By: Kyle Williams
Coach: David Quinn – 5th season (83-54-17)
Last Season: 24-12-3 (13-6-3 in HE, tied for 1st); Lost to Boston College in HE Semifinals; Lost to Minnesota Duluth in NCAA Quarterfinals
Losses: Charlie McAvoy (D); Doyle Somerby (D); Clayton Keller (F); Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (F); Kieffer Bellows (F); Tommy Kelley (F)
Newcomers: Cameron Crotty (D); David Farrance (D); Ty Amonte (F); Shane Bowers (F); Logan Cockerill (F); Henry Crone (F); Kasper Kotkansalo (F); Brady Tkachuck (F)
Last year was a season of unrealized potential for the Terriers of Boston University. Armed with the remnants of 2015’s NCAA runner up team and bolstered with the arrival of freshman sensation Clayton Keller, BU went into last season with title aspirations. And while they did manage a share of the Hockey East regular season title, they finished the season empty handed: no Beanpot, no conference tournament trophy, and no spot in the Frozen Four. By the lofty standards set on Comm Ave, last season was a failure.
Let’s start with the bad news: BU arguably lost more talent in the offseason than anyone else in Hockey East. Keller is gone, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kieffer Bellows, a trio that accounted for 96 points last season. The vaunted Terriers defense was not left unscathed either, as both Charlie McAvoy and team captain Doyle Somerby departed from the blue line. McAvoy in particular will be sorely missed as a defensive presence and as a point man on offense (10 goals and 26 points). Once again, this team is going to rely heavily on underclassmen, a reality that sunk them in big moments last year. Furthermore, last year was somewhat of a down year for Hockey East; Providence lost nine starters, Northeastern severely underperformed, BC fell off a cliff to end the season, and a really good but not great Lowell team filled the void to win the conference. This season all of these teams should be better, and BU might find themselves further down in the standings than they expected come February and March.
Now that we’ve established the obstacles in the Terriers way, onto the good news: this team is going to be really, really good. Despite the departures, BU still brings back a very talented core of players. Patrick Harper will look to build on a solid rookie campaign (13 goals and 37 points). He’ll join the returning Bobo Carpenter and Jordan Greenway as the core of this offense. Joining them is another top recruiting class, the star of which is undoubtedly Shane Bowers. While he’s a step below previous star recruits like Jack Eichel and Clayton Keller, he’s still a fantastic two way forward with great vision and IQ and should settle quickly into a top line role. This recruiting class also features Brady Tkachuk, a high-energy forward who measures in at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs. He combines with Greenway to form the Hockey East equivalent of Demolition; no one is going to want to battle on the boards with these guys.
Defense should still be a strength for BU, as they return John MacLeod, Chad Krys, Brandon Hickey, Shane Switzer, and Dante Fabbro, in addition to new recruits Cameron Crotty and David Farrance, who’s production on the offensive end will help replace McAvoy. In goal, Jake Oettinger, is coming off a fantastic freshman season that saw him record a 2.11 GAA and a 0.927 SV%. With a mostly intact blue line in front of him, opposing offenses will have a hard time putting the puck in the back of the net. This will be important early in the season while the new pieces on offense learn to coalesce with each other.
Bottom Line: This is a rebound year for the Terriers after the disappointments of last season. They’re brining back a lot of talent, and have reloaded with another highly ranked recruiting class. They may not have the top end talent like they did with Eichel, but this BU team is deep and should be able to put out at least three lines that can score at any point. The strength of the Terriers will definitely be the defense and goaltending, but Oettinger and company should have all the support they need as the offense rounds into shape while the season goes on. This team is super talented and has a chip on their shoulder after last year, a dangerous combination for the rest of Hockey East. BU is too good to fall out of the top four, and they’ll add to their impressive trophy collection with a Hockey East title and a deep run in the NCAA tournament.