Entering their final regular season game, the Boston University men’s hockey team will face the University of Maine Black Bears (14-15-4, 10-9-4 Hockey East) in a Saturday battle at 7:30 p.m. in Orono, Maine.
The Terriers (14-15-4, 12-8-3 Hockey East) tallied a convincing win last week, beating the last-seeded Hockey East team, Merrimack College (7-24-3, 4-18-12 Hockey East), by a score of 5-1 at Agganis Arena.
Not only is BU looking to continue their five-game unbeaten streak, but they are also trying to climb as high up in the conference rankings as they can.
“[There is] quite a bit [of pressure] I think,” said junior defenseman Dante Fabbro regarding the Terrier’s upcoming game against Maine.
The co-captain had a strong performance in the Merrimack game, tallying five points.
BU has the opportunity to land in the No. 3, 4 or 5 seed heading into the Hockey East tournament depending on this weekend’s conference results. The top four positions play first-round playoff matchups at home, so the fifth-place Terriers are still on the outside looking in at UMass Lowell one point ahead, and Northeastern University two points ahead.
The Terriers hold the tiebreaker over these two teams, so if BU wins against Maine and Northeastern loses against UNH, the Terriers will overtake Northeastern. In addition, if BU wins or even ties against Maine and UMass Lowell loses against Vermont, the Terriers will jump above UML.
BU and Maine met twice back in November, and the teams split a home-and-home series. The first night in Boston, BU won 3-2, while the next night Maine grabbed the win on their home ice with a 3-1 victory.
“I think if we keep building off of things we have worked on in the last half-year or so we will do really well,” Fabbro said. “At the same time, we have to execute what coach is saying and bring it every day.”
A player to watch on the Black Bears’ bench is defensive standout Simon Butala. The freshman has appeared in every game for Maine this season and has logged 40 blocks for the Bears. Leading Butala and the rest of the Black Bears is senior defenseman and captain Rob Michel, who has recorded 37 blocks of his own.
Moving up the ice, the Black Bears have a deep junior class at the forward positions. Mitchell Fossier, Chase Pearson and Tim Doherty are leaders in points for the Bears. One player that BU will need to key in on is Fossier, who leads the Bears with 27 assists. If BU is able to subtract him from the play, Maine will have a much tougher time unlocking the Terrier defense.
Along with their recent success and win against Merrimack, BU has been gifted with the return of senior captain Bobo Carpenter, who missed more than a month with a lower body injury. BU head coach Albie O’Connell said the Terriers have already noticed a difference with Carpenter back on the ice.
“His competitiveness is infectious,” O’Connell said. “His presence on the bench was felt.”
If the Terriers want any shot at home ice in the playoffs, Saturday’s game is a must-win. You can follow the game through the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog, as well as on Twitter. You can also listen to the game through goterriers.com.