Hockey East Preview: Boston University Terriers

buHead Coach: Albie O’Connell; 1st season

Last Season: 22-14-4 (12-8-4 in HE, 4th); Hockey East Champions; Lost to Michigan in NCAA Quarterfinals

Losses: F Brady Tkachuk, F Jordan Greenway, F Chase Phelps, F Nikolas Olsson, D Brandon Hickey, D John MacLeod, D Brien Diffley

 

Additions: F Joel Farabee, F Liam Gorman, F Robert Mastrosimone, F/D John Copeland, D Case McCarthy, D Dominic Vidoli, G Vincent Purpura

Projected Finish: 3rd

by Christian Skroce

Prior to last season, the Boston University Terriers looked like the clear favorites to lift the Hockey East trophy for the second time in four years. They had the talent and the coach to get it done, and it seemed like no one would get in their way. However, after an embarrassing loss to Northeastern in the Beanpot finals, things looked bleak for BU, as it seemed the much anticipated 2017-2018 campaign would turn into one of the most disappointing in program history. That’s when the Terriers finally found their groove.
After finishing the regular season with a three-game unbeaten streak, BU continued to ride its hot hand, sweeping UCONN in the Hockey Easy Quarterfinals, and outlasting Boston College 4-3 in overtime in the semifinal game at TD Garden. The team’s talent once again propelled BU in the Hockey East Championship, as the Terriers shut our favorites Providence 2-0 to win the 9th Hockey East title in program history, and clinch an NCAA tournament birth, where the team ultimately lost to Michigan in the Quarterfinals.

Despite missing out on the Frozen Four, Boston University accomplished what it needed to last season, by returning to the top of its conference and furthering establishing itself as one of the most feared programs in college hockey. But nothing can last forever.

On May 23, the Terrier’s head coach, David Quinn (2-time Hockey East champion with BU), stepped down from the team and moved to the NHL to become the new head coach of the New York Rangers. Enter Albie O’Connell, who was named the new Boston University head coach after spending four years as an assistant coach under Quinn. O’Connell, a former BU player, has never been a head coach at any level, though he certainly knows what it takes to win. As both a player and coach, O’Connell has been part of seven NCAA tournament appearances, five Beanpot titles, three Hockey East tournament titles, and three Frozen Fours.

In his first season at the helm, O’Connell will have to deal with losing several key players on the offensive end. Most notably, the team will be without promising young forward Brady Tkachuk, who’s 131 shots last season were the most of any freshman in the country. The team will also be without Jordan Greenway, who was tied for the team lead in points with 35 (13 goals and 22 assists) as a junior. Both players made the decision this offseason to leave BU early and turn pro.

Losing Tkachuk and Greenway will force BU to lean heavily on talented sophomore forward Shane Bowers, who’s coming off a freshman campaign in which he finished third on the team in points with 32, and second in goals with 17. However, Bowers won’t be leading the attack alone, as he’ll be joined by top prospect and fellow first round draft pick Joel Farabee. With Farabee, the Terriers bring in an intelligent, two-way forward with the innate ability of making plays in front of the net. In addition, BU retains several other key forwards from their conference championship squad, including Logan Cockerill (8 goals and 12 assists) and Patrick Harper (21 points in just 20 games).

On the defensive end, the Terriers keep the majority of their third ranked defense intact. Losing senior captain Brandon Hickey hurts, but BU certainly has enough depth to remain one of the top defensive units in Hockey East. The team’s defense will be led by junior defenseman Dante Fabbro, who looks to build upon a 29 point season, and junior goalie Jake Oettinger. After an uncharacteristically disappointing season from Oettinger, in which he finished eighth in save percentage (0.914), the young goaltender looks to rebound and reclaim his position as one of the best goalies in the conference. The Terriers also bring back junior defenseman Chad Krys (7 goals and 20 assists) and brings in two solid recruits in John Copeland and Dominic Vidoli.

Bottom Line:

Despite having one of the most talented rosters in college hockey, the Boston University Terriers will no doubt face obstacles as Albie O’Connell adjusts to his new position as head coach of the program. While O’Connell’s familiarity with the program will make the transition a bit easier, the BU alumnus’s lack of experience will cause early season problems for the team. However, an easier out of conference schedule, the continued growth of the program’s superstars, certainly gives BU fans a reason to be excited for this upcoming season. Barring an unmitigated disaster, this Boston University team will once again be one of the favorites to lift the Hockey East trophy, and make an even deeper run in the NCAA tournament.

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