The seventh edition of Red Hot Hockey is the USCHO Game of the Week and Boston University’s biggest game of the season.
The Terriers (4-5-5) are squaring off against the Big Red (8-0-0) of Cornell, the No. 2 team in the nation, at Madison Square Garden at 8 p.m.
The Big Red have allowed just five even-strength goals this season en route to their best start in 48 years. That stout defense is led by junior goaltender Matthew Galajda, who has started all eight games for the Big Red and ranks third in the nation with a 1.50 goals against average Galajda was the first Cornell netminder to win the Kelley- Harkness Cup when he recorded 35 saves as a freshman in 2017. Prior to that game, the Terriers were 3-0-2 in the series at MSG, including the only victory by more than one Score.
The Big Red offense is nothing to look past either, as the unit ranks third in the country with 4.50 goals per game. Cornell has scored first in each of their last seven games, and they haven’t trailed in their last 449+ minutes on the ice. And once they score once, they’re deadly. The Big Red have scored 20 of their 36 goals in the second period (2.5 average per game), far and away the highest average for goals in any period.
Junior Morgan Barron (6-6-12) has had a blistering start to the season. He’s No. 2 in the nation with 1.5 points per game. Barron’s gotten plenty of help from his team’s forward depth, like juniors Brenden Locke (3-6-9) and Cam Donaldson (2-6-8), who have a plus-9 rating as a pair since being put on the same line six games ago.
BU’s got some depth to their scoring too. Led by junior David Farrance (10-9-19), four Terriers are averaging at least a point per contest. Farrance’s 1.36 ppg ranks 14th nationally, while each of the top line forwards -Patrick Harper (5-11-16), Patrick Curry (9-6-15), Trevor Zegras (4-9-13) have put up solid numbers thus far. Farrance leads the nation with eight power play goals, which would also have led eight of the last 10 BU teams in full seasons.
Behind Farrance, grad transfer Sam Tucker is the no-brainer start in goal. He faced Cornell three times as Yale’s starting goaltender, going 1-0-2 with a 2.38 GAA and a .922 save percentage, and he’s been the Terriers’ most consistent presence in net this season. After entering the year in a battle with sophomore Vinnie Purpura, Tucker has established himself as the clear No. 1 on the depth chart, and his respectable .910 save percentage has allowed him to keep that spot.
Head coach Albie O’Connell said his team is “lucky to have the opportunity” to play at MSG, while Cornell coach Mike Schafer called this game “great preparation for the league championships and the NCAAS.” One big criticism of O’Connell’s year-plus as the BU skipper has been that his team isn’t always game-ready. And if he’s got his squad prepared as if they’re just lucky to be there, it could be a long bus ride back to Boston for the Terriers.