Men’s Hockey Season Review: Five Negatives from the 2016-17 Season

By: Jordan Thibault

Finishing the year with a Hockey East regular season title, a thrilling double overtime win in the first round of the playoffs against North Dakota, and a few of their best talents already shipping to NHL rosters, it was a year to remember for the 2016-17 BU Terriers. Although, with all the glitz-and-glamour and shining moments, there were certainly some things that could have been improved on.


  1. The Beanpot

With all the talent the Terriers had this year, they were left without one of the biggest prizes a BU team could ever want, the Beanpot. Despite a valiant effort in the first round against arch-rival Boston College, they fell short of the Beanpot title once again.

BU leads all schools in Beanpot wins with 30, but the Harvard Crimson were able to make their total 10 with a commanding, 6-3 win over the Terriers in the Beanpot Final. Harvard ended their season as the top scoring offense in all of the NCAA (4.14 G/PG), so it’s no wonder they put up six goals at the Garden to give Ted Donato and his players their first Beanpot title since 1993.

BU hasn’t won since 2015 when then Captain Matt Grzelcyk took them to them to the top with his overtime bomb, defeating Northeastern.

2. Penalty Minutes

As good as the Terriers were on the penalty kill, they took a copious amount of penalties. Coming in at number 22 in total penalty minutes, it might be a testament to their total penalty minutes that they had to be that good on the power play in order to stay in games.

They took 13.49 penalty minutes a game and a total of 194 penalties, to which they killed off a fourth best 87.1% of. When you look at the Terrier’s penalties, they may have not taken a staggering amount, but the ones they let up late in the season were certainly not timely.

In their last game of the year they suffered an overtime loss to Minnesota Duluth, on an Adam Johnson goal that was scored on a power play.

One player in particular who took a lot of after the whistle penalties was Jordan Greenway. With 82 minutes under his belt he was far and away the most penalized Terrier this season.

3. Power Play

Ranking at a fairly low 23rd in the nation on the power play this season, the Terriers just never clicked on the man-advantage for a consistent amount of time. You have to go back to their Hockey East series with Northeastern to see sustained success on the power play as BU scored four power play goals in just two games against the Huskies.

During the middle of the season, Coach David Quinn was asked why this team, with all of their talent couldn’t figure out their power play. He responded with, “You’re asking the wrong guy.” It is puzzling when you take into account that on paper, this power play should’ve been lights out. With guys like Dante Fabbro and Charlie McAvoy quarterbacking the puck movement up at the points, Greenway in the slot screening the goalie, and guys like Keller and JFK filling in the rest of the forward spots, you’d think they’d be a little better than their 19.41% power play suggests.

Again, it comes down to timeliness for this negative, and the Terriers couldn’t capitalize on their PP in their last three games, going 0-8.

4. Ryan Cloonan

After a promising first year with the Terriers, Sophomore Ryan Cloonan looked as if he would be a big part of this squad. He was, but in many more ways than the scoresheet. His blazing fast speed and ability to win battles in the corner were something that kept him flipping between the second and third line seemingly all year.

The one thing Terrier fans didn’t see out of Cloonan this year was the ever-elusive goal. Cloonan scored zero goals in a total of 34 games and only fired 26 shots on net. He did, however add six assists. Compared to last season’s numbers (4-10-14), Cloonan saw his play drop.

With ample playing time, Cloonan had plenty of chances to score. Sometimes when you’re snakebitten, you just can’t get the puck into the 4 by 6 opening. It seemed as though he had some sort of curse put on him to begin the season. Look forward to Cloonan bringing that speed and intensity back to Boston for his junior year, and we hope he can end that drought soon.

5. Departures

The biggest negative didn’t even happen on the ice. It has to do with a battle that has raged on in a lot of sports. Football has a three year policy, basketball has a one-and-done rule, but hockey is a free-for-all. Players like an Austin Matthews or a Connor McDavid can simply elect not to play in college and head straight to the NHL if their talent level is there.

That’s the issue with college hockey, some players have the talent and the frame to play at the next level, but they want that college experience. Departures like Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were expected, but their missing presences will loom heavy over the Terriers for next season.

Keller was a 1.45 Pts/Game player, JFK was a faceoff rock and leader in the locker room, and McAvoy was arguably one of the best defensive talents to ever put on the Scarlet and White. As aforementioned, these departures were expected, but you can’t help but notice the holes that need to be filled over the offseason for BU.

Author: Dan Shulman

A New Englander at heart, Dan is a sports contributor for covering the New England Patriots primarily among other sports. He has written for the Boston Globe since 2014 with a focus on local sports, and has contributed to SB Nation, FanSided, Inside Hockey, New England Soccer Journal, and WEEI. Follow him on Twitter @DanielRShulman.

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