Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend Lookback: No Bye

Player of the Week
Charlie McAvoy
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
This past weekend, I was not in South Bend but, I did get to watch Saturday's game on tape delay in the middle of the night Saturday. Well, I think by the time I watched it was more like early Sunday morning, but whatever. It was a busy weekend. Anyway, from what I was able to watch, BU looked snakebitten in game two. 

They had a lot of good chances to get on the board, but Cal Peterson had an answer for everything that night. BU did everything but score when they pulled Sean Maguire in the final minutes for the extra attacker. That is one of the promising things I'm going to take out of that game. They had a good minute and a half set up 6 on 5, which a playoff game very well could come down to. 

Maguire looked as if he had not missed a beat after sitting out the UNH weekend. BU, as a whole, looked a hell of a lot better than just a week ago. Having everyone back clearly makes a huge difference. 

Having their full roster is absolutely critical going into the playoffs. Right now, everyone is back, healthy and good to go. Unfortunately, the way things played out on Saturday has BU playing UMass in the first round of the Hockey East Playoffs. A win over Notre Dame on Saturday would have seeded them in third and a first round bye. So instead of getting a week off to heal up, BU is thrown right back in to the fire and get to play a team that they have pretty much rolled over already. In the two prior matchups this season, BU beat UMass 7-2 and 6-3. 

Charlie McAvoy
Somehow a kid who could very easily go late in the first round of the NHL draft (hey Bruins) this summer has flown a bit under the radar. In years past, guys like Colin Wilson, Brian Strait, Dave Warsofsky to name a few, have played on the USA WJC team and have come back better than ever. McAvoy's name is the next to be added to that list. Was he a bad player before the tournament at the begging of the calendar year? Hell no. 

That's not to say he hasn't improved a lot. Being the youngest player in college hockey McAvoy had to adjust to a completely different game speed  and in the second semester, he has really ramped up his play. He looks way more confident on the ice. Early in the year, he seemed to struggle a bit defensively. The offensive flare was there from day one. He was on the power play opening night in Union and even scored his first collegiate goal that night. Now, he looks much more sure of himself defensively. He is stepping up and pinching in the right places and playing strong in front of his own net. Playing along side Matt Grzelcyk doesn't hurt either. 

Looking Ahead 
As stated before, BU will play in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs as they host UMass. BU has never hosted an opening round playoff game since Hockey East expanded their playoff format in 2014. That season, BU finished 9th and played at Notre Dame. Last year the Terriers were the number one seed and did not play in the octo-finals. 

The last time BU faced UMass in the Hockey East tournament was 2006. BU won that series in two games en-route to the Hockey East Championship.  

The rest of the octo-finals look as follows: 
11. Maine @ 6. Northeastern
10. New Hampshire @ 7. Merrimack
9. Vermont @ 8. UConn

At The Polls
BU was once again ninth in the USCHO poll. Quinnipiac was one, North Dakota jumped up from fourth to second. BC fell back a spot to three from two, while Providence jumped up one peg from fifth to fourth. Finally, St. Cloud rounded out the top five. 

BU was all the way up to 7th in the PairWise after winning on Friday, but fell back into a tie with ND at 9th. 

Around Hockey East
Friday: Boston College dropped Lowell 3-1 at home… Northeastern took care of Maine 5-3 at Matthews… Providence dropped UMass at the Mullins Center 4-1… UConn fell New Hampshire 4-1 in Hartford… Merrimack got past Vermont 4-1 at Lawler… BU beat Notre Dame 3-2 in South Bend.


Saturday: Northeastern steamrolled Maine 7-1 at home… Providence completed the sweep of UMass with a 6-0 blanking… Lowell edged BC 3-1 at Tsongas… UConn swept UNC with a 5-4 overtime win… Merrimack shutout Vermont 2-0… Notre Dame also shutout BU 1-0. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Weekend With The Irish

It's hard to believe this is the final weekend of the regular season. BU heads west to South Bend to wrap up Hockey East play and there are four critical points on the line with the Irish.  

If BU sweeps Notre Dame, the Terriers will finish third, the highest they possibly can. If both BU and Lowell are both swept, BU finishes fourth. Finally, if both teams sweep or both split, Lowell wins the tie breaker because of their head to head record vs Boston College. 

Now that we got that confusing mess out of the way, let's look a little closer at the series itself. Both BU and Notre Dame are currently tied at 8th in the PairWise and that gives a great national scope as to how close these teams are. What hasn't been close is the head to head results in recent years. 

BU has just one win in their last nine games with the Irish dating back to October 2009. The lone Terrier win came in the 2010 Icebreaker Invitational Final in St. Louis. BU has never won at ND's Compton Family Arena. They are 0-4-0 in the barn, including a loss in the first ever game in the building, 5-2 on New Year's Eve 2011. 

Last weekend, ND was swept in a two game road series at Providence. Friday night's game was a 3-2 overtime loss and Saturday 3-1. ND has been on a roll since the break. In their last  19 games, the Irish are 13-3-3. The only other loss in that stretch was a 4-0 blanking at home by Boston College. Notre Dame beat up on some lesser teams during the stitch with wins over UMass (x2), Western Michigan (x2), Merrimack (x2), New Hampshire (x2), and Maine (x2) to name a few. 

It's hard to put a finger on how this weekend will go. BU has played Providence really close, but that was way back in November. The blow out loss to BC stand out because BU has played the Eagles about as close as you possible can without getting a win. ND and BU feel like the same team and the PWR shows that. They both "held serve" against some weaker teams in the league and won some games against high ranking teams earlier in the year. It will make for a very entertaining series. 

Scouting the Irish
Sophomore Jake Evens leads the team in scoring at 32 points (8 goals and 24 assists). Anders Bjork and Thomas DiPauli, who were both members of the USA WJC team at one point, come in as the 2and 3 ranked scorers on the Irish. DiPauli leads the team in goals scored at 12. ND has five players with double digit goal totals, but no one with more that 12. Other players to watch include: Mario Lucia, Sam Herr and Steven Fogarty. 

In goal, Notre Dame has one of the best in Cal Peterson. He comes into this game with a .930 save percentage and a 2.19 goals against. Peterson will be BU's biggest issue this weekend. The guy can straight steal a game. Hell, he owns the NCAA record for saves in a single game with 87. 

Out of Conference Common Opponents
Harvard
Harvard 4, @ Notre Dame 1 (November 27, Shillelagh Tournament)
BU 6, @ Harvard 5 (January 7)

Denver
Denver 4, @ BU 5 (OT) (October 31)
Notre Dame 1, @ Denver 1 (January 1)
Notre Dame 2, @ Denver 2 (January 2)

BU Notes 
Coach Quinn said earlier this week that things were looking good on Robbie Baillargion (upper body) and Brandon Hickey (right leg) injures and Sean Maguire (broken finger) was "day to day". This all according to Scott McLaughlin's College Puckcast.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bracket Projections Week 5


Current PairWise
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. Boston College
4. North Dakota
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Yale
8t. Denver
8t. Notre Dame
8t. Boston University
11. Nebraska Omaha
12. Harvard
13. Lowell
14. Cornell
15. Penn State
16t. Minnesota 
16t. Miami
16t. Michigan Tech (WCHA)
23. Robert Morris (AHA)

Every league in the NCAA must have one team in the field and here I am assuming the highest rated team in the PairWise has won their respected conference tournament. So, Robert Morris and Michigan Tech get in and Penn State, Minnesota and Miami are out. RPI tiebreakers put Denver at 8, Notre Dame 9 and BU 10. 

The Field 
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. Boston College
4. North Dakota
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Yale
8. Denver
9. Notre Dame
10. Boston University
11. Nebraska Omaha
12. Harvard
13. Lowell
14. Cornell
15. Michigan Tech 
16. Robert Morris

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 mater 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. Robert Morris
8. Denver vs 9. Notre Dame

St. Paul 
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Michigan Tech
7. Yale vs 10. Boston University 

Albany
3. Boston College vs 14. Cornell
6. Michigan vs 11. Nebraska Omaha

Cincinnati
4. North Dakota vs 13. Lowell
5. Providence vs 12. Harvard

While there are no inter-conference match up, we can still try and attempt to make attendance better. Moving BU and Notre Dame is an easy flip. BU to Worcester and ND to St. Paul. We could also take Yale and move them to Worcester and send Denver to St. Paul. Essentially we just flipped the location of the first round match ups in those two brackets. We could do the same with the other two brackets but that would torch any idea of keeping bracket integrity. Cincinnati attendance as it is would be awful if we didn't change anything. Providence to Albany and Michigan to Cincinnati would help a bit.    

Final Bracket

Worcester
1. Quinnipiac vs 16. Robert Morris
7. Yale vs 10. Boston University 

St. Paul 
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Michigan Tech
8. Denver vs 9. Notre Dame

Albany
3. Boston College vs 14. Cornell
5. Providence vs 11. Nebraska Omaha

Cincinnati
4. North Dakota vs 13. Lowell
6. Michigan vs 12. Harvard

New This Week: Cornell

Out This Week: Penn State

Monday, February 22, 2016

Weekend Lookback: 3 Out of 4 Isn't Great

Player of the Week
Danny O'Regan
Hattick on Friday night, one goal
Saturday. Was also named
Hockey East Player of the
Week.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
This was a bit of a strange weekend. BU took three of a possible four points from New Hampshire and yet it seems like a total failure. Going into the weekend, BU was three points behind Lowell who was idle this weekend. They successfully caught the River Hawks, but still are tied with them entering the least weekend of the season with 26 points. 

Both Lowell and BU have huge tests this upcoming weekend. BU is at third place Notre Dame for a pair of games and Lowell has a home in home series with first place Boston College. It works out to be a pretty simple scenario. If BU sweeps ND, the Terriers will finish third, the highest they possibly can. If both BU and Lowell are both swept, BU finishes fourth. Finally, if the both teams sweep or both split, Lowell wins the tie breaker because of their head to head record vs Boston College. 

Being the higher seed means getting a first round bye. It also grants you home ice in the almost inevitable showdown between BU and Lowell in the quarterfinals. Whoever does finish fifth will almost certainly (99% according to Playoff Status.com) face UMass in the octofinals. I don't see either of these teams losing to UMass in a three game series.  

Going back to this weekend, I was not at Saturday night's game, but what I have heard and read about the game wasn't great. BU jumped out to a 3-0 lead and pretty much put it on cruise control while UNH mounted a comeback to make it 3-2 in the third. Friday night at the Whitt was one of the more frustrating games in a long time. BU totally dominated the game but only came out with a tie. 

Injuries Starting to Mount
Watching BU the last few weeks has reminded me a bit of how the Patriots season went. Coming out of the break the teams was on fire. They had just dropped Quinnipiac in Hamdon and came back to beat Harvard in stunning fashion. BU finally got everyone back from injury and the goaltending woes of this first semester were a distant memory. Then, just like the Pats, the injury bug came back. Sean Maguire broke his finger and Conor LaCouvee took over the cage this weekend. 

In addition to Maguire being out, Brandon Hickey injured his right leg on Friday night off a brutal hit from behind. There is no timetable on his return. Then, there is Robbie Balliargeon. He was also absent from this weekend's games with a "lower body injury". Oh, and lets not forget that Nik Olsson has already been ruled out for the rest of the year with a shoulder injury. 

All the injuries led to an interesting lineup this weekend. Dillion Lawrence saw time as the fourth line center in both games. Shane Switzer took over in place of Hickey on Saturday night and actually recorded a pretty nice assist to Danny O'Regan to put BU up 2-0. Both Lawrence and Switzer were playing in their first games since Quinnipiac on December 12th. The decision to play Switzer was a bit of a strange one. John MacLoud is (presumably) healthy. Why he wasn't in there is anyone's guess. 

O'Regan Heating up
After going pointless in his last three games, Danny O'Regan exploded for a four goal weekend. He notched all three of BU's goals on Friday night and added another one on Saturday. He now has 14 goals and 22 assists for a team leading 36 points. 

The three game drought in production could have come to adjusting to new linemates. Since Jordan Greenway has been moved up with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and O'Regan on the top line, the three have been taking over games. I feel like I say it every week, but Greenway is an absolute force in the corners. Once he gets the puck, it is almost impossible to legally take it away from him. Also, he is the perfect compliment to JFK and O'Regan. Two skill guys with a moose that can win battles and move the puck is a tough combination for any opposing team to face. 

Quotables
Danny O'Regan: “I was having trouble finding the net the last couple of weeks, so it was nice to get some chances on net and have a few go in for me. It was a good weekend for me, but I wish we got four points instead of three"

Connor LaCouvee: “It kind of sucked for a good portion of three weeks or so, but then I was just, ‘Well, there’s no sense being a moody little kid; I might as well just work hard and support the team.’ ‘Mags’ is playing unreal, so I keep supporting him. You never want to come in and play when someone’s injured, but it was really nice to come in and get a couple of games there. I was shaky for the first bit, but it was awesome that we got three points — would’ve liked to get the fourth.”

Dave Quinn: “There was a lot I liked about our game tonight but obviously the result isn’t what we wanted. Obviously i thought we possessed the puck well, got pucks to the net, just weren’t able to capitalize and our goals we had to earn.”

At The Polls
BU stayed pat in the 9th slot in the USCHO rankings. In fact, there was no change to the top six teams either. Quinnipiac 1, BC 2, St. Cloud 3, North Dakota 4, Providence 5, and Yale 6. 

BU climbed into a three way tie with Denver and Notre Dame in the PWR. Due to the RPI tiebreaker, BU is basically in 10th. 

Around Hockey East
Tuesday: Lowell avoided a scare and came back to beat America International 5-4 in Springfield. 

Friday: Merrimack took down Maine 6-4 at the Alfond… Providence snuck past Notre Dame 3-2 in overtime at home… Northeastern rolled over UConn 5-2 in Hartford… Boston College topped Vermont 3-1 at the Gutt… Lowell won a non conference game against UMass in Amherst… BU and UNH played to a 3-3 tie in Durham. 


Saturday: Maine upended Merrimack 3-2 in overtime… Northeastern completed the sweep of UConn with a 4-1 home win… Providence swept Notre Dame after a 3-1 win… Boston College also finished off a sweep of Vermont with a 4-1 win… BU beat New Hampshire 3-2 at home. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

UNH Steals A Tie From BU.

To say BU should have won last night’s game at the Whittemore Center vs UNH that ultimately ended in a 3-3 tie would be a total understatement. BU controlled the pace of play and had numerous scoring chances to put the game away.

After a scoreless first period, that saw BU do everything but score, it took Danny O’Regan just twelve seconds to put BU on the board in the second frame. Jordan Greenway and Matt Grzelcyk picked up the assists on O’Regan’s first of three on the night. 

O’Regan put the Terriers up 2-0 later in the period on the power play. Grzelcyk fed him with a cross-box pass that O’Regan one-timed past out-stretched UNH goalie Danny Tirone. Charlie McAvoy also had an assist on the play.

Just as BU looked to be running away with the game and finally cashing in on some opportunities, UNH struck back on their second uncontested breakaway. Connor LaCouvee, who was in goal in place of the injured Sean Maguire (broken finger), turned aside a shorthanded breakaway attempt in the first period. He wasn’t so fortunate this time around as Jamie Hill got in behind the BU defense and slipped a backhander through LaCouvee’s legs for his third goal of the year. The goal came just 38 seconds after O’Regan’s second goal.

UNH tied things up on a power play less than three minutes later. Grzelcyk was in the box for both cross checking and slashing that gave UNH a four-minute power play. Michael McNicholas wasted little time as he slammed in a goal to LaCouvee’s blocker side off the rush set up by Andrew Poturalski and Matias Cleland.

Then things got ugly. As if there hadn’t been enough penalties in this game already, Shane Eiserman took things to the next level. He completely destroyed Brandon Hickey from behind into the boards. Hickey stayed down for quite a while before he was helped off the ice. He could barely put any weight on his right leg. He did not return. Eiserman was tossed and BU had a five-minute power play the bridged the end of the second and the start of the third period.

The split seemed to really hinder the Terriers, as it was not their best power play. BU managed just two shots on the entire man advantage.

Some incredibly horrendous fundamental hockey by UNH helped BU dominate the third period. Turnover after turnover led to some long extended attacking zone-time for the Terriers. Jordan Greenway was toying with UNH players in the corner when they tried to get the puck out. Matt Lane also had a bid right out in front that Tirone absolutely stonewalled him on.

Finally, UNH stepped too close to the fire. A failed breakout and a turnover right in front of Tirone lead to a rebound bid by Greenway and eventually the puck made its way from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s stick to O’Regan at the top of the crease. O’Regan finished off his hattrick and put BU in the lead with 2:32 left.

The lead lasted all but 35 seconds.

Cameron Marks sent a shot into the mixer and Marcus Vela got a stick on it to redirect it on goal. LaCouvee made the initial save, but Maxim Gaudreault was Johnny-on-the-spot for a loose puck in the crease and put in the game tying goal with 1:57 left.

JFK just missed winning the game with a buzzer beater shot that went though the crease with less than two seconds left in regulation. The Terriers continued to dominate in overtime. They threw four shots on Tirone, but the netminder stopped all four. Tirone finished with 37 saves. LaCouvee made 19.

This was one of the more disappointing ties in recent memory. BU was by far the better team and really needed the points from this weekend to gain ground on Lowell in the standings.


The two teams go at it again in about three hours in Boston.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Weekend With The Wildcats

This weekend, BU and UNH square off in a rematch of last year's Hockey East semifinal game at TD Garden. Game one will be at 8:30 (thank you ASN TV!) in Durham on Friday night and game two will be at a normal hour back in Boston on Saturday. Both teams are fighting for playoff position. BU is looking to get into the top four and pick up a first round bye and UNH sits in eighth. The eight seed is the last team to host a first round (octo-finals) series at home. The Wildcats are one point ahead of ninth place UConn and two points behind seventh place Vermont. 
From The Vault
Matt Lane leads a rush up ice in a game at the Whittemore
Center early in his freshman year. UNH won this game 4-1.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
UNH has won just two of their last 12 games and that includes a seven game losing streak from January 2nd to the 29th. Their last win came two weeks ago at Lowell. At 10-15-5, the Wildcats record may not be the greatest, but they have played teams very tight. In some recent losses, they fell 1-0 to Lowell, 4-3 to BC and 3-2 to Notre Dame. 

Last year, the two teams split a weekend series in mid February. BU won the first game at Agganis and then fell behind 4-0 the next night at the Whitt before storming back in the third. The comeback came up one goal short and UNH won 4-3. 

Scouting The Wildcats
Sophomore Andrew Poturalski not only leads the team in scoring with 22 goals and 25 assists, but his 47 points are good for second in the nation. Michigan's Kyle Connor has just a one point lead on him. His line mate Tyler Kelleher has also put up impressive numbers, registering 8 goals and 34 assists. That point total is fourth best in the country. Other players to watch include: Dan Correale, Maxim Gaudreault and Matias Cleland.

Last year Daniel Tirone was a mid-season addition and really helped stabilize the UNH goaltending situation. This year, he has decent numbers. In 27 appearances, the sophomore from Trumbull, Connecticut has an 8-14-5 record and a 3.31 goals against average to go along with a .900 save percentage. Last year, he was 14-6-0 with a 2.14 goals against and a .924sv%.

Out of Conference Common Opponents
Union 
BU 3, @ Union 5 (October 10)
UNH 5, @ Union 2 (October 24)

Bentley
Bentley 0, @ BU 3 (November 24)
Bentley 4, @ UNH 5 (November 28)

BU Notes

Would not not surprised if the lines got shaken up this weekend, but I have not seen anything yet. 

This Week In '06: Beanpot Champions

BU was entering their 12th straight Beanpot final and on Monday March 13th faced off with Boston college looking to win back to back titles.

Peter Herald got BC on the board late in the first with a power play goal. BU responded with two goals in about five minutes in the second fame. First, Boomer Ewing struck at 4:07 and then Jason Lawrence put BU in the lead at 9:52.

Stephen Gionta leveled the game early in the third for the Eagles and it looked like it was going to be another nail-bighting finish to the Beanpot... It took BU less than a minute to retake the lead on the power play.

“After they scored to tie it up, they took that penalty almost right away, and Pete [MacArthur] came up to me,” Terrier goalie John Curry said. “He never does this, but he goes, ‘We’re going to score here.’ And I said, ‘Okay: I’ll take it.’ -From USCHO

MacArthur batted a puck out of mid air at the top of the crease. The goal held up and proved to be the eventual game winner.

“And sure enough. He had a good opportunity right before [the goal], and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s really going for it.’ And then he was able to bury that one. So that was pretty cool: I couldn’t believe he actually pulled it off.”

John Curry had a relatively easy night in the cage. He turned aside 18 shots.

“I thought it was a great college hockey game,” Parker said. “I thought Boston College played extremely well in the first period, and we were back on our heels a little bit. I thought we played kind of tentative in the first period. We really clamped down pretty good in the second and third periods, didn’t give up a lot of grade ‘A’ chances. The second period was one of our best periods of college hockey in a long, long time. And it has to be that good to hold BC to the number of shots that we held them to.”

“Another thing that stood out to me is that you couldn’t possibly overestimate the answer that Peter MacArthur had after they made it 2-2,” Parker said. “That just took the wind right out of their sails. They’ve got momentum and they’re going pretty well, and bang, it took us right back to the top of our game again.

The Beanpot championship brought the win streak to 11 straight games. 

Following the Beanpot, BU faced UNH in a home in home series. 

Friday February 17, 2006 
BU could not have gotten off to a hotter start in this one and it seemed that they were absolutely going to steamroll UNH right out of Agganis. David Van Der Gulik, Jekabs Redlihs and Brad Zancanaro all scored within the games first 6:32. 

UNH answered 32 seconds later. It was 3-1 in less than seven minutes played. The Wildcats chipped away at the lead and by the end of the second, it was 4-3 BU. Zancanaro scored a power play goal sandwiched between two UNH tallies. 

The Wildcats took off in the third. They scored four goals in four different scenarios: 4 on 4, power play, penalty shot and an empty net goal to seal the deal. The win streak came crashing down around BU in a game that they really should have had. 

“We were not thorough out there, then we got less thorough,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We were not smart, and then we got less smart.”

“You are always worried how the players are going to react in a situation like that,” said Parker about the Beanpot win. “But I thought, since we were playing against UNH, we wouldn’t have that problem. They knew how big a game this is.

“I liked the first six minutes, and I think my team liked it too much. I think the worst thing that could have happened to us was getting up 3-0. They thought it was going to be easy.” - From USCHO

The next night, BU got back on track and won a huge game up at the Whitt. They again jumped out to an early lead. Van Der Gulik got BU on the board 6:28 in and John Laliberte made it 2-0 later in the frame. 

Less than five minutes into the second, Boomer Ewing put BU in an uncomfortable 3-0. UNH again came back. Gregg Collins scored before the second period ended and Brett Hemingway notched a power play goal midway through the third to make it a one goal game. 

Thankfully, the Terriers held on and picked up two points. Curry finished with 25 saves. 

Curent Record: 19-9-2
Current Ranking: 4th, up one slot from 5. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bracket Projections Week 4

Current PairWise
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Boston College
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8t. Denver
8t. Nebraska Omaha
10t. Yale
10t. Boston University
12. Harvard
13. Lowell
14. Penn State
15. St. Lawrence
16t. Minnesota 
16t. RPI
18. Michigan Tech (WCHA)
25. Robert Morris (AHA)

Every league in the NCAA must have one team in the field and here I am assuming the highest rated team in the PairWise has won their respected conference tournament. So, Robert Morris and Michigan Tech  get in, Minnesota, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence are out. Also, ties will be broken by RPI. Denver will be 8, Omaha 9 and Yale will be 10, BU 11.  

The Field of 16
1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Boston College
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8. Denver
9. Nebraska Omaha
10. Yale
11. Boston University
12. Harvard
13. Lowell
14. Penn State
15. Michigan Tech (WCHA)
16. Robert Morris (AHA)

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 mater 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. Robert Morris
8. Denver vs 9. Nebraska Omaha

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Michigan Tech
10. Yale vs 7. Notre Dame

Cincinnati 
3. North Dakota vs 14. Penn State
6. Michigan vs 11. Boston University

Albany
4. Boston College vs 13 Lowell
5. Providence vs 12. Harvard

There are two inter-conference game in the bracket and it is found in the Albany regional with Lowell vs BC. Yes, there are five Hockey East teams in the field and we could leave it as is, but this in not a hard switch. Lowell goes to Cincinnati, Penn State comes to Albany. Also, Nebraska Omaha and Denver are both NCHC schools. Moving Yale to Worcester and Omaha to St. Paul salves that problem and will help attendance. As for attendance, I don't really know what we can do without totally destroying the bracket integrity. I think the committee will try to get BU in the east and Denver in the west, but this week that might just not be possible. 

Last week I touched on the fact that they could switch the two east regionals with BC being the top seed in Worcester and Qpac in Albany. This week there is another possibility that could boost attendance and  totally screw a team out of a spot. Minnesota sits in 16th in the PWR and host the St. Paul regional. If you don't think the committee will do everything they possibly can to get the Gophers into the tournament you are lying to yourself. So watch out Penn State, you might get the shaft. I will keep PSU in the bracket this week because they deserve to be there, but it would not surprise me at all if UofM was slotted in their place. 

This Week's Bracket
Worcester
1. Quinnipiac vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Denver vs 10. Yale

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud vs 15. Michigan Tech
9. Nebraska Omaha vs 7. Notre Dame

Cincinnati 
3. North Dakota vs 13. Lowell
6. Michigan vs 11. Boston University

Albany
4. Boston College vs 14. Penn State
5. Providence vs 12. Harvard

New This Week: Penn State 
Out This Week: Cornell

Now let's look at the brackets if the committee does in fact put Minnesota in the tournament: 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Lookback: Let's Look Ahead

This weekend was a tale of two completely different games. Unfortunately, I was not at Saturday's game and I have no info on the game other than BU lost 6-3 and Dylan Zink netted a hat trick for Lowell. I was in the frozen hell that is Orono Maine in February playing two of my own games. We lost 5-4 and 13-9. I had 11 points in two games and 6 goals in game two… No, none of that was a typo. Club hockey is interesting to say the least. 

Player of the Week
Jordan Greenway, game winning overtime goal on Friday.
Greenway was also named Hockey East Rookie of the Week.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 

Anyway, since I really don't have much to add from this weekend, let's look ahead a little bit. There are just two weekends left in the regular season. This weekend, BU takes on UNH in a home and home series and then head out to South Bend to face Notre Dame in a two game set. 

With four games left, BU sits in 5th in Hockey East with 23 points, 3 behind Lowell. BU does have two games in-hand on Lowell, though. Obviously, the goal would be to get in the top four, get a bye from the opening round of the conference tournament and then host the quarterfinals at home. If that doesn't happen, BU is almost certainly going to finish fifth and face 12th place UMass. The Terriers are 7 points ahead of sixth place Northeastern and UMass has a strangle hold on last place. 

Playing in the opening round would not be the worst thing ever. BU should make quick work of whoever they face in that round and it will help their PairWise with two more wins on their schedule. The one thing that would not be ideal is if somehow they ended up having to face Notre Dame in South Bend in the quarterfinals. That would be two trips to ND in three weekends. Currently, The Irish have a one point lead on Boston College for the top seed in the tournament. 

Fun With Numbers
According to Playoff Status.com, BU has a 47% chance of finishing fifth and a 45% chance of landing at fourth. The Terriers have a less than one percent chance of winning the league and the same chance to finish worse than 5th. 

Long story short, BU will almost certainly finish fourth or fifth in Hockey East. BU has finished tied for third or better every year since 2004, with the exception of 2014 when they finished 9th. If BU finished outside the top four and win the tournament, they will not only be the first team not to get a bye and win the tournament, but also will be the lowest seed ever to win.   

BU almost won the tournament in 2003 as the five seed, but lost in overtime 1-0 to New Hampshire in the championship game.   

At The Polls
BU fell two slots in the USCHO poll from 7th to 9th. Quinnipiac was again first. Boston College moved up one slot from third to second, St. Cloud was third and North Dakota fell two spaces to fourth. Providence was the final team in the top five.

BU dropped into a tie for 10th with Yale in the PWR. They were 7th com into the weekend. 

Around Hockey East 
Tuesday: UMass beat America International 4-3 in overtime to win the Pioneer Valley Cup.

Friday: Notre Dame took care of Maine 4-1 at home… Boston College doubled up Merrimack 6-3 at Conte… Providence blanked UConn at Schneider… Vermont stuck past New Hampshire at the Whitt… Northeastern shutout UMass 5-0 in Amherst… BU took down Lowell 2-1 in overtime at Agganis. 


Saturday: Vermont and New Hampshire tied 2-2 in Durham… Providence completed the sweep of UConn win a 3-2 road win… Northeastern also swept UMass with a 4-2 win at Matthews… BC and Merrimack skated to a 5-5 tie at Lawler… Notre Dame finished off the home sweep of Maine with a 5-1 win. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Greenway, BU Walk Off vs Lowell

Jordan Greenway had BU's best scoring chance in overtime in Monday night's Beanpot final, but sent it just wide and second later, BC won the game. Tonight, he did not miss his chance to give BU sudden victory.
Mike Moran scores on a breakaway in the second period
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
With 30 seconds left, Lowell's Ryan Dmowski took a tough boarding call in the far corner. It sent Doyle Somerby awkwardly into the boards and the big defenseman was slow to get up. BU couldn't convert in the remaining 30 seconds of regulation, but just 29 ticks into overtime, the game was over on a power play goal. Ahti Oksanen setup Matt Grzelcyk for a straight away wrister from the center point. The shot was about letter-high and Greenway was able to get a stick on it and redirect the puck through Lowell goalie Kevin Boyle's legs for his fifth goal of the year. The goal was reviewed for a good while, but after a closer look, Greenway had indeed legally played the puck below the cross bar.

For the better part of two periods, this game looked and felt like a slightly less intense replay of Monday night. Both teams were knocking on the door but just could not break through.

"It's playoff hockey from here on in. It was a low scoring game and every inch of ice was contested for. I thought we had some great chances, we just weren't able to capitalize," said Coach Quinn following the game.

Matt Lane was turned aside on a first period partial breakaway by Boyle, who finished with 28 saves. Later in the second, Oksanen just missed high on a backhanded attempt. Lowell tested Maguire too. He made some really solid saves and it took a really flukey goal to beat him in the second frame, but we will get back to that. He turned away 25 shots in total.

This was a rather physical game, too. Greenway not only scored the game winner, but also dished out some punishment with his body as well. John MacLoud, who was finally back in the lineup, made the biggest hit of the night in the second frame when he cleaned out Ryan McGrath along the boards.

Finally, BU broke through. Charlie McAvoy threaded the needle with a brilliant stretch pass from in his own end, through the neutral zone to Mike Moran at the far blue line. Moran broke in from there and beat Boyle five hole for his third goal of the year. That ended BU's scoreless streak at 107:07 that dated back to the third period of the UMass game last Friday night.

Lowell answered in the third off a very strange goal. Maguire went back to play the puck and set up Somerby for a breakout behind the net. Thing was, Somerby and Maguire were not on the same page and the goalie ended up leaving the puck for Lowell's Ryan Dmowski. Dmowski tried a quick wraparound, but Maguire got back in time to make that save. The rebound however, kicked out into the slot and AJ White banged home the tying goal with 7:29 left.

In the middle of the first period, BU switched up their lines a bit. Ryan Cloonan shifted up to the top line with Danny O'Regan and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. Oskar Andrén was moved down to the fourth line with Robbie Baillargeon and Bobo Carpenter. It was a move that was long anticipated. Andrén can and probably will be a very good hockey player at BU. Cloonan's style of play fits in a lot more with O'Regan and JFK right now and that was probably the reason for the switch tonight.

The two teams will battle again tomorrow night at Tsongas Center.

Weekend With The River Hawks

This weekend, BU looks to get things back on track as they face Lowell in a critical two game home in home series. Tonight's game will be at Agganis, while Saturday night's tilt will be up in Lowell. The series has huge Hockey East playoff implications. Currently, BU sits in fifth, one slot out of a first round bye with 21 points. Lowell is in third with 24 points. Providence, who is as of right now the holder of the final first round bye is just two points ahead of BU. The Friars play UConn twice this weekend. 
From The Vault
BU celebrates after winning the 2015 Hockey East
 Championship game vs Lowell.
(Photo by Matt Dresens) 
SB Nation College Hockey has a nice breakdown of each team's current standing and upcoming strength of schedule and that can be viewed HERE.

Last season, BU dropped UML in all three meetings including the Hockey East Championship game by a score of 5-3.  

This weekend also has massive PairWise implications. Lowell, despite their 17-6-3 record which is 7th best in the nation, would currently only be a four seed in the NCAA tournament. Their strength of schedule is the reason. The River Hawks have the 37th hardest schedule in the county. BU on the other hand is in 8th in the PWR because have the 7th toughest schedule. 

Lowell lost just once in their 15 games before they were surprisingly swept by UConn in first weekend of December. Since then, they have pretty much held serve in the league, beating UMass, New Hampshire, and Providence. Last weekend they only picked up one point in two games, tying Northeastern and falling to UNH. Quality wins for Lowell include Notre Dame, @ Minnesota Duluth and Providence. 

Scouting the River Hawks 
Sophomore CJ Smith is the the overall leader in points on the River Hawks. In 28 games played, he has amassed 13 goals, 17 assists for 30 points. Right behind him are both Adam Chapie (27 pts) and Joe Gambardella (26 pts). After those three, there is a significant drop off in offensive production. Other Players to watch include: Dylan Zink, Michael Kapla and Jake Kamrass.

In goal, Kevin Boyle has a 16-6-5 record in 27 appearances and has posted a .935 save percentage to go along with a 1.74 goals against average.  

Out Of Conference Common Opponents 

None

BU Notes
- Expect the same lineup as the Beanpot.

- I will unfortunately not be at Saturday's game at Tsongas. I will be making the unenviable drive back up to Orono to play at the Alfond in my own games. Lucky me…

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Week In '06: The Higgins Goal

BU's win streak contiued to roll into a one game showdown with Lowell on February 3rd. They topped the River Hawks on the road in the last game prior to the Beanpot. Sean Sullivan, Brad Zancanaro, Peter MacArthur, Brandon Yip and Chris Higgins all scored in the 5-1 win. John Curry's shutout bid was snapped with less than two minutes to go by Kim Brandvold. He made 32 saves on the night.

That took the win streak to eight games in a row.

February 6, 2006
It was BU and Harvard in the opening round of the Beanpot. This was my first ever Beanpot game and boy was it a memorable one. With BU leading 1-0 off a Boomer Ewing goal just 1:23 into the game, Chris Higgins scored the undisputed greatest highlight-reel goal I have ever seen in person. I'm not even going to attempt to try and describe it, I just leave you with this video:


“We were in shock,” Terrier co-captain Brad Zancanaro said of the reaction on the bench. “That was a pretty phenomenal move.”

Harvard cut into the BU lead before the end of the first, but the Terriers answered back with two goals in the second from Lawrence and Zancanaro to take a 4-1 lead into the third.

Harvard made things more than interesting in the final frame. They notched two goals off the back of Alex Meintel and Dave Waters to make it 4-3 with less than five minutes left. Thankfully, David Van Der Guilk finally found the goal column for the first time since his injury with an ENG with seven seconds left to ice it.

Curry finished with 38 saves in BU's 9th straight win. It was also the 12th straight year BU advanced to the Beanpot Final.

“I was very, very pleased with a lot of areas of the game for the first two periods,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “I thought we played pretty well early on in the first, but the most disappointing part of the game was the way we played after we went up 2-0 in the first. I thought we started playing the offensive side of the puck and acted like it was going to be Point Night or an easy night.

“And then in the third period, the crowd left; the enthusiasm in the building was kind of low, and our enthusiasm went down. And we thought the game was over. They got the second goal, and then they stormed us. Curry had to play great the last 10 minutes of the game, and we were fortunate in the end … I’d have to say we kind of dodged a bullet tonight. We played very well, but we didn’t finish it.”- From USCHO

February 10th, 2006
The Terriers rounded out the week by hosting UMass at home. Despite the score only being 3-0, BU barnstormed the Minutemen. Kenny Roche scored one in the first and one in the third. Sandwiched between the Roache goals was Eric Thomassian's third period strike.

UMass goalie and curent LA Kings netminder John Quick turned aside 40 shots in the losing effort. Curry made 19 saves for his third and final shutout of the year. 

The win streak was now at 10 games heading into the Beanpot Championship game vs Boston College

Current Record: 17-8-2
Current Ranking: 5th, up one slot from 6th. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekend Lookback: Heartbreaker

Player of the Week
Sean Maguire
Stopped 71 of 75 shots faced (.945%)
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
With last night's crushing overtime loss to Boston College still on everyone's mind, let's all remember that there is still a ton of hockey to play this season. BU has a chance to not only rack up some points in Hockey East and get inside the top four, but also make a huge jump in the PWR. They face Lowell in a home in home next weekend, followed by a home in home with UNH, before rounding out the regular season with a two game set in South Bend vs Notre Dame. 

Before we get too far ahead, let's look back at this weekend. BU dominated UMass from the drop of the puck Friday night in Amherst. With a 5-1 lead midway through the third, the Terriers took their foot off the gas a bit. UMass scored two quick goals in less than a minute. Outside of that minute, BU was in full control. 

The lapse was probably more indicative of the score than anything else. It was also good to see BU get another goal to put UMass away and not let them hang around. 

If last night proved anything, BU can hang with anyone. They have already shown they can play with and beat the best teams in the nation. No matter where BU is seeded in the tournament come late March, they will be a tough out for anyone who has to play them.

Maguire Sensational
I give Sean Maguire a lot of praise on this site. From day one I thought he would be the goalie for this team. Last night, there were not enough words to describe how well he played. In short, he turned in one of the most remarkable goaltending performances I have ever seen. It ranks right up there with some of the Sean Fields, John Curry and Kieran Millan games where each goalie absolutely stood on their head. Time after time he came up with big saves of all different varieties. He turned aside breakaways, screen shots, stuff attempts and point-blank bids. 

Alex Tuch's game winning shot was an absolutely perfect screen shot, off the post and in. It was going to take that or a ridiculously flukey goal to beat either one of those goalies last night. 

Drawing Similarities
Last night's game almost identically paralleled the 2003 Hockey East Championship game between BU and UNH. UNH won the game 1-0 in overtime and Sean Fields stopped 40 of UNH's 41 shots. Maguire finished with 41 saves. Both goalies won tournament MVP in a losing effort. One other thing, both goalies wore number 31. 

Defense 
BU's penalty kill was better than ever last night. They clogged the middled and made zone entry much more difficult for the Eagles than in the series back in January. BU's defense also did a much better job gapping-up and not allowing BC to use their speed and burn them to the outside.

Greenway Coming Into His Own
Friday night, Jordan Greenway found the back of the net twice. Last night, he was once again the center of attention. The 6-5 forward was throwing his weight around in all situations. Other than hitting Demko in the second period, Greenway did exactly what he needed to. He has been an underrated part of BU's success this year and if he keeps playing like he did this weekend, he's going to be a tough guy to slow down. 

Quotables
BC goalie Thatcher Demko: “Maguire played unbelievable. He’s been one of the better goalies in our league all year, and he showed it tonight, for sure. All the awards he got after the game were well deserved. He definitely earned them.”

Coach Quinn: “That’s what people expect when they see BU and BC play — up-and-down action. Both teams had great chances in the second and the third. Unfortunately, it just takes one play to win it. And they made the play when they had to.”

At the Polls
BU moved up two notches from 9th to 7th in this week's USCHO poll. Quinnipiac and North Dakota were once again 1,2. Boston College was up one slot from fourth to third and St. Cloud fell back a peg to 4th. Providence was 5th. 

BU got as high as 7th in the PWR this weekend, but currently sit in eighth after the BC loss. 

Around Hockey East
Tuesday: Uconn dropped Brown 3-1 at home.

Friday: Boston College fought off UNH 4-3 at Conte… Notre Dame edged Vermont 2-1 in Burlington… Northeastern and Lowell skated to a 2-2 at Tsongas… Providence downed Maine 1-0 in overtime at the Alfond…. BU doubled up UMass 6-3 in Amherst. 

Saturday: Providence completed the road sweep of Maine with a 4-2 win… New Hampsire managed a split with Lowell after winning 3-2 in Lowell… Merrimack and UConn tied 2-2 at Lawler… Notre Dame beat Vermont 3-1.


Monday (Beanpot): Northeastern ran over Harvard 5-1 in the consolation game… BC topped BU 1-0 in overtime.

Bracket Projections Week 3

Current PairWise

1.Quinnipiac
2. St Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Boston College
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8. Boston University
9. Nebraska Omaha
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Denver
13. Lowell
14t. Cornell
14t. Penn State
16. Dartmouth 
19t. Robert Morris (AHA)
19t. Michigan Tech (WCHA)

Every league in the NCAA must have one team in the field and here I am assuming the highest rated team in the PairWise has won their respected conference tournament. So, Robert Morris and Michigan Tech get in, Penn State and Dartmouth are out. 

Field of 16

1.Quinnipiac
2. St Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Boston College
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8. Boston University
9. Nebraska Omaha
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Denver
13. Lowell
14. Cornell
15. Robert Morris (AHA)
16. Michigan Tech (WCHA)

The field is then broken into four groups or the four regionals 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 mater 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. Michigan Tech
8. Boston University vs 9. Nebraska Omaha

St. Paul
2. St. Cloud State vs 15. Robert Morris
7. Notre Dame vs 10. Yale

Cincinnati
3. North Dakota vs 14. Cornell 
6. Michigan vs 11. Harvard

Albany
4. Boston College vs 13. Lowell
5. Providence vs 12. Denver

We have one inter conference match-up: BC-Lowell in Albany. This is a quick fix. Move Lowell to Cincinnati and bring Cornell to Albany. There is a rule that states if a conference has five or more teams in the field, first round inter conference games can take place. That being said, I think the committee will do everything they can to get Cornell in the Albany regional for attendance purposes. Going off of that, I could also see Boston College as the top seed in Worcester. If that's the case, then Worcester and Albany regionals would just flip flop. It's all based off what the committee wants to do. Technically, QU has to be seeded closest to its campus as the are the number one overall seed. I'm just saying it would not shock me in the least if BC ended up in Worcester. 

For QU it is an hour and a half drive to Worcester and a two and half hour drive to Albany. For this week, I'll keep QU in Worcester because that is what is supposed to happen. As for other attendance boosters, swapping Michigan and Notre Dame may help out a bit in both respected sites. 

Final Bracket 

Worcester
1. Quinnipiac vs 16. Michigan Tech
8. Boston University vs 9. Nebraska Omaha

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

Cincinnati
3. North Dakota vs 13. Lowell
7. Notre Dame vs 11. Harvard

Albany
4. Boston College vs 14. Cornell
5. Providence vs 12. Denver

In this week: Michigan Tech, Cornell. 

Out this week: Mankato, RPI.