The Boston University men’s hockey team entered Friday night’s mathcup against the University of Vermont needing to pick up points in order have a chance at clinching the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Hockey East tournament.
One way to ensure that this happened for the Terriers (17-13-3, 12-8-3 Hockey East) was to limit the amount of goals that the Catamounts (9-18-6, 6-12-5) scored. Sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger made sure that none of the 33 shots he faced found their way into the back of the net as BU bested Vermont 2-0.
The Catamounts almost beat Oettinger one time during the game. On their third shot of the night, junior forward Craig Puffer fired a shot that got past Oettinger, but the Lakeville, Minnesota native had help from the pipe to keep Vermont off the scoreboard.
During the second half of the season, Oettinger boasts a 2.14 goals against average and a .921 goal save percentage, which put him third and fifth in Hockey East, respectively.
The second half numbers show a stark difference from the first half of the season where his 2.91 goals against average and .901 goal save percentage had him ninth in both categories.
On the season he finds himself sixth in goals against average allowing 2.55 per contest and his .910 save percentage has him 10th in the conference.
“Jake has bounced back from, what by his standards [was] not a great first half,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “He’s been a completely different goalie since he got back from the World Juniors… I loved his game tonight in so many ways.”
Quinn added that Oettinger made many key saves over the contest.
He pointed out a moment early in the game when Catamount sophomore forward Ross Colton took a shot during a two-on-one.
“Colton, the guy you don’t want to have the two-on-one, has the puck on his stick and they could have gone up 1-0 and [Oettinger] makes a big save,” Quinn added.
Despite having the fourth seeded locked up, Quinn said that Oettinger will be in between the pipes for the Terriers tomorrow night during their final regular season tilt.
The second half of Oettinger’s season includes a span of 193 minutes in which he did not allow a single even strength goal. The play of the Dallas Stars prospect helped BU to a nine-game unbeaten streak spanning from Jan. 12 until the Beanpot championship on Feb. 12.
Oettinger’s shutout Friday night gives him four on the season, matching his total from his freshman campaign. The 33 shots he turned away is the second most shots he faced in those games, one less than a Jan. 16 game in 2017 where he stopped 34 against Boston College.
Quinn noted that being an elite player can bring a set of distractions and added that since the end of World Juniors, Oettinger has been playing better.
“I think the World Juniors was a big deal to him, as it should for all our players, and maybe [he] got a little bit distracted and maybe being a first-round pick he felt some pressure,” Quinn said. “I think once he got back it was just: ‘Alright I just got to get back to doing what I’m capable of doing.’ He’s been fantastic since he’s been back.”
Oettinger added that even during his first half struggles he kept doing the little things right in practice.
“I think the whole season I’ve just been doing the little things right everyday. I think that if you do the right stuff everyday then eventually you’re going to get the results you want on the weekend,” Oettinger said. “In the first half [I] continued to trust the work I was putting in and trust the stuff that the goalie coach was teaching me and whatnot.”
He also added that a game strong performance for the team is important moving forward.
“If we want to win the national tournament we have to win tight games like we did tonight,” Oettinger said.