The Boston University men’s hockey team snagged three of a possible four points against Providence College this past weekend. Friday night’s clash was a 2-1 win at Schneider Arena, while Saturday’s game unfolded as a 2-2 overtime tie.
From the good, the bad and the ugly, we offer several takes on what unfolded. As a bit of foreshadowing, it wasn’t the prettiest weekend of Terrier hockey, even if the results were largely favorable.
1.) Bellows struggles – As much as we don’t want to admit it, it may be time for Kieffer Bellows to sit a game or so. After getting two penalties in the first period on Saturday, including one in the offensive zone, Bellows now leads all Terriers in total penalties with 16. For comparison, Jordan Greenway is second in penalties with 10. Quinn made the decision to bench Bellows for pretty much the rest of Saturday’s contest, and he can’t be blamed. It’s been a tough stretch for the freshman, as he has just one point in his last seven contests. With BU not as deep as it would like to be, hopefully he can get more comfortable in the college game soon. –Nick
2.) Penalties – If you thought the Terriers’ penalty problem had subsided, last weekend seemed to prove you wrong. After averaging 9.6 penalty minutes in their previous six contests, Quinn’s squad logged 47 minutes in the box in the two games versus the Friars. BU still secured three points despite having to kill the power play so much, but it’s obvious that Quinn will be stressing cutting down penalties in practice this week. – Nick
3.) Who’s out – It will be interesting to see which forward gets bumped out of the lineup once Clayton Keller returns from injury (which could be before the winter break, FYI). Pat Curry has stepped up to replace Keller on the second line, and he’s performed well the last few games. Does he stay somewhere on that second line, especially with Bellows’ recent struggles? And where does Ryan Cloonan fit in when Keller and Tommy Kelley are back on the ice? Who on the fourth line gets the boot? If BU can get all of their playmakers back to full health, keep an eye out for what Quinn does with the bottom three lines. – Nick
The Small Five
a.) Oettinger – For anyone claiming that Jake Oettinger can’t handle the starting spot for these Terriers, it’s time to hold your horses. The kid is just fine. Actually scratch that – he’s more than fine. He made a combined 68 saves across both games with the Friars, including 38 on Friday night. The 17-year-old also now has a 1.92 goals against average and .930 save percentage. – Jonathan
b.) D pairings – Coach Quinn tossed a small curveball this past weekend when he switched up the top two defensive pairings. He partnered Charlie McAvoy with Brandon Hickey, and also put Chad Krys with Dante Fabbro. Normally it’d be McAvoy-Krys and Hickey-Fabbro, so perhaps a small point. Meanwhile, John MacLeod and Doyle Somerby stayed together on the third pairing. – Jonathan
c.) McAvoy – Speaking of McAvoy, we’re starting to see some serious offensive production from this past summer’s first-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins. He has one goal and 11 assists, including a helper in each of his last three games. That should come as no surprise, though, as he had three goals and 22 assists in his freshman season. Either way, it’s nice to see McAvoy contributing on the offensive end consistently. – Jonathan
d.) Harper – Is it possible that Patrick Harper is regressing to the mean? He still leads BU with 17 points, but he was kept off the scoreboard in both tilts with the Friars. Many of the team’s top forwards were as well, so it’s hardly a slight. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if Harper returns to his scoring ways or balances out some. – Jonathan
e.) Power play – The Terriers’ power play isn’t up to snuff right now, of that there is no doubt. BU has the 43rd-best success rate in the country, as it scores on 14.29 percent of its man advantages. With copious talent – Keller, Harper, Bellows, Fabbro, McAvoy and Greenway, to name a few – something has to click soon, right? On the contrary, BU’s penalty-kill unit is the nation’s third best, as it clocks in at a 91.1 percent success rate. – Jonathan
David Quinn and Nate Leaman, the head coaches of Boston University and Providence College, respectively, both described clashes between their squads as a rivalry. After this past weekend’s series, it’s easy to understand why.
Inside the hostile confines of Schneider Arena on Friday night, the Terriers snagged a 2-1 win, even if it was against the odds. Freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger put up nearly 40 saves, while the penalty kill was immense, especially in the first period.
Another key storyline from Friday’s encounter was that BU’s depth was on full display. For various reasons, Nick Roberto, Jordan Greenway, Clayton Keller and Tommy Kelley were out, causing Quinn’s side to dig deep into the roster.
The sides were right back at it again on Saturday night, this time at Agganis Arena. Despite being largely outplayed for the whole contest, BU snagged a 2-2 draw that carried through overtime. Such a close state of affairs wasn’t indicative of ineptness on BU’s part, though.
The Terriers took 20 minutes of penalties, only for goals from Brandon Hickey and Nik Olsson to save their bacon. It wasn’t the prettiest game by any means, but three out a four possible points in Hockey East play is largely a success.
The Boston University men’s hockey team returns to action this weekend against Providence College. The first tilt is set for Friday night in Rhode Island’s capital city, while the Friars and Terriers return to Agganis Arena on Saturday night.
We sat down with head coach David Quinn ahead of the series to preview all that’s in store. For updates on injuries, how BU spent its Thanksgiving break and more, click here.
Both nights, it could have ended poorly, but both nights, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team managed to erase deficits and eke out a tie.
Saturday afternoon’s matchup with No. 1 Providence College at Agganis Arena was a little more intense offensively than Friday’s 1-1 tie in Providence, Rhode Island. After eliminating BU’s 2-0 deficit and jumping ahead 3-2 thanks to the heroics of freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, BU (5-3-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East) eventually skated away with a 3-3 tie and two points on the weekend.
After a battle of a series, as always, it’s time to sit back, relax and pick apart what we liked and didn’t like. Here are our pluses and minuses from Saturday’s game:
Keeping up with the best
The narrative was there all weekend — the rematch between last year’s national championship game foes, BU looking for “redemption” against the No. 1 team in the nation.
At the end of the day, BU came away with a pair of ties and two crucial Hockey East points — and impressive resilience to earn comeback ties against one of the nation’s top teams.
“We can compete with the best of ‘em,” said BU head coach David Quinn following the game. “That’s a big, strong, well-balanced team. We showed a lot of resiliency, we showed some mental toughness.”
Of course, the ties can be a tad bittersweet, but it’s hard to complain about getting points.
“It’s a little weird with ties, you don’t really know how to feel about it,” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “But obviously two points this weekend is not too bad.”
JFK for President
First of all, props to the fans at Agganis Arena with a sign that said “JFK for President 2016.” Good execution on that.
Forsbacka Karlsson certainly made a surge in his freshman campaign with his performance against the Friars (6-0-2, 0-0-2 Hockey East). His first goal, which at the time tied the game 2-2, came on an attempt to chip in the puck to his linemate, senior forward Ahti Oksanen. Forsbacka Karlsson admitted he “wasn’t really sure if” Oksanen touched the puck or not, but it took a good enough curve that it made its way in.
Less than three minutes later, Forsbacka Karlsson gave BU the lead on a high shot from the slot.
“It was a good feeling,” he said. “… It’s always fun to kind of get energy from the crowd and play off that. I think that helps us a lot.”
It was undeniably a whistle-heavy contest, with a total of 16 penalties throughout the game. Both Quinn and Providence head coach Nate Leaman could be seen yelling at the officials at several points throughout the game. The game got a bit testy at times, with Oksanen and Friar defenseman Tom Parisi both getting penalized for hitting after the whistle at 9:14 of the second period.
“I think, especially last night, and this night, it was a lot of physical play,” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “And I think that’s part of the game, that’s how it’s supposed to be. We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box a little bit more than we did these two games, but aside from that, it’s just part of hockey.”
Eventually, the penalty-laden contest hit its worst point for the Terriers about 11 minutes into the second period when sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey and junior defenseman Doyle Somerby — two of the biggest bodies on the team — went to the box and BU was forced to stave off a 5-on-3 without those players dispensable.
Despite success on the penalty kill a night ago, it didn’t work out on Saturday, and defenseman Jake Walman gave Providence a 2-0 lead just over halfway through the game.
And shortly after that goal, BU earned a bench minor.
The crowd wasn’t too pleased with the excess of calls, either. When the referees came on the ice before the third period, they heard a chorus of boos from the BU fans.
BU was outshot 15-8 in the first frame, and again outshot in the second period, 10-7.
Quinn fully acknowledged the dull start after the game.
“They [Providence] came out and continued what they did last night, while I thought our intensity level fell a little bit, our physicality fell a little bit and it took us a little while to pick up where we left off last night,” Quinn said. “And obviously penalties certainly didn’t help us again.”
But true to the form of last season, BU refocused and surged in the third period.
“I think we always have the same message,” said senior captain Matt Grzelcyk of the locker room mentality between the second and third periods. “We were down a lot last year, and I think we kind of learned from that. And I think we tried not to get frustrated as best as possible.”