By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Providence (Hockey East) December 2-3, 2016
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Providence, Rhode Island; Mascot – Friars; This Year’s Record – 5-5-2 (1-3-1 HEA), 4-1-2 at home, BU leads all-time series 106-55-15; Fun Fact – Rematch of the 2015 National Championship Game, Providence won 4-3.
The Boston University Terriers hit the ice again this weekend after ten days off for a home-and-home conference series with the Providence College Friars.
The Terriers faltered in their last Hockey East game, losing to UConn, 4-0, at home. But on Tuesday, BU rebounded in a big way, taking down Harvard at Agganis Arena, 5-3. Nick Roberto banked the game-winning goal off the back of Crimson goalie Merrick Madsen early in the third period as the Terriers came from behind twice to knock off their Beanpot rival.
“Whether you’re preparing for Friday or Saturday, you’ve just got to be ready to play,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start on Friday night and build off of Tuesday night.”
Providence also suffered a loss in their most recent Hockey East match-up, falling last Friday to Merrimack, 5-2. The Warriors scored five in the final twenty minutes to steal two points from the Friars.
Like the Terriers, PC is coming off a win over an ECAC opponent, knocking off Colgate, 3-2. Providence defenseman Anthony Florentino scored once and assisted on the other two goals en route to the victory.
The last time Providence and BU met was last November, with the teams settling for two consecutive ties. In the series finale, the Terriers rallied from 2-0 down to take a brief 3-2 lead before the Friars equalized late in the third period via a Jake Walman power play goal.
This season, the Friars are paced offensively by sophomore Erik Foley. The Winnipeg Jets prospect leads the team with six goals and eight assists. Foley is also a team-high +6 on the season and has ripped 27 shots on net through 12 games.
On defense, Anthony Florentino and Jake Walman are the top blue-liners for PC. Florentino has collected 10 points this season, four coming on the power play. Walman has been just as potent on the power play, with five of his seven assists on the man-advantage. The two have taken a combined 73 shots on net and provide a lot of Providence’s offensive production.
“[Walman and Florentino] are good players,” said Coach Quinn. “Walman certainly loves to shoot so we’ve got to be ready to get after him and keep the puck out of his hands.”
In net, Hayden Hawkey has been the man in the crease for Providence all season, replacing last year’s denizen Nick Ellis. The sophomore has put up a paltry .884 save percentage and a 2.73 goals against average in 12 games.
For the Terriers, freshman Patrick Curry has stepped up as of late, appearing on the second forward line against Harvard. Curry scored and added an assist last Tuesday and was a major presence on the BU fore-check all night long, forcing turnovers and disrupting Harvard’s attacking rushes.
“[Curry] plays with energy and plays with pace and he’s got skill,” said Coach Quinn. “He’s a guy who you could put on the top line and not miss a beat. He did that against Harvard and he’s been a good player since the minute he got here.”
Health wise, Boston University will see assistant captain Nikolas Olsson return to the lineup this weekend after missing a chunk of time with an upper-body injury. However, senior Tommy Kelley will be out this weekend with a lower body injury and Clayton Keller remains out this weekend.
On defense, John MacLeod continues to show signs of improvement from last season. With four points in ten games this season, the junior has been a physical presence in the defensive zone all season. Offensively, MacLeod has proven to be a playmaker and solid puck mover.
As to who will be between the pipes for BU this weekend, Coach Quinn has not decided how he is going to split the weekend. Both Connor LaCouvee and Jake Oettinger have seen equal time over the past four games and could very well split the time again this weekend.
Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Both games can be heard on mixlr.com/wtbusports with Chris Picher on the call.
PREDICTION – BU gets three points
The Terriers will play to a hard-fought tie on Friday night to extend their winless run against Providence to five games before turning their fortunes around on Saturday with a convincing home victory at Agganis.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Score First
When leading at any point, Providence is known to almost “park the bus” and are nearly impossible to break down. The Friars have won once this season when opponents score first and are winless when tied or trailing after the first period.
“We’ve got to be able to skate and set the tempo,” said Quinn.
- Stay Disciplined
Providence opponents take an average of 22 PIM per game this season against the Friars, who have always been good at frustrating opposing teams to draw penalties. The Terriers will have to play smart hockey and be physical without taking penalties.
- Play a Full 60 Minutes
Providence is yet another team on BU’s schedule that is most productive in the first period. Not only will BU need to be sharp in the opening 20 minutes, but the final 40 as well. The Terriers must play a pair of full games this weekend against the Friars in order to be successful.