For the second time in three weeks, the No. 4 Boston University men’s hockey team approaches the weekend looking to break out of a two-game skid.
This go around, the opportunity comes via a home-and-home series against the University of New Hampshire, with Friday night’s game at Agganis and Saturday evening’s at the Whittemore Center.
“Our next goal is to win the regular season championship, and we still can do that,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “All our energy has been geared towards Friday night and putting forth our best effort.”
While the Beanpot Tournament is laced with history, its 65th championship game concerns a bird of a different feather: Two elite teams.
Just ask Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, an assistant captain for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team, about what it’ll be like to play against No. 4 Harvard University on Monday night at TD Garden.
“These are the kinds of games you come to BU to play,” the Swedish center said.
It’ll be head coach David Quinn’s Terriers (19-8-2, 11-4-2 Hockey East) taking on head coach Ted Donato’s Crimson (17-5-2), and they’re both likely to play for silverware come springtime.
In the here and now, though, is where the young guns from Commonwealth Avenue and the old guard from Cambridge are thriving.
For a full version of this story over on The Daily Free Press, click here.
The Beanpot Tournament’s opening round is just four days away, but the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team has business to take care of first.
On Friday night at Agganis Arena, the Terriers will play host to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In many ways, the clash will mark the coming together of two sides heading in opposite directions.
BU sits third in the PairWise Rankings, in second place in Hockey East and is 9-2 in its last 11 contests. UMass, meanwhile, is a lowly 56th in the PairWise Rankings, dead last in Hockey East and in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.
“I’m hoping our guys don’t put any stock into any of that, because it means nothing [Friday] night,” said BU head coach David Quinn.
When the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team takes to the ice at Agganis Arena this weekend, it will be in a somewhat foreign spot: looking to recover from a loss.
In fact, when Merrimack College snapped the Terriers’ eight-game win streak on Tuesday, 46 days had passed since the scarlet and white left the rink with anything less than a full two points.
“I think it’s an eye-opener,” said sophomore forward Bobo Carpenter. “[The loss] didn’t need to happen, but now that it happened, I think everyone is that much more focused. You never want to lose. I think everyone is just ready to get going again and get another streak going.”
Unfamiliar feelings aside, BU (16-6-2, 9-3-2 Hockey East) made it crystal clear that Friday night’s rematch with Merrimack (9-13-3, 3-7-3 Hockey East) and Saturday evening’s clash with No. 7 University of Massachusetts Lowell are about getting back to business.
Over the last month or so, everything has been turning up roses for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team.
The Terriers are riding a six-game winning streak, seven players recently secured a silver or gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championships, freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger boasts a .956 save percentage in his last three tilts and sophomore forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is a man on fire in front of the goal.
However, the message inside Agganis Arena goes something like this: don’t let any of that get to your head.
“We definitely like to keep everything inside our walls and control what we can control,” said sophomore winger Bobo Carpenter. “The battle right now is against our own team in how we can be better each night. We just want to come and work hard every practice, every game and be better than we were the day before.”
As mentioned, BU’s (14-5-2, 7-2-2 Hockey East) order of business this weekend comes against a team that’s struggling somewhat to kick into gear. One needs to look no further than where the Black Bears (8-11-3, 2-7-1 Hockey East) sit in the conference standings to deduce that, as they’re tied for last place.
That doesn’t mean the Terriers are going to take them lightly, though. Especially not with Red Gendron, Maine’s third-year head coach leading the charge.
“His team’s play so hard. Other than the last game when we played them here last year, it’s always been a tight, one-goal game,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “I’m anticipating that type of game [Friday] night. They’re going to come hard, they’re going to go to the net, they’re going to take away your time and space. We have to be ready to win our mano-e-mano battles.”
Arguably the stiffest battles will come against forwards Cam Brown (26 points) and Blaine Byron (23 points), both of whom rest inside Hockey East’s top 15 scorers. Meanwhile, Maine’s likely starting netminder, sophomore Rob McGovern, was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. He boasts a 2.80 goals against average and .914 save percentage for the year.
Given those threats, Brandon Hickey, a junior defenseman for the Terriers, said he holds a healthy respect for the Black Bears.
“The last couple years that I’ve been here, we’ve always had trouble with Maine,” Hickey said. “They’ve been a big team, a fast team. We can’t come in here and take them lightly because of the season they’re having. We have to come in here and prepare like they’re [Boston College].”
It’s notable that Hickey references BC (14-9-2, 9-3-1 Hockey East) largely because BU is coming off its first weekend sweep of its archrival since the 2001-02 season. It outscored head coach Jerry York’s side 5-1 during the weekend series, climbing up to second place in the conference standings along the way.
That run of form left Carpenter surging with confidence.
“It’s always the best when you can beat BC,” Carpenter said. “I mean, they’re our rivals, so getting on top is the best and sweeping them makes it even better. I definitely think the momentum is going to help us, because everyone is excited getting off to a good second start [of the season].”
Now, as Carpenter suggested, the challenge before BU is continuing this red-hot start to 2017.
Maine, a team that’s 3-2 in its last five contests, stands in the way of those hopes. However, Quinn feels that if the Terriers play with purpose and speed, the points should continue to pile up.
“We’ve been talking about it as a group; we’re not preparing to play an opponent, we’re preparing to play to the best of our ability,” Quinn said. “That’s all it’s about. It’s just about every day coming here and trying to be the best player you can be and be the best team we can be.
“It’s creating the mindset that this is about playing at a pace, skating and being physical,” Quinn added. “Everything else will take care of itself.”
This article appeared originally on The Daily Free Press.
The rivalry is back.
For the 271st and 272nd times, the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team and No. 8 Boston College will square off, this go around via a home-and-home series. The first tilt is set for Friday night at Agganis Arena, with the second unfolding Monday evening at Conte Forum.
While the high-profile games are riddled with storylines, the Terriers (12-5-2, 5-2-2 Hockey East) carry extra motivation in knowing that the Eagles (14-7-2, 9-1-1 Hockey East) await.
“We don’t like them and they don’t like us,” said junior defenseman Brandon Hickey. “You feed off the energy in the crowd, and it’s a sold-out building wherever you play. It’s one of the best rivalries in sports, and it’s obviously one of the most intense ones. For sure you want to come out on top this weekend.”
BU head coach David Quinn, who stressed his squad must first take care of business at home, spoke of the rivalry in a similar light.
“It’s a game that when your schedule comes out over the summer, the first thing you probably look at as a player is, ‘When do we play BC?,’” Quinn said. “I’m sure the BC guys like at it and say, ‘When do we play BU?’ Both programs push each other, and BC hockey is great for BU and BU hockey is great for BC. I think coach [Jack] Parker said that for a long time, and it’s a heated rivalry with a lot of respect.”
That healthy respect Quinn referenced is another theme that arose in and around Agganis this week. Doyle Somerby, BU’s captain and a senior defenseman, said he and several players have taken the short trip to Chestnut Hill to scout BC, particularly when now-No. 9 University of Minnesota visited on Nov. 27.
On those occasions, Somerby said they got a glimpse into just how dangerous the Eagles can be. In net, head coach Jerry York’s team, which sits atop Hockey East, boasts Joseph Woll, the owner of a .920 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average.
Building on out, the names to watch become even more dangerous. BC’s star defensemen are Casey Fitzgerald and Michael Kim, while the threats at winger and center come in droves thanks to Colin White, Austin Cangelosi, Christopher Brown, Ryan Fitzgerald and Matthew Gaudreau. Altogether, that group has banged home 44 goals and handed out 74 assists throughout the 2016-17 season.
“They’re a really fast, skilled team,” said freshman forward Kieffer Bellows. “They have so many good players and great goaltending. We’re really going to have to bring our A game and step it up.”
The Terriers feel well prepared to do just that, largely because this week at long last let them catch their breath. In fact, BU practiced with its full roster on Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 12, with seven of its players recently missing considerable time for the 2017 World Junior Championships.
During that span, BU saw its American representatives – freshman forwards Clayton Keller, Patrick Harper and Bellows, freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger, sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy and sophomore forward Jordan Greenway – win gold alongside BC’s White, Woll and Casey Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro won a silver medal with Team Canada.
“It’s great to be back with all the guys,” Bellows said. “Coming off a huge win at World Juniors is really exciting and something that we always dreamed about, all of us. Coming back our main focus right now is BU hockey.”
While BU’s focus in unwavering, it will be without two contributors. Sophomore defenseman Shane Switzer is still recovering from a concussion, while senior forward Tommy Kelley is suspended for the first game by Hockey East for a hit from behind last Sunday against the University of Massachusetts.
Other than that, the Terriers are at full health and will be looking to build off a four-game winning streak. On the other hand, BC is 3-4-1 in its last eight games.
Despite those trends and the magnitude of this conference set, Quinn said the task at hand remains the same.
“We’re going to continue to establish our forecheck, do a good job in transition defense and move the puck,” Quinn said. “It’s not who you play, it’s how you play. We want to stick to that approach.”
It seems like yesterday that the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 2016-17 season just got underway, but here we are. On Tuesday night, the sixth-ranked Terriers will host Yale University for a non-conference clash to close out 2016.
Coach Quinn’s side will be slightly less than full strength, as senior forward Tommy Kelley is still out injured and junior defenseman John MacLeod is questionable. Meanwhile, freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro is off at Team Canada’s World Junior Championship preliminary camp.
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.