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Denver Hockey Series Preview: Boston University & Boston College

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Photo courtesy Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Well here we are just three weeks into the Denver Pioneers hockey season and they are already headed into the belly of the beast.  This weekend the Pios travel to Boston to take on the Boston University Terriers (#6) on Friday and the Boston College Eagles (#19) on Saturday.  The Pioneers are still #1 in the USCHO poll after their series with Lake Superior State last weekend where they came away with a tie and a win.  The NCHC is well represented in the USCHO poll with St. Cloud State just behind Denver at #2, the University of North Dakota at #4, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth at #10.

The Pioneers played both Boston College and Boston University last year at Magness Arena less than a week apart.  The Pioneers fell to the Eagles 3-1 after goaltender Joseph Woll stopped 40/41 shots in the Ice Breaker Tournament.  Later that week, the Pioneers hosted the Terriers and won 4-3 in a game that featured current Arizona Coyote Clayton Keller.  Denver scored the first three goals of the game, but even after a strong comeback BU wasn’t able to tie it up in the final moments of the game.

This year between BC and BU, they have a combined 17 players drafted to NHL teams, 5 with BC and 12 with BU.  And that doesn’t count standout freshman Brady Tkachuk.

These two games will be a big test to the Pioneers even though their stars know what it takes to play a good road game.  Boston University’s Agganis Arena will be a hostile environment on Friday as BU will be looking to knock the Pios off their #1 seed.

Boston University Record:  3-2-1

Boston College Record:  1-3-1

Who’s In?

 

Boston University

BU is one of the most prestigious hockey programs in the country, therefore they always get the cream of the crop in terms of prospects.  This year they added three defenseman and six forwards to their 2017-18 roster featuring Shane Bowers, David Farrance, and Brady Tkachuk.

Tkachuk has already been turning heads at BU as a freshman who already has four assists.  He is projected to be a top first round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Another notable name is Ty Amonte, son of former NHL player Tony Amonte.

Boston College

The Eagles added six freshman to their roster for the 2017-18 season including one defenseman and five forwards.  Forwards Logan Hutsko, Jacob Tortora, and Christopher Grando have already made early contributions this season collecting 4, 3, & 2 points, respectively.

Both Hutsko and Tortora were on the United States Under-17 & Under-18 National Teams.  Grando played two seasons in the United States Hockey League for the Green Bay Gamblers where he scored a total of 54 points.

Who’s Out?

Boston University

The good thing about Boston University’s hockey team is that when they lose a handful of NHL prospects, they add just as many in next year’s freshman class.  Here is what the Terriers lost last season.

Boston College

It is extremely tough to maintain a good hockey team, especially if you lose your five leading scorers.  Austin Cangelosi, Matthew Gaudreau, Colin White, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Scott Savage all graduated or signed pro at the end of last season.

  • Cangelosi is with the New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils
  • Gaudreau is with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers
  • White signed an entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators
  • Fitzgerald was a 4th round selection of the Boston Bruins and is with their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins
  • Scott Savage is with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen

Strengths

 

Boston University

This team has a lot of talent on the ice and can score at will.  BU currently averages 34.2 shots per game with an average of three goals per game.  The Pioneer defenseman will be tested a lot during this game with a focus on a heavy forecheck from the Terriers.

The Pioneers need to stay away from the penalty box in this game because the Terriers power-play is lethal.  BU is currently 8-24 executing on 33% of their power-play opportunities.  A lot of that has to do with their body position in front of the net, courtesy of 6’5 240-pound Jordan Greenway.

Boston College

The Eagles have a phenomenal goaltender in Joseph Woll.  Although it seems like he’s not getting as much scoring support as last year, he can still take over games.  BC is also averaging 27 shots per game so the Pios will need to limit shots from high scoring areas for Tanner Jaillet.

BC captain Michael Kim was on of the most impressive defenseman I saw last year at Magness Arena.  He wasn’t the biggest guy but he could skate very well and was great at exiting his zone clean.

Weaknesses

 

Boston University

It’s hard to find any flaws in this team, but the Pioneers need to get into BU goaltender Jake Oettinger’s head.  Drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NHL draft by the Dallas Stars, Oettinger has all the talent in the word but he has been beatable this year especially on the power-play where he has already allowed 7 goals.

The terriers are also allowing an average of 32 shots from their opponents.  The memo from coach Montgonery should be for the Pioneers to get the puck in deep, win board battles, and shoot from anywhere.  This is the type of game that will be so close that the winner will most likely come out on top because of a lucky bounce or two.

Boston College

The Eagles are committing an average of 5.4 penalties per game and giving up an average of 31.2 shots per game to their opponents.  If the Pioneers play the way they did against Lake Superior State, Joseph Woll could be in for a long night.

Another weakness to consider is the Eagles power-play.  They are just 3-16, converting on just 18% of power-plays.  The Pioneers generally play a pretty clean game, but in case they get in penalty trouble their PK unit should be able to stop BC.

Who to watch

 

Boston University

#14 – F Bobo Carpenter – 5G, 3A

#21 – F Shane Bowers – 4G, 4A

#27 – F Brady Tkachuk – 4A

#7 – D Chad Krys – 4A

#29 – G Jake Oettinger – 3-2-1, 2.61 GAA, .916 SV%

Boston College

#5 – F Casey Fitzgerald – 2G,2A

#27 – F Graham McPhee – 2G, 2A

#4 – D Michael Kim – Team Captain, 11SOG

#31 – G Joseph Woll – 1-2-1, 2.71 GAA, .898 SV%

Prediction – Pioneers lose to BU, beat BC

This is a very difficult series to predict.  I think because the Eagles have lost so much talent from last year that it will be difficult for them to keep up with Pioneers.  But Friday night, the Terriers will want to make this a statement game.  There will be scouts galore at this game that is loaded with NHL talent, making every player wanting to play their best.

Both DU and BU have benefited from their freshman sticking around for another year and getting valuable experience in two very competitive divisions.  It’s very possible this could be a Frozen Four preview.  The keys for the Pioneers will be to play a simple game, get an A+ performance from Tanner Jaillet, and capitalize on any and all BU mistakes.  Henrik Borgstrom has been red hot coming into this series and this is his opportunity to show a huge college hockey market how elite his skills are.

I’m predicting the Pios go 1-1 this weekend, but hopefully we’re pleasantly surprised.

READ NEXT: JIM MONTGOMERY TALKS GREAT SATURDAY PERFORMANCE, NCHC OFFICIATING

Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Photo courtesy John Leyba, The Denver Post

The NCAA must have been sweating it out last year experimenting with Chicago as a first-time destination for the Frozen Four.  The Windy City does not have any Division I hockey programs, and strangely neither does the rest of the state of Illinois despite a large number of top college players coming from that area.  Yet the NCAA rolled the dice on a major city that has recently gone hockey-crazy because of their Blackhawks. Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2017-18 Denver Hockey: Comprehensive freshman class profile

Photo credit: Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today

Summer is finally over and Fall is upon us once again. Rather than waking up to the bright, piercing sun, we’re waking up to cool, crisp mornings. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back and Major League Baseball playoff races are heating up (the Rockies are still in it!) and we’ve reached the final days of September. All of this means only one thing. College hockey is finally right around the corner. Continue reading 2017-18 Denver Hockey: Comprehensive freshman class profile

Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 11.01.04 PM(Photo Credits: University of Denver (Grahame, Peck), Swarthmore College (Akotaobi), Tulane University (Macneill), St. Cloud St. University (Weems), Blacktop Colorado (Willis)

We’ve now had a few days to process the major change in athletic leadership coming our way as DU fans: DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes announced her retirement at the end of the 2017/18 school year.  While longtime DU Deputy Athletic Director Ron Grahame is taking over the athletic director’s day-to-day responsibilities immediately, DU also announced that a nationwide search would take place this year to ultimately fill the vice-chancellor’s position that Peg has filled so well for the last nearly 15 years. Continue reading Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Will Butcher to wait until August to sign NHL deal, will test free agency

Photo credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Our friends at BSN Denver have reported that 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher has decided to wait until August 15th, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, to sign with an NHL team. DU’s prized defenseman and captain for the 2016-17 National Championship winning team was drafted by Denver’s own Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Continue reading Will Butcher to wait until August to sign NHL deal, will test free agency

Denver hockey roster update: 2017-18 Pioneers poised to dominate once again

Photo credit: AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

If you thought that the University of Denver hockey team’s run to their eighth national title a few months ago was a wild ride, come this October, buckle up. The 2017-18 Pioneers might be even better than the 2017 National Champions. Crazy? Sure. Implausible? Absolutely not. Continue reading Denver hockey roster update: 2017-18 Pioneers poised to dominate once again

UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

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Photo: University of Utah

You may (or may not) have noticed yesterday that the University of Utah announced it would start a Division I Men’s Lacrosse program in 2018-2019.  In doing so, the Utes will become the western-most school to offer NCAA D-I men’s lacrosse, thus displacing DU (and Air Force) as the current westernmost schools to field D-I men’s lacrosse programs. Continue reading UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

Photo Courtesy University of Denver Magazine

LetsGoDU friend CD Dunks reminds us that there is no need to use the term ‘mid-major’. And the same goes for ‘secondary sport’ – i.e. any sport that is not called football or Power-Five conference basketball. The big question is: Has Peg Bradley-Doppes simply built one of the finest athletic department in the land?  Continue reading Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

More than just some good jokes: DU Whiteboard redefining Denver’s school spirit and passion

Every great student section in college hockey has something unique that makes it great. Whether it’s a creative chant or throwing a fish on the ice after a goal, each and every one of them has something different. Until the 2016-17 season, Denver lacked it. Sure, when CC and North Dakota came to town, the students showed up in force, but that was it. This year, though, despite the on-campus turmoil surrounding what the definition of acceptable school spirit is, Denver’s student section finally found that bit of uniqueness, that which set them apart: the DU Whiteboard. Continue reading More than just some good jokes: DU Whiteboard redefining Denver’s school spirit and passion

Beast Baptiste the New Era of Faceoff Specialist

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

Faceoff specialists have been traditionally designated as “faceoff get-off” players, hence the FOGO acronym, but the University of Denver Pioneers men’s lacrosse phenom Trevor Baptiste has completely redefined the position in his first three years at DU. Continue reading Beast Baptiste the New Era of Faceoff Specialist