#11 Boston University Terriers 13-9-1 (10-6-1) T-2nd Hockey East
Massachusetts Minutemen 9-12-2 (6-9-1) 7th Hockey East
The Massachusetts hockey team will only have one game to focus on this weekend, which is a good thing because it’ll be a tough one but a win versus the Terriers is not outside the realm of possibility. Boston University is still very talented and not easy to beat, the Minutemen know this with the weekend sweep at the hands of the Terriers in the beginning of the season. But they’re not exactly untouchable either. They’re just 1-2-1 in their last four and 3-4-1 since winter break.
Offensively these Terriers are pretty much what you’d expect. Their 3.09 goals per game is good for third in the league, tied with Lowell and behind Boston College and New Hampshire. Their power play is only middle-of-the-pack though, converting just over 16% of their chances. BU has gotten production from all their classes, as shown from their leaders in goals scored so far. Tops on the team is senior Wade Megan who has 12 goals on the season, tied for third best among Hockey East players. Behind him is freshman Danny O’Regan who has 9 goals to go with 13 assists. Those two both had two goals apiece against the Minutemen when the teams met for a home and home series in late October.
Defensively is where the Terriers, at least statistically, look a little more out of character. However, I think that’s probably to be expected when you’re trying to break in two freshman goaltenders (see: UMass last year). It’s important to note that Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire haven’t done terribly in their debut seasons. O’Connor has played more of the games, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and .910 save percentage. Maguire has the better stats with a 2.34 GAA and .925 save percentage. The two have been roughly alternating since early December and the Boston Hockey Blog reported on Twitter that Maguire would get the start. BU has struggled on the penalty kill, sitting at 82% and 8th in the league.
Frankly, this is a vulnerable Terrier team. It’s also a BU team could’ve been facing the prospect of losing a season series to the Minutemen tomorrow. However in the last time these teams meet in the Mullins Center the Minutemen gave up a 2-0 lead and somehow could not find the back of the net despite 20 third period shots on O’Connor. The result ended up being a 3-2 loss for UMass and now BU has a chance at a season sweep tomorrow night. Hopefully pride and the fact that Vermont, Maine, and Northeastern are all breathing down their necks will give the Minutemen the motivation needed to upset the 11th ranked Terriers. To do so they’ll need a consistent effort on offense. The team as a whole has played good defense since winter break ended, with the exception of the Providence game at home when they gave up five goals. But defensively UMass has been playing some of its best hockey of the season, even on special teams. Scoring however has been hit or miss in that time. They’ve been able to generate a lot of shots but some nights the puck finds the back of the net and the next opposing goaltenders look like world-beaters. The finishers that are on the team, most specifically the first like of Branden Gracel, Mike Pereira, and Conor Sheary, will have to make sure Sean Maguire looks human tomorrow.
Beer The Triangle
Seems like a long time since I’ve been to the Hangar. I wonder what they have on draft? Since they tend to highlight Lagunitas I hope they have the Lagunitas Sucks on draft, one of the top beers from a favorite brewery.
A number of BU Twitter accounts have reported that BU will dress seven defensemen tomorrow night, with Ryan Ruikka in the lineup at forward. The Boston Hockey Blog also tweeted that Evan Rodrigues will dress after missing last Saturday’s game against Providence due to injury. Rodrigues has eight goals on the season.
The Republican has this profile on Darren Rowe as part of their preview of tomorrow. Overall Rowe has been one of the better stories of the UMass season after getting very limited playing time last season. While there are certainly still times on the ice where his defensive limitations prove frustrating for UMass fans, the fact is when he’s doing what he needs to on defense and combining it with offensive contributions he’s a very valuable part of the team. And he’s done well in both aspects in recent games notching two goals and six assists in the last seven games while maintaining an even plus/minus rating. I always thought Rowe’s skills weren’t totally maximized during his UMass career and continue to contend that he should’ve been moved to forward earlier in his career. But he continues to do his best on defense while making the most of his offensive instincts during his senior season, shaking off a mid-season slump. And the team has benefitted when he’s moving and shooting the puck well on the season.
Here’s some additional coverage of Matt Anderson, who picked up his first NHL point/assist tonight for the Devils.
Dick Baker had this article about Anderson’s accomplishments framed around the legacy of Springfield hockey legend Gary Dineen.
And Collegian alum Andrew Merritt wrote this enjoyable piece on Anderson for the New England Hockey Journal. I know I mentioned it the other night but, like Mike Kostka, I’m thrilled to see Anderson get his shot in the NHL. I have followed the program for almost two decades and there are few better representatives of the dear old alma mater and the Minuteman hockey program than those two.
Oh hey Casey Wellman was traded again and is now in his fourth NHL organization since the beginning of last season. Maybe sometime between now and when I retire at the end of the season I’ll do a View From Section U column expressing what I really think about Wellman.