By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Quinnipiac (Non-Conference) December 12, 2015
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Hamden, Connecticut; Mascot – Bobcats; This Year’s Record – 15-0-2 (6-0-2 ECAC), 9-0-0 vs. non-conference opponents; Fun Fact – This is the first ever meeting between the two teams
On Saturday, for the first time in the history of college hockey, the Quinnipiac Bobcats will take on the Boston University Terriers.
The Boston University Terriers, following a weekend split with Vermont, took on the Yale Bulldogs Friday at Ingalls Rink, falling to Yale by a score of (3-2).
Quinnipiac has been dormant since last Saturday when the Bobcats defeated Brown in Providence, Rhode Island, 3-0. It was the Bobcats’ third consecutive shutout, and their fourth in the last five games.
This season, the Bobcats are led by the forward core of Sam Anas (9G, 9A) and Travis St. Denis (8G, 9A), combining for 35 points on the year. Anas and St. Denis are among nine Bobcats with double digit points.
Another big contributor on offense is Tim Clifton. Leading the team with 10 goals, along with his five assists, Clifton has been the ‘old reliable’ this season for the Bobcats. He is third in the country with three game-winning goals, and has a prolific scoring touch.
Defensively, Devon Toews has played a big role in Quinnipiac’s success. With three goals and seven assists, Toews has been instrumental on both sides of the puck. He is tied with the team lead among skaters with a +13 rating.
In between the pipes for Quinnipiac will likely be Michael Garteig. The senior goalie bolsters a whopping .952 save percentage and a 1.13 goals against average. It will be the 99th appearance for Garteig, who holds a 61-21-11 career record.
“We’re playing a good goalie,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “We got to get bodies to the net and make sure we’re screening [Garteig]. Also shooting pucks, getting pucks to the net to get their defense turned around and make him work.”
The Bobcats are fifth in the nation with a 26.67% success rate on the power play. With the Terriers averaging 11.3 PIM per game, staying out of the penalty box is crucial.
“The last three games we’ve been much more disciplined,” said Coach Quinn. “We haven’t put ourselves in a tough position penalty-wise. As long as we stay out of the box and keep it at three or under penalties, we’re going to have a good chance.”
For the Terriers, the big story will be testing the depth of the team. BU will be without captain Matt Grzelcyk (knee), forward Nikolas Olsson (upper body injury), and Brandon Hickey (World Juniors) for the contest on Saturday.
Stepping in for the injured Olsson has been Tommy Kelley. The junior forward scored his first goal in two years last Friday against Vermont, and continues to look confident with every touch of the puck.
On defense, Brien Diffley has assumed the duties since Matt Grzelcyk injured his knee against Michigan. Diffley, who has seen time at both defense and forward this season, has recorded just two assists this season. However, the sophomore is a +3 and has only been penalized twice this season.
In net last night, Connor LaCouvee stopped 28 of 31 Yale shots. The sophomore has proven himself to be the everyday starter, and comes in with a .912 SV%, and a 2.68 GAA. Tonight’s starter remains undecided but it could be LaCouvee for a second consecutive game.
“We’ve played good teams before,” said Coach Quinn. “We just got to be ready. We need to play to our abilities and if we do that, we usually have success.”
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the TD Banknorth Sports Center and can be heard live on WTBU.
It would be nice for the Terriers to give the Bobcats their first loss of the season, but it seems far from likely. Quinnipiac, led by goalie Michael Garteig, are known to fall behind early before coming back late, much like BU. It’s a tough game to call but Quinnipiac should stay undefeated in a close game.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- No Penalties
This should be a given but it is especially important against Quinnipiac. The Bobcats have one of the country’s best power play units. And with BU’s struggling penalty kill, the Terriers need to play even strength hockey to beat the Bobcats.
- Beat Garteig
Michael Garteig and the Quinnipiac Bobcats hold a nation’s best 1.222 goals allowed per game. If the Terriers can find a way past Garteig, BU will be in contention to win.
- Defend, Defend, Defend
Quinnipiac averages 3.71 goals per game and has a powerful offense that will catch opponents in a daze. With players like Anas and Clifton buzzing, the Terriers will have to keep a keen eye on the Bobcats forward core.