By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Maine (Hockey East) January 20-21, 2017
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Orono, Maine; Mascot – Black Bears; This Year’s Record – 8-11-3 (2-7-1 HEA), 0-7-3 on the road, BU leads all-time series 62-50-13; Fun Fact – Maine and BU met in the 1995 National Championship, with BU earning a 6-2 victory.
The Boston University Terriers will look to make it eight wins in a row and six straight over Maine when the Black Bears take on BU in a home-and-home series this weekend.
BU is riding six consecutive wins dating back to December 10 and will look to continue its climb up the Hockey East standings this weekend. The Terriers most recently completed a sweep of the Boston College Eagles on Martin Luther King day, earning a 3-0 victory in Chestnut Hill.
“Especially on Monday night, we did a lot of the things that we didn’t do well on Friday night,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “You saw a better hockey game on Monday night than you did on Friday night.”
Maine will head back indoors after playing a successful game at Frozen Fenway. The Black Bears knocked off a surging UConn team, 4-0, on Yawkey Way. Senior forward Cam Brown scored a goal and added two assists in the victory for Maine.
The Terriers and Black Bears last met on January 23, 2016 when BU routed their visitors, 6-1. Then senior Matt Lane recorded three points, seven shots on goal, and finished the game with a +2 rating. The Terriers last loss to Maine came back in early 2014 at Frozen Fenway, when Maine beat BU 7-3.
“[Maine] plays so hard,” said Coach Quinn. “Other than the last game we played them it’s always been a tight one goal game with them. I’m anticipating that type of game with them. We’ve got to be ready.”
The next week marks one of the busiest stretches of the year for BU, as the Terriers begin a five-game in eight-day stretch. Staying fresh during the next week will be crucial for the Terriers, so look for a few more players to suit up over the next five games.
Maine is led offensively by a pair of stellar senior forwards, Brown and Blaine Byron. Brown has only scored four times but his 22 assists are among the top in Hockey East. Byron is the Black Bears leading goal-scorer with 10 tallies along with 13 assists.
“No matter what forwards we’re facing, we play the same way and that’s what we’re trying to create,” said Coach Quinn.
Defensively, Maine has had its struggles this season, allowing 3.36 goals per game. One positive has been junior Mark Hamilton. Despite only eight points, Hamilton is a team-high +5 and has blocked an astounding 54 shots this season.
In net for Maine, Rob McGovern has put up solid numbers for the Black Bears this seasons after a tough freshman campaign last year. The sophomore has a 7-7-3 record this season and boasts a .914 SV% and a 2.80 GAA.
For Boston University, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson continues to go on a goal-scoring roll, now tallying seven in his last four games. His 22 points is now tied for the team lead and his ten goals have come on only 45 shots on goal.
“Goal-scoring is funny, it’s streaky,” said Coach Quinn. “Sometimes you just find a way to score goals. It’s just jumping in the net for him.”
On defense for BU, Brandon Hickey had himself a good weekend against the Eagles. The junior has blocked 39 shots this season and is a +9 for the year. While his ten points isn’t among the top on the team, he tops the team by having 20 goals scored when he is on the ice.
In net for BU, Jake Oettinger recorded his fourth individual shutout this season against BC on Monday, stopping all 34 shots he faced. The freshman ranks among the top five in the country in save percentage (.937) and goals against average (1.781).
Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. on both nights and Friday’s game can be heard on mixlr.com/wtbusports.
PREDICTION – BU Sweep
The Terriers are the hottest team in Hockey East right now and following a weekend sweep of archrival Boston College, BU should carry a lot of momentum into their busiest stretch of the season. After a blowout win at home on Friday, the Terriers will snag a resilient win up at Alfond Arena to stretch the win streak to eight games.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Special Teams Dominance
Maine’s power play and penalty kill have been subpar while BU’s special team’s units have been among the top in the nation. BU will need to dominate the special teams’ battle this weekend against the Black Bears.
- Control Frustration
Maine is a physical team that is known for getting under the skin of its opponents. BU has shown signs of maturity but will need to continue doing so against an older, stingy Black Bears team.
- Limit Chances from Brown, Byron
Brown and Byron are Maine’s two biggest point-producers by far and have proven to be the difference for Maine in a lot of games this season. The Terriers need to step up and limit the duo’s chances by earning favorable matchups and playing physical defense.