By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Merrimack (Hockey East) January 29, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENT – All-Time Series: BU leads 84-17-8
Location – North Andover, MA; Mascot – Warriors; This Year’s Record – 7-13-5 (2-7-5 HEA), 3-8-2 on the road; Fun Fact – BU has the better winning percentage against Merrimack than against any Hockey East opponent at .815
Heading into Beanpot week, the Boston University Terriers will look to gain some confidence and two valuable Hockey East points as they host Merrimack for the final time this regular season.
Merrimack will be returning to Agganis Arena for the first time since the Hockey East Playoffs back in March 2015 when the Terriers swept the Warriors emphatically.
The Warriors started the season 6-1-2, including wins over Clarkson and St. Lawrence out-of-conference. Since then, Merrimack is 1-12-3 with their only win coming over Canisius.
“They’re obviously desperate for points,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “They’re a team who’s going to make us earn everything we get as they always do. We know that our work ethic and physical play will be tested and we’ve got to be ready to match it.”
Boston University is fresh off a home-and-home sweep of the Maine Black Bears, outscoring them 11-3 over two nights. BU is 5-1-1 since knocking off Quinnipiac back in December.
“If we’re going to get to the top of the league this year, we are going to have to keep winning,” said Quinn. “The teams in front of us are going to start playing each other so there will be some opportunity to climb the standings and we’ve got to build on what we just did last weekend.”
This season, Merrimack is led by their two talented seniors Ben Bahe and Brian Christie. Bahe leads the team in goals with seven, more than half of his career output. Christie is the Warrior’s leading point-getter with 18 on the year, including 14 assists.
Defensively, Jonathan Lashyn has been a rock at the blue-line for Merrimack. He has recorded four assists and just one penalty in 25 games. Lashyn has taken 26 shots and is a team-high +10 this season.
In net for Merrimack will likely be Collin Delia. The sophomore has struggled to fill the void left by Rasmus Tirronen, who graduated last year. Delia boasts a .893 SV% and a 2.86 GAA through 21 games this year.
For the Terriers, three seniors sit atop the team in scoring. Danny O’Regan has a team high 28 points (8G, 20A). Ahti Oksanen and Matt Lane are tied for the team lead in goals with 13 each. Oksanen has taken 124 shots on goal while Lane is a team-high +16.
The Terriers will feature a juggled top forward unit as newcomer Oskar Andren will join O’Regan and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson on the BU first line.
Brandon Fortunato has been a top defenseman for the Terriers all season. With four goals and 14 assists, the sophomore is a +11 and has been a consistent playmaker his entire career.
In net for BU will be Sean Maguire. The senior net-minder has posted a .914 SV% and a 2.51 GAA in 12 games this season. With a 7-4-1 record this year, Maguire has been on a roll ever since beating Quinnipiac.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow night,” said Quinn. “You look at the standings and you want to play because there’s an opportunity to get two points. “We owe Merrimack and it’s an opportunity to keep climbing.”
Puck drop for Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and can be heard live on WTBU. Max Wolpoff and Marisa Ingemi have the call. Listen live on mixlr.com/wtbusports.
The Terriers fell to the Warriors in North Andover back in October by a score of 4-3. Merrimack was playing its best hockey then. Now, the Warriors are in a downward spiral with no sign of stopping. After what BU did to Maine last weekend, they should be able to dispatch the Warriors for two big points in Hockey East.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Special Teams
Merrimack has a power play of 8.3%, so the Terrier penalty kill should be able to get some confidence back this weekend. Meanwhile, the Warriors penalty kill is only 79.8%, a welcome sign for a lethal Terrier power play.
“We’ve got to many good players not to have a good power play,” said Quinn. “Hopefully we can right the ship going into Friday night.”
- Score Early and Often
The Warriors are 1-11-3 when conceding the first goal, and have struggled when playing from behind.
- Get Shots on Collin Delia
After a bright start to the year, the sophomore goalie has faltered, allowing over 10% of the shots he faces to get past him. Getting abundant shots on net will be crucial for victory.