Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Lookback: Defense Comes Up Strong

This past weekend, BU posted back to back shutouts for the first time since March 2013. While Jake Oettinger was perfect in net, Coach Quinn gave most of the praise to his team’s defense.
Jordan Greenway was named Hockey East Player of the
Week. He posted 5 points, 2 goals and 3 assists in the
two games this past weekend, Jake Oettinger was also
named Hockey East Rockey of the Week.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
I would not disagree with him. While I saw very little of the Sacred Heart game, Oettinger was only really tested once in the Quinnipiac game. It was a bang-bang place off a centering feed from the corner. Oettinger was well positioned and got a piece of the shot with his glove. It was easily his best stop of the night.
The BU defense was stingy, to say the least. A week ago in Denver, they allowed only 12 more shots, but the difference was where those shots were coming from. The Terriers made Quinnipiac take long range shots and blocked out the front of the net, allowing Oettinger to easily see the puck.

BU also blocked a season high 26 shots on Saturday night. So, even when QU was able to get shots off, not only were they from a long range out, but most of the time they never even got through to Oettinger.

“We have really come a long way in three weeks defensively. We have done a nice job protecting the net front. Jake [Oettinger] played really well tonight [Saturday], but for a team that had to kill twelve penalties, he didn’t have to make a lot of great saves. Boy, did we do a good job in front of him,” added Coach Quinn.
Yeah, about those penalties… It was once again a penalty-filled weekend. I’ll skip past the penalties on Friday night because I wasn’t there, but from what I have heard/read there were a lot of little scrums.
Saturday was an awfully chippy game, something that is probably expected between two top ranked teams, but only to a certain point. There was a scrum in the first period that went to video review for a solid 10 minutes to sort out who exactly did what. Also, this notion of “taking back to the rulebook” as USCHO put it is going to take some time to sort itself out.

“I know what the mandate is, but I think the referees and the players all are continuing to figure out what a penalty is. Nobody wants to see that [in reference to 19 power plays between the two teams]. The game was ruined. I’m not blaming the officials, the players need to adapt to the system and standard, but also the referees do too. It’s going to take little bit of time and all we can do is work on what we can control and not take dumb penalties,” said Quinn following the Quinnipiac game.

All of that is well and good, but I’m just waiting for the third period of the Beanpot Final (for example, insert any big game here) where basically the only penalty called is murder. If the referees are consistent, that’s all you can ask for. Just don’t have a “mandate and a standard” for the regular season and bury the whistles when the games start to mean a whole lot more.

At The Polls
BU slid up four slots in the USCHO rankings from 8th to 4th. North Dakota was, for the second week in a row, unanimously atop the rankings. They received all 50 first place votes. Minnesota Duluth was second, Denver third and Lowell closed out the top five. Hockey East had a total of six teams in the top 20.

Hockey East Scoreboard

UConn 2, at Quinnipiac 5

Colorado College 1, at Boston College 4
Arizona State 2, at Northeastern 5
Army 2, at UMass 3
Clarkson 3, at Providence 3
American International 2, at UConn 2
St. Lawrence 2, at Lowell 5
Colgate 3, at Merrimack 4
Maine 3, at Miami 3
Penn State 3, at Notre Dame 3
Vermont 4, at Nebraska-Omaha 4
Sacred Heart 0, at BU 7.

Arizona State 1, at Northeastern 6
Clarkson 4, at Lowell 3
Colorado College 4, at New Hampshire 3
Boston College 6, at Holy Cross 1
Colgate 2, at Merrimack 5
Maine 0, at Miami 5
Penn State 3, at Notre Dame 2 (OT)
St. Lawrence, 3 at Providence 6
Vermont 5, at Nebraska-Omaha 2
Quinnipiac 0, at BU 3

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Penalty Kill Powers BU Past Quinnipiac

Jake Oettinger needed just 46
saves to shutout both Sacred
Heart and Quinnipiac
this weekend.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Jake Oettinger posted his second shutout in as many nights, turning aside 22 shots as Jordan Greenway, Bobo Carpenter and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson provided the offense in BU’s 3-0 win over Quinnipiac in front of 5,555 at Aggains Arena, tonight.

Penalties were once again the main focus. The teams combined to have 19 power plays, yet neither team found the back of the net on the man advantage.

Despite all the power play time for the Bobcats and numerous extended five on three three opportunities, BU’s defense held QU to very few grade A chances.

Logan Smith offered the one point blank bid that Oettinger did have to stand tall on. A centering pass from the corner found Smith all alone in the low slot for a bang-bang play. Smith got good wood on the shot, but Oettinger fought it off with his glove to preserve the shutout. It was the first back-to-back shutouts for BU since March of 2013, when Sean Maguire blanked Merrimack and Northeastern in a row.

Jordan Greenway got BU on the board 6:11 into the first period. JFK made a strong move to cut to the middle, before dishing a pass to Greenway in the slot. From there, Greenway got off a quick backhand shot that beat QU goalie Andre Shortridge blockers side. It was his third goal of the season.

Bobo Carpenter doubled the lead in the second on a two on one rush with Patrick Harper. Harper made a very patient play, drawing the lone defender towards him, before slipping a pass over to Carpenter on the near side. Carpenter was all alone and had nothing but net to shoot at.

JFK added a shorthanded empty net goal to seal the deal with less than a minute left.

It was a particularly scrappy game from both teams, but that is expected with two highly competitive programs.

BU’s penalty kill was outstanding. They limited QU to the parameter and when the Bobcats were able to get shots off BU blocked a good chunk of them. Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold described it as “eating pucks.” BU blocked a season-high 26 shots. Doyle Somerby lead the team with four.

Coach Quinn said “our effort never stopped and there were a lot of obstacles tonight. We faced three five on threes and a lot of those obstacles we planted ourselves, but we really gutted this win out.”

BU will have next weekend off before facing Northeastern in a home and home the following weekend.

QU Comes To Town

Former Terrier Kevin Duane, who
transferred to Quinnipiac last season
will make his first appearance back at
Agganis since 2014, tonight.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
After blanking Sacred Heart 7-0 last night in their home opener, BU has a quick turnaround as they host Quinnipiac in just the second meeting all-time between the two schools.

Last year, BU handed Qpac their first and only loss of the first semester with a 4-1 win in Hamden. Quinnipiac made it all the way to the National Title Game a year ago, but lost 5-1 to North Dakota in the championship game. While this year’s squad doesn’t return everyone from their playoff run last year, It will still be a solid test for the Terriers tonight.

So far this year, QU is 3-1-1. They opened the season with a three point weekend against Northeastern, before splitting with Maine in Orono in two overtime games. This past Wednesday they dropped UConn 5-2 at home. In a weird scheduling quirk for the Bobcats, their first seven games of the 2017 season are all against Hockey East teams.

Scouting the Bobcats
Travis St. Denis and Sam Anas, along with goaltender Michael Garteig are QU’s main departures from last year. Anas, despite playing through a devastating shoulder injury for most of the season, racked up 50 points, including a goal against BU. Garteig was a wall in net posting a .924 save percentage and picking up 32 wins.

This year, Tim Clifton will be looked upon to try and pick up some of the slack. Last year, he finished with 43 points and so far has found the back of the net three times this year. Andrew Taverner has also potted three goals and has added two assists. The two have five points each in five games played.

Replacing Garteig between the pipes is Senior Chris Truehl. In four games played, he has a .920 save percentage to go along with a 2.43 goals against.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sacred Heart Preview

Tonight, BU opens their home schedule as they face Sacred Heart for the first time in program history.

Sacred Heart is usually found at the bottom of the Atlantic Hockey standings, but have made strides this past year. They used to be sentenced to the very unfriendly and dreary confines of the Milford Ice Plex as their home barn. It was less than ideal rink for a Division 1 school and barely acceptable for high school games. Finally this year, the Pioneers moved to a first class AHL stadium in Bridgeport.

As for their current record, SHU is 1-2-1 on the year. They opened their season with a 4-0 loss to Army, but then rebounded to drop Merrimack 2-1 in North Andover. Last weekend, Sacred Heart again lost to Army 3-0 and then tied Union 4-4 at home.

Scouting the Pioneers
Evan Jasper and Justin Danforth are the early front runners in offensive production for the Pioneers. They both have three points, with Jasper leading the team in goals scored with two.

In goal, senior Brett Magnus has played all four games and has posted a 2.49 goals against with a .910 save percentage.

BU Notes
Coach Quinn said earlier this week that junior Chase Phelps will be available this week. There was no indication whether he would actually crack the lineup.

Assistant SHU coach Scott Mcdougall on average age of college hockey players, "Our goal is to beat Boston University... We hope our 24 year olds can beat their 18 year olds."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Denver Lookback

Kieffer Bellows scored his
first collegiate goal on
Saturday night as BU lost
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
It’s been a busy week over here at the blog headquarters, so I’ll keep the revision of last weekend to a minimum.

BU lost not one, but two games at Denver and really did not look good doing it. There were moments where their pure skill was on display, but other times their inexperience showed.

Penalties were again a big issue. Denver had 14 power plays in two games, but only scored twice on the man advantage. While at the end of the day that doesn’t look horrible, penalty killing obviously takes a lot out of a team.

The other negative was the goaltending. I'm not one to sit here and blame everything on goalies. Far from it… but Jake Oettinger can’t give up the goals like the first one he allowed in game two. A bad angle shot from far out that went up over his shoulder is inexcusable, especially in that type of low scoring game. Granted, Kieffer Bellows scored off an equally horrendous angle later in the game to tie it. The goaltending needs to be more solid than it was.

Oettinger, like the other eight freshmen are going to take time to adjust to the college game. I think especially for Oettinger, who is just 17, it might take a little longer. It is certainly a lot to ask of a 17-year-old freshman to step in and take over the starting job in net.

Look, not all the kids are going to be Jack Eichel. I don’t care how high and how many first round picks the team has, it's going to take time to adjust. Look how dominant Colin Wilson was in the second half of his freshman year. It took him time. He developed and became an absolute force in college hockey. Put the panic button away, people. It’s a work in progress that ends in April, not the second weekend in October.

Ok, enough with the negative…

While it may take some time for the kids to fully adapt to college hockey, they certainly have some skill. There is no denying that. BU’s first goal of the weekend was an absolute thing of beauty. Patrick Harper made a strong push up the far side, before posting up at the hash marks along the boards. From there, he dumped off a pass that was a bit behind JFK. The Swedish forward made a nifty move to corral the puck behind him, drag it through his legs and then slide a pass through the crease to Brandon Hickey on the near side. Hickey one-timed the pass into the back of the net to cap off a spectacular power play goal.

Later in the game, Clayton Keller put on full display why he was drafted 7th overall with an impressive shorthanded goal. Denver attempted a centering pass from below the goal-line that was deflected past it’s intended target and hopped over Will Butcher’s stick in the slot. Keller, who was a good three strides behind Butcher in the BU zone, caught and passed the Denver captain before the redline. In full stride, Keller was able to pick up the loose puck, stay on his feet as Butcher made one last-ditch effort to catch him by diving and almost tripping him before he broke in free. Once in alone, Keller made quick work of Denver goalie Tenner Jaillet with a swift backhanded five-hole finish.

Overall, I think the weekend has the potential to be a learning experience for the team. They now know they can’t just show up and expect to win. This team will get better. They have too much talent not to.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Denver Bends But Doesn't Break, Holds Off Terrier Comeback

Jordan Greenway scored his first goal of
the 2017 season in the third period.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
In their first real test of the year, BU struggled to stay out of the box and saw Denver take a 3-0 midway through the second before clawing back, only to fall 4-3 in the Mile High City.

Penalties were a major problem for the Terriers in this one. Denver had seven power play opportunities, including four in the first period. It was a tough way start the game for the Terriers and on their third power play chance of the opening frame, Denver finally made BU pay.

Matt Marcinew ripped home his first of the year from the point with less than three minutes left in period one. Denver then scored two goals in 42 seconds to open up a 3-0 lead 4:44 into the second period.

First, Troy Terry potted his first goal of the season off a feed from Michael Davies that beat Jake Oettinger (31 saves) short side. Not long after, Evan Janssen banged home his first of two on the night to extend the Pioneers' lead.

Brandon Hickey got BU on the board with a power-play goal of his own just under halfway through the frame. The puck came to him at the near side circle and he was able to wire a shot past Taner Jailet (23 saves) to get BU back in the game. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Patrick Harper picked up assists on the play.

Minutes later, Jansson let go a quick wrister from the far side dot off a nice passing play by Tyson McLellan and Logan O’Connor that beat Oettinger upstairs to make it 4-1.

At this point in the night, my viewing experience came to a crashing halt, as T’s Pub transformed into a dance nightclub and the game was shut off. This was all despite the fact there were seven people (my two friends and I and four guys at the bar) in the entire place, who were less than interested in the blaring hip hop music and were not about to hit the dance floor.

Anway, as I flipped over to the Hockey East Scoreboard page, I noticed Jordan Greenway scored 2:47 into the third to make it a one-goal game. After I saw that he scored, I pulled up the BU radio call on my phone (what a time to be alive!) and was able to hear Clayton Keller make it a one-goal game on a shorthanded breakaway goal.

That was as close as BU would get.

The two teams will wrap up the series tomorrow night. Game Time 9:00est.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Weekend With The Pioneers

This weekend, BU embarks on a two game trip to the Rocky Mountains to face the Denver Pioneers, the team that ended BU’s season in the West Regional in St. Paul last year.
From The Vault
Matt Lane rips off a shot in the second period of last year's
West Regional meeting between the Terriers and Pioneers
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
The Pioneers stumbled out of the gate last weekend in the Icebreaker Invitational. As tournament hosts, Denver lost both games and finished fourth. On opening night, DU lost 3-2 to Ohio State and then fell 3-1 to Boston College in the consolation game.

To add injury to insult, the Pioneers lost one of their top players in the process. Dylan Gambell suffered an upper body injury during the Icebreaker and will miss four to six weeks. Gambrell was second on the team in scoring as a freshman a year ago, posting 47 points, including a goal and an assist vs in two games against BU.

Scouting The Pioneers
Denver was ranked 3rd in the pre season USCHO poll and have since slipped to 10th. Denver lost two huge components to their team from 2016 that made it to the Frozen Four in Tampa. Danton Heinen (now with the Bruins) and Trevor Moore racked up a combined 92 points last year.

The good news for Denver is that Will Butcher returned for his senior year. Butcher, a 5th round pick by Colorado in 2013 posted 9 goals and 23 assists from the point in 2016. He scored once last weekend as well. In last year’s meeting at Agganis, Butcher notched a goal and two assist in a 6-5 overtime loss. Butcher’s first of two goals in the NCAA tournament last March against the Terriers proved to be the game winner.

Other players to watch include Troy Terry, Henrik Borgstöm and Liam Finlay.

In goal, BU will probably see both Evan Cowley and Tanner Jaillet. The two split the Icebreaker games already this season. Last year, Jaillet went 17-5-5 with a 2.27 goals against and a .922 save percentage. He did allow 3 goals on 18 shots to BU last Halloween and was yanked after 27:09 of action. Cowley was 8-5-1 in 2016 with a .929svp and a 2.07GAA.

BU Notes.
Coach Quinn said earlier this week that both Ryan Cloonan and Chase Phelps “are available” this weekend.