For just the second time this season, the Boston University men’s hockey team will enter a weekend with a chance to win three consecutive games. When the Terriers take to the ice Saturday though, they will have more pressure on them than just starting a streak as they take on the University of Notre Dame in a single-elimination game at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.
The Terriers (10-20-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) start the first round of the Hockey East playoffs after a weekend of firsts – the first time they swept a team this season and the first time they won a game on the road. The team accomplished those feats in the home-and-home series with Northeastern University despite benching several players over the course of the two games because of a violation of a team policy.
“I think we started to play some winning hockey,” said BU coach David Quinn. “There is a difference between playing well and playing winning hockey, and I think we did the things you need to do to win more often on Friday night and Saturday night than we have in the past.
“We were controlling play. We were in their end a lot. We had the value of zone time and patience and things we are going to have to do this weekend.”
After it took 22 hours and multiple layovers to get to Notre Dame (20-12-2, 9-9-2 Hockey East) two weeks ago, the team has chartered a plane to Indiana that will leave Friday afternoon.
Flight delays were not the only problem for the Terriers during the two-game series with the Fighting Irish, as Notre Dame shut out BU 2-0 in back-to-back games. It marked the first time a team had accomplished that feat, and the first time BU was shutout in consecutive games in 72 years.
“They’re strong, they defend well,” Quinn said of Notre Dame’s defense. “We had chances even though we didn’t bury them. … They’re just a veteran team. They’re big and strong, they don’t play high-risk hockey and they make it difficult for you.”
While Quinn said the Terriers did not really benefit from having played the Fighting Irish so recently, he did say that the team would have more familiarity with Notre Dame.
“I’m hoping the law of averages catches up,” Quinn said. “I think our guys have some confidence because we felt we were in both games and had a chance.”
The Fighting Irish come into the game after picking up an overtime win over top-ranked Boston College last Saturday. The win put an end to the Eagles’ (25-5-4, 16-2-2 Hockey East) 19-game unbeaten streak, and gave the Fighting Irish six-game unbeaten streak of their own. It also marked the second time this season that the team had knocked off a top-ranked opponent as Notre Dame defeated then-No. 1 University of Minnesota on Nov. 8 4-1.
During the course of the team’s unbeaten streak, netminder Steven Summerhays played nearly 190 consecutive minutes of shutout hockey, blanking Providence College before shutting down the Terriers. Goaltender Joe Rogers played the final 52 seconds of the third game of the stretch
Summerhays was named the Hockey East Stop It Goaltender of the Month for his performance that included a .950 save percentage and a 1.42 goals-against average during the month of February. He was also named one of 18 candidates for the inaugural Mike Richter Award that will go to the top goaltender in the NCAA.
While Summerhays kept the Terriers at bay last time out, BU is ready to get another chance at the goalie and Notre Dame.
“We’re really excited to get another chance to play them,” said senior captain Garrett Noonan. “We didn’t get done what we wanted to get done the first time we played them and now we’re just excited to get out there, get situated and play a game.”