By: Marisa Ingemi
Two straight wins to open the season is a positive for Boston University, but there’s more than one obstacle they need to get past they could not last season, with the first rematch coming on Saturday at Hartford.
Last season, the Terriers dropped a tough contest at home to the Hawks where many of their issues were exposed, specifically their transition game. The 16 goals the Terriers allowed to Hartford is the most they had given up in a game all season.
“We turned the ball over, and they capitalized on that,” said head coach Ryan Polley. “They were really opportunistic in transition. The focus all week has been to take care of, possess, and clear the ball and to make sure that we have defensive coverage if we don’t score.”
Hartford was a surprise America East champion last year after stunning Albany.
“They’re really good in transition,” said senior goalie Christian Carson-Banister, who is fourth in the nation in goals against average. “We expect the same with their style of play, it’s been successful for them.”
The matchup to watch is Hartford’s Dylan Protesto in the faceoff X. While Sam Talkow is a game time decision, it seems likely that Joe Stucky will start his third straight contest. Stucky went 16-for-22 last week against UMass Lowell.
“It just comes with experience,” Polley said. “He started to get more comfortable [in the Providence game]. The more faceoffs you take, the more comfortable you get, and the more you understand the little things about the position, the nerves go away. This will be a very big test for him and I am hopeful that he is going to be ready.”
“I just have to focus on myself the next couple of days,” said Stucky of facing Protesto, who had the top faceoff percentage in the nation last season. “Make a gameplan, think about what we’re going to do, but it’s what we do in practice.”
On one end of the field, goalie Carson-Banister has gotten off to a terrific start, making 14+ saves in both contests to open the year.
“Seeing shots is great, I’d rather be in a rhythm,” Carson-Banister said. “Really helpful week to week seeing a lot of shots. It almost calms your nerves.
“He has been playing great in practice,” Polley said. “Coach [Stephen] Toomy has been doing a great job with him. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He is making all of the saves that we want him to make.”
The other end of the field has a Terrier offense that has exploded to begin the year, led by seven points from Cal Dearth and six from both Hayden Ruiz and Ryan Hillburn, BU has continued to find the back of the net.
James Burr is finally 100% after scoring three times in Lowell. Both Hillburn and John MacLean are healthy after scares against the River Hawks.
Now, all focus is on Hartford.
BU started the past two seasons off hot, but there’s a lot to go to see how they finish. Hartford is one of their early tests.