Pluses and Minuses: No. 11 Terriers rebound with come-from-behind win over Catamounts

It took a bit of a wake-up call from head coach David Quinn, but the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team managed to salvage the second half of a home series against the University of Vermont.

Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP STAFF
Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP STAFF

After falling behind 2-0 early, and then again facing a 3-2 deficit late in the third period, goals from senior assistant captain Matt Lane and sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey, plus a last-second empty-netter from sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato, secured the 5-3 victory for the Terriers.

Initially in this game, it looked like we might have to be a bit grumpy in our pluses and minuses. But BU managed to turn it around, so we get to be cheerful first today:

Pluses

Line juggling
We were admittedly skeptical at first about Quinn’s changes to the lines, but they worked well — at the very least, the changes helped “to wake up the whole team,” in the words of senior forward Ahti Oksanen.

Oksanen, after playing on the first line for most of the season, was bumped down to the left wing on the second line, alongside Lane and freshman forward Jordan Greenway.

“It’s nice having two big wingers like that, those guys protect the puck well, and they get me the puck,” Lane said. “Then Ahti being a shooter, it’s easy to find him, he’s gonna let it rip. He played well, and I’m happy to see him score.”

Sophomore forward A.J. Greer moved up to the first line, alongside freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and senior right wing Danny O’Regan. He recorded a secondary assist on O’Regan’s early goal.

Shots
BU recorded a season-high 51 shots on goal, behind six players who recorded four or more shots. Oksanen led the way (shocker) with eight shots, while Hickey and freshman center Bobo Carpenter had seven shots on goal apiece.

Improved power play
After going 1-for-13 on the power play in its past four games entering Saturday — and a night after Quinn called the PP unit “lazy” — BU had a much more impressive showing on the power-play unit.

“There was more urgency, we were shooting it, we looked like a power play,” Quinn said. “There was a heightened awareness…We, too often, go into power-play mode and think it’s going to be a beauty contest.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to get pucks to the net, you got to pass it quickly, you got to pay attention and you got to crash the net. There’s really no other way to go about it, so I thought we had a lot more simplicity to our power play tonight.

Just to clarify: there was a bit of confusion as to exactly how many power-play opportunities BU technically had. Because Vermont winger Brady Shaw was sent off with a game misconduct, after Hickey scored a power-play goal, the Terriers remained on the man advantage — thus, technically, giving BU a fifth power-play opportunity after that.

Then Fortunato scored the empty-netter on BU’s next man advantage. After Fortunato’s empty-netter, there was no faceoff, since the teams were already retreating to the locker room, but those remaining 0.3 seconds apparently technically counted as a new power play for BU, even though nobody touched the puck after Fortunato’s goal.

I just used “technically” a lot in that description, but…you get the idea. “2-for-6” is a bit deceiving. Regardless, it was a much improved showing from the Terriers.

Faceoffs
Carpenter won praise from Greer against Cornell University on Nov. 28, simply for the fact that “he wins draws.”

Well, we couldn’t help but give Carpenter a shoutout for that very fact. Today, he went 6-for-6 on faceoffs, but he currently leads the conference in faceoff percentage, with a .679 mark.

Forsbacka Karlsson went 14-5 on his draws, while Lane went 12-8. As a whole, BU won 38 of 60 faceoffs.

Strong finish to first half?
In the final home game of 2015, the Terriers were able to escape with a win. It’s the final time they’ll play at Agganis until Jan. 9.

After the game, Lane stressed the importance of BU concluding the first half of Hockey East play with a win.

“We definitely could not afford to drop two,” Lane said. “Unfortunately we got a split, and obviously you’d like to win both, but it’s nice to see our resiliency especially after losing a full game and being down the whole game to come back and get a win. So obviously for Hockey East standings and just finishing out the weekend, it’s nice to end on a win.”

Seniors
Quinn stressed the importance of the seniors’ leadership in this game. You can read more about that in Andrew’s sider.

Minuses

Turnovers
That part I mentioned earlier about thinking early on that we’d have to be grumpy in these pluses and minuses? Yeah, we’re at the grumpy point now.

Two goals today came for Vermont off of bad, bad, bad turnovers on BU’s part. The first was on the goal that allowed the Catamounts to take a 2-0 lead in the opening period, when sophomore defenseman John MacLeod gave up the puck to Vermont forward Mario Puskarich behind the net and Puskarich was able to convert.

Later in the third period, with the game tied 2-2, freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy mishandled a pass from Hickey right in front of BU’s net. He left the puck up for grabs directly in front of sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee, and Catamount forward Anthony Petruzzelli took full advantage of it.

Oksanen, a former defenseman himself, noted the slip-ups in the defensive zone.

“Our D-zone coverage has to be better,” Oksanen said. “Those goals scored today were kind of easy bounces we shouldn’t give up.”

Slow start
Yet again, BU fell to a 2-0 deficit early before having to put together the comeback it did. While the Terriers have been able to more or less come away with wins and ties this season, it’s certainly not a habit they want to keep falling into, as Lane noted.

“Yeah, we definitely would rather score the first goal of the game, obviously,” Lane said. “But definitely, we’ve got to start scoring the first goal, we’ve got to win first periods. That’ll help us in the long run, because parity in this league, and the difference in one-goal games is so small.”

100 Club?
After Lane scored the game-tying goal, it was announced that the goal counted for his 100th career point.

Agganis Arena erupted into an ovation, but soon thereafter, a correction was issued. It was actually Lane’s 50th career point.

Oops.

“Yeah, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t 100,” Lane said. “I wish.”

Pluses and Minuses: ‘Better team won’ in No. 11 Terriers’ loss to Vermont

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Junior forward Tommy Kelley. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Head coach David Quinn did not mince words in his press conference following the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s loss to the University of Vermont on Friday.

“Just really disappointed with our performance tonight,” he said.

The Terriers (7-5-3, 3-3-2 Hockey East) started the game strong, but were quickly “deflated” by a first-period injury to sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson and a power-play goal by the Catamounts (4-9-2, 3-4-2 Hockey East).

BU was unable to recover, according to Quinn, and was outplayed as Vermont came away with the 4-2 win.

“They skated faster, hit harder and were smarter,” he said. “That’s all it comes down to. I know a lot can go on out there, it can look like a busy game, it can look like a difficult game, but it really isn’t. When you skate, when you play through people, when you pass pucks to the people that are open, this game becomes easy and we did none of that tonight.”

Here’s what we thought looked good and bad in this edition of pluses and minuses.

Pluses

Tommy Kelley

Junior forward Tommy Kelley has now matched his game total from last year after playing in his fourth contest of the season on Friday night, only he has one more goal to show for it this time around.

Though the Terriers ended up losing to UVM, Kelley got BU on the board first 8:41 into the opening frame. He received a pass from sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato at the center point and let it rip. The puck whizzed through slot to the back of the net and beat netminder Mike Santaguida for his first goal since Dec. 6, 2013.

“It’s always nice to see a guy get his first goal of the season, his first goal in a while and I was happy for him,” Quinn said.

Kelley has played in three straight games for the Terriers now after impressing Quinn in BU’s 3-0 win over Bentley on Nov. 24.

Shameless plug: If BU fans need some feel-good reading after this game, I wrote a story in October about Kelley and his sister, Mary Grace, who plays for the women’s team at BU.

Neutral zone

This could BU

The Catamounts tote four former Terriers or former Terrier commits on their roster in defensemen Alexx Privitera and Ori Abramson and forwards Jarrid Privitera and Liam Coughlin, each of whom had at least a point in BU’s loss. To read more about their Friday night successes, read Sarah’s sider.

Minuses

Nikolas Olsson

In the middle of the first period, Olsson appeared to hurt himself after being involved in a hit by the Vermont bench. On his way back to the BU bench, though, he threw another hit before exiting down the tunnel with an obvious injury.

He did not return to action and instead sat with the healthy scratches for the rest of the game with his left arm in a sling.

Olsson had just returned to play for the Terriers on Saturday after missing four games with an upper-body injury. Friday was his second game back.

Power play

Though it had four opportunities with the man advantage, BU was unable to capitalize on any of its power-play chances on Friday, testing Santaguida six times. The Terriers are one for their last 13 on the power play dating back to their 4-2 loss to the No. 12 University of Michigan on Nov. 21.

“Just lazy,” Quinn said. “No one’s standing at the net, just no urgency, the basics of hockey. They’re talented players, but boy, you’ve got to play with a pace and you’ve got to have simplicity in the game and you can’t stick handle it all around. Pass a puck when you think someone’s going to score, but you’ve got to pass a puck when someone’s open. And we haven’t grasped that yet.”

Immaturity and lack of emotion

Though Quinn said he liked the first five or six minutes of BU’s game on Friday, the way his team responded to Vermont’s first goal as well as Olsson’s injury was “ridiculous” in the way it “never recovered.”

“I actually liked our first five minutes,” Quinn said. “I thought we were pretty good, had some chances and looked like we had life and then Olsson got hurt, and who knows what effect that has on us, and we give up the goal, and we weren’t mentally tough enough to kind of pull it together. I mean you could just feel the emotion on the bench just deflate us, and you can’t get deflated that easily.”

Quinn added that his team played with “complete lack of emotion” and failed to showcase any passion or enthusiasm, noting that “you’ve not no chance” when those things are missing from your game.

“We’re an immature team,” he said. “Not only are we young, we’re immature, and I’ve said that a few times this year, and that could be the case but hopefully they are quick learners and they learn their lesson in a hurry because that’s a good hockey team we just played and the better team won tonight.”