Saturday, January 21, 2017

BU Sweeps Maine, Streak Goes To Eight

ORONO - In a game with much better pace and feel than last night, BU once again found the win column against Maine, in front of 5,125 at Alfond. Clayton Keller, Patrick Harper and Brandon Hickey all scored and Jake Oettinger made 26 saves in BU’s eighth straight win.

Brandon Hickey celebrates after making it 3-1 late in the
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
“It was a great weekend,” said Coach Quinn. “Anytime you can sweep in this league it’s a great accomplishment. I thought we started off the game well. I really liked our first period and I thought their guy [Rob McGovern] made some big saves. As the game went on we got a little sloppier.”

Both teams had bids go off the post, before Clayton Keller opening the scoring with 4:37 left in the first. While trying to breakout on the power play, Maine committed a horrendous turnover that left Keller all alone with the puck at the top of the slot. From in tight, the Coyotes’ first-round pick roofed a backhander past McGovern for his second goal of the weekend and third shortie of the year.

“It was a great play by Keller. He’s got great hand-eye and he’s done that a few times this year," said Quinn.

Maine certainly had their chances to tie it. In total, the Black Bears hit the post four times and twice in the second. The Maine PK was again stingy, allowing only one goal on seven BU power play attempts. BU even had a 5 on 3 late in the second and couldn’t cash in.

“We got really methodical and slow,” mentioned Quinn about the 5 on 3. “That’s a chance to really put the game away and we didn’t do it.”

Harper goal.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Prior to the two man advantage, Patrick Harper slammed home his eighth of the year on the power play. JFK made a strong cross-box pass to Harper on the near side and from the middle of the dot, Harper wired home a onetimer.

Harper would later leave the game and not return. The injury occurred during the 5 on 3 and it looked as if he got tangled up behind the net in a weird way.

Maine finally got on the board on a power play of their own as Blaine Byron found paydirt on a deflected shot of Dante Fabbro. The shot hit Fabbro in the foot, popped up in the air and fluttered in behind Oettinger. It was Byron’s second of the weekend.

Not long after, Brandon Hickey answered. Keller made a strong backdoor feed to the defenseman who joined the rush, and from the edge of the crease, Hickey deposited his fourth of the year.

Maine had a few good looks with McGovern pulled, hitting another post, but was not able to beat Oettinger again.

BU did not allow an even strength goal all weekend. In fact, you have to go back to Frozen Fenway and UMass’s third period strike to find the last even strength goal against.

The Terriers have a quick turnaround, as they head to Merrimack on Tuesday night.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Third Period Eruption Sends BU Past Maine

BU broke open a 1-1 game late in the third with three goals in a three minute span from Bobo Carpenter, Jordan Greenway and Nik Olsson to surge past Maine in front of a crowd of 4,888 at Agganis.

Nik Olsson Scores on a backhander in the third period to give
BU a 4-1 lead.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
While the third period may have been captivating, most of the game really wasn’t. BU carried most of the play, outshooting the Black Bears 41-14, but the game seemed closer. Maine almost scored less than thirty seconds in on a two on one, but Jake Oettinger said no to that. They had other chances like that, too.

“It certainly was not the prettiest first two periods,” said coach Quinn. “I thought we were lethargic and really weren’t sharp. We were too easy to defend, especially in the offensive zone and anytime we had it, they just took it away from us. We were fortunate to be tied 1-1 after two.”

Maine took a 1-0 lead on the power play with less the two minutes to play in the first. Blaine Byron got a tip on a Cam Brown shot and redirected it past Oettinger for his 11th goal of the year.

BU’s second period wasn’t really much better. They posted 11 shots and held Maine to only four, but they didn’t look sharp. The power play lacked cohesion and passes were not crisp.

Finally, Clayton Keller solved Maine goalie Rob McGovern with 1:32 left in the second. He was able to pick up a loose puck in the slot and pick the top corner on his backhand as McGovern sprawled to get back in position. It was Keller’s 9th of the year, with assists from Brandon Hickey and Bobo Carpenter.

The first half of third played out much like the first two periods. BU couldn’t cash in on a power play and they were still limiting Maine to single digit shots.

“They were a pretty aggressive team,” said Jordan Greenway. “We haven’t really seen a team come at us as aggressively as they did. It was kind of new to us. We weren’t moving the puck as quickly as we should have been. We didn’t get enough pucks to the net. Even myself. I don’t think I did a great job on the goal-line.”

Then the floodgates opened.

Bobo Carpenter slammed home a power play goal on a one-timer set up by Dante Fabbro and Chad Krys at 12:10. 1:50 later, it was Greenway’s turn to deposit a power play goal.

“They gave me a little more space,” commented Greenway on his 7th goal of the year. “I just took advantage of it and found a lane to the net. JFK was kind of in front screening the goalie, so I thought that if I found any kind of net, just put it there and the goalie wouldn’t be able to see it.”

Clearly, it worked. Greenway was able to rattle a shot off the inside crossbar on a perfectly placed bullet.

Just over a minute later, Nik Olsson really sealed things up. Ryan Cloonan made a strong cross-ice pass to Olsson on the near side that sprung him in behind the defense. From the top of the crease, Olsson made a nifty forehead-backhand move to undress McGovern for his third of the year.

Quinn also mentioned that BU played with more of an edge in the third. “I thought we really upped the ante in the third. We played with more passion. I thought we played with a physical side that we didn’t in the first two periods. Obviously, once we got one we started making plays and looking more confident with the puck.”

Maine coach Red Gendron wasn’t exactly pleased with his team’s effort to get pucks on net tonight. “You shoot the puck on the other team, you’re applying pressure. Ok? When you’re hanging onto it against the best defensive team in Hockey East you might be able to tick-tack-toe it on them, but probably not. When you get breakaways and two one ones, you might want to score there.”

Jake Oettinger only faced 14 shots tonight.

The two teams are back at it tomorrow night at the Alfond in Orono.

Weekend With The Black Bears

This weekend BU will be looking to continue their win streak with a home and home series with the Maine Black Bears. Tonight’s game is at Agganis, while Saturday night’s tilt is up in Orono. This scheduling certainly puts Maine behind the eight ball, as they essentially have to travel to play both games. BU will leave right after tonight’s game for the trip north.

Chase Phelps and Maine's Steven Swavely discuss a call
in BU's 5-2 win at the Alfond last winter.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Last year, BU swept a pair of games with Maine on the same calendar weekend. Up in Orono, BU scored a 5-2 win and a night later won 6-1 at home. The Terriers haven’t lost to Maine since January of 2014 in a rainstorm at Frozen Fenway, 7-3.

The Black Bears started the year off on a strong note, winning their first three games, including a 4-3 overtime win over Quinnipiac. They have since fallen on troubled times. It took Maine nearly a month’s time to find the win column again, and they come into this series with an 8-11-3 record. Last weekend, the Black Bears split a pair of games with Uconn, winning Saturday at Frozen Fenway 4-0. For anyone interested, that makes Maine 2-0-0 in Fenway games.

Scouting The Black Bears
Natick, Mass native Cam Brown sits atop the Maine scoring chart. In 20 games played, the senior forward has just four goals, but has posted 22 assists, far and away the most on the team. Fellow senior Blaine Byron and freshman Chase Pearson both pace the Black Bears in goals scored at 10 a piece. Other players to watch include Nolan Vesey, Mitchell Fossier and Patrick Shea.

In goal, three goalies have seen time. Rob McGovern has played the bulk of the minutes, coming into the weekend with a 7-7-3 record to go along with a .914 save percentage and a 2.80 goals against. Sophomore Matt Morris has a 1-4-0 record in six appearances with a .868svp and a 4.55 GAA. Freshman Stephen Mundinger has seen time in three games, but has no decisions to his record. BU saw both Morris and McGovern last year, with McGovern getting pulled in game two after giving up four goals on 22 shots.

BU Notes
- Jake Oettinger will be in net tonight.
- Shane Switzer was back on the ice at full speed at practice yesterday. He was recovering from a hit to the head in the Union game on January 5th.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lookback: Build A Wall

Player of the Week
Jake Oettinger, 2-0-0, 66 of 67 saves
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
BU is currently riding a six game win streak, the longest streak since Jack Eichel donned the scarlet and white back in 2015. This past weekend, the Terriers swept Boston College for the first time since 2002. Things are going pretty well on Comm Ave right now, but before anyone gets too ahead of themselves, a quick look at the league standings shows BU is still three points behind the Eagles for first place. Granted, BU has two games in hand on BC, but the race is not even close to over yet.

The Terriers needed a standout performance in net by Jake Oettinger to stymie a BC offense that was scoring at a 3.39 goals per-game clip coming into the weekend. Oettinger allowed one goal all weekend, a brilliant power play set up by Casey Fitzgerald to Colin White backdoor on Friday night. In total the Lakeville, Minnesota native, stopped 66 of 67 shots in two games and was named NCAA Hockey's first star of the week.

Oettinger’s most impressive period was easily the third frame of Friday night’s game. BU was heavily outplayed, but Oettinger stood tall and turned aside all twelve shots he faced in that period to preserve a 2-1 win.

“I think it's big for a goalie to have calm body language,” said Oettinger after Monday night’s 3-0 shutout. “It helps the whole team in front of me. Just being a rock back there for those guys helps them. They just did a really good job in front of me tonight.”

Special Teams
The Terriers were perfect on the man advantage Monday night, scoring all three goals with an Eagle in the box. BU also killed six of seven penalties on the weekend and currently sits second in the nation on the PK at 89.92%, just a few percentage points behind Bemidji, at 90.29%.

“Special teams were huge. Obviously, we kept them off the scoreboard on our penalty kill and our power play gets a huge goal at the key time," mentioned Quinn on Monday.

At the Polls
Prior to Monday’s game, BU jumped from fifth to third in the USCHO poll. For the first time in their short college hockey history, Penn State was ranked number one. Denver was second and Duluth and Lowell rounded out the top five in that respective order.

Hockey East Scoreboard

Northeastern 3, at New Hampshire 5
Miane 3, at UConn 6

Notre Dame 2, at Merrimack 1
Vermont 4, at Providence 3
Boston College 1, at Boston University 2

Maine 4, vs UConn 0 (Frozen Fenway)
New Hampshire 2, vs Northeastern 2 (OT) (Frozen Fenway)
Vermont 1, at Providence 4
Notre Dame 2, at Merrimack 4
Lowell 2, at UMass 1 (Non League Game)

Boston University 3, at Boston College 0.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oettinger Blanks BC, Terriers Sweep Eagles

For the first time in 16 years, BU swept a weekend series with their rivals down the B-Line on the back of Jake Oettinger’s stellar 34 save shutout and goals from Pat Curry, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter.

“That was a great win,” said coach Quinn. “It felt like playoff hockey out there tonight. There wasn’t a lot of easy ice, two teams competing hard.”

Oettinger turned aside 14 shots in a first period in which BU did not really generate a tremendous amount of offense. BC nearly took the lead in the dying minutes of the opening frame. It was a backdoor setup to Colin White, but the Hanover native didn’t get all that he wanted on a one-time bid and Oettinger slid over to make the save. Oettinger would later call this his toughest save.
The save described in the paragraph above.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
“That goes to show you how good our defense was tonight,” said Oettinger. “We didn’t give up any grade-A chances and that’s a testament to our D-core and our forwards. They made my job easy and I was there when they needed me to be.”

BC goalie Joe Woll, was equally impressive, making 29 saves in the 3-0 loss.

Pat Curry finally found the back of the net to open the scoring 7:26 into the second on the tail end of a Colin White slashing penalty. Curry picked up a loose puck close to the blue line before curling back into the slot and releasing a high wrister labeled for the far corner. It was a perfectly placed shot through a screen that Woll may not have gotten the best look at.

Curry celebrates after scoring his
third goal of the season and
eventual game winner.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
“Pat’s had a great year for us,” added Quinn. “In a class that has got a lot of attention, he didn’t and he’s been a very, very important part of our team. That was a heck of a shot, a quick release through a screen, you could see it from the bench, we had a great angle at it and Woll just didn’t see it.”

Getting the first goal was a huge key for BU and they were able to control most of the play in the second period, outshooting the Eagles 11-6.

In the third, BC had some dominant stretches and dumped 14 more shots on Oettinger. They utilized a tough forecheck that hemmed BU in and made breakouts an adventure at some points.

Unlike Friday night, though, BU slammed the door shut with a little help from BC’s Michael Kim and Colin White, who both took penalties with under three minutes to play. JFK deposited a power play goal on a five on three at the side of the net. Clayton Keller again used his patient style of walking into the slot to draw a defender out the passing lane to set up JFK back door. It was Karlsson’s team-leading 10th goal of the year and came with just 57 seconds left.

Bobo Carpenter added an empty net goal to seal the deal with 14 seconds left.

The shutout marks just the second blanking by a BU goalie vs BC since 1983. The other? Kieran Millan in November 2011, a 5-0 win at the Heights.

BU is back at it next weekend with the lovely home and home series with Maine.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Terriers Hang On, Take Game One From BC

John MacLoud lays a body on a BC
 forward in the third period. Tonight was
 one of his best games in a
Terrier uniform.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
In one of the more physical BU-BC games in recent memory, BU was able to hang on and cling to a 2-1 win at Agannis against their cross-town rivals. It was the first time since November 2012 that BU defeated BC at home and the first time since Dave Quinn took over as Terrier head coach.

After a scoreless first period that saw BU control most of the play and outshot the Eagles 15-11, the Terriers found pay dirt 3:47 into the second. It was Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson getting a tip on a Dante Fabbro point shot, redirecting it past BC goalie Joe Woll to give the Terriers the lead.

It didn’t last long. Patrick Curry was called for tripping and BC made quick work on their power play. Colin White was set up beautifully back door for a tap-in goal off of passes by Casey Fitzgerald and Matty Gaudreau. It was White’s first goal for the Eagles since the WJC, and it came less than two minutes after JFK’s opening strike.

1:55 after White’s goal, it was his WJC teammate Clayton Keller who found the back of the net for the eventual game winner. Jordan Greenway made a great hustle play to win a footrace to a loose puck behind the net. From there, Greenway used his size to create separation before dishing off a centering pass to Keller out in front. From the edge of the crease, Keller shovled home a shot past Woll for his eighth of the year.

“Greener made a great play down low and found me out front,” said Clayton Keller after the game. “I have to give a lot of credit to him, it was definitely cool to score there.”

Coach Quinn also added, “I don’t think what gets enough attention is what a great playmaker he [Greenway] is. He’s a guy who makes other players around him better. That was a heck of a play.”

BU celebrates after JFK's goal in the second period.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
BU was able to kill off two more penalties and took the one goal lead into the third period.

Boston College dominated the third period. Jake Oettinger stopped all 12 shots he saw, but that's not even the whole story. BC out attempted BU 30-11 in the final period and for good stretches of the play, the ice was completely tilted to the BU defensive zone. It took a strong shift from the fourth line to finally break up the BC attack and BU clung to a one goal lead as the clock finally bled out.

“It was a really good win against a really good team,” said Quinn. “I thought we had a real good first period, the second period I thought was even. I didn’t love our third. They started taking it to us and I thought we were a bit tentative. We sat back and that wasn’t our plan. We gave them too much time and space. When you do that against a really good team, you’re going to spend a lot of time in your own end.”

Oettinger finished with 32 saves, while Woll turned aside 31.

BU and BC will have the weekend off before picking up again Monday night at Conte over in Chestnut Hill.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

BC Week

It is that time of year once again… It’s BC week. Yes, there is a weird scheduling quirkwith the games being a Friday/Monday split. Yes it’s over winter break, at least for BU. And yes, there is a Patriots playoff game on Saturday night, but hey at least the league had the presence of mind to not schedule a game that conflicts with the Pats.
From The Vault
Former BU captain Wade Megan works a power play against
the Eagles in a 4-2 BU win on November 30th, 2012
(Photo by Matt Dresens)

Overall it’s still dumb scheduling by the league to have their marquee matchup take place over winter break, but whatever. We’ll deal with it. Apparently it’s changing next year.

Finally the two teams will meet again for the first time since the epic Beanpot final that saw BC win 1-0 in overtime last February. A lot has changed for both teams since then. For one, BC lost seven players to the NHL in the offseason. Most thought this would be crippling for the Eagles, but the perennial Hockey East power is currently in a comfortable four-point lead over Lowell for first in the league with 19 points.

While Boston College may be racking up the league points, the currently sit 12th in the PairWise with a 14-7-2 record. BU is in a tie for fourth with Duluth. BC has struggled against better competition. On the year, the Eagles are just 2-5-0 against ranked teams.

The wins… At Denver in the Icebreaker consolation game 3-1 (very good win), and at home against Providence in the last weekend of October. At the time, Denver was ranked third (and are now number one), and PC was 14 and has since fallen out of the rankings.

The Eagles lost at Harvard 5-2 in the middle of November. Harvard was ranked 11th at the time. Two weeks later, BC was doubled up by Minnesota 4-2 and the Gophers were also ranked 11th. Moving to a showdown at Madison Square Garden against number ninth ranked North Dakota: loss 4-3. Then we get to a matchup with 14th ranked Notre Dame on December 10th, a 4-3 loss before rounding out with a 3-1 loss to Quinnipiac in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburg on December 29th.

For comparison, BU is 5-4-0 against teams ranked in the top 20.

All of this isn’t to say BC isn’t a good team. They are. Jerry York gets his team to play well in these games. The players know how to play in big games. Look no further than Colin White, Casey Fitzgerald, and Joe Woll, who all played an intricate part on the USA WJC team that won gold. This weekend will be a battle, as it always is against BC.

Scouting the Eagles

It is a bit surprising to see Matthew Gaudreau atop the BC scoring sheet. The senior forward has already surpassed his single season career high of 21 points in just over half the games played. In his first two seasons at BC, Gaudreau notched just seven points, before recording 21 last year. So far this season, he has 22 on six goals and sixteen assists. Chris Brown is second on the team with eighteen points, by way of six goals and twelve assist. Colin White, who has played five less game than Gaudreau and Brown is third with seventeen points. White is far and away the team's leading goal scorer with 10. White did miss BC’s Frozen Fenway game against Providence last weekend due to a sickness. Other Players to watch include senior Ryan Fitzgerald, who has a knack for killing BU, David Cotton and Michael Kim.

In goal, Joseph Woll has been excellent. He holds an 11-6-1 record in eighteen appearances with a 2.43 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Woll plays with a aggressive style and is very quick post to post. So far, I have been far more impressed with Woll as a freshman than Thatcher Demko in his first year.

BU Notes.

Tommy Kelley was suspended one game for a play in the UMass Frozen Fenway game. He will be out Friday night. I would except Oskar Andrén to get the nod in his place.