By: Jake Reiser
A new year. A new semester. And another half of hockey is coming for the Boston University Terriers.
Still, we’ve played one half of a season already, memories of thundering wins and hat tricks in the preseason, a weekend sweep of Connecticut teams and being weekend swept by Denver. A historic win at Yost Ice Arena, and more.
With that, let’s grade each of the Terriers first halves of the season with hopes of great performances to come in the new year.
Patrick Harper – A+
The little engine that could. No one expected what the 5’9″, New Canaan, Conn. native could do. Leading the Terriers in points with 20, tied for the lead in goals, he’s been a tremendously crafty and clever forward. His performance even garnered him a spot on the United States’ World Junior team, the only member to make the cuts despite not being at evaluation camp in August. My one gripe with him is that he could skate harder down the ice and be a bit more explosive, but honestly, looking for significant faults with him would be splitting hairs.
Clayton Keller – A+
I have to give Keller just as high a mark as Harper with good reason. Same amount of goals, seven, in 10 less games, three power play goals and two shorthanded tallies, Keller can do it all on the ice and in every situation. He might be a bit of a puck hog, but with valid reason because when the puck is on his stick, good things happen. His recovery from a knee injury was ahead of schedule, and his showing in the World Juniors shows that he could come back to BU raring to go with some important games to come.
Charlie McAvoy – A-
While the goal scoring might not be there yet, he has two on the season so far, McAvoy has been the rock this blue line has needed with the loss of Matt Grzelcyk. Poised with the puck, a great shot, solid in all zones, he has rightfully been on the top pairing all season long. He gets a knock for the lack of scoring, but he does have 11 assists. If he can hit the twine as often as he can make bone-rattling checks, he could be one of the best defenseman in college hockey.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson – A-
Quietly, this has been another fantastic season for the sophomore Swede. 15 points, the same amount as Keller, a phenomenal top line center with whoever he’s been matched with, he’s even shown a little more emotion in his game, sticking up for his teammates. While it’s tough to ask everyone to have a little flash, it’s something I think JFK’s game could need. He’s only taken 34 shots this season, which is one less than Keller in seven more games. His shot isn’t bad and if he could use it more, even more scoring could come.
Bobo Carpenter – A-
The sophomore has had a quietly good season flipping between the top two lines. What must change for Bobo is his shot % conversion. It’s sitting at 7.3%, 4 goals on 55 shots. Being a top-six forward, he needs to step his offensive game up. But besides his low scoring output, Carpenter excels at the elements of the game that don’t show up on the scoresheet. He takes hits to make a play, creates space for his teammates, crashes the net hard, and is always an offensive threat. As a strong skater, Bobo has the potential to be elite and could realize that potential fairly soon.
Jordan Greenway – B+
The Minnesota draft pick’s scoring game has been off the charts this year. Literally a point a game, he’s been the big bodied power forward with an eye for the net that everyone has wanted to see. So why is he only a B+? Discipline. He’s taken numerous ill-advised penalties all season, even leading to a benching by Coach Quinn at one point. Maybe he can get some of it out of his system at the WJC and if he can, his stock will do nothing but rise.
Dante Fabbro – B+
32 blocked shots on the season, all his goals have come on the power play, his presence on the ice is tremendously calming. Fabbro’s ability to slow the game down and get BU back in rhythm is why he got picked 17th overall by the Predators in the 2016 draft. What hasn’t followed him to Comm Ave yet is his offensive skills on the scoreboard, with only 6 points this season so far. Once he finds that in his game, BU’s already elite blue line will look even scarier.
Patrick Curry – B+
Someone who wasn’t a big name when he was recruited to BU, his gritty style of play has supplanted Oskar Andrén in the lineup. Tough on opposing players in a small package, he’s been another surprise on Comm Ave. He could also stand to use his shot more, as he has a sneaky tricky shot, but his role doesn’t lend itself to scoring much, and he has done his job.
Jake Oettinger – B
Certainly the bonified #1 goaltender at BU, what Oettinger has done at Agganis Arena is nothing short of amazing. What his issue is becomes what his play is like on the road. Granted Yost and Matthews are tough places to play and Denver is an insane team this year, but it’s hard to ignore four shutouts, three of them at home. He’s had a few home-and-homes that start away from Harry Agganis Way and maybe that’s why he’s had more home success, but I think the rest from being third string on USA’s WJC team will do him nothing but good at the Terrier’s workhorse.
Connor LaCouvee – B
The junior net-minder’s two starts this season have been the best he’s played his BU career by far. Standing on his head when the Terrier defense faltered late in the game at UConn and willing his team to a 5-3 win over Harvard. He gets a B because of the small sample size. While Oettinger may be the starting goalie now, if LaCouvee plays the way he has been, he might need to watch his back.
Doyle Somerby – B
Taking over as captain is a tough thing to do, not to mention with how young this team is. However, the Marblehead native has done a great job with the team he is working with. He leads the team as a plus-9 and in blocked shots with 33, his stay at home play is exactly what Coach Quinn has asked of him with so many offensively minded d-men. His B is tempered with how well the team continues to gel with him as its leader.
Brandon Hickey – B-
A power play goal and a shorthanded goal, it’s tough not to look at Hickey and see a mature defenseman who doesn’t need to score to be good. He had his moment in the game against Providence College at Agganis with a backhand roof-job, and being paired with Fabbro to start the season, he’s flipped to be on the top line with McAvoy. Quietly good, but I wish he had made more of an impact of Fabbro to be able to step up and pinch in the zone more to get Fabbro’s offense going.
Tommy Kelley – B-
He might not be present on the scoreboard for most of the season, but he’s been disciplined and responsible and for the senior fourth liner, that’s been a sight for sore eyes in a game that has seen a huge increase in penalties with the way the referees are calling the game differently this season. A model of stability deep in the lineup.
Nick Roberto – C+
After a tumultuous season missed and marred by a suspension, Roberto has slotted in as a tough guy to play against. Two game winning goals to his credit, he’s used his body effectively on the ice. Like Greenway, however, discipline is a big problem, making shoddy hits from time to time. As one of the less favored right handed shots, four goals overall is good, but not great, and he could bring more scoring from the bottom-six. Still, he’s earned his way into the lineup.
Oskar Andren – C
The sophomore has completed one year as a Terrier since joining the squad last January. While his offensive numbers haven’t been there, he came back strong from injury and played a vital role on the Terriers bottom two lines. Though his power-packed, speedy game is fun to watch, one thing Andren doesn’t do much is shoot the puck. Only three shots on goal for the Swede this year in 11 games. Good news is, his passing is superb and his three assists have proven sufficient.
Chad Krys – C
He was brought in and expected to replace Brandon Fortunato, a transfer to Quinnipiac, as a small, puck moving defenseman. He certainly has, but he’s also taken over in the turnover game like Fortunato did. Skill and skating is good, but sometimes it’s the simple game that’s the most effective. If Krys can keep it simpler in the second half of the season, he could earn his way back up to pairing with McAvoy.
John MacLeod – C
Somehow, penalties haven’t been MacLeod’s problem this season. He’s been average, slotting in and out of the lineup with health problems and giving others the chance to get some ice time. His season has been as average as can be, nothing too glaring but nothing that outstanding. Certainly an improvement from last season. If he continues to improve the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect will become a top defenseman for the Terriers once again.
Nikolas Olsson – C
It’s so tough to mark someone down for injuries, but come on, enough is enough sometime. He’s a good depth player and a great leader, he has to actually play for it to show. He showed just what he can do against Providence College in early December, scoring a pair of goals. He just needs to do that consistently. Stay healthy, Nik.
Gabe Chabot – C
The scrappy small freshman forward has been a refreshingly physical force on the fourth line. Somewhat of a one-dimensional character, he does have one goal this season, but he’s just someone who can shake up the opposing team. Though undersized, Chabot plays like a big-body grinder.
Kieffer Bellows – C-
How could this be? One of the touted first round draft picks the Terriers hold onto? His scoring hasn’t been there, his lack of discipline on the ice is off the charts, he leads the team with 34 PIMs and it’s garnered a lot of criticism from Coach Quinn, who benched him late in the semester because of completely unnecessary penalties. If it’s trouble adjusting to the college game, he needs to get accustomed quickly ahead of the stretch run in the second semester. His stock is still high, as maybe Coach Bob Motzko and the WJC can help him regain his skills, but he needs to find it on Comm Ave, and soon.
Ryan Cloonan – C-
Cloonan’s speed and explosive skating has been a necessary component of BU’s offense this season. The problem is he literally has nothing to show for it. Maybe it’s a case like Jordan Greenway last season where once he gets one, the floodgates will open, but the first one has to come soon. Especially with possible ice-time on the Terriers top line, Cloonan needs to start producing.
Chase Phelps, Johnny McDermott, Shane Switzer, Brien Diffley – N/A
It’s so tough not to rank these guys, but a whole host of things, injury, lack of lineup space, unimpressive performance has made these guys hard to rank. Sure some may have interesting moments – Shane Switzer’s two goal performance vs. Yale – but there aren’t many redeeming qualities for this bunch this season.
There is a lot of season left and these rankings are certain to change, some of the non-ranked guys may come up, hopefully the guys with high stock take notice. Regardless, it’s going to be a fun roller coaster ride to the end.