One of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s most experienced forwards has left the program ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Robbie Baillargeon has transferred to Arizona State University as a graduate student. The Sun Devils, who captured the the 2014 ACHA national title, are entering their first season of Division I competition.
Baillargeon began his college hockey career at Agganis Arena in 2013, bursting onto the scene as a bright spot from a 10-21-4 season. The Enfield, Connecticut native’s 27 points were best on the team, while his 10 goals and 17 assists were both tied for the team lead.
Also the Ottawa Senators’ fifth round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Baillargeon’s torrid scoring pace slowed down come his sophomore campaign.
His three goals and 13 assists were helpful contributions en route to BU capturing a Beanpot Trophy, Hockey East regular season title and Hockey East Tournament championship. Baillargeon, who starred with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL before joining the Terriers, also battled mononucleosis in 2014-15.
Come Baillargeon’s junior year, his performances became inconsistent, as head coach David Quinn tossed various linemates his way. The future Sun Devil finished with six goals and six assists, with a trio of three-game point streaks popping up throughout the 2015-16 season.
After BU was bounced from the 2016 NCAA Tournament by the University of Denver on March 26, speculation arose that Baillargeon would finish his college career beyond Commonwealth Avenue. He wasn’t named a captain of any sort for his senior season, and now he’ll take his talents to The Grand Canyon State’s up-and-coming program.
The Terriers have now earned a point in six consecutive games.
Junior defenseman Doyle Somerby capped off the rally with his second goal of the year with 2:54 left in the game.
For large chunks of the game, though, BU looked sloppy and played inconsistent hockey, so we’ll take a look at what went right and wrong in this Pluses and Minuses.
These two teams were locked in a tight game when they met last October, a game in which BU prevailed with two third-period goals.
Although BU was down two goals after the first 40 minutes this time, the third period felt eerily similar to how last year’s played out. Senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored in 12-second span about halfway through the period, and Somerby scored the winner at 17:06.
Sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee had a relatively quiet third period, making just four saves.
But one stop could not have been more timely for the Terriers.
Moments after BU had tied the score, Michigan forward Tyler Motte broke loose from center ice on a breakaway. Somerby came from behind him and prevented a pure 1-on-1 chance with LaCouvee. But in the process, the referees determined that Somerby had slashed Motte’s stick as he went in on goal, and Motte was awarded a penalty shot.
LaCouvee, anchored in the crease, held his position throughout the chance, and was in great position to stop Motte’s penalty shot, which went low blocker side.
A save and a pump of the fist later, and the score stayed tied.
“Obviously the momentum is on our side, and then we give up a breakaway,” Quinn said. “Connor makes an unbelievable save.”
Quinn said he didn’t see LaCouvee’s celebration after the save, but said that his goalie’s mentality has been important in this recent stretch.
“He’s got an unbelievable personality,” Quinn said. “And he’s a great kid, and he’s really, really playing well. So love that emotion. You need emotion.”
What they’ve also received is consistent play in net, which appeared to be a question mark early in the season. But LaCouvee has allowed three or fewer goals in his last four starts, and now owns a .920 save percentage for the season.
Third line comes up big
For most of the game, like every other unit, BU’s third line was shut down by the Michigan defense and goaltender Steve Racine. The line composed of sophomore winger A.J. Greer, Baillargeon and freshman forward Bobo Carpenter had chances, especially near the doorstep from Greer, early on but could not find the back of the net.
Just a tick before the 11-minute mark in the third period, they finally were rewarded.
Baillargeon took a pass from Carpenter behind the net and then curled the puck on a wraparound past Racine for the tying goal. All three skaters earned a point on this tally.
“I thought that line played well tonight,” Quinn said. “I thought they were probably our best line early on. I thought AJ had a good night, I thought Robbie had a good night, Bobo played well. It’s always nice to spread the wealth in the scoring department.”
ESPN personality, and avid lover of college hockey, John Buccigross was in attendance for Friday night’s game.
For those who don’t know, the last three BU games — and two this season — that Buccigross has either announced or attended has ended in a Terrier loss.
That changed against Michigan, and the so called “Buccigross Curse” has been lifted, if there ever really was a curse to lift.
Slow 40 minutes
BU prided itself on playing a strong end-to-end game against No. 1 Providence College last weekend, but that was far from the case Friday.
The Wolverines displayed a quick forecheck and won just about every puck battle in the first two periods. BU had trouble matching the pace and quickly fell behind on the scoreboard and in shot attempts. Michigan also had net-front presence and clogged the middle on the defensive side to prevent prime opportunities.
Through two periods, Michigan had out-attempted BU 52-35, which was pretty indicative of how the Wolverines controlled the game.
“Those first two periods were tough to watch,” Quinn said. “I didn’t think we had a lot of jump in our step, I thought they were much quicker to loose pucks. They were quicker in general, they were much more alert than we were. We didn’t really have a lot going on for ourselves.”
For the second week in a row, moments after the Terriers took a late lead, a penalty followed. Last week, senior assistant captain Matt Lane’s slashing minor led to the tying goal.
This week, Greer took a hitting from behind penalty with 2:28 remaining on the clock, setting up a frantic rush by the Wolverines. A few deflections and shots that went inches wide could have ended up tying the game if they had gone the other way.
As strong as LaCouvee was in the series opener, this area of the net seemed to give him some fits.
Michigan’s first goal from forward Alex Kile was an odd-angle shot that snuck between LaCouvee’s pad and the post. A similar play happened in the second period on the other side of the ice, and LaCouvee looked bewildered on where the puck was.
Fortunately for him, it was stuck between his pad on the post and not over the goal line.
It was a weird group of plays, but it’ll be interesting to see if Michigan looks to attempt more on the nearside of the net Saturday afternoon if LaCouvee gets the starting nod.
The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team just keeps on winning, and did so again in the form of a 6-3 victory over the University of New Hampshire on Friday night at Agganis Arena. The Terriers now own the longest winning streak in the nation at seven — its longest win streak since the end of the 2009 championship season.
There was plenty we liked and didn’t like from that game. Here’s a small sampling:
Second line shines
The second line of junior forward Ahti Oksanen, sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann has been clicking as of late, and accounted for seven total points on Friday against the Wildcats. Andrew has more on that in his sider.
A pair of BU defensemen also found their way onto the score sheet against UNH: junior captain Matt Grzelcyk and freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey.
Neither is a stranger to offensive production: Grzelcyk has two goals and 17 assists on the year, adding to his goal total with his tie-breaking goal with 2:50 left in the second period. Hickey, with his powerful shot, was able to tally a goal and an assist, boosting his season total to five goals and nine assists.
BU head coach David Quinn had nothing but praise for Hickey’s production after the game.
“He works incredibly hard,” Quinn said. “Loves hockey, has got a passion for the game, he’s got enthusiasm that’s infectious. He’s got a bunch of physical skills: he skates well, he shoots it a ton. Does a great job getting a shot to the net, but it’s hard it’s low. He’s physical, he’s good defensively.
“He’s had a heck of a year, be hard-pressed to find many freshmen defensemen better.”
The Boston Hockey Blog fully endorses Hickey’s postgame attire from Friday night, which included a white cap with a picture of Hohmann’s face taped to the front.
“We thought it would be pretty funny if someone walked in wearing the Hohmann hat,” Hickey said. “A double Hohmann interview.”
“I don’t know how that hat got made but it’s been around the locker room,” Hohmann said. “People have been wearing it around, so it’s pretty funny.”
BU — a team that entered the game giving up an average of just 2.15 goals per game — allowed UNH to tie the game at three goals apiece, less than three minutes after the Terriers had taken a 3-1 lead.
“I just thought were, in particular in the first two periods, irresponsible with the puck and really weren’t committed to playing defense,” Quinn said. “It became a little bit of a track meet, exchanging chances, and that’s certainly not how we want to play. I thought we did a much better job in the third period of being responsible.”
How did they make that adjustment? Simplicity.
“You just try to simplify everything,” Hickey said. “Bear down the D zone, make sure you’re clearing guys out in front of the net. We’re just trying to get back to simple hockey. Just relax and go out and play our game because we know if we play our game and shut everyone down, we have our opportunities to capitalize as well.”
Streak comes to an end
It’s pretty hard to criticize a guy who just got 27 points in 11 games, but it was still a bit disappointing to see senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues’ point streak end on Friday. He had four shots on goal against UNH, but none could cross the goal line. All good things must come to an end, I suppose.
BURLINGTON, Vermont — A three-goal advantage almost was the most dangerous lead for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team Friday night.
The Terriers (14-4-4, 9-2-2 Hockey East) opened up a 3-0 lead early in the third period, and staved off a late rush by No. 12 University of Vermont to come away victorious 4-2. The win, coupled with a No. 5 University of Massachusetts Lowell loss to No. 18 Providence College, puts BU into sole possession of first place in Hockey East.
Here’s a breakdown of what went right and wrong for the Terriers:
Hohmann’s scoring drought ends
Not since Nov. 22 at the University of Connecticut had Cason Hohmann lit the lamp. Two months, one day and one lengthy video review later, he finally broke the streak.
During the midst of a BU power play at the end of the second period, sophomore center Robbie Baillargeon fed Hohmann near the goal line, who roofed the puck into an almost empty net.
After the refs initially ruled the puck didn’t cross the goal line and the period came to a close, the officials took a long look at the replay and overturned the call.
The wait was worth it.
The power-play streak continues
Speaking of Hohmann’s tally, the goal extended BU’s stretch of games with a power-play goal up to seven. You have to go all the way back to Dec. 6 for a game in which the team did not score a goal on the man advantage.
“We’re just focused on getting people in front of the net, getting shots,” Hohmann said of the power play. “Just crowding people around the net, making smart passes up top. You just can’t be careless on the power play, that’s a big part of it.”
Even when it’s not scoring, the power-play unit, save for a few shifts, has moved the puck well, and gotten good shots to the net. In all, the Terriers finished 1-for-5 on the night, garnering 12 chances on net.
This was against a UVM (15-7-2, 7-5-1 Hockey East) team that came into the game as the best penalty-killing group in Hockey East with a success rate near 93 percent. Not too shabby.
Baillargeon plays mailman
When Baillargeon scored BU’s first goal of the season against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he picked up right where he left off during his freshman campaign.
Then the mononucleosis kicked in.
He missed significant time in the first half of the year because of it, and only returned to the lineup after winter break. He had looked good in his games back in the lineup, but nothing as sharp as tonight.
Baillargeon skated well and made two crips passes that turned into primary assists on BU’s first goals of the game. The two helpers earned him well-deserved No. 3 star of the game.
A good-looking (and important) third goal
It was a thing of beauty.
Taking the puck from the defensive zone, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues skated down the left side of the ice, deked around defenseman Ori Abramson and picked the top corner of the net to finish off a pretty goal 3:02 into the third period.
An impressive end-to-end tally, yes, but it also proved to be pretty important in the long run of the game. Vermont rallied off a goal not even a minute later, and then added another in the closing minutes.
Rodrigues’ goal at first looked like window dressing on a win, but ended up as the game-winner.
Slow response to goaltending switch
When goaltender Brody Hoffman let in his third goal of the night early in the third frame, coach Kevin Sneddon pulled the netminder in favor of Mike Santaguida.
It didn’t take long for the Catamounts to get the message. The Terriers, on the other hand, didn’t look ready for the surge.
Forward Colin Markison snuck one past junior goaltender Matt O’Connor 52 second after the Rodrigues goal to cut the BU lead to two goals. And although it took over 11 minutes for UVM to get that second goal, it wasn’t as if the Catamounts didn’t have their chances.
“I still haven’t seen the first goal, but I thought when we came on the ice, we didn’t puck up the right people and our D was a little flat-footed,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “All of the sudden, they got the first goal and they get a lot of life and a lot of momentum.”
Whether or not replacing the goalie was the reason Vermont played better in that span in the third, there was no arguing the ice tilted some in the Catamounts’ favor.
The ghosts of BU’s past
If you had forgotten about defenseman Alexx Privitera, he made sure you remembered him Friday night.
The former Terrier, playing in his first season with the Catamounts, already had a respectable 15 points in 23 games coming into this one. By the end of the game, he added one more point to his season total, a rebound goal at the 15:17 mark of the first period.
It ended up as just a footnote in this game, but it would’ve been something if Privitera scored a game-winning or tying goal against his old team.