Concluding November on the wrong end of two consecutive shutouts, the Boston University men’s hockey team will look for a positive start to a new month when they host No. 9/12 Harvard University at Agganis Arena Tuesday night.
“We’re just gonna move forward,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell, whose team was blanked twice in a row for the first time in over a year. “We’re not that far off.”
This will be the first Boston rivalry contest of the season for the Terriers (4-6-5, 3-3-4 Hockey East), kicking off a week that will see BU go on to meet another crosstown foe in Northeastern University over the weekend. The Terriers reignited a different rivalry in their most recent game, squaring off with Cornell University at Madison Square Garden for Red Hot Hockey last Saturday.
The Big Red prevailed in front of more than 15,000 fans at the biennial clash, silencing the BU attack and striking twice in a span of 20 seconds for a 2-0 victory. BU graduate goaltender Sam Tucker made 26 saves in the losing effort, but providing run support for Tucker continued to be an issue for the Terriers, whose goal drought extended to seven periods.
“We’re going to have to get a little hungrier,” O’Connell said. “If we finish off a couple of those plays in the first period, some in the second period, it’s a different game, but we didn’t.”
On the other side, Harvard (6-1, 6-0 ECAC) has posted a D1-leading five goals per game thus far, but last Friday’s bout with Boston College saw a return to Earth for the top-scoring offense in the nation. The Crimson attack was tripped up when the visiting Eagles scored four unanswered goals to hand the hosts their first loss of the season, 4-2.
Through seven games, the fewest among the country’s top 20 teams, freshman forward Nick Abruzzese’s 1.14 assists per game rank fourth in the nation, while sophomore forward Casey Dornbach has posted the country’s second-most points per game (1.71) and the sixth-most goals per game (.71).
On the BU scoresheet, junior defenseman David Farrance is the only Terrier among the nation’s scoring leaders, setting the pace for defensemen with the most goals (10) to go along with the second-most points (19). Farrance’s eight strikes on the power play are tied for the lead among all skaters, three clear of the next closest defender.
The Terriers and Crimson met twice last season. After skating to a 2-2 tie at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center in January, the teams settled the score at February’s Beanpot consolation game, which was won by the Crimson 5-2. Now-senior forward Frederic Gregoire provided two goals for Harvard, including the game-winner.
“[Harvard] was more competitive,” O’Connell said after last season’s loss to Harvard. “They were skating harder.”
BU will shoot for their first win over the Crimson since the 2018 Beanpot semifinals when they hit the ice on Tuesday at 7 p.m. For coverage throughout the game, make sure to tune in to the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog, which can be found through hockey.dailyfreepress.com and @BOShockeyblog on Twitter.