By: Dan Shulman
BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. UMass-Lowell (Hockey East) February 10, 2017
ABOUT THE OPPONENT
Location – Lowell, Massachusetts; Mascot – Riverhawks; This Year’s Record – 17-9-3 (9-7-1 HEA), 6-4-2 at home, BU leads all-time series 73-28-9; Fun Fact – Lowell is looking to secure a top-four finish in league play for the sixth consecutive season.
Boston University, after securing a berth in the Beanpot Final this past Monday, will have one final obstacle in its way before a date with Harvard at TD Garden. On Friday night, BU will make its way to Northern Massacusetts for a showdown with league-rival UMass-Lowell.
The Terriers earned their third victory of the year over Boston College on Monday night by a final score of 3-1. BU opened the scoring early as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson pounced on a rebound in front of the net to put the Terriers ahead. The teams traded goals early in the second period when BC earned a power play and a chance to tie the game. But Clayton Keller’s fourth shorthanded goal of the season ended any chance for a tie and ultimately sealed the win for BU.
The Riverhawks last played Saturday night, earning an impressive 8-2 win over New Hampshire a night after beating Northeastern 6-4. Jake Kamrass scored three times on the weekend for Lowell as the Riverhawks earned four valuable league points in a 14-goal offensive outburst.
BU and Lowell met once already this season, back on January 28 at Agganis Arena in Boston. The Terriers scored thrice in the third period, with Bobo Carpenter getting two, to earn a 4-2 victory over the Riverhawks.
“They’re literally like an American Hockey League team,” said BU Head Coach David Quinn. “They’re well coached, they’ve got older players and good players. I’m very impressed with their talent, their strength, and they’re very structured.”
UMass-Lowell has a real balance of players among all different classes. Forwards C.J. Smith and Ryan Lohin have been instrumental to Lowell’s offensive success this season. Smith, a junior, leads the team in goals this season with 16 tallies. Lohin, a talented freshman who scored against BU earlier this season, has 18 points in his rookie season including three power play goals.
On defense, senior Michael Kapla has just one goal this season but his 21 assists are second on the team. 12 of those helpers have come on the power play. Kapla has also blocked 23 shots this season and earned a +1 rating.
In net for UMass-Lowell, coach Norm Bazin has been known to be sporadic as all four goaltenders have gotten at least one full game in goal this season. Getting the majority of the time, however, is freshman Tyler Wall. The New York Rangers draft choice has a .914 SV% and a 2.22 GAA.
For the Terriers, freshman Clayton Keller remains red hot, going fifteen straight games with a point. Keller scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the year on Monday, tied for the national lead and one shy of a BU single-season record. His 30 points (14G, 16A) leads the team, an impressive feat for a player who missed eight games due to a leg injury earlier this season.
On Monday night, BU restructured their forward lines again, shifting senior Nick Roberto onto the top line with Patrick Harper and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. According to Coach Quinn, the adjustment from Monday will remain intact for Friday night.
“You’re always trying to find combinations,” said Coach Quinn. “I just thought that the way Nick was playing he deserved it.”
Defensively, newly appointed assistant captains Brandon Hickey and Charlie McAvoy have been huge assets for BU this season. McAvoy leads all Terrier defensemen with 16 points (3G, 13A). Meanwhile, Hickey has a team-high 53 blocked shots.
In net for BU will be freshman Jake Oettinger. In 24 games this season, Oettinger has posted a .937 SV%, on par for a single-season record at BU. The freshman has also recorded four shutouts and a 1.75 GAA, a figure good enough for fourth nationally.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. and can be heard live on mixlr.com/wtbusports.
PREDICTION – Terriers Win
After securing a third win of the season over Boston College on Monday, BU is looking to carry momentum into a Monday night meeting with Harvard. A great way to do that is with a win over Lowell. The way BU played UML back in late January showed that the Terriers are the better team. And returning to the place where Lowell ended BU’s hopes at repeating as Hockey East Champs is still on the Terriers’ minds. Tom Brady’s revenge tour is over, now it’s time for BU to exact some revenge of their own.
BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
- Penalties at a Minimum
UMass-Lowell has the nation’s third-best power play unit, operating at 27.3%. Over its last eight games, Lowell is 11-33 on the power play (33.3%) and has scored a goal on the man-advantage in each of its last seven games. The Terriers need to lower the amount of penalties they take against a team like UML which makes opponents pay for their mistakes.
“The best way to kill it is to not take penalties,” said Coach Quinn.
- Stay Sharp in the First Period
BU has been solid in the first period over its last few games, tallying in the opening frame in each of its last six games and outscoring opponents 7-3 over that span. UMass-Lowell is a remarkable +20 in first period scoring and the Riverhawks have scored a first period goal in their last 12 games and in all but four contests this season. BU will have to lock in defensively to keep the Riverhawks off the board early.
“It’s always nice to play with the lead,” said Coach Quinn. “It’ll be nice to play with the lead and take the crowd out of it.”
- Get Bodies to the Net
UMass-Lowell has had a bit of a musical chairs situation in goal following the graduation of star net-minder Kevin Boyle. All four Riverhawk goalies have seen time in the blue paint this season, with each having varied success. Regardless of who is in the cage Friday, BU will need to set screens and occupy space in front of the net to make Lowell defenders work and goalies frustrated.