By: Matt Dresens
BOSTON — For the third weekend in a row, No. 15 Boston University will face two different opponents, as they travel to Matthews Arena on Friday night to wrap up an extended home and home with Northeastern before hosting New Hampshire at the Greek on Saturday.
In last Saturday’s clash with the Huskies, Nolan Steven paced the NU victory with a hat trick, while Bobby Hampton added a goal with Ryan Ruck and Cayden Primeau combining to make 33 saves. Ruck left the game midway through the second frame after Patrick Harper crashed into him, leaving the senior netminder dazed.
Jordan Greenway was the only Terrier to find the back of the net on the night. That strike came on a power play from Harper and Shane Bowers in the second period.
“I liked what we did this week,” said Head Coach David Quinn. “I thought we were much more focused and we went over a bunch of things structurally that I think we have slipped in. We just have to stay at it and stick together. We have a big challenge this weekend.”
BU will be without a main pieces of their lineup Friday night. Assistant Captain Nik Olsson was suspended for one game by Hockey East “stemming from an incident at 4:38 of the third period on Saturday,” according to the league press release.
NU, on the other hand, keeps one of its most prolific scorers, Dylan Sikura. The team leader in goals was supposed to be with Team Canada in a pre-Olympic tournament in Finland this weekend, however an upper-body injury sustained in last week’s game against BU puts his status up in the air.
With or without Sikura, Quinn mentioned that BU’s preparation does not change.
“They’ve got other good forwards that we are certainly aware of,” said the coach. “We just have to make sure that whatever line’s out there for us, we’re doing the things we’re trying to focus on regardless of the opponent.”
Scouting the Huskies
If Sikura is absent, Adam Gaudette will likely be the Husky with the most points on the stat sheet this weekend. The junior from Braintree has notched six goals and seven assists for 13 points thus far on the year. Zach Solow, who had a pair of assists in Saturday’s trouncing of the Terriers, comes in with nine points on the year by way of three goals and six assists. Other players to watch include Nolan Stevens, Matt Filipe and Ryan Shea.
“We have seen them so much the last few years that there are really no surprises,” added Quinn.
Cayden Primeau will most likely get the start in net. In five appearances, the Montreal Canadians prospect is 1-1-1 with a .886 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against-average.
Shifting gears to the Wildcats of the University of New Hampshire, UNH is without a doubt the biggest surprise in Hockey East and possibly all of college hockey this season. The Wildcats were slated to finish 8th in the conference after going 15-20-5 a year ago, but, currently, sit in sole position of second place at 3-0-1 in Hockey East, and hold an impressive 6-1-1 overall record.
UNH is certainly trying to send Head Coach Dick Umile out on a high note in his 27th and final season behind the Wildcat bench. Its been a rough go at UNH the last few seasons, as the Wildcats have finished higher than fourth just once since winning the regular season title in 2010.
This year, they swept Lowell in surprising fashion on opening weekend and swept Colgate the following weekend. Colorado College is the only blemish on the UNH schedule, a 2-1 overtime loss at home on October 21st. Last weekend, the ‘Cats picked up a 3-0 shutout at UMass and have climbed into the top 10 in the USCHO poll.
UNH will play Friday night at home against Lowell, so both BU and UNH will be in the second game of back-to-backs when they face off on Saturday.
A year ago, BU took three points from UNH in a weekend series in February. On their Friday night contest, the Terriers battled back from a 4-2 deficit entering the third on goals from Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to scratch out a tie. The next day saw the BU offense erupt for eight goals from seven different players in an 8-4 win at the Whittemore Center.
Scouting the Wildcats
Pacing the UNH offense is senior Michael McNicholas, who has 10 points off of a pair of goals and eight assists. Coming in with an identical point total is defenseman Benton Maass, who has notched a goal and nine helpers in eight games. Fellow defenseman Max Gildon has found twine six times to lead the team in goals scored. Other players to watch include Ara Nazarian, Liam Blackburn and Jason Salvaggio.
In goal, Danny Tirone has been outstanding. The left-handed netminder holds a .936 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against-average.