Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekend Recap: Terriers Season ends in Saint Paul

The Terriers 2015-2016 season ended at the hands of the Denver Pioneers this past Saturday in the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers had a good start to the game but couldn't bury any chances they got early on. The first line(Greenway, JFK, and O'Regan) were effective their first 3 or 4 shifts but didn't have anything to show for it. Denver scored two goals at the end of the opening period and never looked back on their way to a 7-2 victory. It was a disappointing way to end the season for the Terriers but in all reality, it is always a win a title or bust mentality every season on Comm Ave(either end of it).  So while this does suck, it doesn't change how I view the team this year or when I look back on the season. This is a top 10 team in the country as their record shows but unfortunately, they didn't play like it after the regular season ended.

It is always easy to point out the flaws in a team or a coach after a bad season ending loss but every other fan in the world does that so I'm going to avoid doing that here. The truth is that BU Hockey is in very good shape moving forward to build off of this season. They have 49 wins over the last two seasons and have made the NCAA tournament in both of them. This is just the beginning of a long run of NCAA tournament appearances as when you look at the recruiting trail and this team is only going to get more talented as time goes on in the Quinn era.

Now that the season is over, it will be interesting to see what members of the team sign professional contracts. We will be doing a post on each individual senior in the next few weeks but for now the attention is on where they will continue their hockey careers. Seniors Ahti Oksanen and Matt Lane are undrafted free agents and are free to sign with any team of their choosing. Oksanen is one of the more sought after college free agents and will have his options of teams. My gut tells me he will sign with NYR(and former associate coach Steve Greeley) but there will be plenty of teams interested in his services after he lead the NCAA in shots on goal. A dark horse to sign him could be Arizona as former BU associate coach Mike Bavis is an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate in Springfield and recruited Ahti to BU from Finland. Lane will have his options of suitors as well and will most likely sign an ATO with an AHL team in the next few weeks. Mike Moran will have options to pursue his career as well in either the ECHL or AHL.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Q&A with Lets Go DU Blog

Myself and the Let's Go DU blog have been exchanging minor chirps the last few days so it was time to hash out all our difference before the game tonight. Attached is the Q&A from each one of us to the other.

1. What has been the major reason behind Denver's second half dominant run?

I've had a number of conversations with Coach Montgomery and a few players about this and the answer seems to be the same. I'll paraphrase, but by and large, they've said, "It's been our commitment to each other on the ice. It doesn't matter who gets it done just so long as it gets done. There's no selfish play on this team." When you watch the Pioneers play, you notice that...and it becomes a problem at times when they choose to pass instead of shoot when they have an open lane. But more often than not, their strategy has worked since the New Year, so who am I to question it? The holiday break played a really big part in the Pios' dominant second half. Heading into the break, Denver had lost 4 straight games to North Dakota and St. Cloud State by a combined score of 20-5. They used the break to hit the reset button and get back to playing "relentless" Pioneer hockey, as Coach Montgomery likes to say. The added production by the Pacific Rim Line (Trevor Moore-Dylan Gambrell-Danton Heinen) has been a major factor as well. I honestly can't remember the last time at least one of those three didn't at least tally a point. Everything has kind of fallen into place for Denver in the second half.

2. Who outside of the first line and Will Butcher do you think can have an impact on the game and Terrier fans should keep an eye out for?

Watch for DU's 4th line ("C" Grant Arnold-Matt Marcinew-Jarid Lukosevicius). Last year, Denver's 4th line was known as the MASH Line because of their physical, energetic play. I like to look at this year's 4th line as MASH Line v2.0. No line will ever compare to the energy and physicality that last year's MASH line brought, but this year's line plays a similar role. Montgomery will often send that line out for the opening faceoff to get things going in DU's favor early. If it ever seems like things are starting to shift in BU's favor during this game, be sure to look at what players are on the ice for the Pioneers. It's likely you're going to see 39 (Arnold), 23 (Marcinew), and 14 (Lukosevicius) out there to kind of force things back into DU's favor. They don't always find the back of the net, but their energetic play often leads to a goal from another line.

3. How far into Jim Montgomery's head do you think BU is at this point? First , they ruin his perfect season as a player at Maine and now they are going to end an impressive coaching season for him?

HA! I'm sure seeing BU on the schedule doesn't exactly make Monty happy. I also believe that overtime loss on Halloween still bothers him. He said earlier this week that he felt Denver should have won that game in October. A few bad bounces cost the Pios that night. BU has certainly been a thorn in his side throughout his career, but knowing Montgomery, that only adds to his motivation.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Weekend Preview: Silent Killers

The BU Terriers will be heading on their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament this weekend as they face the Denver Pioneers in a first round matchup before beating the winner of St. Cloud St. and Ferris St to advance to the Frozen Four in Tampa in a few weeks. The Terriers and Pioneers faced off once earlier this year with the Terriers pulling out a 5-4 OT win thanks to Ahti Oksanen's first two goals of the season.

The location will be different as the regional is located in St. Paul, Minnesota but the teams will be the same as will the outcome. There are many Denver fans looking past BU to a matchup with St. Cloud St in the regional final which is an ideal scenario for BU. Getting placed out west is a blessing for BU. There will be fans who will mention BU's record isn't as good in Western regionals historically but you can really throw those records out the window. St. Paul is the only regional where BU avoids other Hockey East teams(which are the best teams) but still will be an underdog in the region for reasons unknown to me. Apparently western fans are delusional and not smart. Who would have guessed? Hopefully once BU trounces Denver, St. Cloud fans look forward to the Frozen Four semi matchup with North Dakota(if they get past lil bro Northeastern). St. Paul is also not a hellhole like Albany and Worcester are. I have only been in the Cincinnati airport so I will refrain comment and that was enough to know that it sucks too.

Monday, March 21, 2016

NCAA Tournament Field Set :Terriers face Denver in Saint Paul

The 16 team NCAA tournament field is now set after this past weekend's conference championship games and obviously the Boston University Terriers made the field for the second straight season. The Terriers will face the Denver Pioneers in the first round of the West Regional in St. Paul, Minnesota. The winner of that game faces the winner of #2 overall seed St. Cloud State and Ferris State who is the king of the garbage that is the WCHA. The Terriers first round game is at 6:30 pm on Saturday night on ESPNU as seen in the bracket below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Weekend Recap: BU declines opportunity to play for HE Championship

The BU men's hockey team took a bold strategy this weekend by declining a chance to play for the Hockey Tournament Championship and defend their title from last season. At first glance, it may seem like a poor decision and that the team should have performed better against UMass Lowell(2-3 and 0-5 losses)but in all reality it was just another example of Coach David Quinn playing chess while the rest of college hockey plays checkers.

BU is going to make the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome of the Hockey East Tournament. The NCAA tournament field is decided by a mathematical formula that weighs a number of factors including strength of schedule, quality wins etc. and thanks to BU's regular season where they had 9 wins against the top 14 in the Pairwise, they are a mathematical lock for the tournament. There is no committee that can keep them out despite what the Lowell Sun may or may not believe. The only decisions that come into play is what regional BU will play in. The easiest way to explain this is how others on Twitter have  already done so below.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Weekend Preview :Why are Lowell fans so stupid?

The BU Terriers will face the Lowell Riverhawks in the best college hockey matchup of the weekend. This Hockey East Quarterfinal round between the 4 and 5 seed of the conference is easily the best matchup in the conference this weekend. The only other series that will be even remotely interesting Northeastern at Notre Dame because of their good history in South Bend(3-2-1 vs ND over the past three seasons). Providence and BC should take care of their series rather easily but then again both choked away QF series a year ago so anything is possible there. 

The Terriers face a rested Lowell team who did not play last weekend as BU toyed with and eventually defeated UMass in a Hockey East first round series. Lowell fans and Hockey East fans in general are trying to point to BU's lack of domination as a point of weakness going into this weekend but they are just grasping at straws. Yes, BU could have played better which I'm sure coach David Quinn has driven home this week in practice. They do have to play better than last weekend to beat Lowell but it is also extremely easy to not play a full hockey game against UMass with how bad they are. Every writer, fan, living being in the world knew BU would beat UMass last weekend. Even the drug dealers in Lowell knew BU would beat UMass and they were high for the entire college hockey schedule this season. It is tough to get motivated for a game like that with no students on campus in fairly empty rink. They were still +26 in shots on goal for the weekend but certainly are capable of playing better.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hockey East Ref Corsi Espisode III

It is the best time of year in Hockey East. The weather is warming up, playoff hockey is starting and I get to write my annual recap of the officiating in the league. As I displayed last year, I am capable of saying nice things about the refs when they deserve it. Now, before I get into the numbers aka ref corsi, I will be the first to acknowledge the flaws in how I track the numbers and rank the refs. The only numbers available are the refs who work the games and the total number of penalties called so that is all that I have to work with. This obviously penalizes refs who get a game with a line brawl or paired with Kevin Shea when he gets BU a ref who happens to have an off night and try to make the game about him. I will be the first to acknowledge that the refs have a tough job and it is impossible to placate all the fans or even all the coaches but overall they do a pretty good job. Last year, I  they called the second least amount of penalty minutes of any conference so they obviously aren't too bad.

This is the second straight year BU was called for more penalty minutes than their opponent. They had 47 more penalty minutes this year(384-337) as opposed to only 23 more penalty minutes than their opponents last year. This is most likely a result of Jordan Greenway being on the roster and getting called for the Gryba "too big" bullshit penalties. Basically the refs feel bad when big guys physically dominate their opponents and call more penalties on them because of it. I'm not saying the refs purposefully are calling more penalties on Greenway than he deserves but they definitely are calling penalties on him due to his size and the fact that other teams hate him for embarrassing them.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Weekend in South Bend Recap

The Terriers split a weekend road trip in South Bend, Indiana with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. As a BU fan it is tough to be mad about the effort as the Terriers left it all on the ice both nights. They came out on the right end Friday night behind goals from Ahti Oksanen, Mike Moran and Charlie McAvoy. Oksanen and McAvoy's goals were absolute bombs while Moran's was a beautiful greasy jabbing "shot" from the goal mouth. All three goals were critical as the Terriers held on for a 3-2 win which was their first in the history of Compton Ice Arena.