By: Joe Pohoryles
With the 2020 Beanpot approaching fast, the Boston University Terriers (8-8-5, 5-5-4 HE) have three more Hockey East match-up before the annual showdown at TD Garden on Feb. 3 and 10. Two of those games will be a home-and-home series with the UMass Lowell River Hawks (13-6-4, 7-3-3 HE) tonight at Agganis Arena at 7:30 pm, and tomorrow in Lowell at 6:00 pm.
These two sides last squared off three months ago in Lowell during the infancy of the season on Oct. 25. The Terriers built up a 3-0 lead early in the second period, only to allow the River Hawks to come back, ending the game in a 3-3 tie.
The Terriers are coming off a contentious 4-3 loss to the rival Boston College Eagles on Jan. 18, so the team is looking to turn the tide in this series before meeting BC again in the first round of the Beanpot. The Terriers also sit three points behind the River Hawks in the Hockey East standings, so a BU sweep this weekend could be enough to put the Terriers into the top four.
The River Hawks are 8-3-0 in their last 11 games dating back to Nov. 29. They are coming off a bizarre 6-4 victory over the Merrimack College Warriors. Six total goals were scored in the third period, and Lowell held a 6-1 lead before it was cut down by three late power play goals from Merrimack.
River Hawks’ freshman forward Matt Brown leads the team with 20 points (5g, 10a), followed by fellow freshman forward Carl Berglund, who is sitting at 19 points and a team-leading 10 goals. Even more amazing, Berglund scored his 10 goals on just 51 shots, giving him an absurd shot percentage of .196. The next-best percentage on Lowell comes from redshirt junior forward Chris Schutz, who has a .182 shot percentage with four goals on 22 shots, fewer than half as many shots as Berglund.
Yet Berglund will not be the most accurate shooter on the ice this weekend. BU’s senior forward and assistant captain Patrick Harper, an initial 2020 Hobey Baker nominee, has nine goals on just 40 shots (.255 shot percentage), and is second on the team with 24 points. Harper recently collected his 100th collegiate point in the Jan. 18 loss to BC, and will look to continue his dominance.
Harper and co. will have to perform their best to get pucks past Lowell’s senior netminder Tyler Wall. Perhaps the most fitting name for a goaltender, Wall is living up to it. He owns the eighth-best win percentage among goaltenders in the nation with a 13-4-4 record (.714), and boasts a strong .936 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA. The New York Rangers prospect joins Harper and Farrance in the initial Hobey Baker nominees list.
It should be a weekend of top-notch hockey between these two Hockey East foes, as the Terriers have the opportunity to make one last jump in the conference standings before the Beanpot.