After watching his team give up three goals in the final five minutes of play against Michigan State University Saturday evening, David Quinn told the Boston University men’s hockey team to be prepared for practice on Tuesday.
Five days later, and with the Terriers (3-3-0, 1-0-0 Hockey East) having dropped from a 13/14 ranking to 18th, Quinn said the focus of the week’s practices was on puck possession and staying out of the penalty box during this weekend’s home-and-home bout with No. 3 Providence College (4-0-1, 0-0-0 Hockey East).
“There are going to be games over the course of a season when your whole team plays like that,” Quinn said of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Spartans. “Whether they were mentally fatigued, physically fatigued, down on themselves after the loss to [University of] Michigan, our first road trip, whatever.
“So I gave them Monday off, and Tuesday went right back at it and got them ready to beat Providence.”
Providence, one of just seven unbeaten teams in the nation, enters the weekend after having defeated Miami University (Ohio) 3-2 in overtime on Friday before tying the Red Hawks 4-4 on Saturday.
Instead of having the Terriers watch film of themselves from this past weekend, Quinn showed BU video from the Providence-Miami series.
“We talked about puck management and possessing it and puck support. It never changes. you just have to find different ways to get it through to them, but they have to understand it,” Quinn said. “We watched some Providence [Wednesday], and we showed a bunch of things that Miami did that we had been doing a lot of … So we showed a lot of the things we need to work on via Miami.”
As Quinn has said all season, the Terriers also need to improve on the amount of penalties that they take. While BU is eighth in the league in penalty minutes with an average of just 12.3 minutes in the box per game, Quinn said he still wants the Terriers to aim for four penalties or less per game. This past weekend, BU had 13 penalties compared to four from its opponents.
Although the Terriers are in the bottom third in the conference in terms of penalties, the timing of the penalties has caused a problem for BU. During BU’s game against Michigan (4-1-1), BU had three penalties in the first 11:20 of the game.
“We’ve just got to stay out of the penalty box,” Quinn said. “It’s our number one problem in my opinion, because your best players play too much, you’re too tired, there’s no rhythm. You can’t go out on the road and have three power plays and the other two teams have 13. You just can’t. You don’t give yourself a chance.”
When the Terriers take the ice Friday evening at Agganis Arena, the team will have a different lineup from the one at Michigan State last Saturday. Freshman winger Tommy Kelley will head back to the second line while his classmate Kevin Duane will return to his spot on the fourth line. Meanwhile, freshman wing Brendan Collier and sophomore wing Sam Kurker will return to the third line after sitting out Saturday’s game. Freshman T.J. Ryan, who played as a forward for the first time this season against the Spartans will return to his spot on the blue line against Providence.
Sophomore netminder Matt O’Connor, who gave up two goals and had 42 saves against the University of Michigan on Friday, will face off against Hockey East Goaltender of the Month Jon Gillies in the Friday night contest.
In seven games this season, Gillies has given up an average of 1.71 goals per game.
“At the end of the day, you have go to get to the net with this guy,” Quinn said of Gillies. “You cannot give him a clean look at the puck, just like any goalie at our level. You have to get in there, you have got to be dirty, you have got to pay the price, you have got to block and tackle to get into the crease.
“Honestly, nobody does it better than Providence after watching them on tape. We have got to be ready to defend in that area very hard, and we have to be ready from an offensive standpoint to get there. But you have got to have the puck to get there. So you’ve got to have the puck more than we have for the past two games.”
Evan Rodrigues – Danny O’Regan – Robbie Baillargeon
Tommy Kelley – Cason Hohmann – Matt Lane
Brendan Collier – Nick Roberto – Sam Kurker
Mike Moran – Dillon Lawrence – Kevin Duane
Ahti Oksanen – Garrett Noonan
Patrick MacGregor – Matt Grzelcyk
Doyle Somerby – T.J. Ryan