Ice Hockey, Sports

Men’s hockey seeking four points against UConn and Merrimack

Freshman forward Brady Tkachuk and the Terriers will take on UConn and Merrimack for the third time this season. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Less than 12 hours after vaulting back into the NCAA the top-20 rankings, the No. 20 Boston University men’s hockey team was bounced from the Beanpot finals by Northeastern University 5-2.

The loss was a disappointing one for the Terriers (15-12-3, 10-7-3 Hockey East), their first defeat since Jan 6. Making matters worse for BU, the result handed Northeastern (17-8-5, 11-6-3 Hockey East) its first Beanpot title since 1988.

BU head coach David Quinn said that Monday’s loss was a learning experience for his team.

“We learned that we can’t beat ourselves,” Quinn said. “… Execution of our penalty kill has to be better. We did a lot of good things the other night, the difference makers made the difference.”

Quinn also added that practice has been “pretty good” this week.

“We got to move past it quickly and we got to be ready to go [Friday] night,” Quinn said. “These are two huge points.”

However, a new opportunity is on the horizon for BU as the team sits tied for fourth place in the Hockey East standings with four games remaining in the regular season, each of them coming against a squad among the bottom six in the league ranks.

The Terriers will take to the road this weekend for their final regular season tilts away from Agganis Arena.

The trip will begin in Hartford, Connecticut Friday night for a bout against the University of Connecticut and conclude in North Andover for a contest versus Merrimack College the following evening.

According to Quinn, sophomore forward Patrick Harper has been ruled out for this weekend.

Despite also missing junior forward and assistant captain Jordan Greenway, the results of Monday and Friday’s tie with the University of Massachusetts Amherst showed the team they can play without two of their leading-point scorers.

“I think there was some uncertainty [about] how we’re going to be without Greenway and Harper,” Quinn said. “I think we’ve proved we can play well without them, now we just got to win without them.”

BU has enjoyed success against both teams so far this season with a combined record of 3-0-1.

The Terriers dropped the gloves against the Huskies (14-16-2, 10-11-1 Hockey East) for two contests in October.

In the first tilt, UConn played BU to a 2-2 draw at Agganis despite junior forward Bobo Carpenter thrilling the home-crowd faithful with a pair of short-handed goals.

One evening later, the result was much different.

The Terriers’ offense exploded for six goals as Carpenter finished off a banner weekend with a hat-trick and one assist in the 6-3 win. Sophomore forward Patrick Curry scored twice in the first period as BU hopped out to a 3-0 lead before the first 20 minutes expired, silencing the XL Center crowd from the drop of the puck.

Since then, it has been a season of streaks for the Huskies.

UConn won just one of nine games that ensued after its series with the Terriers wrapped up. Currently, the Huskies are on a six-game roll, a run that has included wins over each of the top three teams in Hockey East — Northeastern, Providence College and Boston College.

UConn has vaulted itself into sixth place in the conference, just two points behind BU and four behind third-place Northeastern, entering the weekend.

The Huskies played just once last weekend, but the one matchup was a memorable one, as they upset the No. 12 Northeastern with a 4-2 win.

On the other hand, the season has taken a turn in the opposite direction for Merrimack (8-17-4, 5-13-2 Hockey East).

Before New Year’s Day, the Warriors earned ties against the No. 11 University of Minnesota Duluth, Northeastern and No. 8 Providence (18-9-4, 11-6-4 Hockey East). Now, they sit last in the conference with only 12 points, with just one win in their last seven games.

Just four weeks ago, BU swept Merrimack in its home-and-home series by a combined score of 7-4.

In the series opener in North Andover, sophomore defenseman Dante Fabbro earned a hat-trick in a flourishing performance, which included the go-ahead goal with 4:27 remaining in the game.

The following night, the two teams traveled south to Agganis where the Terriers brought the guillotine.

Freshman forward Brady Tkachuk scored in the first period on the power play to give his team a lead it would not relinquish as Carpenter wrapped up the night with two goals.

The final four games of the Terriers’ regular season are all against Hockey East foes, something Quinn thinks is important.

“Well obviously the league is at stake,” Quinn added. “You want to get a bye and you want to finish as high as possible and you want to keep winning. You want to keep feeling good going into the playoffs and feeling good about your performance.”

Matthew Martin contributed to the reporting of this article.

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