By: Jake Reiser
Even with the Boston University men’s ice hockey season over, there’s still time to reflect on what made this season great. With a highly-touted recruiting class coming in, as well as a mixture of elite returning players, the season was filled with high expectations. While BU fell short of its goal of a national title, there were still aspects that made the Terriers a true team to contend with.
- Clayton Keller
Taken No. 7 overall in the 2016 Entry Level Draft, Keller was the highest ranked recruit coming to Commonwealth Avenue, and he surely didn’t disappoint the crowd. Despite missing a slew of games with a leg injury, he still led the Terriers in points (45), goals (21), assists (24), shots (138), plus/minus (+15) and shorthanded goals (4).
By using his small frame to fly down the ice and his soft hands to deke around opposing players, he became the ultimate playmaker for BU. Many pundits believed he would be a one-and-done player, which ultimately came true, signing his entry level contract with the Arizona Coyotes. However, in his time as a Terrier, he made a tremendous impact on the ice.
- Jake Oettinger
Last season was a tough one in terms of finding goaltending consistency, splitting time between then-senior Sean Maguire and then-sophomore Connor LaCouvee. This year, Oettinger proved to be an absolute rock in net for BU. A 2.11 goals against average and a .927 in 35 starts, Oettinger was far and away the No. 1 goaltender for Coach Quinn’s squad.
Combine that with five shutouts, including not giving up a goal at Agganis Arena until hosting UConn on November 19th, more than a full month into the season, and it was clear why the Lakeville, Minn. native was the first American born goaltender for the Scarlet and White since Brett Bennett in 2007-08.
- Eight Game Winning Streak
From the beginning of the season, it was hard for BU to maintain consistency on the schedule, splitting series after series against conference opponents. December 10th at Vermont was the last split the Terriers would see for a long time. Boston University rattled off eight wins in a row, ending up as the No. 1 team in the country by its conclusion. For that period time, BU shed what was considered its immaturity and truly became the top team in the country analysts and fans were expecting them to turn into that season.
- OT Win vs Union
Yes, this came amid the eight-game winning streak, but this victory stands out among the rest. A truly depleted BU squad, losing Keller, Jordan Greenway, Charlie McAvoy, Kieffer Bellows, Patrick Harper, Oettinger, and Dante Fabbro for the World Junior tournament, a truly shorthanded Terriers squad went up against a then-No. 10 ranked Union team with powerful forwards Mike Vechhione and Spencer Foo.
Being down 4-3 from the mid-way point of the second frame for most of the bout, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson stepped up and completed a hat trick with a late, game-tying power play goal and an overtime tally to seal a Terriers victory. This was a game that truly showed how deep BU was this season overall.
- Team Defense
One characteristic that is common throughout all of Coach Quinn’s teams at BU is how defense-heavy they can become. Even with the transfer of Brandon Fortunato to Quinnipiac during the summer and graduation of former captain Matt Grzelcyk, the Terriers proved how strong the blue-line was throughout the season.
They ended the 2016-17 campaign as the top team defense in Hockey East, only giving up 2.14 goals a game through the 22-game conference spread. That mark is a full .18 goals less than the eventual Hockey East playoff winner UMass Lowell and Frozen Four representative Notre Dame.
Led by captain Doyle Somerby paired with McAvoy, along with Chad Krys, Brandon Hickey, John MacLeod and Fabbro, they helped make BU the toughest team to score on in the conference.