It was an up-and-down weekend for the Boston University men’s hockey team, as it split its weekend series with the University of Connecticut.
Matters get underway on Friday evening in Hartford, Connecticut, with the Terriers emerging as 2-1 victors. Then traveling back home to Agganis Arena, BU was blanked for the first time since 2013, falling 4-0 to the Huskies.
In case you missed it, here’s our coverage of both weekend games:
HARTFORD, Connecticut — No. 8 Boston University fell to the University of Connecticut in a rough 5-2 loss at the XL Center on Tuesday evening.
“I certainly thought they were ready to go from the get go,” BU head coach David Quinn said in reference to UConn in his press conference following the game, before admitting that his team didn’t have the same sense of energy until the third period.
Usually for these posts, we introduce them by saying something to the extent of “here’s some of what we liked, and what we didn’t like.” This time around, though, there wasn’t really much of anything we liked. Nonetheless, we proceed:
Urgency and maturity
Immaturity has been an issue this season, and Quinn said it plagued BU again on Tuesday. With two goals allowed and three penalties committed in the second period, the Terriers found themselves in a 3-1 hole and unable to escape.
Quinn also noted that BU’s inability to block shots on Tuesday contributed to its downfall.
“One of the things I thought we did a great job of on Saturday night was blocking shots,and tonight we let everything get through us,” Quinn said. “We didn’t win battles at the net front, and that was the story of the game. Right now we’re just playing an immature game.”
While BU became more aggressive in the third period, outshooting UConn 15-7 in the frame, it was too little, too late — by the time the score was 3-1, the momentum had already swung in the Huskies’ favor.
“You can’t wait till you’re down 3-1 and play with an urgency,” Quinn said.
“The key to the game is we couldn’t make it 3-2 and we had plenty of chances to early on in the third,” Quinn added. “But, like I said, we’re playing with more urgency and they’re playing a bit more conservative and they waited to get on the power play and they burned us.”
Both senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and freshman forward Ryan Cloonan had shots ring off the post in Tuesday’s game. Senior forward Ahti Oksanen, who led the team in goals last season, has yet to buy a goal four games into the season.
In Saturday’s win over the Huskies, Oksanen’s shots found multiple posts. Despite four shots on goal on Tuesday, he still couldn’t make it happen in the second matchup against UConn.
“I hope it’s bad luck,” Quinn said. “It’d be more alarming if he [Oksanen] wasn’t getting chances. He had plenty of chances again tonight, and I know it’s weighing on him, but we’re four games into it. There’s a lot of hockey to be played.”
The story of the night, as Quinn said following the game, was BU’s failure on the penalty kill. Jon Sigal, who’ll be covering the team next year, filled in for Andrew tonight, and has a whole bunch about the special teams in his sider.
We at the Boston Hockey Blog try and be mostly neutral, but can’t help but be somewhat bitter when someone mixes up the name of our university. Thumbs down on our end to the PA guy for calling a BU penalty tonight a “penalty on Boston College.”
BU, at the very least, got 38 shots on goal in the matchup. UConn goalie Rob Nichols, however, saved 36 of those. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon led the team with six shots on net — equal to his season total in shots. As mentioned earlier, Oksanen had four shots on goal, while his linemate O’Regan had five shots on goal. Even the fourth line, featuring sophomore Chase Phelps, senior Mike Moran and sophomore Nikolas Olsson, combined for eight shots on goal.
But much like Quinn said about Oksanen specifically, it’d be a larger concern for BU if it wasn’t getting opportunities at all.
We here at the BHB are big fans of “Brass Bonanza,” which plays every time UConn scores a goal. So we got to hear that five times, at least.
For its Hockey East season opener, the No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey team earned a “hard-fought” win, according to BU head coach David Quinn, to begin conference play with a 1-0 record.
The Terriers (2-1, 1-0 Hockey East) didn’t necessarily start the game at UConn’s pace (2-2, 0-1 Hockey East), but as time wore on, they adjusted their game to dominate the third period and emerge on top.
Here’s what we thought looked good and bad in the victory.
Tied for the team lead in points with four is freshman winger Ryan Cloonan. In his first game of the season at Union College, Cloonan was in the lineup as the fourth line right wing. He scored the second BU goal of the game, assisted by senior center Mike Moran and junior defenseman Doyle Somerby, and gave the Terriers a temporary 2-1 lead.
The next week for BU’s game vs. the University of Wisconsin, he was slotted in as the second line left wing to freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and tallied a pair of assists.
Against UConn, he notched another marker to extend his point streak.
Quinn said Cloonan’s experience is a valuable asset he brings to the team that the other freshmen might not have. While BU’s rookie class is largely comprised of guys 17 or 18 years old, Cloonan is 20.
And he’s improving with each week as well.
“He’s gotten better in the three weeks he’s been here,” Quinn said. “He’s a lot more conscientious away from the puck, there’s more purpose to his game without the puck, but you see his puck skills, he can really skate. He’s got deception to his game, he can shoot it, so there’s a lot to like in his game.”
As the third period began, Cloonan switched places with freshman forward Jordan Greenway and took the left wing’s place on the first line. Quinn said he thought Cloonan’s quickness would give senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and senior forward Ahti Oksanen more speed to work with on the top line.
O’Regan said lines were a little bit all over the place as the game went on, but that Cloonan is a “great player and a really offensive guy.”
“He’s a really creative player,” O’Regan said. “So I was definitely open to it. And I think at that stage of the game we just needed a little spark, and switching up the lines was definitely something that could do that for us.”
The Terriers managed to simplify their game and really settle into a groove during the third period, netting three goals in the frame. For more on that, read Sarah’s sider.
During its first two games, BU’s power play looked good. The Terriers were moving the puck well and creating chances for themselves, but they had only converted once out of nine opportunities they had with the man advantage.
On Saturday, though, the scarlet and white were able to capitalize on two of their five power plays as they maintained heavy offensive zone pressure. In their first attempt, though the Terriers didn’t score, they spent so much time in UConn’s zone that the second unit never got a chance to hit the ice. On a delayed penalty, even, BU was able to keep possession of the puck for 47 seconds before the Huskies touched for the whistle.
“We spent an awful lot of time in the offensive zone on the power play,” Quinn said. “We had chances and chances.
“That power play’s going to keep getting better.”
Of the 33 shots BU took on Saturday, 10 came on the man advantage, and seven of their 15 third period shots were of the power play variety.
The two successful conversions resulted in Forsbacka Karlsson’s first collegiate marker and sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato’s second of the year.
On the other side of special teams, the penalty kill was perfect as BU went to the box four times during the contest. The Terriers have allowed just one goal while shorthanded so far this season. It was the first penalty they took of the year against Union on Oct. 10. Since then, they have not conceded a power-play goal the last 12 times they’ve had someone in the box.
Though BU managed a win, Quinn said he thought the team’s puck management was “incredibly sloppy” and that his squad held onto the puck way too long. He said that, along with the way the defense played, contributed to the Terriers’ problems on the night.
“I thought that’s as bad as we played as a D corps unit from a puck management standpoint,” he said. “We held onto it way too long, we weren’t making stick-to-stick passes, we just were very sloppy.”
For two periods, Quinn said he thought the team played “incredibly cute.” That, he said, wasn’t going to get them anywhere in this game.
O’Regan said his coach was referring to the way his team entered the offensive zone. Many guys were trying to make plays through the middle in a way that played “right into [UConn’s] system, where they sag back, and it’s kind of what they want us to do.”
In the third period, though, the Terriers were able to use their speed and take guys wide, O’Regan said, possessing the puck down low to try and create offense.
Second period penalties
Though the Terriers were perfect on the penalty kill Saturday, Quinn said his team’s trips to the box in the second period were “unnecessary” and “stupid.”
BU took one penalty in the first period as sophomore defenseman John MacLeod went off for tripping, and then the Terriers were sent to the box three times in the second. Two of those three penalties were committed by sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey, who went off for cross-checking 59 seconds into the frame and then got called for interference at 9:16.
Cloonan also sat for two minutes at 13:56 for hooking.
The No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team’s win over No. 8 Boston College at Conte Forum on Friday propelled the Terriers higher into the national rankings. A tie versus the University of Connecticut the following night meant the Terriers (5-1-1, 3-1-1 Hockey East) earned three out of four points in Hockey East play over the weekend.
Again, we take a look at BU’s Corsi and Fenwick numbers from each of the games this weekend in this edition of By the Numbers.
*Note: On the Boston College scoresheet, the BC stats people did not indicate each shot that was a power-play chance. Instead of subtracting power-play shots on goal, I will just use all shots toward net for that game for simplicity reasons. For the UConn game, I will only look at 5-on-5 chances.*
Corsi and Fenwick vs. BC Full Game
Corsi For (Shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots): 42
Corsi Against: 60
Corsi For Percentage: 41.2
Fenwick For (Shots on goal, missed shots): 36
Fenwick Against: 54
Fenwick For Percentage: 40
BU Goals For: 5
BC Goals For: 3
Corsi and Fenwick vs. BC First Period
Corsi For: 14
Corsi Against: 19
Corsi For Percentage: 42.4
Fenwick For: 10
Fenwick Against: 17
Fenwick For Percentage: 37.03
BU/BC Goals For: 0
Corsi and Fenwick vs. BC Second Period
Corsi For: 14
Corsi Against: 23
Corsi For Percentage: 37.8
Fenwick For: 12
Fenwick Against: 21
Fenwick For Percentage: 36.4
BU Goals For: 1
BC Goals For: 2
Corsi and Fenwick vs. BC Third Period
Corsi For: 14
Corsi Against: 18
Corsi For Percentage: 43.8
Fenwick For: 14
Fenwick Against: 16
Fenwick For Percentage: 46.7
BU Goals For: 4
BC Goals For: 1
Corsi and Fenwick vs. UConn Full Game
Corsi For: 57
Corsi Against: 31
Corsi For Percentage: 64.8
Fenwick For: 49
Fenwick Against: 28
Fenwick For Percentage: 63.6
BU Goals For: 4
UConn Goals For: 4
Corsi and Fenwick vs. UConn First Period
Corsi For: 25
Corsi Against: 13
Corsi For Percentage: 65.8
Fenwick For: 15
Fenwick Against: 13
Fenwick For Percentage: 53.6
BU/UConn Goals For: 1
Corsi and Fenwick vs. UConn Second Period
Corsi For: 12
Corsi Against: 4
Corsi For Percentage: 75
Fenwick For: 11
Fenwick Against: 2
Fenwick For Percentage: 84.6
BU Goals For: 0
UConn Goals For: 1
Corsi and Fenwick vs. UConn Third Period
Corsi For 25
Corsi Against: 12
Corsi For Percentage: 67.6
Fenwick For: 18
Fenwick Against: 12
Fenwick For Percentage: 60
BU Goals For: 3
UConn Goals For: 2
Corsi and Fenwick vs. UConn Overtime
Corsi For: 8
Corsi Against: 2
Corsi For Percentage: 80
Fenwick For: 5
Fenwick Against: 1
Fenwick For Percentage: 83.3
BU/UConn Goals For: 0
Against the Eagles (4-4, 1-3 Hockey East), BU definitely did not spend all that much time in the offensive zone. The Terriers did, however, make the most of their chances in the third and got a little bit of puck luck. Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor stood tall on his end to keep BU in the game. It didn’t take puck possession, but a couple of flukey goals propelled the Terriers in this one.
On the other hand, BU could’ve easily defeated UConn (2-4-3, 1-2-1 Hockey East) by three-plus goals last Saturday. On even-strength chances, BU held the puck for extended periods of time. The penalties caught up to the team, which is why the score was tied in the end. Staying out of the penalty box is paramount for this team going forward.
Trying to earn its second weekend sweep of the season, the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team played to a 4-4 draw with the University of Connecticut Saturday night.
The Terriers (5-1-1, 3-1-1 Hockey East) scored within the first 40 seconds of the game on junior forward Danny O’Regan’s goal, but the Huskies (2-4-3, 1-2-1 Hockey East) battled back in a neck-and-neck, fast-paced affair.
Here’s a closer look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers on the back end of a two-game weekend:
An Early Tally
Against Boston College at Conte Forum Friday night, the Terriers didn’t get any sustained attacking time early. It took over three minutes for the team to get a chance on net.
Saturday was a completely different story.
Even without junior forward Ahti Oksanen in the lineup, the first line was aggressive from the get-go. Freshman forward Jack Eichel skated down the left wing, and fed O’Regan on a cross-ice pass down low. After a few pretty deke moves, O’Regan buried the shot past goaltender Rob Nichols.
“Well you always like to get on the board early — it’s easier said than done,” said BU coach David Quinn. “One of the things that I thought happened on that first goal, Jack did a great job driving wide and then pulling up and finding Danny.”
The Eichel-O’Regan Connection
The top BU forwards continued their impressive play even after the opening goal. After multiple chances throughout the first and second periods, the two were rewarded for their hard work with less than five minutes to go in the third.
Eichel started the rush when he sped out to center ice. As O’Regan charged toward the blue line, the freshman split the defense with a pass, allowing O’Regan to spring forward. The junior did the rest, and after fancy stickhandling in front of Nichols, O’Regan found himself on the scoresheet again.
The two finished the night with three points each — Eichel with three assists and O’Regan with the two goals and an assist.
Unsung Heroes Come Up Big
When the 2014-15 season started, junior forward Mike Moran was out of the lineup with an injury. Freshman defenseman Brien Diffley found himself on the third defensive pairing. On this night, though, both made big contributions in the tie.
Moran, who scored his first goal of the season on Friday night, added his second of the year against UConn 30 seconds after the Huskies grabbed a late lead in the third.
After Diffley took a shot from the point, Moran batted in the puck out of mid-air — and under the crossbar — for the goal at 9:30 of the second period.
“He’s a smart player, he’s got some skill, he shoots the puck a ton and he’s a very physical player and he goes to the net,” Quinn said of Moran. “I’m happy to see a guy like that get rewarded. He’s getting a lot of ice time because he’s earning it.”
An Early Tally
How does a plus become a minus? When complacency sets in, issues can arise and create chances for the opposition. This is what Quinn said happened after BU’s first goal of the game.
“It was nice to get that first one, looking back, as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know if you want to score 20-plus seconds into the game because, like I said, all of sudden we thought this was going to be easy,” Quinn said. “We all know it wasn’t going to be easy.”
After O’Regan’s opening tally, things were far from being painless. UConn scored about three minutes later on a rebound by forward Shawn Pauly, his first of two on the night.
BU held two one-goal leads throughout the game, but none lasted more than 3:08. As much as Quinn has used the word “resilient” to characterize the Terriers, UConn threatened all night and was not deterred by the initial goal.
Penalties Upon Penalties
What seems to be a recurring theme for this Terriers team is the amount of time it spends on the penalty kill versus the man advantage. Before the game against UConn, the Terriers had 66 total minutes shorthanded against 40 on power-play chances.
By the end of the night, the Terriers added seven more penalties to its season total.
There were two infractions, though, that hindered the Terriers the most. BU was forced to work with one less skater on its bench after freshman forward Nikolas Olsson’s game misconduct for making contact to the head at 15:29 in the second period. Quinn used a combination of players like Moran and sophomore forward Kevin Duane on the second line to keep things stable.
Then at the end of the third and teams in the midst of a 4-on-4, junior captain Matt Grzelcyk held forward Trevor Gerling as he drove to the net. On the ensuing Huskies power play, Pauly scored his second goal of the game, which was the final score of the contest.
“It’s nothing new, Quinn said of the penalties. “You look at what’s happened this year, we probably have the biggest discrepancy between power plays and penalty kills. I can’t explain it, I don’t want to talk too long about it.
“[UConn] played well, they deserved the chances that they got. They had the five-minute major, they capitalized on it and the four-on-three goal.”
Trouble with Pauly and Gerling
Other than penalties being a major issue, the Terriers had their difficulties defending the second line. Pauly, who did not have a goal coming into the game, finished with two tallies, five shots on goal and a plus-2 rating. Gerling doubled his season output with two goals, while also adding two helpers.
UConn’s first unit had trouble keeping up with BU’s top line, but the Huskies’ second line combined for seven of UConn’s 12 points.