By: Dan Shulman
Men’s Hockey: Boston University vs. UMass-Amherst (Hockey East at Frozen Fenway) January 7, 2016
ABOUT BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Location – Boston, Massachusetts; Mascot – Terriers; This Year’s Record – 11-5-2 (4-2-2 HEA), 5-4-1 away from Agganis Arena; Fun Fact – This is the Terriers third outdoor game at Fenway, tied for the most among Hockey East schools.
Location – Amherst, Massachusetts; Mascot – Minutemen; This Year’s Record – 5-14-2 (2-7-1 HEA), 2-6-1 away from Mullins Center; Fun Fact – UMass currently has five hockey alumni in the NHL.
ALL TIME SERIES: BU Leads 59-11-6
The Boston University Terriers men’s hockey team resumes league play for the second semester with a rematch of last season’s Hockey East Tournament First Round series against UMass-Amherst.
The two teams last met during that two-game BU series-victory in March. The Terriers won game one in overtime thanks to Bobo Carpenter slamming in a rebound, giving his team the 2-1 victory. The next night saw the teams trading tallies throughout the entire game, with BU getting the last laugh in a 5-4 thriller.
The Terriers are coming off a monumental overtime victory over the Union Dutchmen, 5-4, on Thursday. The Terriers took an early 2-0 lead but still found themselves down 4-3 with under five minutes to play. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored the equalizer and the overtime game-winner for BU.
Six Terriers, meanwhile, won gold in the World Junior Championship against Canada. Clayton Keller, Patrick Harper, Jordan Greenway, Kieffer Bellows, Charlie McAvoy, and Jake Oettinger helped the U.S. capture its first WJC Gold Medal since 2013 and its fourth overall.
Offensively, Patrick Harper leads the way for the Terriers with twenty points this season. He is the team leader in goals (7), assists (13), shots on goal (57). Harper has only taken three penalties this season and has a +4 rating.
The last time BU played at Fenway was January 11, 2013. The Terriers fell to the University of Maine, 7-3. Current BU senior Nick Roberto was named the third star of the game, scoring a goal and adding an assist and eight shots on goal. Roberto, Tommy Kelley, and Doyle Somerby are the only three Terriers to have played an outdoor game.
On defense, Dante Fabbro is back after winning the WJC Silver Medal with Team Canada and missing three games. His offensive production hasn’t been stellar, collecting just six points this season. However, he has been one of the top defensemen in Hockey East with a +6 rating and 32 blocked shots this season.
Between the pipes for BU on Saturday will likely be Jake Oettinger. The freshman missed Thursday’s game due to his World Junior call-up where he did not play for Team USA all tournament. With a .932 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA, Oettinger’s numbers in his draft year have been impressive.
On the other side, the Minutemen have hit a similar slide as they did last season and are winless in regulation since December 2. Most recently, UMass fell at home to a rejuvenated American International side, 3-0. It was AIC’s first shutout over a Hockey East team in program history and the first career shutout for goaltender Zackarias Skog.
The UMass offense has been rather dormant this season. Sophomore Austin Plevy leads the team with 12 points (5G, 7A) and 52 shots on goal. However, Plevy is a team-worst -19 on the year.
Defensively, sophomore William Lagesson represented Team Sweden at last year’s World Junior Championships and has failed to make a big impact this season for the Minutemen. In 21 games, Lagesson has just six points and is a -1.
In net, Ryan Wischow has provided optimism for a struggling program. In 16 games, he has recorded one shutout to go along with his .909 SV% and a 2.71 GAA. The freshman, who has improved vastly already, will likely be the key to UMass breaking out of their current two-season slump.
Puck drop is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Fenway Park and can be heard live on mixlr.com/wtbusports. UMass-Amherst is officially recognized as the home team.
PREDICTION – Boston University wins
The Terriers have found their scoring touch leading into semester break and with UMass on the horizon, BU should continue to score at will. It’s normally a high scoring affair when these teams meet and the Terriers have gotten the better of UMass recently. BU should outscore the Minutemen en route to the program’s second outdoor victory at Fenway.
KEYS TO THE GAME
BU – Keep the Game 5×5: The Terriers are a better conditioned team than many of their opponents. By keeping the game at even strength, BU will force all of the UMass lines to match the Terriers intensity and depth. BU has the upper-hand in both and should control the game if kept clean.
UMA – Score First: UMass is 0-11-1 when its opponent scores first and has not traditionally played well when falling behind. It is important for UMass to set the tone against a BU side on short rest and get the game’s opening goal.