Friday, October 11, 2013

UMass/Holy Cross Preview

                                                        Photo Credit to Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe Staff


The BU Terriers open the regular season and career of 1st year head coach David Quinn this Friday night against the UMass Minutemen. The Terriers went 2-1 last year vs the Minutemen with  5-2 and 3-2 wins in October before getting beaten 5-1 in February. UMass returns its top 3 scorers(Gracel,Pereira and Sheary) under second year coach Micheletto. The Minutemen finished last season at 12-19-3 and miss the conference playoffs. They figure to struggle again this season being picked 10th in the conference but they do have enough talent to give a young BU team problems.

BU needs to limit the top line of Connor Sheary, Brendan Gracel and Mike Pereira who put together 87 points last year combined. After those top 3, UMass doesn't return the firepower to scare you but you still need to be solid defensively in your own end to lead to your own scoring chances. UMass' situation on the back end is even shakier than up front as they return only one goalie from last season. Steve Mastalerz figures to be the starter and while his career .894 save % and 3.13 GAA doesn't scare anyone, you need to make the most of your opportunities on him. The first period will be extremely important for BU to dicate the tone of the game. They need to establish a defensive game that will lead to UMass' offensive opportunities and squash any idea of an upset by the Minutemen. I would expect them to test Mastalerz early and often.

 I expect a BU win because Coach Quinn seems to be preaching the defense-first strategy to his team and there will be no shortage of motivation for the Terriers with it being Quinn's first career game as a head coach, season opener, league opener, and playing a team that beat you 5-1 in the last meeting.

BU has not a lost home opener since the 2009-2010 season which was a 3-2 loss to UMass.

Holy Cross(Saturday)

Holy Cross is another game where BU has more talent on paper but as the Terriers learned two seasons ago, that doesn't matter when the other team wants it more than you. Now this is a totally different Terriers team than the team that lost that game but it will be crucial once again to maintain focus throughout all 60 minutes against a lesser team.

Holy Cross was picked to finish 8th in the Atlantic Hockey Pre-Season poll. They will be carried by senior forwards Adam Schmidt and Shayne Stockton, both of which put up 25+ points last year. They also have a steady force in net with junior Matt Ginn who was the winning goalie in the teams' last matchup in October of 2011.

Once again, it will be important to dictate the play from puck drop and to not lay off the gas pedal until the 60 minutes are up or its 10-0 whichever happens first.  These games are crucial for the Terriers as they need two wins before they run into a tough part of their non-conference schedule over the next two weekends which features  3 ranked opponents in 4 games. It is important to develop that killer instinct early in the year. I would expect both of these teams to bring their A games to Agganis this weekend but I expect the Terriers to take care of business. Go BU!

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