By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Sacred Heart (non-conference) October 21; Quinnipiac (non-conference) October 22
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Sacred Heart: Location – Fairfield, Connecticut; Mascot – Pioneers; This Year’s Record – 1-2-1 (0-2-0 Atlantic Hockey); Fun Fact – First ever meeting between BU and Sacred Heart.
Quinnipiac: Location – Hamden, Connecticut; Mascot – Bobcats; This Year’s Record – 3-1-1 (0-0-0 ECAC); Fun Fact – Quinnipiac has games against seven Hockey East teams this season.
The Boston University Terriers will try to put last weekend’s disappointing results behind them when they welcome a pair of visitors from the Constitution State into Agganis Arena this weekend. BU will face the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Friday followed by the third-ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats on Saturday.
Boston University struggled to find its footing last weekend, getting swept at Denver. The Terriers fell behind 4-1 on Friday night and a late comeback wasn’t enough to prevent a 4-3 defeat. Saturday saw a lethargic Terriers team unable to keep up with Denver, falling 3-1.
“Nobody likes to lose hockey games,” said BU Coach David Quinn. “We certainly weren’t happy with the losses, but we’re looking at this big picture. Eight freshman in the lineup against a very good team and they were ready to play.”
The Terriers are led offensively by freshman Patrick Harper. Following an eight-goal preseason, Harper has come out of the gates firing, recording five points (2G, 3A) in three games. If Harper can rediscover his scoring touch, the Terriers may be poised to make a run.
Defensively, Brandon Hickey is also off to a flying start, with three points (1G, 2A) in three games. The junior, however, has taken three costly penalties this season. His defensive partner last weekend, Dante Fabbro, leads the team with a +3 rating.
In net, Jake Oettinger has started the first three games of the season, posting a .920 save percentage and a 2.38 goals against average. Waiting in the wings is Connor LaCouvee, the junior who played about half the minutes last season and could see time this weekend.
The Pioneers are coming off a 4-4 tie against Union in Fairfield. Two late goals from Sacred Heart helped finish off the comeback despite being dominated in the opening period.
At forward, Justin Danforth and Evan Jasper combined for 74 points last season and have picked up where they left off this season. Each has recorded three points so far this season with 33 shots on goal between them.
“Our mindset is to play hockey the right way,” said Coach Quinn. “Not put them in position where they can capitalize on it.”
Defensively, Mitch Nylen has been the top blue-liner for the Pioneers this season, recording an assist with a -1 rating and nine shots on goal.
Between the pipes for Sacred Heart will likely be Brett Magnus. The sophomore has played in all four games this season, garnering a .910 SV% and a 2.49 GAA.
The Bobcats have played its first five games against strictly Hockey East teams, going 3-1-1 so far. Most recently, Quinnipiac knocked off UConn, 5-2, this past Wednesday night. A one goal game midway through the second period was blown open by a pair of Quinnipiac goals as the teams stalemated for the final 28 minutes of regulation.
“We need to get off to a good start,” said Coach Quinn. “If we play well, the scoring will take care of itself. We’re trying to play 60 minutes of hockey.”
On offense, Tim Clifton recorded 43 points last season and is on point per game pace through the first five contests this season (3G, 2A). Despite his numbers, Clifton has a 0 +/- rating.
Defensively, sophomore Chase Priskie has scored once and added two assists with seven shots on goal. He also leads the team with a +3 rating.
In net, Quinnipiac has seemingly found a replacement for the departed Michael Garteig in Air Force transfer Chris Truehl. Through four games, Truehl has a .920 SV% and a 2.43 GAA.
Lining up against the Terriers this Saturday will be former BU forward Kevin Duane. In 36 games for the Terriers, Duane scored six goals and had four assists over the course of two seasons before making the move to Quinnipiac.
Also transferring from BU was defender Brandon Fortunato, who is sitting out this season because of NCAA rules. The junior was the first Terrier in over 40 seasons to go an entire season without a penalty called on him. In his entire BU career, Fortunato only took three penalties while recording 40 points (6G, 34A).
BU will find Friday night’s game routine if they can strike early. The win should provide a confidence boost for the Terriers. Saturday’s game will be a back-and-forth, dramatic, come-from-behind win for the Terriers against a tough Quinnipiac side. A late goal in regulation should prove the difference for BU.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- GENERAL: Stay Disciplined
Penalties have hurt this young Terrier team in the early goings. BU averages 16 PIM per game so far this season, so some discipline will be needed this weekend despite facing two opponents who have struggled on the power play.
- SACRED HEART: Set the tone early
The Pioneers losses have both come in games where the opponent has scored first. The Terriers will need to dictate the game early with a goal while controlling the puck for long periods. Look for a game similar to last year’s contest against Bentley.
- QUINNIPIAC: Patience and Persistence
The Bobcats are a team that struggles more towards the end of games. Quinnipiac is -2 in third period scoring and -11 in third period shots on goal. The Terriers have found success in the third period over the past few seasons and could use this to their advantage.