Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekend With the Wildcats

Danny O'Regan and BU will look for
their first road win of the year tonight
in Durham.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Coming off a disappointing fourth place finish in the Beanpot and a 6-2 loss to Harvard in the consolation game, BU will look to get back on track in a tough weekend series with New Hampshire. The ‘Cats come into this weekend tied with Maine for fourth place in the Hockey East Standings. BU is in 10th with just 9 points.

This weekend is not only critical for the league standing, but it will also see the formal retirement of former Jack Parker’s number 6 to the rafters. The ceremony will take place prior to Saturday’s game at Agganis.

Scouting the Wildcats
Last weekend UNH was swept at home by Vermont by scores of 5-2 and 2-1. The weekend before they swept Notre Dame, again at the Whitt. 

Offensively New Hampshire is led by senior Kevin Goumas with 37 points, 13 goals and 24 assists. Right behind him is fellow senior Nick Sorkin, who has posted a team leading 16 goals along with 16 assists for 32 points in 32 games.

In goal junior Casey DeSmith is 14-13-0 in 28 appearances with a .920 save percentage and a 2.35 goals against average. Senior Jeff Wyer has seen action in 7 games with a 2-2-1 record.

Unfortunately I can’t make it to either game this weekend due to my own hockey conflicts. Hopefully I will get to both Northeastern games and the first round of the Hockey East tournament, but right now I really don’t know. This year there have been a lot more conflicts that in past years for whatever reason but I’m going to try and keep up the sight as much I can.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

They Deserved Better

Last night was a lot closer than most people ever thought it would have been. BU was in the game all night but there is a certainly a difference between being in the game and actually winning.

BU never caught a break last night. They never got a bounce. They simply had no luck. One play in the third period perfectly sums this all up. A pass came from the corner by (I believe) Cason Hohmann to Matt Lane who was all alone in front of the BC goal. The puck somehow got deflected and went straight up. At this point, BC goalie Thatcher Demko was sprawled out and the entire net was open. The puck continued the pinball around the crease, hitting off of everything but somehow staying out of the net. It was just one of those nights.

BU played well out of the gate, but it was BC who struck early and looked like they would run away with the game. Pat MacGregor was in the box for tripping just 3:50 into the game, 15 seconds later the Eagles had a 1-0 lead. Teddy Doherty and Scott Savage helped set up Ryan Fitzgerald in the low right circle and from there, Fitzgerald beat Matt O'Connor (29 saves) top left up under the bar. It was a nice setup and a better shot.

From this point on, BU actually had some of the better chances in the frame, but again just couldn't get a break... and BC did.

On a John Gaudreau rush into the zone, BU defenseman Garrett Noonan lost an edge, falling down and allowing Gaudreau to walk right into the slot. There, he was cleaned out by another BU skater but the puck went right to Bill Arnold. Arnold wasted no time sliding a pass over to Kevin Hayes who was wide open at the top of the crease and staring at an empty net. Needless to say he didn't miss, and despite how well BU had played to that point, all they had to show for their efforts was a 2-0 deficit, 1:20 into the second period. 

Things went from bad to worse around halfway through the period. Doyle Somerby laid a solid check on Kevin Hayes at his own blue line. Hayes turned towards the boards in the middle of the hit and fell awkwardly. At first glance, it looked like a pretty bad hit, but after seeing a replay there is no reason Somerby should have been thrown out for the hit. 

The five minute power play for BC could have buried the Terriers, but honestly they had the best scoring chance. A shorthanded break saw Danny O'Regan and Nick Roberto get in behind the D deep in the BC zone. O'Regan made a cut back move that opened up Demko but yet again somehow did not find the back of the net. 

Finally after everything, every close call, every almost goal, BU finally broke though with 13:17 left. Danny O'Regan created the whole play after he got into the zone. The sophomore forward carried the puck all the way behind the net and created a passing lane to a streaking Robbie Bailargeon in the slot. Robbie caught the pass and ripped one past Demko glove side.

The Terriers continued to press and had some opportunities to tie things up, but much as the game played out all along, BU was unable to get a bounce.

Gaudreau put the final dagger in the Terrier's side by adding an empty net goal with 33 seconds left.

It was one hell of a hockey game and it was much more than anyone expected. If BU plays that way down the stretch, they will win hockey games which is all we can ask for at this point.

BU will face Harvard in the consolation game next Monday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Beanpot Monday

Now that the Super Bowl is over, it's time to focus on the real sports entertainment for the week: the Beanpot. Yup, believe it or not, it's that time of year again. BU faces Boston College in the late game tonight, while Harvard and Northeastern square off in game one.
2012 BU-BC Final
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
 BC has taken the first two meetings this season, 5-1, 6-4 and since losing to Holy Cross back on November 29, BC is 11-0-1. Johnny Gaudreau continues to lead Boston College (and the nation) in scoring. In 26 games, the junior from Carneys Point, New Jersey has 23 goals, 28 assists for 51 points... He had 51 points all of last season. The last time Gaudreau was held pointless in game was October 27th at Minnesota.

Tonight, BC will start Thatcher Demko in goal. Demko backstopped the Eagles in the first Battle for Comm Ave this year. On the year, Demko has an 8-1-2 record in 11 appearances with a .927 save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average.

Matt O'Connor will be in net for BU after his impressive performance at UMass on Friday night. He was also the goalie in the first matchup with BC.

Since 1999, BU and BC have met five times on the first night of the Beanpot. BU won the first three, BC the last two. In '99 Russ Bartlett scored in overtime for the Terriers on a diving play on a two on one (video). 2002 was the most convincing win of the five games played, as BU topped the Eagles 5-3. The 2005 meeting was definitely the improbable win for the Terriers. Starting goalie (and now BU Hall of Famer) John Curry was out with an injury and so long time backup Sephan Siwiec got the start. Siwiec made 36 saves as BU stole a 3-1 win...they were out shot 37-18. John Laliberte scored two goals for BU that night.

2008 saw BC win their first semi final matchup with BU since 1981. Nathan Gerbe netted the overtime winner to give BC a 4-3 victory. BC beat Harvard 6-5 in overtime in the championship game to win their first title since 2004. The most recent First Round meeting was 2011 and once again it went to overtime. BU's Ryan Ruikka took a penalty less than three minutes into overtime to put BC on the power play. Tommy Cross stuck from the point to send BC to the final.

The last six meetings (both rounds included) between the two schools have been one goal games. The last multi-goal decision was 2005.

BC 4, BU 2
NU 5, Harvard 2

Final: BC 3, NU 1

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Seven Minute Struggle

With about 16 minutes left in tonight's (eventual) 3-3 draw at UMass, things were looking pretty good. Mike Moran had just scored to make it 3-1 BU on a turnaround shot, upstairs, from the low circle... And then it all fell apart.

With about seven minutes left, BU was definitely sitting back and had no real pressure in the offensive zone dating back to the Moran goal. Conor Sheary made BU pay for their lack of aggression, as he picked up a loose puck in the high slot, turned around and slammed it home five hole on Matt O'Connor (46 saves). It was his 5th of the year.

That goal (as if it wasn't already) sung the momentum greatly into the Minutemen's hands. UMass dominated the rest of the frame and after calling a time out and pulling goalie Steve Mastalerz, they tied it with less than a minute left. Ray Pigozzi got credit for the goal as a shot got through from the point and deflected off his stick, past O'Connor to tie it 3-3 with just 50 seconds left.

Before the collapse took place BU actually played a pretty decent game. They took a 1-0 lead midway through the first on Cason Hohmann's 8th of the year. Nick Roberto dished to the Texas native from behind the net and at the bottom of the crease, Hohmann beat a sprawling Mastalerz.

With less than a minute to play in the first period, Umass leveled the game on a power play. Brandon Gracel banged home his 11th of the year just outside the crease to tie it before the period ended.

BU regained their lead on an odd man rush in the second. Matt Lane and Cason Hohmann set up Ahti Oksanen for an absolute bomb from the top of the circle. Mastalerz had zero chance to stop it.

In overtime BU carried the play in the begining, but much like the game, Umass took over late. In the end though, nothing was decided and the final score was 3-3.

Matt O'Connor played out of his mind tonight and really gave his team a chance to win. As mentioned before, he made 46 saves as BU was outshout 49-22. He will get the start against BC in Beanpot Round One on Monday.