By Joe Pohoryles
After capturing their first Hockey East victory of the season against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats on October 26, the Boston University Terriers (2-1-2, 1-0-1 HE) will trek up to Orono, Maine looking to sweep a two-game series against the University of Maine Black Bears (4-2-0, 1-1-0 HE) tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.
The two sides split the back-to-back last season at Agganis Arena, but the Terriers will look to come away with four points to make an early surge up the Hockey East standings. That task will be easier said than done, with the Black Bears coming off a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the University of Vermont Catamounts on October 25.
Senior forward Patrick Curry will look to add on to his team-leading six goals while captaining the squad, but will have to do so without linemate and senior assistant captain Patrick Harper, who exited the 3-0 victory against UNH last week during the first period with an upper body injury.
Harper is not the only Terrier bitten by the injury bug, as both he and junior defenseman and assistant captain Cam Crotty are day-to-day, while junior forward and assistant captain Logan Cockerill, freshman forward Sam Stevens and sophomore forward Jack DeBoer are all working back from injuries with no clear timetable to return.
Graduate goaltender Sam Tucker’s encore to his first shutout as a Terrier against UNH last week will be worth looking out for. After a rocky start to the season, Tucker stood on his head through the whole contest to seal the Terriers’ win, and another strong start could propel the starting netminder into a dominant run.
This impending back-to-back almost certainly means fans will get another look at sophomore goaltender Vinnie Purpura, who allowed 4 goals on 29 shots in his lone start this season, a 4-3 loss to Northern Michigan on October 19.
Both Tucker and Purpura will have their hands full trying to shut down this Black Bear team that is averaging 3.0 goals a game, most notably junior forward Eduards Tralmaks, who leads his team with six goals in as many games.
The lethal Latvian forward could be a game-changer this weekend, as Tralmaks has demonstrated his ability to score late in games, highlighted by an overtime winner vs. the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves on October 12. This could spell trouble for a Terrier squad that has had issues holding onto leads late in games. Even the UNH win saw the Wildcats barrage Tucker with scoring chances throughout the third period, so while it will be difficult to grab a big lead this weekend, it may be even more difficult to hang onto one.
The first month of the season has not been kind to the Terriers when it comes to injuries, and blown leads have been the theme of the season so far, but this strong test coming up in Orono could be just enough to launch the team into an early hot streak. Otherwise, the team may enter the month of November with more questions than answers.
Featured Image by Ryan Gregory.