#13 Boston University Terriers (2-2-0, 1-1-0 Hockey East)
Massachusetts Minutemen (1-2-1, 0-2-1 Hockey East)
The BU Terriers come stumbling into Amherst this Friday to start a home-and-home weekend series with the Minutemen. After managing to fell Denver, that’s number two in the nation Denver, two weekends ago, the Terriers were stunned by a huge upset loss to Holy Cross at home last Saturday. Starring in this loss was senior BU goalie Kieran Millan. Starring for the Crusaders, that is. Millan gave up five goals to the Crusaders last weekend. His up and down performance thus far this season has been a bit of a microcosm of his entire career at Boston University. His stats this year (2-2-0, 3.28 GAA, .903 save%) have been pretty terrible. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, the Terriers can still score goals and they have been scoring them at a rate of four a game. The team is still packed with talented offensive forwards, with guys from Alex Chiasson (4G/3A/+7) to Matt Nieto (4G/1A/+5) to Corey Trevino (3G/2A/+1) to Sahir Gil (1G/4A/Even) to Wade Megan (2G/1A/-1). The team is packed with 10 NHL draft picks, six of them forwards. The Terriers have yet to score less than three goals in any single game this season and have scored four or more in all but one.
The key to beating the Terriers is to contain their offense. Let’s face it, on the defensive side of the puck there are not nearly as many recognizable names. Gone is David Warsofsky and the only really impressive D-men the Terriers have left are Adam Clendening and Garret Noonan. That leaves four defensemen for the Mass Attack to pick on. Hopefully, Toot will go back to the star-studded top line of TJ Syner (1G/6A/+1), Danny Hobbs (3G/2A/+1), and Franchise Pereira (3G/2A/+1) this weekend and stop fucking with an offense that has been great, minus the BC game where he did fuck with the lines. If the offense has its chemistry right, it should be able to exploit some of the lesser BU defensemen and put a few past Millan, who will hopefully continue to be iffy.
Now to the real question. If the offense does play up to its ability, the game can certainly be won with some solid, fundamental defensive play. Unfortunately, this is a defense featuring The Mike Marcou Show Starring Mike Marcou and that can be problematic. Minus the aforementioned Show and some lapses in discipline from Mountain Man Олэг Евэнко, I think the defense has been okay. The issue has been that okay defense only clears rebounds away some of the time when goalies leave them in the slot. We have to assume that Tegs will be in net for at least one (hopefully both) of these games, so the rebound issue shouldn’t be too bad. The defense just has to deny BU any golden opportunities and hopefully Teglia will be able to stop the shots he’s supposed to and won’t leave any juicy rebounds. Denying BU golden opportunities is definitely easier said than done, given how strong the Terriers’ offense has been this year, but if the Minutemen stay disciplined and stick to the fundamentals it should not be a particularly difficult task.
That’s really it. These two games could certainly be high scoring shootouts. If that’s the case, I don’t know how I feel about the Mass Attack’s chances this weekend. The keys are to minimize the damage the high octane Terrier offense does and put a decent amount of shots on Millan and hope they find their way through screens or drop in front of the net for easy rebound opportunities. I think it’s really key that the Minutemen compete in both these games and come out of this weekend with AT LEAST two points. If the Minutemen do that, it’s a weekend we can all feel good about. If they don’t, well we’re going to start seeing some fan apathy and a lot more questions about how strong this team, and its coaching staff, really is.
On a personal note, I’m quite excited. This Friday will mark my first return to the Bill as an alumnus, which will be quite a bittersweet experience for me. Hopefully the result will make it more sweet than bitter. I say this with the utmost joy and anticipation. Is it Friday yet?
Massachusetts Minutemen (1-1-1, 0-1-1 Hockey East)
#2 Boston College Eagles (3-1-0, 1-0-0 Hockey East)
The Minutemen take on one of the best teams in the nation on Friday as they will do battle with the Eagles from Boston College. BC is a perennial Hockey East powerhouse and it looks like this year won’t be any different. The Eagles’ offense has been scoring at an impressive 4.50 clip while they have been giving up 2.25 goals a game, a figure that is deceptively high due to their one loss which included an empty net goal. In their three wins, the Eagles have amassed 16 goals while only allowing five. BC’s goal scoring is well distributed amongst the team; junior forward Chris Kreider leads the team with three goals and five other Eagles (Bill Arnold, Johnny Gaudreau, Barry Almeida, Pat Mullane, and Stephen Whitney) are tied for second on the team with two goals apiece. The offense is fueled by the forwards, who account for the top eight point scorers on the team. The defensive corps is only responsible for seven of the Eagles forty eight points thus far (two goals and four assists).
Boston College’s defense is led by a solid core of upperclassmen who know what it takes to get things done on the defensive side of the game. Senior captain Tommy Cross is the only defenseman on the team with an official leadership role but these guys clearly all know how to lead by example. Not only are there no minus players in the top six group of Cross, four juniors, and one sophomore, but there aren’t even any defensemen with even plus/minus ratings. Brian Dumoulin leads the team in plus/minus rating with a +5. Other than sophomore Isaac MacLeod, who I have not seen very much of, I can say that I have not seen a single defenseman on the Eagles who is anything less than outstanding. Junior Parker Milner finally has a chance at being the go-to guy between the pipes for the Eagles, and he is not squandering that opportunity so far. His stats are simply fantastic (3-1-0, 2.01 GAA, .923 save%). Those of us who had hoped that he wasn’t good enough to fill John Muse’s jockstrap are certainly disappointed.
While the Mass Attack cannot claim to have the kind of suffocating defense that the Eagles have right now, they can claim to have the kind of offensive firepower that rivals Boston College’s. The Minutemen are averaging 4.00 goals a game and the Syner-Pereira-Hobbs line has been mind-numbingly good since the return of Danny Hobbs. In those two games, they’ve accounted for six goals and ten assists. What’s concerning is that they have provided almost all of the offense. Although the Mass Attack certainly has other offensive talent to fall back on, so far only four players not from the top line (Colin Shea, Conor Sheary, Brendan Gracel, and Adam Phillips) have lit the lamp this year. Two of the five goals not produced by the top line have come on the powerplay, which is another exciting part of the 2011-2012 edition of the Mass Attack. So far in this early season, the Minutemen are converting powerplays at a very proficient clip of 21.1%.
What is not as exciting about this year’s Minutemen is the defensive side of the puck. On the whole, the team has played relatively well on defense. No one has played poorly, but the momentary lapses the team has seem to come at the worst possible moments. Despite outshooting their opponents by a wide margin, the Minutemen have given up as many goals as they have scored this year. A big part of the problem is the penalty kill, which has been successful a dismal 75.0% of the time. The penalty kill is all about fundamentals. Body positioning, stick positioning, denying passing lanes, keeping the puck to the outside, clearing bodies from the front of the net, clearing rebounds from the front of the net. That last one has been a killer. Freshman goalie Kevin Boyle has given it his all so far this season, but where he most clearly needs work is on his rebound control and his recovery and positioning for the second shot. College hockey goalies deny the first shot and rely on their defensemen to get to rebounds before the opposing forwards do; Hockey East goalies deny the first shot and prevent a second chance, either by allowing no rebound or by steering one out of harms way. I would expect to see Jeff Teglia’s first start of the year tonight. Boyle looked out of his element last Saturday and gave up some really ugly goals before he was finally (Yes, finally, Toot left him in WAY too long against the Friars on a night where he clearly just didn’t have it.) yanked for Teglia. Tegs stopped all eight shots he faced and looked rock solid in his first action of the year. Hopefully his great play in relief last weekend carries into this weekend; the Minutemen will need a huge performance from him if they want a chance to steal one from the Eagles at Conte.
This one should be exciting, folks! No more excuses. Our number one goalie should be in net, our offense is firing on all cylinders, our defense is playing well enough to pull out wins as long as Tegs helps ‘em out a little. Everyone should be excited because this is a game where we can see how our lineup matches up with one of the best out there. I expect they will matchup quite well and I expect a tight game tonight. I can’t tell you who’s gonna win this one, but I can tell you this is the most positive I’ve felt about the potential result of a UMass-BC game in a long, long time.
Friday: Bentley 3 – Massachusetts 5
The return of Danny Hobbs clearly sparked the first line in Friday night’s game as Hobbs, Pereira, and Syner combined for four goals and 10 points. Hobbs’s first goal of the season came after the Minutemen had given up an early goal to Bentley’s Aaron Stonacek. It came courtesy of a slick feed from linemate Franchise Pereira. UMass went down 2-1 on a powerplay goal scored by Alex Grieve and trailed to end the first period. The Mass Attack then scored three consecutive goals, two by the Franchise and one by Branden Gracel, before giving up another powerplay tally. The score stood at 4-3 until Pereira scored on an empty net to complete his hat trick.
The offense played well and the Mass Attack really controlled the flow of play from the second period on. After outshooting the Falcons 12-10 in the first period, the Minutemen went on to outshoot them by a much wider margin, 35-14, in the final two periods. The first line looked like gods and no one skater looked particularly bad, although The Mike Marcou Show Starring Mike Marcou was on the ice for all three goals against. The penalty kill was somewhat suspect, but so was freshman goaltender Kevin Boyle, who allowed too many rebounds and didn’t recover quickly enough to challenge second shots.
Douglas F. Kublin Memorial Player of the Game
Derek: Danny Hobbs
Yes, yes, Pereira had a hat trick, but one of those three goals was an empty netter and the other two were set up by Hobbs, one fantastically so. Hobbs’s one goal of the night was a timely one, scored shortly after Bentley took an early 1-0 lead, and it was not a coincidence that the first line, as a whole, had a breakout game on the same night he returned to the lineup.
Saturday: Massachusetts 4 – Providence 6
If you were there, you would know that the real first star of Saturday night’s game was Don Cahoon. For the Providence Friars. Listen, I’m not gonna blame Kevin Boyle. He had an off night, and it happens to all goalies. But I most certainly will blame Toot for leaving Boyle in to give up five bad goals. The first two weren’t absolutely terrible, they were rebound goals, one on the powerplay, pretty standard Kevin Boyle M.O. goals. However, the final three goals were all softies, two of which were literally give-up shots that were lobbed at the goalie to get a line change. I cannot fathom why Toot would leave in a goalie, who by most accounts is currently the number two goalie on the team, who clearly didn’t have anything when the number one goalie is sitting on the bench just waiting to go. Teglia stopped all eight shots he faced once he was finally put in net late in the second period.
I cannot complain about the way any of the skaters played on Friday night. To a man, they played hard, they played smart, and they played with skill. They earned almost twice as many powerplays as they gave up (9-5). They scored twice on the powerplay and held the Friars off the board on four of their five PP chances. Other than the first half of the third period, where they had issues possessing the puck, they played just about as well as anyone could hope they would play. I can’t single out any skater for the Minutemen who played poorly, only some who played exceptionally well. Danny Hobbs scored twice, once on the powerplay. TJ Syner had three assists. Conor Sheary made good on my promise that he would score, delivering on the powerplay. Conor Allen looked good on the back end. The list goes on. It’s just a shame that these guys weren’t given a decent shot at winning.
Douglas F. Kublin Memorial Player of the Game
Derek: Danny Hobbs
For the second night in a row, Hobbs delivered. Two goals, one on the powerplay, four shots on goal, and he threw the body around like an absolute beast. He was the Mass Attack’s best scoring threat AND the Mass Attack’s best forechecker on Saturday night. Kid’s playing like his hair’s on fire right now.
Other Games/Top Performers
- Boston University 3 – Providence 5
- BU comes out flat against the Friars, who get goals from five first time goal scorers, including four freshmen, to pull off the huge upset.
- Providence – Stefan Demopoulos: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating, 5 Shots
- BU – Matt Nieto: 1 Goal, 3 Shots
- New Hampshire 0 –Northeastern 4
- The Wildcats are shutout again as Chris Rawlings rebounds from a tough start against Maine. Matt DiGirolamo’s slump continues.
- Northeastern – Chris Rawlings: Shutout, 27 Saves
- Northeastern – Luke Eibler: 2 Assists, +2 Rating
- Denver 4 – Boston College 2
- The top team in the nation falls as Denver takes advantage of less than stellar goaltending
- Denver – Jason Zucker: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +1 Rating, 5 Shots
- BC – Kevin Hayes: 1 Goal, 1 Assist (PP), 3 Shot
- Maine 1 – North Dakota 3
- Maine outshoots ND but Brad Eidsness stands tall in net for the Fighting Sioux.
- ND – Brad Eidsness: 30 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
- ND – Ben Blood: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating
- UMass Lowell 4 – Minnesota State 2
- Lowell controls the flow of play and blasts 37 shots on net to become the only Hockey East team to win a non-conference game on Friday
- UML – Riley Wetmore: 2 Goals, +1 Rating, 3 Shots
- UML – Terrence Wallin: 1 Goal, 2 Assists, +3 Rating\
- Exhibition USA Under-18 2 – Vermont 1
- Lol, rly?
- Vermont – No one.
- Boston College 5 – New Hampshire 1
- UNH’s scoring offense and goaltending both continue to stink as BC rolls over the once vaunted Wildcats.
- BC – Parker Milner: 39 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
- BC – Paul Carey: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Rating, 6 Shots
- Army 2 – Merrimack 3
- Merrimack’s offense almost doubles up Army’s shots on goal, but Cannata gives up two and the Warriors barely eek out a win at home.
- Merrimack – John Heffernan: 1 Goal, 1 Assist +2 Rating, 3 Shots
- Army – Rob Tadazak: 37 Saves, 3 Goals Allowed
- Denver 3 – Boston University 4
- Denver’s third period surge is not quite enough to complete the east coast sweep.
- BU – Matt Nieto: 1 Goal (SH), +1 Rating
- BU – Kieran Millan: 35 Saves, 3 Goals allowed
- Maine 3 – North Dakota 3
- Maine goes up 2-0 early but needs to score last to earn the 3-3 tie.
- ND – Danny Kristo: 2 Goals (2 PP), 1 Assist, 5 Shots
- Maine – Spencer Abbot: 3 Assists (2 PP), +1 Rating, 4 Shots
- UMass Lowell 4 – Minnesota State 1
- The River Hawks control the game from late in the first period on to sweep the weekend series with Minnesota State.
- UML – Derek Arnold: 2 Goals (1 PP), 1 Assist (PP), +1 Rating, 5 Shots
- UML – Doug Carr: 24 Saves, 1 Goal Allowed
Hockey East Awards
Hockey East has yet to post their weekly awards. I’m not sure if they’re waiting for the UConn-UML game to be played on Tuesday night to release them or if they’re just being slow. One way or another, there will be a supplement to this post once the weekly awards are up.
Hockey East Standings
|Rank||Team||HE Games Played (Record)||Points|
|3||Boston College||1 (1-0-0)||2|
|Boston University||2 (1-1-0)||2|
|New Hampshire||3 (0-3-0)||0|
Hockey East Teams in the USCHO.com Poll
Ranked: #2 Boston College, #7 Boston University, #13 Merrimack, #18 Maine
Receiving Votes: Providence (69), UMass Lowell (12), Northeastern (3)