Saturday, December 29, 2012

BU Gets Blanked For the First Time In 125 Games

Denver goalie Juho Olkinuora stood on his head, making 29 saves in the Pioneers 6-0 rout of the Terriers. The Finnish goalie's two most impresive saves came against Danny O'Regan and Evan Rodrigues on back to back break a ways seconds apart in the third period.

Denver got on the board halfway through the first period on the power play. Shawn Ostrow tipped home a shot from the point that Matt O'Connor was never able to pick up.

Minutes later, DU erupted for two goals in 11 seconds. First, Zac Lazara put home his second of the year. 11 seconds later, Quentin Shore banged home a rebound to the side of O'Connor to make it 3-0. The assists went to Matt Tabrum and David Makowski.

BU came out strong in the second, but like the first period could not find the back of the net. Wade Megan had arguably the best chance to score, as he was wide open in front of the net. Megan was unable to put a shot on goal and the game remained scoreless. In addition to that chance, Sam Kruker was unable to convert on a wide open net just minutes into the frame.

Alexx Privitera had maybe the worst game a player could possibly have. First he nullified a five minute power played the Terriers had after DU's Scott Mayfield was kicked out for a cheapshot on Ben Rosen in the first. Privitera took a really dumb roughing penalty that basically ended the BU power play. Then in the second, he himself took a five minute penalty for kicking a DU player who was down in the crease.

Denver added two more goals in the third, one from Chris Knowlton on a rip upstairs and the other from Nolan Zajac on a rebound with less than a minute to play.

Toward the end of the game, Wade Megan was viciously leg-checked and went down awkwardly. He gingerly skated to the locker room holding his shoulder. He did not return. That penalty was one of many that were taken by both teams. At one point in the third, the teams were skating 3 on 3.

And We're Back

From The Vault
Alex Chiasson attempts to chase
down a loose puck at the side of the
Denver net before goalie Adam
Murray covers up in a game play
in Boston last October.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
If you coundln't tell already, I, like the team, took a much needed break for the holidays. Tonight BU will travel to Denver and take on the Pioneers in the annual College Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

Scouting the Pioneers 
Denver started the year on a tear, winning 9 of the first 10 games. Their only loss in that stretch was a 3-0 blanking at home by St. Cloud State. Following a quick Thanksgiving break, Denver came out like a new team. A really bad one. The Pioneers have yet to win a game since November 17. Since the 17th, DU is 0-4-4. One of those four ties came against North Dakota, a game that I watched not knowing that DU was on such a slide. Denver actually had the lead deep into the second period, before NoDak tied things at 2-2 on the power play and that was the final score. Denver looked competitive, but a night later they were beaten 6-3.

Junior Nick Shore, brother of former Pioneer great Drew, leads the team with 20 points (7g, 13a) in 18 games played. Close behind him is sophomore Chris Knowlton who has a team high 10 goals to go along with 8 assists for 18 points. Defenseman Joey LaLeggia, who just so happens to be in third in the points race with 16 (7g, 9a) was a standout for the Pioneers in the North Dakota game that I watched earlier this year.

In goal, Sam Brittain has seen the most action, holding a 4-4-0 record with a 2.78 goals against and a .908 save percentage. Sophomore Juho Olkinuora has a 3-1-3 record. He has a rather impressive 1.91 GAA and .936 save percentage. Olkinuora really caught my attention in the North Dakota game. He stood on his head and was the lone reason the Sioux did not run away with that game.

---> Matt O'Connor will be in the net for the Terriers tonight.
---> Matt Grzelcyk will not be in the Terriers lineup even though was the last cut from the USA World Junior Roster. He will be back for next Saturday's game vs RPI.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Thoughts: Two Big Dubs

Players of the week
Matt O'conner (top) and
Sean Maguire (bottom).
(Photos by Matt Dresens)
Over the weekend, BU did what they needed to do to end the first semester on a high note. They went up to New Hampshire and beat the number one team in the Nation and followed that up with a win over Maine at home.

Let's start with the UNH game:

BU came out flying, something they had previously not done against the Wildcats in the two prior losses. Wade Megan put the Terriers on the board less than five minutes in and that really set the stage for the remainder of the game. BU would eventually go up 3-0 in the second period before UNH finally cashed in on the power play to make it 3-1 (more on the PK to come). Jon Henrion made it 3-2 with less than ten minutes to play in the third. 

UNH threw everything but the kitchen sink at BU in the final minutes and even had a six on four power play in the final two minutes. Matt O'Connor played exceptionally well down the stretch, especially in the final two minutes on the kill.

Saturday night was a different story. Granted, I was only there for the third period, but that's really all I needed to see. BU played sloppy in the third period. Maine, a team with nothing to lose, looked like the more hungry team and really took it to the Terriers in the final frame. Things looked like they had gone from bad to worse in a flash. Ben Rosen took about eight strides and cross-checked a Maine player right in the back, deep in the Maine zone. Rosen was called for a five minute Major and Maine had an open buffet table for nearly the remainder of the game.

Rather than let their sloppy play carry over into the penalty kill, BU really stepped up their game and only allowed Maine two good scoring chances. Sean Maguire came up huge on both opportunities, the most impressive was a shot that was taken point blank from the slot, that he swallowed up with no rebound.

The PK
The story of the weekend was (if you couldn't figure it out all ready) was the penalty kill. The Terriers went 13 for 14 on kills over the weekend, including the two huge kills at the end of both games. It's a good sign because BU was torched by Boston College a week ago on the power play. BC scored four goals on the man advantage in their 5-2 win over BU.

Sahir Gill
In his first game back on the top line, the Junior forward made an immediate impression as he got his second goal of the year to put the Terriers up 2-0 on UNH. Gill will be a crucial part of the BU offense now that Yasin Cisse is gone. 

At the Polls
BU moved up one slot in the USCHO rankings from 7th to 6th, three slots higher than they were at this time last year. Boston College was the new number one with the previous top ranked team New Hampshire in second. Notre Dame, Minnesota and Miami rounded out the top five in that order.

Over in the Pairwise, BU up to 5th, actually dropping from 4th after they beat Maine. That is because UMass fell out out of the PWR as they are no longer a TUC (team under consideration). BC is One followed by New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Notre Dame and BU.

Around Hockey East
Wednesday: Dartmouth rolled over Vermont 4-2 at home.

Thursday: BU dropped UNH 3-2 at the Whitt.

Friday: Providence came back to tie Boston College 3-3 with 10 seconds left at home... Colgate thumped UMass 6-4 at the Mullins Center... Merrimack and Harvard skated to a 2-2 draw at Lawler Rink.

Saturday: Lowell blanked Northeastern 2-0 at home... Merrimack fell 3-1 to the USA U18's at Lawler Rink in an exhibition game... Colgate finished off the road sweep of UMass with a 5-2 win... BU shutout Maine 1-0 at Agganis.

Sunday: UNH and the USA U18's played to a 2-2 tied in Durham.

BU was named Hockey East Team of the Week for winning the two games over Maine and UNH. In addition, Matt O'Connor was named Hockey East Player of the Week after he stopped 31 shots against UNH Thursday night.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Terriers Blank Black Bears to Close Out First Half

Sean Maguire on the penalty kill at the end of period three
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
So, I was planing on writing a full recap, but I got to the game at the end of the second period. I had a hockey game myself starting at 6:30. So, here's what I saw while I was there.

BU played very sloppy in the third period. Nothing was clicking. The one quality set up was to Matt Nieto, who fanned on the shot.

The lone bright spot of the third period was the penalty kill. With little less than six minutes left, Ben Rosen took a five minute major for boarding. BU's PK looked stellar. They allowed Maine two quality scoring chances that Sean Maguire made impressive saves on. In all, Maguire made 28 saves for his second straight shutout.

Garrett Noonan had the lone goal of the game back in period one, on the power play.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BU Takes On Maine

Tonight BU will host the University of Maine in the final game of the first semester. Through the first half, Maine has been a huge disappointment. The Black Bears are 2-10-2 and are currently in dead last in Hockey East.
From The Vault
Former Maine goalie Scott Darling makes a glove save
on BU's Wade Megan in the 2010 season. BU went on to win
this game 7-4.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Maine's only two wins are over Lowell, a 4-3 victory, and Army in the IceBreaker Invitational, also by a score of 4-3. Maine has played a bunch of teams close though, losing 1-0 to Notre Dame in the opening round of the IceBreaker and tying Lowell and Vermont 2-2. Early in the season, Maine was swept at home by St. Lawrence, 5-0 and 5-1.

Scouting the Black Bears
Freshman Devin Shore leads the team in points with seven. He has one goal and six assists in 14 games played. Behind him is the co-leader in goals scored, Joey Diamond. Diamond has three goals and three assists in 13 games played. Joey is widely known as one of the bigger goons in Hockey East. He has already been suspended for one game this year.

In goal, Maine has seen three goalies spend time in the cage. Junior Martin Ouellette has made seven appearances with a 1-4-2 record, a .911 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average. Last year's standout starter Dan Sullivan has yet to win a game this season, as he is 0-6-0 in six appearances. He holds a .898 save percentage and a 3.34 GAA. Freshman Matt Morris has seen action in three games and holds a 1-0-0 record. He has a .842 save percentage and a 3.20 GAA.

The Last Time They Met...
was in the Hockey East Semi Finals. Maine won a back and forth game by a score of 5-3. Prior to that, Maine swept the Terriers in Boston last February. You have to go back exactly one year from Sunday to find the last BU win. That was a 5-1 rout in Orono and many considered BU the best team in the Nation at the point last year.

- Sean Maguire will be in the net for the Terriers tonight.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

O'Connor, BU Knock Off #1 UNH

Matt O'Connor made 31 save in the
3-2 win. Here he makes a save against
UNH from earlier this year.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
UNH came out quick and took the play to the Terriers before BU was able to get their feet under them. Matt O'Connor held his ground, as it was BU who grabbed the game's first goal.  

The puck came back to the point, where Matt Grzelcyk unloaded a slapslot. The drive pin-balled around the crease before Wade Megan put home the rebound for the lone goal of the first period. Sahir Gill also picked up an assist on the goal.

The latter stages of the frame saw a ton of penalties. Both sides had numerous man advantages, but the goaltenders were stout. BU's best opportunity to extend their lead in the first came on the power play. Following a nice set up, Evan Rodrigues had the puck all alone at the top of the crease. UNH goalie Casey DeSmith held his ground and made an impressive save. 

Seconds into the second period, BU nearly doubled their lead. Cason Hohmann missed a wide open net on a power play that carried over from the first. Minutes later, BU did in fact extend their lead. Hohmann pick up a loose puck at the UNH blue line and took the lone Wildcat defender wide and created a two on one with Sahir Gill. Hohmann made a nifty saucer pass over the UNH defender's stick, landing directly onto Gill's tape. Gill made a shifty deke, before sliding the puck between DeSmith's legs five hole while on his backhand.

BU upped their lead to 3-0 with just under 12:00 to play in the frame. Ahti Oksanen's drive from the point drilled the glass over the UNH net. The rebound came right back in front of the net. Sam Kurker took a whack at it and the bouncing puck somehow found its way through the legs of DeSmith.

Following a slew of BU penalties, UNH finally got on the board late in the stanza. Kevin Goumas beat Matt O'Connor from the far side at the bottom of the circle on the power play to make it 3-1. After the goal, UNH gained a ton of momentum and really dominated the Terriers for the ensuing few minutes.

In the final seconds of the second, Matt Nieto rang the post, just missing. The shot cleanly beat DeSmith. BU got out of the period and took their 3-1 lead into the third period.     

UNH controlled the pace of play in the third and cut the BU lead to 3-2 at the 11:54 marker. Jon Henrion controlled a large rebound and picked the top left corner on O'Connor to make it a one goal game. 

With 2:07 left, Wade Megan was called for interference. Soon after, DeSmith was pulled and BU faced a six on four. O'Connor stood tall making a clutch glove save with about 13 seconds remaining. BU killed off the remaining power play time and the remaining game time to defeat the Wildcats for the first time this year. 

BU will take on Maine Saturday night at home. 

UNH Preview

Tonight, BU will take on Number One ranked New Hampshire in Durham. The game will conclude the season series between the Terriers and Wildcats. In addition, it marks the third game in a row the Terriers have played the Nation's number one ranked team. That is the first time that has ever happened in BU Hockey history.

UNH is 11-1-2 on the year with their only loss coming in overtime at UMass. The Wildcats are led by junior Kevin Goumas who has 23 points in 14 games played. Some 10 points behind him is Grayson Downing with 7 goals and 6 assist for 13 points.

In goal, the Wildcat's boast one of the country's best goalie in Casey DeSmith. In 14 games played, the sophomore netminder has a .943 save percentage with a 1.72 goals against.

UNH has taked the first two games of the season series with scores of 4-1 and 3-1.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cisse leaves

Yasin Cisse had his far share of
penalties while at BU. Here he is
being held back by the ref.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Yesterday it was announced that redshirt Sophomore Yasin Cisse has left the University to "pursue other hockey endeavors in his native Canada." Today he signed with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. This makes him the second player in less than a year to leave BU mid-season and head to the Q. Charlie Coyle was the other.

Throughout his career at BU, Cisse has been plagued by injuries. Prior to arriving at BU he suffered a season ending injury while a member of the Des Moines Bucks of the USHL. There he had a tendon severed in his foot by a skate. In the first game of the 2011 season in the Icebreaker Invitational, Cisse wrecked his ankle. That kept him out the entire year. Last season Cisse missed the first month or so, with concussion issues. 

In total, Cisse played 39 games at BU, totaling two goals and five assists. Over the course of his time at BU, it was clear he struggled to gain confidence. There were flashes of brilliance like the play he made against BC last year to score his first collegiate goal. Then there were other times that he looked down right lost on the ice. 

As of just recently, the Westmount, Quebec native was promoted to the first line. There, he looked well out of place and seemed a step behind the rest of the line. 

Player and Coaches Reaction
Jack Parker "I wish him nothing but the best and I hope he’s a big star and gets to the NHL...I don’t know if that’s going to happen."

The Boston Hockey Blog is reporting that Sahir Gill will be the new first line right wing with Wade Megan on the left and Cason Hohmann in the middle. In addition, Freshman Mike Moran will be the new new third line winger. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Big Day For Grzelcyk

Matt Grzelcyk lets go a shot at
UMass earlier this season.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Today USA Hockey released it's preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships that will be held in Ufa, Russia in less than a month. One current Terrier, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was on the roster. BC's Johnny Gaudreau and Providence College goalie John Gillies were the only other Hockey East players to make the cut. In total, 15 of the roster's 24 members come from college backgrounds.

In 13 games played, Grzelcyk is third on the Terriers roster in points with 11. He had 10 total points last year as a member of the USA U18's. The Charlestown native has two goals (both against BC) and nine assists.

Today Grzelcyk was also named Hockey East Rookie of the Month for November. My take on Grizz is that he has more than closed the gap that Adam Clendening left when he decided to forgo his college eligibility. I'm not the first one to say this, but Grzelcyk reminds me a lot of a former Number Five to don the BU sweater, David Warsofsky.

The two play a very similar style of hockey. The element that made Dave very effective is the same that makes Grzelcyk a standout offensive defenseman. They possess the ability to skate with the puck and make quick, heads up passes. Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt that both of them were blessed with some of the softest hands I've ever seen play at BU.

The one knock on Grzelcyk would be that he sometimes holds on to the puck a little too long and that tends to get him in trouble in his own zone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Thoughts: One Good, One Bad

Player of the Week
Evan Rodrigues 
Rodrigues netted two goals
over the weekend on two
perfectly placed wrist shots.
In addition, the sophomore
forward seemed to be involved
in some really important plays.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 

Friday night was one of the best hockey games I have been to at Agganis. Saturday was one of the most frustrating game I have ever been too.

Lets starts with Friday. BU has proven all season that they could hang with top level teams, but (excluding the North Dakota win) have not been able to beat them. The Terriers finally got over the hump Friday with a thrilling 4-2 win over Boston College. The second period highlighted the night. BC and BU combined for three goals, all of which were highlight reel worthy. Garrett Noonan's baseball style goal put the Terrier up 1-0 and Minutes later, Even Rodrigues torched Parker Milner with a wrist shot.

The Terriers seemed to be playing on motivation and desperation, two deadly weapons, as BC soon found out. Matt Grzelcyk's wrap a round goal was a microcosm of the entire game for both teams. For the Terriers its was scoring with determination, for the Eagles it was frustration. It would have been a relatively easy save for Milner if it did not take him a half hour to get off the far post. Grzelcyk celebration matched the energy in the building.

One night later, BU played a solid period and a half before the roof collapsed. The teams traded power play goals in the first, before BC went up 2-1 early in the second. BU had a ton of chances to tie the game at two, non better than Evan Rodrigues' break a way. Rodrigues seemed to have beat Milner to the short side, but sent the puck wide of the net. That also proved to be the last chance to tie things up, as minutes later BC erupted for two quick power play goals. How/why BC went on the power play was rather questionable.

From the top of the stadium, it looked as BC's Steve Whitney really embellished a tripping call, far worse than whatever Sean Escobedo did to earn just a diving call. Anyway, BC had a chuck of 5 on 3 which they eventually scored on to make it 3-1. That essentially killed BU's moral and goals 4 and 5 only shoved the dagger further into the already wounded Terriers. 

BU did score two power play goals of their own in the game, Cason Hohmann had the first, while Even Rodrigues had the other in the third. Prior to Hohmann's goal, BU's power play was on an 0 for 20 streak. 

Matt O'Connor may have played his best hockey as a Terrier over the weekend, coming up with some very impressive saves. If not for him in saturday night's game the score could have been 10-2. 

At The Polls
BU moved up two slots in the USCHO rankings from 9th to 7th. UNH was the Nation's new number one, as BC slipped to number 2.  Miami, Minnesota and Noter Dame rounded out the top five in that order.

Over in the pairwise, BU moved up from 7th two fifth after this weekend's games. BC is still one with New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Yale and BU (in that order) close behind. 

Around Hockey East
Friday: Northeastern blanked UMass 1-0 at the Mullins center... Providence defeated Merrimack 3-2 in overtime at Lawler Rink... New Hampshire made quick work of Lowell, winning 5-2... Vermont beat Maine 2-1 at Alfond... BU snapped BC's ten game win streak, upending the Eagles 4-2 at home. 

Saturday: Merrimack topped Providence 2-1 at Schneider Rink... UMass rolled past Northeastern 6-3 at Matthews... UNH capped off the sweep of Lowell with a 5-2 road win... Maine and vermont tied 2-2 in Orono... Boston College picked up a 5-2 victory at home against BU.

Evan Rodrigues was named Hockey East Player of the Week.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Game Photos From Last Night

mattdresens's BU-BC 11-30-12 album on Photobucket

All Photos By Matt Dresens

O'Connor, BU Tackle BC

Alexx Privitera attempts to block
Kevin Hayes' shot in the first period.
O'Connor made the follow up save.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
I said it after the North Dakota games and I'll say it again now: Wow, what a hockey game. From start to finish, it was pretty clear that these teams don't like each other.

That was never more prevalent than at the end of the scoreless first period. With one of the more heated brawls that the two teams have been involved in lately, capped off a very exciting period of hockey.

Even though no goals were scored, that's not to say there were not opportunities. Both goalies played well all night, but none better than in the first frame.

After countless scoring chances, BU finally found the back of the net midway through the second. Even Rodrigues cut to the middle of the slot where he unloaded a wrist shot. The shot was deflected wide where Wade Megan tossed a follow up bid on goal. Garrett Noonan ultimately banged home the goal, Peter MacArther style, as he hit the puck out of mid air at the top of the crease to give the Terriers the lead.

Kind of an interesting picture that I took of the first period
brawl at the end of the frame.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
BU took a 2-0 advantage exactly seven minutes later. Danny O'Regan quarterbacked the entire play after getting the puck from Matt Nieto. O'Regan skated into the BC zone, pulled up in the right wing circle and then dished a saucer pass over to Even Rodrigues who was flying into the zone. The pass was a bit behind Rodrigues, but the sophomore forward was able to corral the puck before torching Parker Milner high glove side. It was a perfectly placed shot.

38 seconds later, BC answered right back. Pat Mullane capped off a nice set up from Johnny Gaudreau and Stevan Whitney. Mullane's shot was a quick release lazer that beat Matt O'Connor glove side.

In the closing seconds of the second period, BU almost went up 3-1. (I think) Wade Megan ripped a shot that cleanly beat Milner off the crossbar on almost an identical play to the Rodrigues goal with about three seconds left.

BU did not have to wait long to get that third goal, though. Just 1:46 into the third Matt Grzelcyk burned Milner on a wrap a round. Grzelcyk got the puck from Wade Megan at the BC blue line. From there, Grzelcyk did the rest, taking the puck wide on a Boston College defender and eventually frombehind the net tucked the puck inside the post, behind Milner. It really seemed that Milner took a while to get off the far post, thus allowing Grzelcyk enough time to pull off the wrap a round.

BU's penalty kill played well throughout the game, but their strongest effort came in the latter stages of the third. Megan essentially put the game away with little over two minutes to play after he potted an empty net, short handed goal.

Johnny Gaudreau did score a 6 on 3 goal with 24 seconds left, but it was way too little way too late for the Eagles to pull off another one of their miracle comebacks.

Ben Rosen looked to have scored another empty net goal with about 19 seconds left, but the refs screwed up, allowing BU to play with four skaters, while they were still short two men from large scrum.

All in all, I thought this was BU's best all around game since 2009. The team really played as a team and Matt O'Connor was nothing short of brilliant in goal... Again.

BU finally won a game at home against BC, their first since 2009. Also, this is the first time since 2007 BU has defeated the number one team in the Nation, that also was BC