Wednesday, October 28, 2015

BU splits with UConn, Bracco gone from Newton Community College

The BU Terriers split their Saturday/Tuesday home and home with the UConn Huskies with each home team holding serve on their home ice. On Saturday, BU played UConn even through two periods before taking over in the third thanks to some good plays to draw penalties and then taking advantage of those powerplays. Sean Maguire was solid in goal making 16 saves on 18 shots with neither goal by former BU commit Max Letunov being his fault. BU got a big goal from freshman Ryan Cloonan, who has been impressive thus far, early in the game to get on the board. BU would add powerplay goals from freshman JFK and sophomore dman Brandon Fortunato whose improved shot is notable if you watch him play and his stat line as he has already double his goal output from last year. Brandon Hickey added an empty net goal to solidify the final 4-2.

Last night, BU fell behind during the second period after playing to an even 1-1 score after one and could never recover. While they did outshoot UConn pretty decisively for the second straight game, the Terriers gave up some grade A chances on the powerplay and off a bad line change that did them in. With all of that said, BU had a few chances to make it 3-2 in the third when they trailed by two and just couldn't find a way to put another goal past the UConn tendy until it was much too late. UConn freshman Tahe Thompson had a hat trick for the Huskies and was a force in both games with linemate Max Letunov. The final score of 5-2 looks bad on the defense and the goaltender but the mistakes seemed very fixable. 4 of the 5 goals came off a bad line change and the powerplay of UConn so if you eliminate penalties/improve the penalty kill and change correctly , BU is going to win a lot of games. They return to action this weekend traveling to Merrimack and then hosting Denver on Halloween at 4.

A lot of the chatter on Twitter and online after the game was concern about BU's defense which was touted as the best defense in the country coming into the year(mostly by me) and I am still not concerned with them .First of all, they make 3-5 immature decisions a game and last night all 4 ended up in goals or powerplays which lead to goals. They will be a well oiled machine by the end of the first half which will obviously be aided by their captain Matt Grzelcyk. All 8 of their dmen are fully capable of playing top 4 minutes on any given night. Shane Switzer is a freshman who was thought of by some as the 8th D coming into the year but he certainly isn't playing that way right now. He is good enough to and will push the other defensemen hard for time. He was in the lineup last night over Diffley and I am sure will be in again to replace other guys throughout the season for injury or performance. Don't worry about the defense or goaltending though. They will be more than fine.

Now on to the officials(Keenan and Baker), they are not the reason BU lost last night but they certainly did not help and in  general just needed to stay out of the way. They called 28 minutes of penalties last night all of which were minors. That is 14 separate calls throughout the game for those who are mathematically challenged. I was at the game and can tell you they could have let half of them go easily on both sides. Baker now averages 29.75 pms called per game this year while Keenan is a bit better at 24.75.Obviously some games have more penalties than others but close to half the game shouldn't be spent on powerplays. With that said,  my new biggest pet peeve is them calling a penalty everytime a guy gets backchecked on a breakaway. I think they made 3 of these calls last night. I realize if a guy gets hauled down, it should be called. If he gets sticklifted on a breakway or just backchecked, that's not a penalty just because the crowd or coach screams and wants something called. You are allowed to let them play on from that point but I would say that happens less than 10% of the time. The result is  almost always a goal or a penalty called. It drives me nuts as a fan. I would much rather them miss a call and play on then to overcall the game which some refs in the league tend to do. We didn't pay money to come see you make calls. I honestly don't think Keenan and Baker are that bad in general but they happen to do the game last night so they get the wrath.

On a brighter note, BC freshman Jeremy Bracco left the school today to sign with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL which has sent BC fans/coaches into an angry rage which is hilarious on so many levels. There were rumors all summer about him not showing up to campus especially after he was drafted by Toronto who prefers their guys in the CHL(which is why they suck). When he showed up, it appears many BC fans breathed a sigh of relief as it seemed he was at the bad end of Comm Ave for this year at minimum and probably two or three years since he is smaller. He had three assists in their 5 games so far and was getting top 6 minutes before his sudden departure. Now I have no idea why he would leave suddenly like this. It could be a number of things such an increased "offer" from Kitchener, not enjoying get hit by 25 year old dmen, grades or anything like that. I'm not going to speculate(I'm 100% going to speculate in like three sentences) but it is a big blow to BC's forwards which are deep but any loss up front is going to expose their thin d corps even more. Losing a top 9 forward and full scholarship forward isn't going to help any team so don't let the BC fans sell the addition via subtraction logic. This is almost a double win for BU as their arch rival loses a top recruit who they can't replace this year and BU avoided having to deal with a similar issue as Bracco was one of the few recruits who picked BC over BU since Quinn took over. That should have been a red flag to York right then. Quinn gets the best recruits. BC fights with North Dakota and all the other peasant schools for the scraps. That's how college hockey works now.Get used to it.

Whenever a BC recruits leaves for the CHL, it is kind of a weird position as a BU fan because I know I personally almost hate the CHL as much as I hate BC. The CHL is full of these used car salesmen who pitch their league as the only way to make the NHL which is blatantly false. It is a way to get the NHL but certainly not the only way. Just look at what Auston Matthews is doing over in a Swiss league. It does work for some players but I feel if you are going to make it to the NHL, you are going to make it if you play CHL or NCAA. The real benefit to the NCAA besides the whole degree fallback plan(which is huge) is the extra time it allows you to train between games as well as time to develop. You can stay in NCAA hockey until you are 25 if you play the maximum years of juniors beforehand. By the time a player hits 25, they know if they are going to make it or not in hockey. Meanwhile in the CHL, they age out at 20 and are forced to decided a lower level hockey league or to pursue a free education within 6 months of playing their final game. I am not going to pretend to know what factors went into Bracco's decision but  he was probably just afraid to face BU's wagon. That's the takeaway here. BC freshman leaves team before he gets crunched by Nik Olsson. That should be the headline of the Globe tomorrow.

PS or it could be because today was Jack Eichel's birthday and he asked Bracco to break York's heart since Eichel is every USNTDP player's idol and they will do anything to make him happy.

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