By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Michigan (non-conference) November 11-12, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Ann Arbor, Michigan; Mascot – Wolverines; This Year’s Record – 4-3-1 (0-0-0 B1G), 2-1-1 at home, Terriers are 12-15-0 vs. Michigan all-time; Fun Fact – BU hasn’t played a two-game series at Yost Arena since October 2007, when Michigan swept BU.
After a successful opening weekend in Hockey East play, the Boston University Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey team will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a two-game series with the Michigan Wolverines.
“The guys are excited about heading out to Ann Arbor,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Playing a really good team in a great atmosphere. We’ve had some great games with them over the past two years and I’m anticipating another great weekend of hockey.”
The Terriers settled for a 4-4 tie last Friday against Northeastern, but would rebound the following night with a 3-0 victory. Freshman forward Clayton Keller had four points on the weekend to earn Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors.
There was a scary moment for the Terriers when Keller went down late in the third period on Saturday with an apparent leg injury. The freshman will be missing an extended amount of time with a lower body injury but will not require surgery, per Terrier head coach David Quinn.
“It’s week by week,” said Quinn. “Depending how his rehab goes and how quickly he recovers. But we’re a lot more optimistic today than we were three days ago.”
Michigan was in action for one game last weekend, defeating Arizona State 4-1 in Glendale, Arizona. Will Lockwood scored twice and Zach Nagelvoort recorded 31 saves in the win.
The two schools last met for a two-game series last season at Agganis Arena in Boston, with each side earning a victory. The Terriers scored three times in the third period to earn a 3-2 win on the first night. The following afternoon, BU came out slow and allowed three early goals en route to a 4-2 thumping.
This season, Michigan has been tasked with replacing its top seven scorers from last season, all of which left to join the NHL. Helping with production is freshman Jake Slaker. Through his first eight games, the forward has scored three goals and added four assists.
“[Michigan] has a good team,” said Coach Quinn. “They’re always getting good players. They may not have the experience they’ve had in the past but they do have a lot of good players. So we’ve got to be ready to go from the drop of the puck.”
Defensively, Nolan De Jong returns from last year’s NCAA Tournament team to serve as co-captain. With only two points and a +1 rating, De Jong leads Michigan defenseman with 12 shots on goal.
In net, Michigan will likely have both Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine this weekend. Both freshman goalies have appeared in three games this season and the starting job looks like it will be shared by the tandem.
For the Terriers, a key component of helping replace Clayton Keller’s offensive ability will be fellow freshman Patrick Harper. Leading BU in points with 11 through seven games, the fifth-round draft pick has shown he is skilled at creating space on offensive.
The Terriers depth will be thoroughly tested this weekend. Not only will Keller be out of the lineup but Ryan Cloonan and Nick Olsson have also been battling upper-body injuries. According to Quinn, Olsson is close to playing this weekend but Cloonan will likely be out for both games at Michigan.
Replacing Keller on the second line will likely be Nick Roberto. The senior forward has scored twice and added three assists this season. According to Coach Quinn, it will be a “mix-and-match situation” until the star freshman returns to the lineup.
On defense, Charlie McAvoy has assumed a huge roll as top blue-liner for this Terriers team. The sophomore has six assists this season and has only taken two penalties. He’s been a major contributor on the power play and penalty killing units for BU.
In net, Jake Oettinger has taken the starting job in stride for BU. He missed time last Saturday following an equipment issue, but otherwise has played in 98% of the minutes for the Terriers this season. With a 1.59 GAA and a .941 SV%, the 17-year-old is playing like a seasoned veteran.
“Jake’s had a great start,” said Coach Quinn. “Hopefully he can continue to build on what he’s been doing.”
Friday night’s game is set to begin at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday’s puck drop will be at 5:00 p.m. from Yost Arena.
PREDICTION – BU ties then wins
In what will be almost a carbon copy of last weekend, the Terriers will dominate Friday night only to find Michigan earning a tie due to lack of discipline. The following evening, BU will come out flying and earn a convincing victory.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Stay out of the Box
BU was extremely disciplined on Saturday night, playing much of the game at even strength. By staying out of the box, not only does BU give its opponents fewer opportunities to score, but the Terriers can begin to find a rhythm to the game.
- Weather the first period storm
Michigan, like many of BU’s opponents this season, have been dominant early in games but fall apart in the third period. BU will need to get out of the first period unscathed both nights to be successful.
“Hopefully we get off to a good start,” said Quinn. “We want to play 60 minutes of hockey and don’t want to let the other dictate how we play.”
- Keep your cool
Yost Arena is an overwhelming venue to play in for visitors. Unlike in Denver, BU needs to keep a level head in a hostile building and take the crowd out of the game as early as possible.