By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. University of Prince Edward Island (Exhibition) – Saturday, October 1, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Mascot – Panthers; Last Year’s Record – 11-14-3 (Atlantic University Sport); Fun Fact – Joel Ward of the San Jose Sharks played four seasons for UPEI, amassing 135 points in 96 games.
The Boston University Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey Team’s long summer will come to an end on Saturday when the Terriers take the ice for an exhibition matchup with the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers.
The 2015-16 season came to a disappointing end for BU with three consecutive, deflating postseason losses. The worst one was their last, dropping a 7-2 result against Denver in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Likewise, UPEI dropped its final four regular season games to finish under-.500. and in sixth place of the Atlantic University Sport division. The Panthers faced two NCAA opponents last season, falling 3-1 at Harvard and 7-0 at Dartmouth on consecutive nights.
The Panthers were led on offense last season by Marcus Power. The junior forward ranked fifth in Atlantic University Sport with 32 points (10G, 22A). Fellow junior Brent Andrews led the Panthers with 13 goals.
Defensively, Ryan MacKinnon was the team’s top scoring defenseman a year ago. The sophomore had 14 points (7G, 7A) but was a paltry -8 for the season. In net, Mike Mahalak split time with the now graduated Mavric Parks last season. Mahalak posted a .914 save percentage and a 2.77 goals against average.
The Terriers return sophomore forwards Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jordan Greenway to the lineup this season. JFK was the top-line center last season, recording 30 points (10G, 20A) in 39 games. Greenway was one of the best puck-possession forwards last season, holding off defenders in tight areas to create chances.
BU will receive an offensive boost from freshmen Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller. The duo were linemates on the U.S. Under-18 team last season, leading the team in points. Keller scored 37 goals along with 70 assists while Bellows potted 50 goals and had 31 assists, both in only 62 games.
Defensively, the Terriers will be anchored by sophomore Charlie McAvoy, senior captain Doyle Somerby, and freshman Dante Fabbro. McAvoy was a +10 last season with 25 points to lead Terrier defensemen. Somerby, though just a +4, will fill the important role of replacing Matt Grzelcyk as team captain and a leader on and off the ice. The new boy Fabbro recorded 67 points (14G, 53A) in 45 games with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League last season.
In goal, the questions remains whether it will be junior Connor LaCouvee or freshman Jake Oettinger between the pipes this season. Saturday’s exhibition will likely feature both goalies in about 30 minutes of action. LaCouvee boasts a .902 SV% and a 2.82 GAA in his collegiate career. Oettinger, meanwhile, impressed with the U.S. U-18 team last year, recording a .908 SV% and a 2.38 GAA.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard live on WTBU.
PREDICTION – BU 6-1
The Terriers will need a little time to get their feet wet and feel out a game situation with a largely new cast of players. But after some early jitters, the offense will show flashes of just what they can do, overwhelming the Panthers.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Develop Chemistry
With a lot of new faces on the ice for BU, the players will need to develop some chemistry with their new linemates. The bigger question is how long it will take to shake off the rust from the offseason before the players enter a groove with one another.
- Goaltending Competition
With both Connor LaCouvee and Jake Oettinger vying for the starting job in net, both will get a chance to impress the coaching staff and audition for the job on Saturday night. The competition should work to make both net-minders better all around.
- Stay Disciplined
Penalties were a real problem for the Terriers last season, with the team averaging 10.6 PIM per game last year. If the Terriers can play a disciplined game against the Panthers, it could mean a sign of a good season ahead for BU.