By: Jarett Leonard
For the first time in 96 seasons, the Boston University men’s hockey team will play a game in the month of September when it hosts No. 16 Union College in the home opener Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Like BU, Union will have to adjust offensively after losing top scorers from a season ago. Hobey Baker Award finalist Mike Vecchione, who scored a nation-best 29 goals last year, graduated and joined the Philadelphia Flyers while forward Spencer Foo signed with the Calgary Flames following the season. Top defenseman Jeff Taylor, who compiled 33 assists last year, also departed for the AHL.
Still, both teams bring back a number of core pieces and also welcome new talent into the fold. The Dutchmen will rely on juniors Sebastian Vidmar and Brett Supinski, who combined for 77 points, for much of their offense. Junior Cole Maier will also be an important piece after scoring 15 goals a year ago. Union was dependent on its offense last season, which averaged 3.76 goals per game and ranked second in the nation.
Union will also add two prolific junior league scorers in Jack Adams and Parker Foo. Adams, a Red Wings sixth-round pick, tallied 60 points on 37 goals and 23 assists last season for the USHL’s Fargo Force while Foo, a Blackhawks draft choice and younger brother of former Dutchman Spencer Foo, recorded 34 goals and 32 assists for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. In addition, a pair of USHL defenseman will join Union in Joseph Campolieto and Brandon Estes.
While the Terriers return their starting goaltender, the graduation of Union’s Alex Sakellaropoulos leaves a void in net. Junior Jake Kupsky, a draft pick of San Jose, is the likely starter but will need to improve on his 3.98 goals against average and .878 save percentage in nine games last season for the Dutchmen to have success. Union will also need to tighten its defense in front of Kupsky, as the unit ranked 33rd in the nation last season, allowing an average of 2.97 goals against per game.
The all-time series is even at 1-1-1, as the two teams have met in just three prior games. The Terriers earned a 5-4 overtime win last January without the likes of Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Jake Oettinger and others who were representing the U.S. at the World Junior Championships. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson recorded a hat trick, the third being the game winner in overtime, to lead BU.
McAvoy scored his first career goal for BU against Union in 2015, but the Terriers fell 5-3 in their season opener in Schenectady, NY. The season prior, BU got a late goal from Evan Rodrigues to tie Union 3-3 at Agganis Arena. The Terriers were without Jack Eichel in that contest due to World Juniors.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. The game can be heard at http://www.mixlr.com/wtbusports.