By: Dan Shulman
Northeastern vs. Boston University (Beanpot) February 1, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS – All-Time Series: BU leads 160-58-8
NORTHEASTERN: Location – Boston, MA; Mascot – Huskies; This Year’s Record – 9-12-4 (4-8-3 HEA), 1-1-0 on neutral ice; Fun Fact – Northeastern is 8-32 vs. BU in the Beanpot
BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Location – Boston, MA; Mascot – Terriers; This Year’s Record – 14-7-4 (8-4-3 HEA), 0-0-1 on neutral ice; Fun Fact – BU is the reigning Beanpot Champion, claiming its thirtieth title over Northeastern in overtime last season
The Boston University Terriers will look to repeat as Beanpot champions as they take on Northeastern in the semifinals; a rematch of last season’s thrilling final.
The Huskies have featured in the last three Beanpot finals, falling late in both games.
“I think you learn from every Beanpot experience,” said Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan. “It creates a little more incentive and drive to want to get over the top. It motivates our kids a little more.”
Northeastern won only two games in the first two months of the season, both coming against Colgate. Following a close loss to BC on December 6, the Huskies have gone unbeaten, posting a 7-0-1 record.
“Anytime you can be playing well coming into the Beanpot, it helps you,” said Madigan. “We have to take things one game at a time and in the Beanpot that will help us. It will help us remain balanced and neutral.”
Boston University has also enjoyed relative success in the second half. Following a 2-4-0 start to the season, the Terriers have gone 12-3-4, including wins over Denver, Harvard, and previously unbeaten Quinnipiac.
The Terriers are the defending champions, but Head Coach David Quinn feels that the target on BU’s back isn’t too big.
“I don’t think people think too much about the defending champions,” said Quinn. “It’s a new season. All four teams are different than they were last year.”
The teams last met in November for a home-and-home series in Hockey East. BU won both games, 5-4 at home and 4-1 at Northeastern. Terrier captain Matt Grzelcyk made his season debut during that series, registering four points.
“We’ll prepare for them like we did the first two games and like we do with every team,” said Madigan. “We’ll get ourselves straightened out. They’ve got a lot of skill and a tough team to play against.”
“They’re a good team with a lot of great forwards,” said Quinn. “Their goalie is playing well. They’re playing as well as any team in the country right now.”
This season, Northeastern is led by Zach Aston-Reese. The junior forward has amassed 23 points this year, including 16 assists. He is also a team-high +6 on the season.
Defensively, Garrett Cockerill has been a solid two-way player for the Huskies. With four goals and six assists, the sophomore is a +5 and has been a talented playmaker for Northeastern during his entire career.
Between the pipes for the Huskies will likely be Ryan Ruck. The freshman has assumed the full-time starting role, posting a 2.47 GAA and a .906 SV%.
On the other side, Boston University has featured a more balanced offensive attack this year. The second line has been the top offensive producing unit, with Ahti Oksanen, Jordan Greenway, and Matt Lane combining for 65 points (30G, 37A).
Defensively, Charlie McAvoy has emerged as of late. Despite not having found the net since opening night in October, the freshman has collected 12 assists and is becoming an established physical presence.
In net for BU should be Sean Maguire. The senior didn’t play from October 30 to November 24. Since then, he has played almost every minute in goal for the Terriers. Boasting a 2.33 GAA and a .921 SV%, Maguire has been on the rise and is playing the best hockey of his career.
“Anytime you can win a tournament in the middle of the season, it gives you a little experience to draw from,” said Quinn. “Hopefully we can have some success this year.”
Puck drop is scheduled for approximately 8:00 p.m. on Monday night following semifinal number one between Boston College and Harvard. The game can be seen on NESN and can be heard live on WTBU Radio.
Boston University has beaten Northeastern twice this season. Beating a team three times in one year is always difficult. The Huskies are also a completely different team and haven’t lost since the beginning of December. If BU gets the game’s first goal, the Huskies will have trouble playing from behind.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Penalty Kill
BU and Northeastern have struggled to kill penalties all season. In a game that promises to be a physical affair with a lot of penalties, the teams that stays disciplined could have an edge.
- First Period
Both teams’ worst period is the first. The Terriers are -1 and the Huskies are -14 in the first twenty minutes. The game could likely be dictated by the first period.
Each squad started the season indecisive about starting goaltenders. Both Ruck and Maguire struggled early but have found their rhythm and are playing top-notch hockey. It’s likely that a goaltending dual may occur in this semifinal.