By: Marisa Ingemi
The biggest takeaway from the week in BU hockey is how their vulnerabilities were finally exposed, and on a big stage. After being ranked number one in the nation on Monday, a Tuesday night loss at Merrimack and then a loss on home ice to those same Warriors on Friday left the Terriers in potential disarray.
A win on Saturday night against a good, but reeling, UMass Lowell team helped BU salvage the weekend. However, several aspects of BU’s game were exposed over the past week, and it can’t be ignored.
“Obviously we’ve been in a little bit of a funk,” said head coach David Quinn following the win over Lowell. “In a short period of time, we went from sitting on top of the world to all of a sudden, the world’s about to end. It’s the ebbs and flows of a hockey season.
“It’s long, they’re 18-to-22 years old, but I just liked how we bounced back. We weren’t in a great place mentally before this game started and I give our guys a lot of credit for being mentally tough enough to hang in there and play their best hockey at the most critical time.”
On Saturday night, Kieffer Bellows was left out of the lineup for the third time this season. The lines were different in each of the past three contests. John MacLeod slotted back into the lineup Saturday night after missing Friday’s game as a healthy scratch.
Despite the mixing and matching, at least in the first two games, nothing seemed to work. The Terriers lost puck battles, turned it over, and struggled to hold their offensive blue line, leading to opposing odd man rushes.
“We were much more practical,” Quinn said of Saturday night. “Our puck management was a lot better. We spent a lot more time in the offensive zone and took advantage of some of our chances.”
During the Lowell game, especially before the third period, the Terriers still struggled to keep the puck in their own end at times and allowed some River Hawk breakouts. But freshman goalie Jake Oettinger bailed the Terriers out every time. Some of it was over-aggressiveness from the likes of Charlie McAvoy pinching in too deep while Dante Fabbro seemed to have difficulty keeping the puck in the zone all weekend.
On Friday night, Quinn was at a loss as to what had set the Terriers back after an eight game winning streak.
“A lesson learned for us, which I thought we had learned, but certainly wasn’t the case. We just got out-everythinged in a lot of ways. There’s not another sport where will and determination can lead you to victory and there was a huge gap in will and determination as the game went on.”
Salvaging the three game week with at least one victory was important for BU last night, and now the Terriers head into a stretch where they face UMass Amherst on Friday night before the Beanpot, with a trip to Lowell sandwiched between the two Mondays of the tournament.
The Terriers will need to take lessons out of the Merrimack series as well as from the Lowell victory. On the heels of an eight game winning streak that included sweeping Boston College, it appeared the Terriers had gotten past some of their early season struggles, with Quinn even mentioning the team playing a more mature game.
Following this 1-2 week, the Terriers might need to reflect on what made that recent run successful, and get back to the drawing board.