Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 Season Highlight Video

Yesterday I finally finished the season highlight video. I did this instead of a full year recap post, just something a little more exciting. Enjoy.

Songs:
Once, Pearl Jam
Sleeping Sickness, City And Colour

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Our Season Ended in Notre Dame"

Seniors Matt Lane and Mike Moran
were the last two head off the ice
yesterday after they played their final
game as a Terrier.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
As the sparsely populated crowd departed the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota last night, somewhere deep under the seats in the bottom of the building Dave Quinn was in tears. Captain Matt Grzelcyk, still in his uniform, was right next to him as they answered questions from the press. 

Grzelcyk and the rest of the senior class were sophomores when Quinn took over for longtime coach Jack Parker in October 2013.

"They mean so much to our program, they're incredible people," said Quinn following yesterday's 7-2 loss to Denver. "The great part about coaching college sports is you get to build friendships with your former players. Hopefully they like me enough to continue friendships moving forward - maybe if I pay for golf moving forward, they'll spend some time with me. It's a sad day for me personally.”

Unlike last year, this season seemed to have a very gradual end to it. Since the Beanpot final, BU never really found their game. They were one goal away from beating Boston College, a team that is currently packing their bags for Tampa. BU never played the same again.

They followed the Beanpot with a split against Lowell and three point weekend vs New Hampshire. Still, BU wasn't playing great hockey. UNH should have been a relatively easy sweep. Instead, BU struggled to score and barely held on in the second game of the series.

Then it was onto Notre Dame. BU won game one. They came out, played strong from the get go and scored first, eventually building a 3-1 lead in the third. Even though ND struck late, BU won their first game in South Bend… ever. Game two saw Sean Maguire stand on his head, making 27 saves and allowing only one goal. It was not enough. BU threw 39 shots at Cal Peterson, but could never find the back of the net. That killed BU.

"It seems like our season ended at Notre Dame," said Quinn. "I don't know what happened to us mentally. We were playing good hockey and we became a fragile group mentally. All of a sudden we're playing well and we go down 1-0, and we just never really recovered from that. It's certainly disappointing, to say the least."

He could not have been more right. After the loss and the way the league standings filtered out, BU finished as the fifth seed in the Hockey East Tournament. That meant they had to face last place UMass in the opening round at home, instead of having a bye to the quarterfinals.

A series that should have been a no problem, slam dunk turned into a major struggle. BU needed overtime in game one and really should have lost. Just prior to Bobo Carpenter scoring his second goal of the game in OT, UMass was on the power play. Sean Maguire made two huge saves to keep the game going. Unfortunately, that was his last great game as a Terrier.

He allowed four goals the following night and BU again had difficulties putting away a scrappy UMass club. Eventually, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored the go ahead goal midway through the third and that was enough to push BU past the Minutemen. They didn't play well at all, but because of the competition, it was enough.

That certainly was not the case in Lowell. Again, once Lowell got the lead in both games it felt like the game was over. Maguire was not sharp, but it was certainly not all on him. BU scored just two goals the entire weekend and completely no-showed in game two.

At least yesterday they came out fast. But once again, the second Denver got one the board, BU was sunk. The Terriers had no offense. They never were able to find that comeback magic they had at the start of the year. First semester, BU was always in a game, no matter how much time was left or what the score was. After the Beanpot, it seemed like once they were down a goal the game was out out reach.

Quinn added, "I wish I could explain how our season kind of unfolded here after that Notre Dame loss. We played well the second night at Notre Dame and it cost us a bye. We just never recovered from it. For a team that had battled back from a lot of adversity early in the year - we'd get down and we just kept battling back and we were mentally tough - somewhere along the way we lost that. It's too bad.”

It will be interesting (as always) to see who sticks around. Personally, I think the biggest flight risks for next year come from the backend. Doyle Somerby and Brandon Hickey could both be on their way to the NHL or at least the AHL. That being said, if Somerby stays he will more than likely be the captain for next year's squad. BU could potentially have five (5) first round picks on their roster next year.

To Danny, Ahti, Matt, Sean, Matt and Mike, if you are reading this A) thanks you for doing so, and B) it has been a pleasure to watch all of you over the past four years. Good luck, I wish you well.

I would also like to thank everyone who followed along this year. I will have one or two more posts, maybe a video to wrap up the year. Otherwise, see ya in October.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Disaster

Denver Runs Over BU, Terriers Season Ends

ST. PAUL - We should have seen this coming. Two weeks ago the team looked all out of sorts. Tonight, they might have been worse. Denver walked all over BU 7-2 and sent a Terrier team that could not get any aspect of their game in gear back to Boston, thoroughly beaten. Denver will play Ferris State tomorrow night in the Regional Final. 
A dejected group of Terriers head off the ice following the game
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
Denver hit the post on their second shot of the game. Despite that, BU had the early momentum with two power plays. Unfortunately they could not cash-in on either, but were out shooting DU 7-2 at one point. It was a steep and never ending decline from there. 

Coach Quinn said it pretty straight forward: "When you lose 7-2, you lost to a better team."

Denver first struck midway through the opening stanza on a rebound goal from Blake Hillman. Evan Janssen slipped a pass to Troy Terry, who fired in a shot from the far side wing. It hit perfectly off Sean Maguire's right pad, out into the slot and onto Hillman's stick. Hillman one touched the rebound into a wide open net. It was just Hillman's second goal of the year. 

"We came out with a lot of energy," said senior captain Matt Grzelcyk. "Then they got the first goal and it seemed like we had never faced adversity before. You could kind of see it coming. It just kind of snowballed on us."

The Pioneers doubled their lead with 2:20 left in the period. BU had a decent chance down in the Denver end, but the Pios transitioned well from defense to offenses and the rush went the other way. From behind the net, Danton Heinen worked the puck over to Dylan Gambrell in the low circle. Gambrell finished with a backhand roof job up over Maguire's left shoulder and in. 

To say Denver was the better team in the second period would be an incredible understatement. BU needed to come out with some jump, play with a spark. The did the exact opposite. Denver out attempted BU 20-9 and out scored them 3-0.

Denver scored 24 seconds into the period on a cary-over power play. Will Butcher wristed in a shot from the point, through a screen for his 7th goal of the year. 

"We always felt like we had a chance," mentioned Quinn. "We talked about getting back to basics, getting back to the way we played in the first 15 minutes. But then they got an early power play goal and it's always tough because you see the heads go down and we kind of lost belief right then and there."

Less than three minutes later, it was 4-0. Matt Marcinew burred a centering pass from below the goal line from Jarid Lukosevivi five hole on Maguire. 

Looking for a change in momentum, Quinn opted to pull Maguire in favor of Connor LaCouvee. Maguire made 9 stops on 13 shots. 

With Maguire out, Denver continued to pour it on. Evan Janssen tucked a breakaway attempt through LaCouvee's legs to make it 5-0 before the end of the second.

Butcher notched his second of the game 3:23 into the third on a five on three power play, before Danny O'Regan got on BU on the board at the 12:45 marker. 

Trevor Moore regained a six goal lead for Denver with a wraparound bid a little over a minute later. Finally, Mike Moran rounded out the scoring for BU with 15 seconds left. The senior forward looked to have tears in his eyes after scoring in his last shift as a Terrier. 


I'll have more up tomorrow to wrap up the year. Thanks to all who followed along this year. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Denver-BU Square Off In Opening Round Of NCAA's

The break is over. Now, let's just see how they come out of it.

As you know, BU did not make it past Lowell in the Hockey East Quarterfinals and thus did not play last weekend at the Garden. BU was off for the first time since the holiday break. That brings us to Saturday.
The Terriers will be headed west to St. Paul, Minnesota and play Denver in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This is the second straight year BU has qualified for the tournament and that's as far as I will go in reference to last year's appearance. It marks the first time since 2007 that BU has made the dance in two consecutive years. The Terriers were in the NCAA's from 2002-2007 with the exception of 2004.

BU and Denver have already met this year. That was back on Halloween at Agganis. BU was coming off their first two game losing streak since 2014 with back to back losses to UConn and Merrimack. Denver on the other hand, played Boston College the night before and lost by a goal.

The Terriers jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on a Ryan Cloonan goal just 1:58 in. A quick start will be critical for BU. Denver accumulates the majority of their offense from their top line and if BU can get up early, that line is going to be gassed. Easier said than done, as BU's offense has been almost non existent recently.

DU did find an impressive way to come back on BU in that Halloween tilt. With BU leading 4-2 entering the third, things were looking pretty good. That was until Denver out shot BU 18-5 and outscored them 2-0 to tie the game in the final frame. It was not to be for the Pioneers, though. Ahti Oksanen scored his second goal of the game just 21 seconds into overtime to give BU the win.

Fast forward to this weekend, both teams are in very similar spots. At the time, BU was ranked 8th in nation, Denver was 5. This weekend, BU is the 9 seed, DU the 6. Also, BU is on a two game losing streak.

“Maybe the break did us good,” said Quinn. “We’ve had some great practices; I love our attitude right now. One of the things we’ve talked about over the last 10 days is keep building on feeling good, and the best way to feel good is to work hard, and they’ve worked hard.”

As for the rest of the season, Denver lost only six games after coming to Boston in October. They went winless in December, with a pair of losses to North Dakota and St. Cloud. DU all but made up for that tough stretch by reeling off 11 wins in a row from January 30th to March 12th. In that span, they beat North Dakota twice, Colorado College twice, Western Michigan twice and Omaha four times… in a row. Last weekend, DU fell to St. Cloud 4-2 in the NCHC semis.

Speaking of St. Cloud, they will most likely be the team the winner of the BU-DU game faces. The Cloud plays Ferris State, who made an impressive run at the WCHA title, in the early game on Saturday.

Scouting The Pioneers
Like I said earlier, Denver is led by mostly one line. Freshman Dylan Grambrell leads the Pios in points with 43 (15g, 28a) in 38 games played. Right behind him is Trevor Moore and Danton Heinen. Heinon could potentially be on the Bruins third line next week if DU doesn't go to Tampa. He has a team high 19 goals and 22 assists for 42 points. Moore is the set up man on the line. He comes in with 33 assists and 9 goals for 42 points. Other players to watch: Will Butcher (scored vs BU last time, former US WJC Member), Quentin Shore and Troy Terry.

In goal, BU saw Tanner Jaillet back in October. On the year, he has a .925 save percentage and a 2.23 goals against average and three shutouts.

Common Opponents
Boston College
Denver 3, @ BC 4 (October 30)
BU 3 @ BC 5 (January 15)
BC 1, @ BU 1 (January 16)
BC 1, vs BU 0 (OT) (Beanpot Final)

Wisconsin
Wisco 1, @ BU 4 (October 17)
Denver 3, @ Wisco 3 (November 20)
Denver 6, @ Wisco 2 (November 21)

Notre Dame
BU 3, @ Notre Dame 2 (Febuary 26)
BU 0, @ Note Dame 1 (February 27)
ND 1, @ Denver 1 (January 1)
ND 2, @ Denver 2 (January 2)

History
BU and Denver have met four times in the NCAA tournament that dates back to 1948. The first meeting was in 1960. Denver won the third place game in that year's tournament. Until 1976, the field was just four teams in a one game playoff format. The teams met again in '66, with Denver winning again, 4-3. BU picked up their first win in playoff action vs the Pioneers in 1971. They won the opening round of the final four 4-2 against Denver, before beating Minnesota by the same score in the final. Finally, in 1997 the two teams met in the second round of the east regional in Worcester. BU won the game 4-3 in overtime off a Chris Drury goal. That sent BU to the frozen four in Milwaukee where they upset Michigan before losing to North Dakota in the championship game.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Catching Up

After getting bounced in rather ugly fashion from the Hockey East Tournament by Lowell two weekends ago, BU was idle last weekend. Luckily, that didn't kill their chances of getting into the NCAA tournament. However, it did have an impact on where BU was seeded in the field. A single win over the River Hawks, a Lowell loss to Providence in the HE semis, or one more win against anyone on the schedule would have kept BU in the East. It was not to be. 
My Seats from BU's game with Minnesota in the 2012
West Regional in St. Paul.
The Terriers and River Hawks tied in the final PWR, but Lowell had the RPI tiebreaker by .003 points. That's why BU was sent out West and will play Denver in St. Paul on Saturday at 6:00ET. 

BU and Denver played back on Halloween, with the Terriers winning 5-4 in overtime off an Ahti Oksanen goal. I will have a preview of that game and the rest of the regional on Thursday or Friday. St. Cloud, the NCHC league champion takes on Ferris State, who made a magical run to the WCHA title in the early game on Saturday. Game time, 1pm. 

I will be making the trip out to St. Paul to cover the games. I went out in 2012 when BU played Minnesota in the West Regional and I can't wait to go back. The Xcel Center is one of the nicest arenas I've ever been to.

Around Hockey East
Friday, League Semifinals: Lowell needed triple overtime and an outstanding goaltending performance by Kevin Boyle to take down Providence 2-1. The game winner did not come without some controversy. CJ Smith directed the puck into the net with his skate. The play was originally called no goal and then after a lengthy review, was overturned… Northeastern topped BC with a 5-4 win to advance to just their second championship game in program history. 

Saturday: Northeastern held off Lowell in the Hockey East Championship Game, winning their first title since 1988 with a 3-2 win. 

The Rest Off The NCAA
- For the second straight year, RIT beat Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey Conference Championship game, 7-4. 

- Michigan dropped Minnesota in the Big10 title game by a score of 5-3.

- Quinnipiac won their first ever ECAC league title after falling last year's champion Harvard, 4-1. 

- In the NCHC, St. Cloud State won just their second league championship in program history and their first in the National Conference with a 3-1 win over Minnesota Duluth. The Cloud won the 2001 WCHA crown.   

- Finally, Ferris State claimed their programs first ever league title with a  2-1 win over Minnesota State. The Bulldogs scored the eventual game winner on a penalty shot goal in the second period. 

Notre Dame To Leave Hockey East
According to multiple reports that came out this afternoon, Notre Dame is expected to leave Hockey East in 2018 and join the Big10. The Irish came to Hockey East two years ago when the (now defunct) CCHA dissolved. According to Mike McMahon of College Hockey News, Notre Dame will owe Hockey East a $250,000 exit fee. There has been plenty of speculation already as to whether Hockey East will add another team to get back to an even 12 teams. 

The one scenario that makes the most sense would be for Quinnipiac to join HE from the ECAC. In addition to that, Holy Cross/RIT could join the ECAC. That would leave Hockey East and the ECAC with 12 teams and AHC with 10.


Apparently, Arizona State is also close to choosing a league. With ND going to the Big10, ASU would give them an 8 team league. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Brakets, My Final Take

Ah yes, we finally know the field. All the games have been played. Now it is time to once again try and predict what the committee will do on Selection Sunday. Here's what I got:  

The Field
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud
3. North Dakota
4. Providence

5. Boston College
6. Denver
7. Michigan
8. Lowell

9. Boston University
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Notre Dame

13. Northeastern
14. Duluth
15. Ferris State
16. RIT

Every league in the NCAA must have one team in the field and that is determined by league title winners. So, Northeastern (HE), RIT (AHA), Ferris State (WCHA), Michigan (Big 10), St. Cloud (NCHC) and Quinnipiac (ECAC) get auto bids. The rest of the field is made up of at large bids based off the PWR. 

The field is then broken into four groups or the four regional with the goal of "bracket integrity", i.e 1vs16, 2vs15 and so on. There can not be inter-conference match-ups in the first round and hosts of regionals must be placed in their host city no matter what their ranking is. Holy Cross hosts in Worcester, Union in Albany, Minnesota in St. Paul and Miami in Cincinnati. Teams can also be moved to "boost attendance" (see Providence playing in Providence last year). 

Albany
1. Quinnipiac  vs 16. RIT
8. Lowell vs 9. Boston University

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Ferris State
7. Michigan vs 10. Yale

Cincinnati
3. North Dakota vs 14. Minnesota Duluth
6. Denver vs 11. Harvard

Worcester
4. Providence vs 13. Northeastern
5. Boston College vs 12. Notre Dame 

There are a slew of intra-conference match ups. First, all four teams in Worcester are from Hockey East. In addition to that, North Dakota and Duluth both come from the NCHC and BU and Lowell are stilled paired. BU can flip with Yale, Notre Dame and Harvard will switch and NU and Duluth can flip. Also for attendance, Michigan and Denver will probably be swapped.  

So what do we have?

Albany
1. Quinnipiac  vs 16. RIT
8. Lowell vs 10. Yale

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Ferris State
6. Denver vs 9. Boston University

Cincinnati
3. North Dakota vs 13. Northeastern
7. Michigan vs 12. Notre Dame

Worcester
4. Providence vs 14. Minnesota Duluth
5. Boston College vs 11. Harvard 
  

The real, actual bracket comes out tomorrow at 12noon. 

Brackets, One Day Away

Current PairWise 
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud
3. North Dakota
4. Providence
5. Boston College
6t. Denver
6t. Michigan 
8t. Lowell
8t. Boston University 
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Notre Dame
13. Minnesota Duluth
14. Northeastern
15. Cornell
16. Michigan Tech
17. Minnesota
19. Robert Morris 
21. Mankato
30. Ferris State
36. RIT

Every league in the NCAA must have one team in the field and we are down to championship Saturday across the country. Teams that 100% have to win their league title to get into the tournament include Minnesota, Robert Morris, RIT, Mankato and Ferris State. Mankato and Ferris state play in the WCHA championship and Robert Morris and RIT in Atlantic Hockey. Minnesota must beat Michigan in the Big 10 final, otherwise they are out. For this bracket, I will assume the team with the higher PWR rank has won their league title. 

The Field
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud
3. North Dakota
4. Providence

5. Boston College
6. Denver
7. Michigan 
8. Lowell

9. Boston University 
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Notre Dame

13. Minnesota Duluth
14. Northeastern
15. Robert Morris
16. Mankato

The field is then broken into four groups or the four regional with the goal of "bracket integrity", i.e 1vs16, 2vs15 and so on. There can not be inter-conference match-ups in the first round and hosts of regionals must be placed in their host city no matter what their ranking is. Holy Cross hosts in Worcester, Union in Albany, Minnesota in St. Paul and Miami in Cincinnati. Teams can also be moved to "boost attendance" (see Providence playing in Providence last year). 

Regionals 

Worcester
1. Quinnipiac vs 16. Mankato
8. Lowell vs 9. Boston University

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Robert Morris
7. Michigan vs 10. Yale

Cincinnati  
3. North Dakota vs 14. Northeastern
6. Denver vs 11. Harvard

Albany
4. Providence vs 13. Minnesota Duluth
4. Boston College vs 12. Notre Dame

There are two intra-conference match ups: BC-Notre Dame and BU-Lowell. In the BU-Lowell game, Lowell gets to stay because they are the higher seed. BU could go to St. Paul and flip with Yale. Notre Dame goes to Cincinnati and pushes Harvard to Albany. 

Now, how about attendance? Denver and Michigan is an easy flip and since there are so many teams that are close to Worcester in the Albany Regional, let's go ahead and just switch those two. 

Final Bracket

Albany 
1. Quinnipiac vs 16. Mankato
8. Lowell vs 10. Yale

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Robert Morris
6. Denver vs 9. Boston University

Cincinnati  
3. North Dakota vs 14. Northeastern
7. Michigan vs 12. Notre Dame

Worcester
4. Providence vs 13. Minnesota Duluth
4. Boston College vs 11. Harvard

A lot can change with just the results of tonight's games. For BU to get in the east, Harvard must win the ECAC title game vs Quinnipiac and Northeastern has to beat Lowell. 


Selection Sunday is tomorrow at 11:30. I'll have my final bracket up tonight after all the games.