Boston University Preview

#11 Boston University Terriers 13-9-1 (10-6-1) T-2nd Hockey East

at

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.

Recruit Update; Anderson Makes NHL Debut

Ben Gallacher – D – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) – 2013 (transfer)
17 GP / 2 G / 6 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM / +8
Gallacher didn’t play last weekend.

Mark Hamilton – D – Salisbury School Crimson Knights (NE Prep) – 2013
0 GP / 0 G / 0 A / 0 Pts
Hamilton is back playing with the Knights. I hope to have some updated stats soon.

Marc Hetnik – D – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 2013
39 GP / 1 G /7 A / 8 Pts / 34 PIM
Hetnik had an assist in his most recent game played.

Mike Iovanna – RW/C – Malden Catholic Lancers (MA High School) – 2013
14 GP / 6 G /9 A /15 Pts
Iovanna continues to average over a point a game.

Dennis Kravchenko – LW – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – 2013 or 2014
33 GP / 14 / 21 A / 35 Pts / 74 PIM / +11
Kravchenko had four assists in two games this past weekend.

Patrick Lee – LW – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) – 2014
46 GP / 18 G / 24 A / 42 Pts / 20 PIM
Lee had a a couple assists last weekend.

Casey Miller – C – Kimball Union (NE Prep) – 2014
15 GP / 4 G / 12 A / 16 Pts
Will update the prep players when I can get my hands on up to date stats.

Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL) – 2014
26 GP / 3 G / 5 A / 6 Pts / 12 PIM
Smith had two goals in his last three games, including a shorthander.

Frank Vatrano– LW/C – Junior Bruins (EJHL) – 2013
19 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 Pts / 22 PIM
Vatrano will be on campus for Spring semester.

Matt Anderson made his NHL debut tonight as the Devils took on the Bruins and played well in his 6+ minutes of action.  Anderson was the captain of the 2007 Massachusetts team that upset Clarkson in the NCAA tournament.  He’s the third Minuteman to make his NHL debut this season, joining Mike Kostka, a teammate from that 2007 team, and Matt Irwin.  It’s been a long road for Anderson to the NHL, as he makes his first NHL roster at 30 years old.  But it was a tough road for him at UMass where he lost a season and a half to injury.  But all that hard work paid off when he took to the Garden ice tonight.

College Hockey News has UMass at #7 in their Hockey East power rankings.

No UMass players were recognized in this week’s Hockey East release.

Boston University comes into Friday’s game ranked #11 in the country.

11-12 Preview: #9 Northeastern Huskies

Hockey East Preview: #9 Northeastern Huskies

2010-11 Storyline:  Huskies unable to bounce back from 1-8-3 start to season.

2011-12 Storyline: Can Northeastern recover from an offseason full of loss.

Player To Watch: Anthony Bitetto

Player Missed Most:  Jamie Oleksiak

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On:  Josh Manson

Random Fact:   St Botolph Street has become a refuge of sorts for the wayward in Hockey East.  On the Huskies roster is Cody Ferriero who went to Northeastern after decommiting from BC where his brother played, Joe Manno who was at one time committed here to UMass, and Vinny Sapornari who was kicked off of the BU squad by Jack Parker.

Usual Beer The Triangle Pre-game Spot:  Pizzeria Uno.  Seriously, how can you be in the middle of a metropolitan city and not have a decent beer bar within walking distance?!?

Northeastern has some very talented players on its squad such as Bitetto, Chris Rawlings, Anthony Quailer.  But, frankly, Northeastern is a mess.  After starting off horribly last season they improved somewhat only to have head coach Greg Cronin and an assistant coach suspended for recruiting issues as they went down the stretch of the season.  Cronin was ultimately reinstated but spring saw a strange “Is he or isn’t he?” melodrama regarding if he would bolt for the pros.  Ultimately he ended up leaving for an assistant coach role with the Maple Leafs.  That was obviously a blow to the Husky program since Cronin had led a resurgence in his time there, but the worst was yet to come.  When it came time to replace him as head coach the school waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Seemingly the entire summer transpired before they finally named Jim Madigan as head coach, an administrator without head coaching experience who hasn’t been behind a bench since 1993.  Needless to say, his appointment wasn’t enough to keep stud defenseman Jamie Oleksiak in school plus the Huskies lost three top end recruits in John Gaudreau (BC), Garrett Haar (WMU), and Justin Kovacs (WMU).

The Huskies still have talent and they have it where it matters in Rawlings, a seasoned goaltender in net.  But between the early defections of key players, losing their top recruits, and having a coach who’s still trying to figure out which door leads to the bench, I don’t see Northeastern doing much this season.  They’ll likely keep games close with the players they have on the blueline and in the crease, but mentally I think the team has been through too much already and the season hasn’t even started.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: They’re emotionally spent after this offseason.

They’ll Finish Higher Because: Opposing teams are unable to solve Rawlings.

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. ??
2. ??
3. ??
4. ??
5. ??
6. ??
7. ??
8. ??
9.  Northeastern Huskies
10. Lowell River Hawks

Marvin Degon has returned from playing overseas and will attend Providence  Bruins training camp.

College Hockey News has come out with their preseason top 10.  Two Hockey East teams, Boston University and Boston College, are on the last at #2 and #5 respectively.  In addition Maine is listed as a team to watch.  Non-conference opponent Yale is ranked 10th while surprisingly Holy Cross is listed as a team to watch as well.

Fenway Announcement Coming Friday

The worst kept secret in recent college hockey memory will be revealed at a Friday afternoon press conference where Hockey East and the Red Sox will announce that UMass, Vermont, UNH, and Maine will participate in a doubleheader at Fenway Park on January 7th.

If the real world allows, I do plan on attending and look forward to providing coverage for FTT readers.

Matt Anderson re-signed with the Albany Devils, whom he represented as an AHL All-Star last year.

The remaining schools in the WCHA and CCHA continue to meet to discuss future options in the wake of the recent conference realignment announcements.

Recruit Update

Kevin Boyle – G – Westside Warriors (BCHL)
34 GP / 16-16-1 / 3.06 GAA / .902 sv%
These up and down performances for Boyle are just plain crazy.  On Saturday he gave up 5 goals in a loss but bounced back last night to pick up a win while only giving up 1 goal.

Kenny Gillespie – RW – Shattuck St Mary’s (MN)
35 GP / 10 G / 34 A /  44 Pts / 46 PIM
Gillespie had a goal and four assists in his last two games.

Zack LaRue – C/F – Markham Waxers (OPJHL)
47 GP / 31 G / 35 A / 66 Pts / 22 PIM
LaRue had a goal and an assist in an overtime win against Brampton last week.

Shane Walsh -LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
25 GP / 2 G / 5 A / 7 Pts / 8 PIM
Walsh played two games for the Saints this week and was held off the board.

I also have created a list of players who are rumored to be on UMass’ radar.  You can find it at the bottom of the Recruits page.  Again, these are just players who have been mentioned as potential UMass targets.  Information may be old or UMass may not even ever offer these players a scholarship.  In assembling this list I noticed that Nick Gordon who I had written about last winter committed to RIT.  Gordon played locally for Northfield-Mt Hermon and is now out in the USHL. 

USCHO writer Dave Hendrickson makes his picks for who makes it into the Hockey East playoffs with UMass as the 7th seed.

UMassathletics.com has footage of Justin Braun taking part in the hardest shot competition in the AHL All Star Skill competition.  He finished second.  Meanwhile Matt Anderson scored a goal in the 11-8 win for the Eastern Conference.  UNH’s Bobby Butler was named the game’s MVP.

Jon Quick was named the NHL’s #2 star for last week.