Men’s Hockey Faces Tough Tests With Pioneers and Friars

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By: Matt Dresens

BOSTON — For the first time this season, Boston University will square off against two different opponents in the same weekend, as the Denver Pioneers come to town Friday night before the Terriers visit the Friars of Providence College on Saturday evening.

This weekend will be a real measuring stick for the young Terriers when they go head-to-head with two of the last three national champions. Denver took the title last year in thrilling fashion with a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth in the championship game. Providence won in 2015 against BU in a 4-3 nail-biter.

The Pioneers come into this weekend’s game with a 2-0-2 record and ranked No. 1 in the nation. On opening night, Denver and Notre Dame skated to a 2-2 draw before the Pioneers doubled up the Irish 4-2 the next day. Last week, Denver took three points from Lake Superior State at home.

For Coach David Quinn, his team’s preparation has not changed just because Denver is the top team in the country. He took this week and prepared his team like he would for any other game.

“We try to do that no matter who we play,” Quinn said. “It’s pretty much come to work every day and try to become a better team. Obviously, we make some tweaks with every team we face because every team plays a little bit differently. This isn’t a game you have to get a team excited to play.”

A year ago, BU traveled to Denver and was swept by the Pioneers, by scores of 4-2 and 3-1 respectively. In 2016, Denver ended BU’s season with a 7-2 beatdown in the West Regional in St. Paul. Earlier in that 2015-16 season, the Terriers beat the Pioneers, 5-4, in overtime at Agganis Arena.

“I think there’s a familiarity from both ends,” Quinn said. “There’s certainly a lot of respect too. They’ve been one of the top programs in the country for a long time and we’ve always had great games with them and we’re looking forward to this one.”

“They keep it simple and fast,” said junior forward Bobo Carpenter, who has faced DU four times in his career. “They really want attack hard and get their offense going. Their transition is a key their success. We want to be that team too, so it’s going to be exciting.”

Scouting the Pioneers

To no one’s surprise, Denver is led in scoring by Henrik Borgström, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell. The electrifying Borgström and US World Junior shootout hero Troy Terry have identical stat lines of three goals and three assists for five points. Borgström had a pair of goals against BU last year in the second game. Gambrell has posted five points by way of two goals and three assists.

Other players to watch include Liam Finlay, Tyson McLellan and Jarid Lukosevicius, who scored all three of Denver’s goals in the National Championship last year.

In goal, Tanner Jaillet is 1-0-2 to start his senior season; he owns a 2.21 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Scouting the Friars

Switching the focus to Providence, the Friars are 3-2-0 this season and are coming off a weekend trip to the North Country where they scored a 6-5 overtime win at St. Lawrence, before being shutout, 4-0, at Clarkson.

Both teams will be in the same situation facing a back-to-back on Saturday. On Friday, the Friars are home against Boston College, a team they lost to, 4-3, in overtime two weekends ago.

“We’ve played two games for three weekends in a row now,” mentioned Quinn. “Its nothing new to us. We focus on the game Friday night and don’t even think about the game Saturday. They’re in the same situation. We’ll talk about Providence Saturday morning.”

Josh Wilkins leads the Friars in scoring with a pair of goals and three assists for five points in as many games. Fellow sophomore Kasper Björkqvist has a team-high four goals, while Jacob Bryson leads the assists column with four helpers. Other players to watch include Brian Pinho, Vincent Desharnais and Ryan Tait.

PC got a huge boost last weekend when junior defenseman Erik Foley, a former member of the USA World Junior Championship team came back from injury.

In goal, Hayden Hawkey holds an .871 save percentage and a 3.33 goals against average.

 

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