The 2016-17 regular season is over for BU hockey, and the Terriers stand as co-champions of Hockey East.
Heading into this past weekend’s series against Notre Dame, a million and one scenarios could have unfolded (that’s an exaggeration), but the dust has finally settled. BU lost, 3-1, on Friday night, only to register an inspiring, 4-1, win over the Fighting Irish on Saturday evening.
With those results, head coach David Quinn’s side will be the No. 2 seed in the Hockey East Tournament. It also ends the regular season in three-way tie for first place, sharing the crown with Boston College and UMass Lowell.
The stars of the weekend were forwards Kieffer Bellows, Clayton Keller Patrick Harper and goaltender Jake Oettinger. In other words, the freshmen are stepping up with playoff hockey around the corner. Furthermore, Quinn said defenseman and captain Doyle Somerby had his best weekend of the season.
As things stand, BU sits in seventh place in the PairWise Rankings, so the scarlet and white are in a good place with the NCAA Tournament looming. Lastly, the Terriers won’t play again until March 10 against a to-be-determined opponent, so keep an eye out on the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament.
The regular season comes to a close on Saturday night for the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team, as it hosts No. 13 University of Notre Dame at Agganis Arena.
The regular-season title is still up for grabs, and Hockey East has outlined each possible scenario. The long and short is such: If Notre Dame wins it finishes in first place, while if BU wins it will share the title with UMass Lowell and Boston College.
These two sides met on Friday night, with the Fighting Irish earning a 3-1 win. Mindful of that, Coach Quinn and the Terriers will look to head into the playoffs on a high note, having already secured a first-round bye.
We’ll live at Agganis all night, so be sure to follow along on our live blog!
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.
Senior goaltender Sean Maguire kept BU in it for most of the night, but his opposer, sophomore Cal Petersen, made 39 saves to preserve the Notre Dame (19-8-7, 15-5-2 Hockey East) shutout.
Freshman Dylan Malmquist provided the only offense needed with a power-play goal at the 11:47 mark of the second period.
BU’s loss, in conjunction with No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell’s win over No. 2 Boston College, means the Terriers slipped to the No. 5 seed in Hockey East, so there will be no first-round bye in the cards.
We’ll take a look at the bad and the good in our breakdown from Compton Family Ice Arena:
Opportunity knocks, no answer
BU had the chance to clinch the third or fourth seeds in the conference playoffs under a few scenarios, the easiest of them being a win or tie against the Fighting Irish.
But, as I’m sure you’ve read up to this point, BU did neither of those in its regular-season finale. Instead of getting a first-round bye and home ice in the quarterfinals, the Terriers will play host in the first round and have to travel to a road site in the quarterfinals, if they advance out of the opening series.
The silver lining in this? BU will host 12th-seeded University of Massachusetts Amherst, a team BU has defeated four times in as many games the last two seasons, outscoring the Minutemen (8-22-4, 2-16-4 Hockey East) by a combined score of 30-11.
“Obviously you’re hoping to get a point tonight, allow yourself to get a bye, but didn’t happen and, as a I told our guys, ‘You’re hockey players, you get to play more hockey,'” Quinn said. “That’s how you got to look at it. Right? Obviously lick our wounds from tonight, they can feel sorry for themselves for the next 24 hours, but you get to play more hockey. That’s how you got to look at it.
“It’s an opportunity to get better, it’s playoff time, it’s the best time of year.”
Before Saturday, Petersen had 15 games this season in which he stopped at least 30 shots. Make that 16 now.
Whether it was the glove, pads or blocker, Petersen made some terrific saves all night, and Friday for that matter, too.
At times, BU was hemmed in its own zone and couldn’t get any offense going toward net, but especially toward the end of the game, the shots came in and Petersen was there for each one.
“It’s frustrating, I thought we had some good chances,” said senior assistant captain Matt Lane, who registered one shot on net. “I thought at times we could have challenged a little more, but he’s a great goaltender and he was on his game tonight.”
Power play ineffective
This has been a recurring theme in this section of our articles, so we’ll try and keep this part brief.
At times in this game during BU’s power play, it was difficult to even see that the Terriers even had an extra man on the ice. There were a lot of passes in the neutral zone (sloppy ones at that) and not a whole lot of shooting on net. All three man advantages came in the second period, and at least on the first one, BU did next to nothing.
On those three power plays, BU totaled four shots, and it wasn’t as if Petersen was pressured in any of these particular instances.
More than one thing attributed to the lack of success, Quinn said.
“Just, we lost a lot of battles,” Quinn said. “Sometimes what can happen on a power play is you lose sight of the fact that you’ve got to play hockey within a power play. Go here, do this, do that, and you’ve got to play hockey within the power play and I think when we’re not effective on our power play, we don’t play hockey within our power play. We go to our spots.
“I just thought we lost some one-on-one battles, I thought we were a little inept coming up ice, and it cost you.”
Maguire hangs in, shots come late
BU’s senior goaltender didn’t face a tremendous number of shots through two periods (13), but he saw a lot of action his way in the early stages of the third.
Notre Dame pressed for a game-breaking goal, but Maguire hung in there, making 15 saves on 15 chances. Quinn said Maguire did all of the things he’s been doing all season to be successful in this one.
And while the Terriers could not make their final push come to fruition, it wasn’t for a lack of effort. There was almost nothing going on in the Fighting Irish zone in the opening minutes of the third, but around the halfway point, BU made a rush to get the score even. BU had 13 shots and goal and attempted 24, including one in which senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan was denied on in the final five minutes.
McAvoy’s big hit
Freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been on the top pair for most of this season, bringing an offensive element to the game any time he’s on the ice.
But tonight, we’ll give him a plus for the crushing hit he put on forward Connor Hurley late in the first period.
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.”