Monday, March 26, 2012

Chiasson Signs With Dallas

Alex Chiasson from his freshman
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Two days after BU's season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament, Junior standout Alex Chiasson decided to forgo his senior season at BU. Today, ESPN Dallas is reporting that Chiasson and the Stars have agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract. In the statement from ESPN Dallas, Chiasson will spend the remainder of the season with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL Dallas Stars.

Chiasson, a native of St. Augustin Quebec, came to BU in the in the fall of 2009 and made an immediate impact. In his first game as a Terrier, he scored two goals in a 3-2 loss at UMass on opening day of the 2010 season. In 108 games played at Boston University, Chiasson racked up 36 goals, 63 assists for a total of 99 points. This season he set a career high in all three statistical categories, posting a 15-31-46 line in 2012.

Alex was a second round draft pick (38th overall) by the Stars back in 2009, and according to some accounts, he is the highest ranked prospect in the Dallas organization.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Minnesota Ends BU's Season In St. Paul

And now it's time to sit down and present you with the last game recap of the season. Tonight, Minnesota topped BU 7-3 in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament, eliminating the Terriers and ending their season.

The game was much closer than the final score shows. UofM scored two empty net goals after going up 5-3 midway through the third.

Minnesota ran circles around the Terriers in the first. The Gophers dominated the opening minutes of the game and broke the scoring 5:55 into the first. Kyle Rau got credit for the power play goal, but it was really BU's Adam Clendening who put the puck in the net. The puck was loose in the crease and

Matt Nieto threads a pass through Minnesota's Seth
Helgenson in the third period.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Clendening tried to swat it out of harms way, but instead put it in the Terrier goal.
UofM continued to dominated the pace of play until the final minutes of the frame. That's when BU started to bring some pressure. Their best chance was on a power play with Sahir Gill left alone in front.

Gill tried to put a backhander past Minnesota goal Kent Patterson, but he was stopped.
BU got on the board at the 7:49 mark of the second period on the power play. A Clendening one timer, set up by Alex Chiasson drilled the post. That created a rebound in the crease, where Wade Megan was able to bang home his 20th goal of the season.

Less than two minutes later, Minnesota's Jake Parenteau regained the lead for the Gophers. Parenteau beat Kieran Millan high for just his second goal of the year.

Four minutes later, Ross Gaudet capitalized on a fluky turnover in the low slot. A Minnesota skater turned the puck over as he was coming through the goal mouth. Gaudet was right there as he turned it over and wasted no time, as he beat Patterson upstairs to tie the game at 2-2. It was Gaudet's 5th goal of the season.
A little over two minutes later, Seth Helgeson ripped another high shot past Millan. It was his fifth goal of the year from Zach Budish and Kyle Rau at 15:09 to again give Minnesota the lead.

Later in the period, BU really shot themselves in the foot. Justin Courtnall was called for a five minute contact to the head roughing penalty. No more than 30 seconds into the all you can eat power play, Jake Hansen tipped Nate Schmidt's shot through Millan's five hole to give the Gophers a 4-2 lead headed to the third. This would be the only goal Minnesota would score on the Courtnall major. The two Gopher goals came 20 seconds apart.

Less than four minutes into the third, the Terriers cut the lead to one on the power play. Clendening beat Patterson with a high wrister from the point. It was Clendening's fourth goal of the season. The assists went to to Garrett Noonan and Chiasson.

This would be as close as BU would get to coming back. Despite some good chances for BU, Nico Sacchetti potted an unassisted goal on a strong drive to the net before tucking the puck into the net. This put UofM up 5-3 midway through the third and took all the life out of the Terriers.
Minnesota would tack on two empty net goals to salt the game away.

So, BUs season ends with a 23-15-1 record in the West Regional.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Picks for the NCAA Tournament

West Regional
North Dakota 5, Western Michigan 3
Boston University 3, Minnesota 2 (ot)

Regional Final:
North Dakota 3, BU 1

East Regional
Miami 6, Lowell 2
Michigan State 4, Union 2

Regional Final
Miami 3, Michigan State 1

Midwest Regional
Cornell 2, Michigan 1
Denver 4, Ferris State 1

Regional Final
Denver 2, Cornell 1

Northeast Regional
Boston College 5, Air Force 2
Minnesota Duluth 4, Maine 3

Regional Final
Minnesota Duluth 4, Boson College 3 (ot)

Frozen Four
North Dakota 5, Minnesota Duluth 3
Miami 3, Denver 2 (ot)

National Championship Game
North Dakota 3, Miami 1

National Champion
North Dakota  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

BU-Minnesota Preview, NCAA Round One

The waiting is over! Two years have passed since the Terriers last appeared in the NCAA tournament. That year was 2009; the year BU went 31-6-4 on their way to the program's fifth National Championship. 2010 was the year of the "championship hangover" and last year, the wheels fell off after the team had the best start to a season in over a decade, going 6-0-6 to open the schedule. 

From The Vault
BU's last NCAA Tournament Game was against Miami of Ohio
in the 2009 National Championship game in Washington DC.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Despite losing three key members of the squad this season, BU is finally back in the NCAA tournament -The first time in the blog's history.

BU and the three other schools in the West Regional have by far the toughest road to the Frozen Four. BU will take on perennial power and eight-seeded Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. The winner of this game will get the winner of WCHA Champion, North Dakota and CCHA Champion, Western Michigan. 

Looking at Minnesota
The Gophers got off to a very strong start this season, charging out of the gates with an impressive 14-4-1 record before the holiday break. That's when the Gophers hit a bumpy patch in the road. They won the opening game of the Mariucci Classic, a tournament in which they host, but then lost the championship game 2-1 to Northeastern. That was the first of three straight loses and part of a skid in which Minnesota went 1-4-0. The lone win came at North Dakota, a 6-2 victory. 

In the WCHA tournament, Minnesota was the top seed, as they won the regular season title on the last day of the season. The Gophers defeated Alaska-Anchorage in two games (2-1, 7-3) in the Quarterfinals. In the WCHA Final Five (yes Final Five, that's not a typo) Minnesota was up 3-0 on North Dakota, only to see the Sioux score six unanswered goals in little over 20 minutes of play. UND won 6-3, eliminating the Gophers in the semis of the WCHA tournament.

Scouting the Gophers
Minnesota's leading point getter is Erik Haula, a sophomore from Pori Finland. In 40 games played, Haula has 46 points, 19 goals, and 27 assists. UofM's leading goal scorer is World Junior standout, Nick Bjugstad, who is also a sophomore. Bjugstad has racked up 24 goals and 16 assist in 37 games played. Outstanding freshman, Kyle Rau is third on the team in points with 38.   

I have the luxury of watching most of the Minnesota games on TV, because for some reason my TV picks up the feed from FCS. That being said, UofM is not just limited to those three players. Lookout for Nick Condon and Zach Budish to have an impact on Saturday's game. 

In Goal
Senior goalie Kent Patterson comes into the NCAA tournament with a .910 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average. In 40 games played, Patterson has a 26-13-1 record and seven shutouts. 

The Last Time The Met...
was way back in 2005. Minnesota came to Boston, and was the last team to ever play BU in old Walter Brown Arena. Minnesota won the last game at Walter Brown, 2-1. The next night, Minnesota became the first team to play the Terriers in Agganis Arena. BU won the opener at their new ice palace, 2-1 behind a strong goaltending performance by John Curry and goals from Brad Zancanaro and Peter MacArthur.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Catching Up On Last Weekend

BU will be playing in Chis Connolly's
home state of Minnesota on saturday.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Friday night, BU lost to Maine 5-3 in the Hockey East Semis. Maine went on to lose to Boston College in the championship game on Saturday night by a score of 3-1. It was BC's third straight title. 

I went to the game Friday night, but had no energy what so ever to write a recap. To keep a long story short, BU's pk was the reason they did not play Boston College on Saturday. Maine scored four power play goals, two coming off the blade of Will O'Neal, a defenseman. 

Sunday was the NCAA selection show. We all knew BU would make the tournament going into Sunday morning, we just didn't know where they would be placed. As ESPNU rolled threw an incredibly poorly run show, BU was slotted in the West Regional in St. Paul Minnesota. There, they will take on the 8th seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers at the XL-Energy Center. BU is the 9th seed. Yes, this is virtually a home game for Minnesota. 

The other two teams in the West is (14) Western Michigan against  (4) North Dakota. The rest of the tournament looks as follows:

Northeast Regional Worcester, Ma
1. Boston College vs 16. Air Fore
10. Maine vs 7. Minnesota Duluth

Midwest Regional Green Bay, Wisconsin
2. Michigan vs 13. Cornell
11. Denver vs 6. Ferris State

East Regional Bridgeport Connecticut
3. Union vs 15. Michigan State
5. Miami vs 12. Lowell

Ideally, I would have liked to have seen the committee put BU in the East at Bridgeport. It would have made travel much easier and to be honest, I think BU deserved to be in the East more so than Lowell. For the "integrity of the bracket" I see why we're shipped out west. The other main reason is that Minnesota hosts at the X and they have to play there and the 8-9 matchup just so happens to be BU-Minnesota.

That being said, the NCAA loves it's money and looking the East Regional as it is set now the place will be morgue. Union? Not a great following. Lowell? Eh maybe a few fans. Michigan State? People aren’t coming from Michigan. Miami? Same deal as Michigan State. I'm not saying if BU was there the Arena At Harbor Yard would be the second coming of a BU-BC game at Walter Brown, but there would be at least some people in the stands. 

... BU's not in the East? No problem, I'm going out West to Minnesota! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BU-Maine at the Garden

Tomorrow, the Hockey East Semifinals kick off at TD Garden at 5:00 with (1) Boston College taking on (7) Providence. The nightcap pairs (3) Boston University and (4) Maine. This is the first time in the history of the league that these four teams have met in the final four. 

BU is 0-5 against Maine in the Hockey East Semifinals. The last time they met in the Semis was 2010 with Maine winning 5-2. Maine would loses the Championship game the next night 7-6 in overtime to Boston College.

Looking at Maine
The Black Bears started the year on a roller coaster, but come holiday break, Maine was on a tear. Starting on November 26th, Maine went on a 7-1-0 streak, their only loss coming at home to BU by a score of 5-1. In that streak, Maine won the Florida College Classic, by defeating Clarkson 6-1 and UMass in the championship game 5-2. Maine's most impressive stretch of games came in late January. In back to back weekends, the Black Bears swept Boston College and BU. Last weekend, it took Maine three games to take out Merrimack in the league Quarterfinals at home. 

Scouting the Black Bears
Maine owns the league's most potent scorer in Spencer Abbot. In 37 games played, Abbot has 20 goals and 39 assists for a total of 59 points. Maine's second leading scorer is Brian Flynn (17 goals 29 assists). The Black Bear's leading goal scorer is Joey Diamond with 23 in 34 games played. 

In Goal
Dan Sullivan is a holder of a 21-9-3 record. In 1911 minutes played, Sullivan has a .910 save percentage, a 2.51 goals against average, and 809 goals allowed. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend In Review: Going Gardening

Player of the Week
Kieran Millan
Millan made 150 saves in three
games, including 68 in game
three alone a new Hockey
East Tournament record for saves
 in a game. Millan is only eight
stops away from breaking UNH
goal Kevin Regan's tournament
record of 157 saves. Regan set
the record in the 2007 tournament.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
Sunday night, BU punched their ticket to the Hockey East Semifinals with a 5-4 double overtime, come from behind win over UNH in Game Three of the Quarterfinals. The weekend had many highs and lows, the Alex Chiasson game winning goal marking the pinnacle of excitement.

Lets start with Friday's game. After going up 1-0, BU fell behind 2-1 going into the second period. Kevin Gilroy knotted the game on a breakaway, midway through the period and the game would not see another goal scored for almost two whole periods. UNH's Grayson Downing scored a flukey goal two minutes into the second overtime.

For what it's worth, BU was lucky to even make it to overtime. They were badly outplayed and all it came down to was a lucky break for the Wildcats to scrape out a much deserved victory.

At this point in the series, people could have counted BU out. They not only lost the first game and UNH had a one game lead in the best of three series, but they lost it double overtime. That's rather heartbreaking if you ask me, not to mention the second game started at 4:00 the next day.

Odds were heavily against the Terriers, but what's new? The entire season this team has been proving people wrong. I really thought UNH would come out flying in Game Two. To my surprise, they didn't and BU took a 1-0 lead on Chris Connolly's 9th goal of the year. After the goal, UNH again took the play to BU and finally tied the game halfway through the second. Sahir Gill gave the Terriers a 2-1 lead on a diving play in which he swatted the puck past Casey DeSmith while he was falling.

UNH again tied it, this time in the third period. 50 seconds after UNH tied the game, Matt Nieto scored on a pure snipe from the top of the circle. Ryan Santana added another goal for BU in the third and BU forced game three.

Again, BU took a 1-0 lead in Game Three. Evan Rodrigues scored on sweet drive to the net before tucking the puck behind DeSmith. From there, UNH would score four straight goals, including a shorthanded and a power play goal. The shorthanded goal was the fourth goal and it came with 16:36 to go in the second. This was the lowest point of the weekend. After the goal, Agganis was dead (not that it had any life in it to begin with because of a crowd of just 3,025) and Parker took a time out.

The coaching tactic really paid off and prior to the period ending, Garrett Noonan had scored two goals to cut the lead to 4-3. 30 seconds into the third, Noonan had a hand in the tying goal. His pass found Wade Megan in the high slot and Megan's wrist shot found twine to knot the game at 4-4.

After a scoreless first overtime, BU completed it's monumental comeback in double overtime, as Alex Chiasson scored on a rebound off a Wade Megan shot. Once again, the team could have just bagged it after the fourth UNH goal. But no, they kept fighting and it clearly paid off.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Millan Stops 68, Chiasson Scores in Double OT

In the longest and most exciting game in the building's history, 3, 020 fans at Agganis Arena witnessed BU come back from 4-1 down in the second, only to win 5-4 in double overtime. The marathon game was the second double overtime game of the weekend, with UNH winning Friday night 3-2 (2ot).

This afternoon's game got off to an interesting start. Grayson Downing looked to have put UNH up 1-0 early in the first. The goal went to review and it was determined that Downing played the puck to himself with a high stick prior to putting it in the goal. So, The goal was waved off and the score remained 0-0.

Not long after the none-goal for UNH, BU did get on the board. Matt Nieto hit Evan Rodrigues with a pass inside the UNH zone. Rodrigues made a great move to cut the front of the goal, before tucking the puck around goalie Casey DeSmith's (50 saves) left leg pad and into the goal. This was only Rodrigues' second goal of the season.

The lead would not last long, as the Terriers looked out of sync the entire first two periods. Passes were not crisp and the team could not establish and sort of offense. Breaking out of the zone was also a nightmare and that basically lead to the first New Hampshire goal.

About four minutes after the Rodrigues goal, Casey Thrush picked up a rebound strike to knot the game at 1-1. Thrush was not done, though and he put the Wildcats up 2-1 at 14:30 of the first, on a wrist shot that looked to have fooled Kieran Millan (68 saves). UNH out shot the Terriers 16-4 in the first period.

Things didn't get any better in the second period, or at least the start of it anyway. Adam Clendening was called for a questionable tripping penalty, under two minutes into the period. Clendening slid to break up a two on one pass and as he was sliding, a UNH player skated into him and fell, thus Clendening got called for tripping. UNH wasted no time on the resulting power play, as Greg Burke scored just 10 seconds into the man advantage. The shot looked to have beaten Millan glove side from where I was sitting.

Minutes later, BU had a power play of their own, looking to get back in the game… It backfired. Mike Borisenok was sent in alone on a break a way by a Kevin McCarey pass.  Borisenok beat Millan short side for the shorthanded goal, increasing the UNH lead to 4-1 with 16:36 to play in the second. 

BU gained some much-needed life in the closing minutes of the frame. Chris Connolly found Garrett Noonan creeping down from the point and hit him with a pass at the top of the dot. Noonan beat DeSmith blocker side to cut the UNH lead to 4-2. 

Before the period ended, Noonan and the Terriers would make it a one-goal game. There was a huge scrum in the UNH crease and all I saw where a bunch of players digging at it, then red light went on, and BU had made it 4-3 with 1:02 left in the second. The goal was originally credited to Justin Courtnall, but was given to Noonan instead. It was Noonas's 16th goal of the year from Alex Chiasson and Ryan Ruikka.

The Terriers wasted no time in tying the game in the third stanza. A broken play lead to Wade Megan picking up a loose puck in the high slot. Megan's "shoot first" mentality paid off here, as he ripped a wrister up stairs on DeSmith evening the score 4-4. The assists went to Noonan and Chiasson. It was Megan's team leading 19th goal.

The rest of the period was a pure battle. Both teams had their chances, Ross Gaudet having the best one for the Terriers. He and Chiasson had a partial two on one and Gaudet was the puck carrier. Ross elected to shoot and rang the far post, cleanly beating DeSmith to his glove side. UNH also hit a post in the final period.

With no one able to score in the remaining part of the third period, the game went to overtime. The first overtime played out exactly how it did Friday night; no team able to score a goal. Now that's not to say both teams didn't have great chances. Less than 30 seconds into the extra frame, Chiasson was set up for a one timer that DeSmith was in perfect position to stop, and he did. Not a minute later, UNH had a chance go right through the crease, but not into the goal. 

Millan was simply fantastic in both overtime periods. In the first ot, he made 14 saves to go along with eight in the second. 

All that set the stage for Alex Chiasson in the second overtime. Wade Megan made strong move to the net before tossing a shot low on DeSmith's pads. The rebound kicked out into the slot, where Chiasson was crashing the net. Chiasson got a stick on it, and beat a sprawling DeSmith to send BU to the Garden. Following the goal, the entire Terrier bench flooded the ice and celebrated in the near corner. 

 The goal came 6:42 into the second overtime, marking the longest game in Agganis Arena history (86 minutes 42 seconds). It beat the previous record of 82 minutes flat set Friday night. 

With the win, BU advances to the Hockey East Semifinals next Friday night, where they will take on Maine at 8:00pm at TD Garden. Maine defeated Merrimack 2-1 in Game Three up in Orono, tonight.

*I forgot my memory card for my camera tonight, so that's why there are no pictures. I guess I picked a bad night for that to happen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

We Shall Remain

This afternoon, BU stayed alive in the Hockey East tournament by defeating UNH 4-2 in a must-win Game Two. The Terriers staved off elimination and forced a decisive Game Three tomorrow afternoon ant Agganis Arena.

BU got on the board first midway through the opening period. Just as a BU power play had expired, Chris Connolly shoved the puck over the goal line at the 11:55 mark. Alex Chiasson's shot was stopped by UNH goalie Casey DeSmith, but DeSimth did not completely stop the puck and it crept towards the goal line, before Connolly poked it fully over the line and into the back of the net. It was Connolly's 9th goal of the season.

Prior to the goal, Kieran Millan made some incredible stops. One that sticks out in my mined is a glove save in which the goaltender was lying on his stomach and just threw up his glove and somehow made the save. UNH really controlled the pace of play in the first, despite getting out shot 14-8. The Terriers looked very slow out of the gate, passes were not crisp and the only thing keeping them in the game was Millan.
Ryan Santana trys to get the puck from
Damon Kipp in the third period
(Photo by Matt Dresens)

The second period was better, but UNH did managed to tie the game 1-1 midway though the period. Stevie Moses beat Millan upstairs at the 10:16 marker. The assists went to Kevin Goumas and Damon Kipp.

BU again was playing sloppy, but like last night, the Terriers scored a break a way goal in the season period. Patrick MacGregor got the puck to Sahir Gill in the neutral zone. Gill won a foot race for the puck, but then was tripped by Eric Knodel. While falling down, Gill swatted at the puck and in the process got it behind DeSmith and into the net. Knodel was called for holding, and the Terriers went on the power play following the goal. The goal was reviewed for great deal of time and I still really don't know why. The puck clearly hit Gill's stick and clearly went in the net. Nevertheless, it was Gill's 12 goal of the year.

BU took the 2-1 lead into the third period, but it did not hold up. Conner Hardowa scored on the power play, less than five minutes into the third from Goumas and Brett Kostolansky. It was just Hardowa's sixth goal of the year.

Less than a minute later, Matt Nieto scored on an absolutely perfectly placed wrist shot. From beyond the top of the near circle, the sophomore out of Long Beach California hit the inside of the cross-bar causing the puck to go straight down and into the goal. The common hockey phrase is called "going bar down" for obvious reasons. DeSmith did little to try and stop the shot, as it whizzed by him and into the goal

Less than five minutes later, Ryan Santana capped off a two on none rush with Sahir Gill. Gill received the puck at the attacking blue line from Adam Clendening and used his speed to get behind a UNH defenseman. Santana was already cutting to the net and Gill hit him with a tape to tape pass. All Santana had to do was guide the pass into the back of the net. DeSmith had no chance.

The lead would hold up, as Millan continued to play well and the Terriers played solid defense to kill the reaming time off the clock. So, BU won the second game, forcing Game Three, which will be played at 5:00pm tomorrow at Agganis. The winner goes to the Boston Garden for the Hockey East semifinals.

BU Falls in Double Overtime

Tonight, Kieran Millan made 48 saves in 82 minutes of play. He was the only reason the Terriers even made it to overtime in the first place, as UNH carried the play for most of the third period and overtime.

BU took a 1-0 lead way back at 14:39 of the first period. Matt Nieto carried the puck into the attacking zone with a full head of steam. As he reached the dot on the left wing boards, he saw Alex Chiasson cutting to the middle of the slot. Nieto dished Chiasson, who made a nifty move to his backhand before shoveling a shot past UNH goalie Casey DeSmith. It was Chiasson's 13 goal of the year.

The lead would not last long, as Nick Sorkin roofed a rebound out in front of the Terrier net just minutes after the Chiasson goal. 46 seconds later, UNH took a 2-1 lead on Kevin Goumas' 9th goal of the year. As he skated over the blue line into the offensive zone, he pulled a tow drag move before letting a shot fly. His wrist shot got past Millan's blocker and inside the far post to light the lamp.

UNH continued to control the play, but a fortunate break lead to BU's game tying goal in the second. BU was being way out played and finally was able to change lines. That left fourth liner Kevin Gilroy alone at center ice. Freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera made a diving play to clear the puck out of the BU zone. In the proses, he sprang Gilroy in alone on a break a way. The senior forward made an excellent backhand, forehand move before ducking the puck behind DeSmith's pad and into the base of the net. It was Gilroy's second goal of the year. His first was ironically against UNH in the season opener back in October.

That was the last goal scored for a while to say the least. The third period saw both teams trade chances, UNH having more "grade A" scoring opportunities. Millan was up to the task though, stopping 18 shots in the third period.

The first overtime saw much of the same, and both teams actually had power play chances to win the game. Chiasson had the best bid to win it for the Terriers, but he missed high and wide on a shot in the mid slot. From where I was sitting, it looked like he had the entire top corner wide open.

It was not to be though, as just two minutes into the second overtime Grayson Downing scored a fluky goal to give UNH game one in the best of three series. Downing seemed to have swept in from behind the net and knocked in a puck just sitting in the crease. It was not a traditional wrap a round, but it worked (for UNH at least)

Game two is tomorrow afternoon at 4:00. The game will be televised not only on NESN, but nationally on The NHL Network. BU must win to have a chance at advancing to the Garden next weekend.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

BU Battles UNH in the Hockey East Quarterfinals

Since 2005 when Agganis Arena opened, BU has hosted the Hockey East Quarterfinals (HEQF) every year. This weekend, the building and the Terriers will host New Hampshire, the eighth different Hockey East team to play a series in Agganis.

The only team BU has not played in the HEQF's at Agganis is Boston College. In 2005, the year the building opened, the Terriers hosted Providence. The Terriers then hosted in the following years (in order) UMass, Vermont, Lowell, Maine, Merrimack, and Northeastern. All but the 2006 series have gone three games.

From The Vault
Chris Connolly battles in the corner against UNH earlier this
On to this year's series with UNH: The Wildcats come into this weekend losers of their last two games. UNH was just plain terrible at the beginning of the season and did not even score a goal until their third game of the year. The Cat's first win of the year didn't come until october 28th when they beat Union College 2-1 in overtime. Following that win, UNH went on a six game unbeaten streak in which they beat Lowell 5-0 at home. The streak came to an abrupt end though, as BU beat them 4-1 at Agganis. Following that loss, UNH slumped back into the their losing ways and only won one more game before the holiday break. The lone win was against arguably the nation's worst team in Alabama Huntsville 9-1. 

Following an awful first half of the season, UNH decided to change things up in goal. Senior and preseason-ranked number one goalie in the country by USCHO, Matt Di Girolamo had been struggling. So, in the team's last game of the first semester (against BU) the Wildcats started Freshman Casey DeSmith. UNH ended up losing that game 2-1, but ever since, DeSmith has played very well in goal... and so have the Wildcats as a team. They currently have a record of 14-17-3 and somehow are in the PairWise rankings.

Scouting the Wildcats
Stevie Moses leads the team in total points with 34. In 34 games played the Senior forward from Leominster, MA has 21 goals and 13 assists. A pair of Sophomores are nipping at the heals of Moses for the points race. Nick Sorkin has 33 (8g, 25a) and Kevin Goumas has 31 (8g, 23 a).

In goal
Like I said before, DeSmith took over the starting job midway through the year and never looked back. This season, DeSmith has a 8-8-1 record with a .929 save percentage and a 2.21 goals against average. 

The Last Time They Met...
was back on December 8th. BU won 2-1 on the game winning goal scored by Corey Trivino, Chris Connolly tallied his 100th career point as a Terrier. 

BU and UNH have only met once in HEQF's. That was back in 1986 and BU won the series.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hockey East Quarterfinal Preview and Predictions

1. Boston College vs 8. UMass
Site: Conte Forum 
Head to Head Record: UMass 2, BC 1
Chris Kreider leads the Eagles in both
goals scored and total points.
(photo from the Bleacher Report
BC has been on a tear as of late and are winners of their last 11 straight games. BC really turned it on following their 3-2 overtime win in the Beanpot final (you know who they played). UMass on the other hand, is not on the same hot streak as the Eagles, but are still playing good hockey. UMass has a tendency to be very inconsistent. For example, The Minutemen beat BU, who at the time were ranked number one in the country, but then lost their next game to Providence at home.
Prediction: BC is on a roll right now, but the games will be close. UMass has a knack for playing the top team in the Nation tough. BC in two. 

Doug Carr has the
lowest GAA in Hockey
(Photo from
GoRiverHawks .com)
2. UMass Lowell vs 7. Providence 
Site: Tsongas Center
Head To Head Record: Lowell 2, Providence 1
I know Providence is the seven seed and are "supposed" to better than UMass, but I would much rather play PC. Just last weekend, Lowell ran circles around the Friars in a weekend series. Lowell out scored PC 9-3 in two games. Like last year when BU and Northeastern played on the last weekend of the regular season and then faced off in the quarterfinals, it is hard to beat a team four times in two weekends. With that being said, I sill think Lowell rolls to the Garden
Prediction: Lowell in two. 

3. Boston University vs 6. New Hampshire
Site: Agganis Arena
Head To Head Record: BU 3, UNH 0
Alex Chiasson leads the
Terriers in total points with
38 (12g 26a)
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Here we go. The best series in the quarterfinals, by far. Yes BU is 3-0-0 against UNH this year, but the Terriers won all three games with Corey Trivino, Charlie Coyle and Max Nicastro still on the team. Trivino actually had three goals in those three games and Nicastro had the game winner in the second game the two teams played. UNH has had serious second half turn around, mainly due to the goaltending of Casey DeSmith. The freshman goalie took over the net from senior Matt Di Girolamo midway through the year and has not looked back. He has a .929 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA in 19 games played. UNH, like UMass can be rather inconsistent and somehow found a way to lose to Vermont at home. BU will need to play well, but I think if the Terriers get the lead, they win the game. UNH has one player to keep an eye on: Stevie Moses. Besides that, there is not much that worries me about the Wildcats. *Note* UNH is just 4-10-3 on the road.
Prediction: BU in Three, UNH wins the second game.

4. Maine vs 5. Merrimack
Site: Alfond Arena
Head To Head Record: MC 2-0-1
This series, Like the BU-UNH one, has the potential to be very close. Maine has played .500 hockey since sweeping Alabama Huntsville at home in the first weekend of February. Merrimack has also been up and down since losing their first game in November. This series will be a battle of two very strong goalies. Merrimack's Joe Cannata was a preseason nominee for the Hoby Backer award and Maine's Dan Sullivan has a 19-8-3 record. Maine plays very well at home and Alfond is the most hostile rink in the League.
Prediction: Maine in three

Yes, I know I did not pick a single "upset", but I truly believe that all the top seeds will advance to the Garden next weekend.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend In Review: Why Can't We Beat Witt?

Player of the Week
Garrett Noonan
Even though he hit the post on a five
on three win the final minutes of
Saturday's 5-4 loss, he still had a
four point (3g, 1a) weekend. For that,
he is my Player of the
(photo by Matt Dresens)
For the second year in a row, BU failed to finish second in Hockey East on the last day of the regular season. Last year, BU lost to Northeastern 4-3 at home. If the Terriers had won, they would have finished second. Not a big deal, right? Turns out it was. Finishing third paired BU and NU together, meaning that the teams played each other five games in a row. NU won the Quarterfinal series two games to one. One can only wonder if BU were the two seed and had played Vermont (the seven seed) if things would have been different.

This year, BU had a chance to finish second, as well. Again they played Northeastern on the final day of the regular season, again losing. This time though, it was in overtime and Vinny Saponari, the former Terrier, picked up the winning goal in OT. Now, unlike last year, NU had already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs prior to this game, so the two teams will not play five games straight. 

Instead, BU will take on a surging New Hampshire for only the second time ever in the quarterfinal round. If the Terriers had won Saturday, they would have played Providence in the Quarterfinals who have been struggling as of late.

The common denominator in the two BU losses to NU in the final game of the regular season: Clay Witt. Yes, backup goalie Clay Witt. Witt has three career wins; two have come against BU, denying the Terriers of much easier first round opponents in the Hockey East Tournament. 

At The Polls
BU fell from fourth in the USCHO poll to sixth. Boston College was the unanimous number one receiving all 50 first place votes. Ferris State was second and Minnesota Duluth, Michigan, and Minnesota rounded out the top five.

In the PairWise, BU ended up right back where they started the weekend, in 6th. They had jumped up to 4th after Friday's win, but after the loss Saturday, fell back down to 6th. The current top six looks like this: (1) Boston College (2t) Michigan (2t) Lowell (2t) Minnesota Duluth (5) Ferris State (6t) Boston University (6t) Minnesota.

Around Hockey East
Friday: UMass throttled Merrimack 5-1 at home... Lowell took out Providence 5-1 at Schneider Rink... Boston College skated past Vermont 5-1 at home... BU upended Northeastern 5-2 at Agganis Arena.

Saturday: Maine shutout New Hampshire 1-0 in Durham NH... Lowell completed the sweep of Providence with a 4-2 home win... Merrimack topped UMass 5-3 at home... Boston College captured the league championship with 4-0 shutout of Vermont... Northeastern bucked BU 5-4 in overtime. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Game of Inches, Vinny's Revenge

Tonight, was a tough night to be a Terrier Hockey fan, as former BU standout, Vinny Saponari scored the game winning goal in overtime to propel Northeastern past BU 5-4and Boston College won the Hockey East Regular Season Crown.
Garrett Noonan hits the post with less than two minutes to
play in regulation. If the puck had gone in, it would have
likely won the game for the Terriers.
(photo by Matt Dresens)

Northeastern got on the board first, just 6:15 into the game. Brandon Pimm tipped Anthony Bitetto's shot from the point past Grant Rollhieser and into the back of the net, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

BU had been creating some good chances prior and after the NU goal, but Husky goalie Clay Witt was there to make a couple big saves. Also, Wade Megan drilled the post, cleanly beating Witt.

BU finally got one past Witt with less than two minutes to play in the first, during a four on four situation. Sean Escobedo's wrist shot from the top of the circle, found it's way past Witt's short side, tying the game at 1-1. The assists went to Matt Nieto and Chris Connolly.

35 seconds into the second frame, BU took a 2-1 lead. Adam Clendening and Chris Connolly teamed up for a highlight reel tic-tat-toe goal. Clendening saw Connolly streaking across the mid slot. From the point, Clendening hit Connolly's blade with a shot/pass that Connolly deflected past Witt, who had no chance. 

NU retied the game less than two minutes later. After a huge scrum in front of the BU net, Alex Tuckerman picked up a loose rebound and fired it past Rollhieser. The lone assist went to Pimm. 

Little over a minute later, Northeastern took a 3-2 lead on Drew Ellement's third goal of the season. Rollhieser stopped about 80% of Ellement's shot from a good distance out, but the puck snuck through his pads and crept it's way over the goal line and into the net. Nothing against Rollie -who likely played his last game as a Terrier tonight- but this is a stop that he has to make. 

Less than three minutes later, Garrett Noonan scored his first of two goals on the night. After a poorly set up power play was winding down, Noonan converted on a passing play that completely undressed Clay Witt. Alexx Privitera started the play, and Connolly found Noonan all alone on the far post. After getting the puck, Noonan snuck it in the goal, avoiding a diving Witt who was trying to make a recovery save. It was Noonan's 13 goal of the season.

At the 18:06 mark of the season, Garrett Vermeersch absolutely sniped top shelf on Rollhieser. The shot came from the top of the slot and clanked off the cross bar, before puffing the netting inside the goal. Drew Daniels and Adam Reid picked up the assists on this power play goal. 

3:14 into the third period, Garrett Noonan again, retied the game. Chris Connolly (who’s pass was actually intended to go to Alex Chiasson) got the puck to Noonan in the high slot. From there, Garrett beat Witt low glove side for his second of the night. 

The rest of the period was chalk full of penalties, and BU had a five on three with just 1:44 to go in the game. Noonan had a great chance, not only to get his hat trick, but to win the game for the Terriers. Following a great set up on the five on three, he was all alone on the far post, like on his first goal. This time though, he miss hit the puck hitting the post and not the white nylon netting. Look at the picture at the top of the article for a visual.

With Noonan not able to score, the game went to overtime. In the extra session, NU really controlled the play, and former Terrier Vinny Saponari was able to put home a rebound, giving the Huskies a "feel good" way to end their season. They had already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention following last night's lost to BU.

Speaking about playoffs, BU will take on New Hampshire next weekend in the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Agganis Arena. If BU had won tonight, they would have hosted Providence College, the seven seed, and BU would have been the two seed. Instead, BU is the three seed, playing sixth seeded UNH.