By: Matt Dresens
BOSTON — After dropping a pair of games last weekend against Denver and Providence, the No. 12 Boston University Terriers will get another crack at the Friars on Friday night at home. They’ll then welcome Northeastern back to Agganis for the first time since the Hockey East Quarterfinals last March as the Huskies visit on Saturday night.
No. 6 Providence (5-2-0) scored three times in the second period on goals from Vimal Sukumaran, Erik Foley and Brandon Duhime, while Hayden Hawkey made 22 saves for a 3-0 shutout win.
“Its obviously a big motivation,” said senior assistant Captain Nik Olsson. “They have become a conference rival with us. We need to come back and we can’t drop two straight to these guys. We need to come out hard and respond.”
After BU (3-4-1) was swept by Mankato State, the team rebounded to pick up three points against UConn the following weekend. Head Coach David Quinn was very impressed with this week’s practices, which is a good sign of resilience, saying, “If we can match our game efforts with our performance in practice we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
The Friars limited BU to just 22 shots last Saturday; that suffocation can be credited to PC’s strong defense. One of the main focus areas this week was to create more offense with better puck support and puck management.
“We worked on changing the angle on shots this week and we can’t be denied at the net front,” Olsson added. “We worked on catching and releasing shots before they could get out in front of it.”
Scouting the Friars
PC is now 5-2-0 on the year, as they not only beat BU last weekend, but topped Boston College, 2-1, on Friday night. After the strong showing against their Comm Ave foes, Providence was named Team of the Week by College Hockey News.
John Wilkins continues to pace the Friar scoring attack with six points by way of two goals and four assists. Fellow sophomore Kasper Björkqvist has a team-high four goals, while Jacob Bryson leads the assists column with five helpers in seven games played.
Now we look at Northeastern (4-2-1). The No. 15 Huskies come into this weekend with league’s best offensive attack, with a strong 4.43 goals per game, netting 31 goals in seven games. By comparison, BU is working a pedestrian 2.62 G/GM with 21 strikes in eight contests.
“Your defense doesn’t change,” said Quinn. “It’s pretty simplistic in the way you have to defend. The fact that we prepared to defend against Denver I think will bode well for the fact we are playing Northeastern.”
NU started the year with two blowout wins against Sacred Heart, before hitting a three-game winless skid with a 3-3 tie at RIT and a sweep by Quinnipiac at home. The Huskies rebounded last weekend, sweeping Lowell in a home and home by scores of 3-1 and 5-4 in OT.
Scouting the Huskies
At the forefront of NU’s high flying offense is Canadian Olympic hopeful Dylan Sikura. In seven games, the senior from Aurora, Ontario has six goals and eight assists for fourteen points. Next weekend, he will participate in a pre-Olympic tournament for Team Canada in Finland, thus missing the back end of this extended home and home with BU.
“You have to take away time and space and be physical with him” mentioned Quinn about defending Sikura. “We can’t be fishing for the puck. You have to have your head up and your stick down and have to be committed to playing the body…in a controlled manner.”
Adam Gaudette does not trail far behind in the point’s race, coming into the weekend with thirteen off of six goals and seven assists. Other players to watch include Garret Cockerill, Matt Filipe and Nolan Stevens.
Ryan Ruck and Cayden Primeau have split time in net. Ruck is 3-1-0 on the year and has a .908 save percentage to go along with a 2.68 goals against average. Primeau, a Montreal draft pick, is the owner of a tough .850 save percentage and a 2.97 goals against average. He has allowed nine goals on 60 shots.