorite pics from this memorable season to a top 10, and give a little background behind each photo. You can also find more of her photos from this season on our Flickr.
10. Hockey East final, the team exiting the rink
Maya Devereaux: “Until I stood by the rink exit to the locker room after the team won the Hockey East title, I never realized how much these young boys look up to and idolize the players. I remember security had to tell them to stop hanging off of the stands because they were completely blocking the doorway.”
9. NCAA Regional Final, the post-win celebration
MD: “Postgame celebration photos are pretty standard, but Cason’s spill made it a much better shot. I couldn’t help but laugh when he crashed into the group and fell while I was taking it.”
8. BU vs. Notre Dame, Evan Rodrigues’ celebration
MD: “When someone scores a goal, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll turn to the crowds or get pinned up against the glass in a group hug. Thankfully, he happened to be right in front of me, otherwise I would not have gotten such straight-on angle.”
7. Frozen Four first round, After Ahti Oksanen’s goal
MD: “Ahti Oksanen had just scored a goal, tying the score 1-1 against Yale. There’s not much to the photo, it’s just a sweet moment.”
6. National championship game, Matt O’Connor eyeing the puck
MD: “It’s hard to get a good shot of any goalie with the puck, since the offensive side is usually hovering the goal area, but this was completely unobstructed.”
5. Hockey East final, second period right after Nikolas Olsson’s goal
MD: “This was one of my favorites because it’s not often that I get a photo that includes the celebrating team, the puck AND the opposing side’s goalie staring back at it in shock.”
4. National championship game, second period after Cason Hohmann’s goal
“Though Hohmann isn’t even pictured in this frame, the guys are celebrating his goal that was assisted by Ahti Oksanen. Most celebration photos are exciting, but this one was even more so since it put BU in the lead 3-2.”
3. National championship game, Connor LaCouvee comforting Hohmann
MD: “I felt really guilty taking these photos after they lost, but they ended up being some of the best ones from the game. These photos made it clear how close-knit this bunch was and how supportive they were of one another.”
2. NCAA regional semifinal, BU beats Yale
MD: “The quality of this shot isn’t even great but the juxtaposition makes it worthwhile. Everyone was really tense during overtime, even the photographers in the press booth.”
1. Hockey East final, Matt O’Connor holding Lamoriello Trophy
MD: “There isn’t much to say about this one because Matt O’Connor’s face basically says it all.”
It might’ve felt like an eternity. In fact, it was 1,093 days.
But at long last, the losing streak is over.
The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team overcame a two-goal deficit and record-breaking goaltending performance to dispatch No. 4/6 Harvard University, 4-3, in double overtime in the Beanpot semifinal at TD Garden.
Sixty-seven shots later, the Terriers (17-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) won it on a goal from junior forward Danny O’Regan 2:18 into the second overtime period. Down by two in the middle of the second, freshman forward Nikolas Olsson and junior winger Ahti Oksanen tied the game up, which set up a dramatic third and overtime periods.
BU dominated for large portions of the game, but it wasn’t perfect. As always, things went right and wrong for the Terriers. Here’s the Beanpot semifinal edition of Pluses and Minuses.
The final play
It seemed at just about every turn, Harvard (12-6-2) netminder Stephen Michalek bailed out his defense. With 63 saves, a new Beanpot record, he at times looked impenetrable. One Crimson turnover changed everything.
As Harvard attempted to clear its own defensive zone, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues got in the way of the exit pass. O’Regan saw this, and immediately charged toward the crease. Rodrigues made a crisp centering pass to the Needham native, who finished off the play with a wrister into an almost-open net.
Michalek had no chance to make that 64th save.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with Evan [Rodrigues] for awhile now,” O’Regan said. “He’s a great player, so I just kind of put my head down and went to the net and knew he would find me — he did just that.”
Cason Hohmann’s resurgence
BU’s other senior assistant captain went all the way from Nov. 22 to Jan 23 without scoring a goal. At certain points over the last month-and-half, BU coach David Quinn even moved the center to the third line at points.
Over the last few games, including Tuesday night’s, Hohmann looks to be back in form. He opened up the scoring at the 16:50 mark of the first, as he found himself perfectly positioned in the crease to finish off a good passing play from Rodrigues.
Arguably even bigger was assist he made to Oksanen that tied the game in the waning seconds of the second period.
Believe it or not, but the Terriers were actually getting outshot and outplayed by the Crimson at the end of the first and beginning of the second. Harvard capitalized on sloppy in-zone defense and went up 3-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second frame, but more on that in the minus section.
After awhile, though, BU found its groove and fought back.
What initially looked to be a failed BU opportunity actually led to the first goal of the comeback. Olsson sprang Nick Roberto on a long lead pass through the neutral zone, all but giving Roberto a 1-on-1 showdown with Michalek. But on the ensuing breakway, Roberto shot well high of goal.
Undeterred, the third line kept the puck in the zone and created another opportunity. This time, the unit cashed in.
Roberto worked his way open in the slot and fired off a shot that created a big rebound. Olsson, as he’s done so many times this season, crashed the front of the net and picked up the loose change for his fifth goal.
Four minutes later, Oksanen connected on his 17th of the year off a nice feed from Hohmann. And like that, the tide of the game turned.
“I thought there was a point early in the second where it looked like a pond hockey game — we were giving up way too many odd-man rushes,” Quinn said. “And then I thought there was a point where we kind of settled down and started playing more responsible.”
Scoring chances … many scoring chances
After a little bit of a lull at the end of the first period and start of the second period, the Terriers kicked it into high gear and amped up the pressure on Michalek. In the third period and first overtime, the Terriers generated 72 total shots, 32 of which hit net.
By the time O’Regan scored, the Terriers had attempted 123 shots — more than double Harvard’s shot attempts. It took some stellar goaltending, a few key blocks and some puck luck for Harvard to force the game as far as it did.
Bad defensive lapse and a sloppy start of the second
The Terriers already let the Crimson back into the game after they let Harvard rush the net at the end of the second period. Another misplay in the defensive zone at the start of the second period was, as Quinn put it, “deflating.”
The aforementioned second goal came off a bad exchange behind junior netminder Matt O’Connor. Freshman defenseman John MacLeod fed junior captain Matt Grzelcyk behind the net, who in turn gave the puck right to Harvard. The turnover all but set up forward Alexander Kerfoot’s goal 22 seconds into the frame.
It didn’t end up costing the Terriers in the long run, but it, and some other bad defensive plays later, put the team in bad position to start the second frame.
Not exactly a clear-cut minus for BU, but Michalek’s performance for Harvard is worth at least a mention. Admittedly battling cramps, the backstop made a combined 32 saves in the third period and first overtime. A few times he was bailed out on some blocks, though for the most part, Michalek was impressive during his career-best day.
A new-look first line composed of Eichel, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and junior winger Danny O’Regan combined for five of the six goals. For his part, freshman netiminder Connor LaCouvee made 32 saves in his return to the crease.
As always, there were positives and negatives to Saturday night’s game. Here’s an in-depth look at the pluses and minuses:
Eichel’s big night
If there were any fears that the freshman was in the midst of a slump, Eichel allayed those — and then some.
Trailing by a goal early in the second period, the Terriers were in need of a goal to get back in the game. Eichel came through.
As he skated in through the left wing, he had the opportunity to feed Rodrigues as he charged low to the net. But instead of making a cross-ice pass, Eichel dangled through multiple defenders, turned around and fired a wrister that Badgers (2-12-2) goaltender Joel Rumpel had little chance to stop.
Eichel connected on his second goal of the game on a power-play opportunity as he threw a puck in between a well-placed screen in front of the net. On the man advantage midway through the third, it appeared like Eichel might have scored his third of the night, but O’Regan deflected the puck past Rumpel, so the freshman was credited with the assist.
As if he didn’t have enough spaces on the stat sheet filled, the North Chelmsford native started a shorthanded 2-on-1 with O’Regan, who tapped the puck into a gaping net at 11:32 in the final period.
BU coach David Quinn said a down game on Friday fed into a positive one on Saturday.
“I didn’t think he played well and, more importantly, he didn’t think he played well,” Quinn said. “So I knew he was going to bust out for a big night sooner or later.”
Revamped first line clicks
Yes, Eichel had a stellar night, but his linemates weren’t too shabby either. Instead of Oksanen playing at one of the wing spots, Quinn shook things up and bumped Rodrigues up, while Oksanen slid into the second unit. The move paid off, as the new trio finished with 10 combined points.
O’Regan scored two goals off of Eichel primary helpers, and Rodrigues finished the night off with a goal in which he toe dragged around a diving Badgers defenseman and wristed the puck high over Rumpel.
The addidtion of Rodriuges to the group didn’t affect the chemistry the line previously had, O’Regan said after the game.
“Ahti’s got a big-time shot, but Evan’s just a great player,” O’Regan said. “He’s got great vision and [he’s] really creative. It’s really fun playing with him, he opens stuff up and creates a lot of offense.”
LaCouvee returns in a big way
It had not been since Nov. 30 that the freshman started a game. If he had any cobwebs, it didn’t show. It was his best game since opening night in Amherst.
He finished the night with 32 saves, including 17 in the third period alone. It was not just the saves he made, but the way he made them that stood out. Time and time again he used his right pad to kick away most rebound attempts to the side boards.
“I thought he played very well, Quinn said of his goaltender. “Made some big saves and did a lot of good things.”
His only blemish came two minutes into the second period when forward Jedd Soleway jammed a loose puck into the net.
Olsson continues physical play
For a long stretch in the first half of the season, the Terriers were without the 6-foot freshman forward. Since Nikolas Olsson’s return to the lineup on Jan. 3, BU has benefitted from his gritty efforts.
The freshman seems to find his way fighting for the puck near the boards or down low in the crease. This is exactly how he found the back of the net Saturday. As he pushed to the net after an initial shot from sophomore forward Nick Roberto, Olsson bounced on the rebound and deposited the puck into the cage for his second goal in three games.
“You know when he’s out there, he’s a big, wide body, Quinn said. “He’s got good hands, he’s got good skill. He’s a guy that we missed when he was out of the lineup.”
Too many chances allowed in third period
Up 3-1 to start the third period, the Terriers sat back and let Wisconsin rack up offensive-zone time. In just the first few minutes, the Badgers held a 6-0 shot advantage in the frame.
Although BU scored three goals in the final 20 minutes, Wisconsin outshot the Terriers 17-12 to end the game. Quinn said the problems that led to so many Wisconsin chances need to be addressed.
“We were just way too sloppy, Quinn said. “We were much better than we were last night, but still, we can’t just give 17 shots up in the third period with a 3-1 lead. We have to play smarter hockey than that — we recognize that, we know that.”
In the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team’s first game in 15 days, the Terriers earned a 3-3 tie against the defending national champions, Union College, at Agganis Arena.
Senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues’ goal with just more than four minutes remaining in regulation salvaged the tie for the Terriers. His goal was one of many positives for BU on Saturday.
Here’s some more of what we liked — and didn’t like — in BU’s first game of 2015:
The Terriers returned two key players who had missed nearly two months to the lineup on Saturday, and both had a positive impact on the result.
Sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon — BU’s leading scorer last season — saw his first playing time in nine games. He recorded two shots on goal.
“I thought Robbie did pretty well,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He hasn’t played in long time. He played a lot of minutes, probably too many minutes, but I thought Robbie did a good job.”
Freshman forward Nikolas Olsson, who had also missed nine games, tallied a goal and was a plus-1 on the evening.
“I took about two months off so that was pretty rough, but I just tried to stay positive and remind myself that I’d be back soon enough,” Olsson said. “I’ve been practicing hard. I’d been skating for a while, even though it was no-contact, so I tried to keep up to speed and make contributions once I got out, and I did.”
BU played without freshman forward and leading scorer Jack Eichel, whom the coaches chose to bench after he competed for the United States in the IIHF World Junior Championships during winter break. But still, three freshmen made it on the score sheet Saturday: forward A.J. Greer, who had the game-opening goal, defenseman Brien Diffley, who added an assist, and Olsson.
Greer’s goal came off a rebound to open the scoring 5:47 into the game. It was his second goal of the season, and his first since BU’s 8-1 win over the University of Massachusetts on Oct. 10. Diffley’s fourth assist of the season came on Olsson’s goal — his third of the year — at the 13:42 mark of the 1st period.
Union presented a physical test to the Terriers, which BU matched with a consistent tough effort. The Terriers had a number of physical challenges along the boards — in turn, accumulating five penalties on the night, but Quinn said he was pleased with the effort.
“If we’re going to be able to have success moving forward, we need to be physical for 60 minutes, we can’t pick and choose our spots,” Quinn said. “I thought we were pretty consistent with our physical play tonight.”
Olsson’s return gave BU a boost physically, and he said he was happy to come in and get a few big hits.
“The first thing I thought about was going out and getting a hit,” Olsson said. “That’s how I kind of … get more mentally into it than you can get just by prepping yourself.
“I try to maintain a physical presence when I’m out there, and remind guys on the bench on our team that you can’t let up on a hit, just to finish guys and then try to incorporate that into my game in a big way.”
Quinn noted the significance of Olsson’s return to the lineup as pivotal to the Terriers’ physicality.
“He gives us a swagger,” Quinn said. “He’s got a physical presence out there. He’s a horse. He’s looking to hurt people and hit them, and he’s got skill. Once he gets out there right from the get go and makes a big hit in his first shift and everyone kind of follows his cue.”
As previously mentioned, it was the Terriers’ first game action in 15 days, and their first regular-season matchup in three weeks. Quinn mentioned before the game that he had some concerns about the team having a bit of dust, and said that he thought BU’s effort early was a bit shaky.
He did note, however, that BU was able to settle in, save for some rough play in the second frame.
“I thought in the second period, we completely got away from supporting the puck,” Quinn said. “I thought we cheated too much, our forwards were leaving our defenseman on an island, and it showed.”
The Terriers allowed three goals in a game for the first time since Nov. 25 — just one of three times this regular season they have given up three or more scores to an opponent.
Midway through the first period, with the game tied 1-1, freshman defenseman Brandon Fortunato trailed Union forward Daniel Ciampini on a breakaway attempt. He wrapped his stick around, but was unable to stop the attempt from reaching the back of the net.
BU also left a number of wide-open chances for the Dutchmen when junior goaltender Matt O’Connor couldn’t control a few rebounds, which at one point early in the game led to a goal for forward Spencer Foo.
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.