Monday, November 14, 2016

Harper named Rookie of the Week; Terrier Takeaway

Freshman wing Patrick Harper, who scored a goal and assisted on two others in the third period of BU’s 4-2 win over Michigan on Saturday has been named the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week Award.  It's his second weekly award, having earned Player of the Week in early October. Sophomore Jordan Greenway, who also had a goal and two assists, was selected for the weekly top performers list.

Following their weekend split with Michigan, the Terriers dropped a notch to #5 in the USCHO weekly rankings. BU remained at #4 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Denver is now #1 in both polls and Hockey East has four teams in the top 10 of both polls. John Buccigrass’s rankings slot BU at #5.

Terrier Takeaway
THFB contributor Neal Boudette was among the BU fans who attended the two–game series against Michigan. He offers these thoughts on Saturday’s win for the Terrier Takeaway:

What a difference 24 hours make.

On Friday, the Terriers were shut out by the Michigan Wolverines 4-0, a frustrating game in which BU attempted twice as many shots as Michigan but was knocked off balance by the home team’s hard, physical play.

On Saturday, after a tough first period, BU bounced back in the second and thoroughly dominated the third in a 4-2 victory. Here are some observations on just a few of the players who made a difference:

Curry and Chabot. Both were very strong contributors and both do a lot of little things that influence play but are rarely noticed. Curry won 5 of 11 faceoffs and a couple of his clean wins came in critical situations in the D-zone and on the penalty kill – those were big.

Chabot was hard on the forecheck all night. He’s not big but he’s fearless and tenacious. He didn't get to the puck but regularly caused the Michigan D to get rid of it sooner than they wanted, and it ended up going right back to the BU D in the neutral zone. Thanks Gabe!

That’s a play that quietly tilts the game. If Michigan has possession, they have the opportunity to get a scoring chance. If they cough it up, it’s BU that goes on offense. Time after time, Chabot turned a Michigan offensive opportunity into a BU offensive opportunity.

Curry’s forechecking likewise created havoc in the Michigan zone. He also was very strong in the D zone, and wasn’t intimidated by Michigan’s physical play.

At 20 years of age, both players are older freshmen. They were recruited to bring grit and mental toughness – just what BU needs to prevail in games like this, on the road, against a fired up opponent.

McAvoy. He was almost like a man playing against teenagers, even though he's still a teenager himself. He deftly handled the puck at the offensive blueline, rushed the puck, started the breakout with clean passes. His goal was a thing of beauty - a designed backside play that required having three players on the same page to execute (Greenway and Harper were the other two).

Hickey. While McAvoy’s play stood out, the D who really impressed me was Hickey. He was rock-solid defending against the rush. His form in skating backwards and managing the gap is textbook, never crossing over, keeping himself balanced so he could move laterally or poke the puck without lunging, and time after time angling the Michigan puck carrier to the corner.  

Greenway. Beast. What else is there to say? The Michigan fans sitting a row behind me were grumbling all through the second and third period that they couldn't get the puck from him. "Hit him! C'mon!" As if the problem was Michigan effort and not the fact Greenway is 6'5" 230 lbs. He fed McAvoy for the second goal, and then killed Michigan by scoring the game-winner from the slot, cashing in the rebound of JFK’s initial shot.

Michigan’s frustration with their inability to take the puck from Greenway spilled over when Michigan’s Brendan Warren finally just slashed the stick from Jordan’s hands late in the third. That forced Michigan to play 2:00 of the final 3:30 a man down – at a time when they desperately needed to score. The penalty all but ended Michigan’s hopes, sending the hometown fans to the exits.

JFK. Speaking of this guy…talk about a player who quietly influences the game. The score sheet says he only earned a lone assist, but he seemed to be starting every rush when he was on the ice, or creating at least one or two chances on every trip into the offensive zone. He also won 19 of 34 draws over the weekend.

Oettinger. The first shot of the game beat him and at times in the first period seemed less than sure handed controlling rebounds and loose pucks. But he looked better and better as the game wore on. By the 3rd, Michigan fans were noting that Boston’s goalie is pretty good. Yeah, you could say that.

Random thoughts:  The fourth line made a few appearances in the first, with Diffley and Switzer on the wings. Quinn clearly wanted to leave Ann Arbor with a split and went with three lines for most of the second and all of the third. It paid off. BU’s high skill level took over the game. Michigan tired as it chased the puck and BU just moved it around the offensive zone - not unlike when my cat chases the laser pointer and finally decides to just sit and watch. 

If anyone had a clock on possession in the third period, I’d like to see it. I’m guessing it was a wide, wide margin in favor of the Terriers.

Curry got something of a thrill after the game. He was talking with his parents after the game when a girl in a BU jersey asked him for an autograph. His mother and father beamed at their son's moment of celebrity.

The game was practically a USA NTDP reunion. Each team has eight players from the national development program, now headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan 12 miles east of Ann Arbor. Terriers who played for NTDP are: Greenway, Olsson, McAvoy, MacLeod, Oettinger, Keller, Bellows and Krys. 

Despite the outcome of Friday's game, BU coaches felt fairly confident on Saturday morning. Video review revealed the Terriers had been effective at times. They attempted more than 70 shots -- twice as many as Michigan. 

Boston Hockey Blog: Three Thoughts

Looking ahead
2017 recruit Cam Crotty scored the game-winning goal in Brockville’s 4-1 win over Carleton Place in CCHL action. It was the 6-2 defenseman’s second goal of the season.

2017 recruit and Michigan native Logan Cockerill talks about his NTDP experience with USA Hockey.

Women’s Team
Junior Victoria Bach, who scored her second career hat trick against Maine, was named to Hockey East’s weekly top performers list.

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