The Huskies will continue their search for Hockey East points this weekend with a home-and-home set against the #4-ranked Boston University Terriers. Friday night will see Northeastern host the Terriers at Matthews Arena, while the Huskies will return the favor on Saturday night with a visit to Agganis Arena.
The Terriers are 3-2 to start this season, having been swept by the Pioneers in Denver (4-3, and 3-1). They have also beaten Colgate (6-1), Sacred Heart (7-0), and Quinnipiac (3-0) in dominant fashion. Five games in, they’re in the nation’s top ten for both offense (4.00 goals per game) and defense (1.60 goals allowed per game). Freshman goalie Jake Oettinger is sporting a .947 save percentage and seven players already have multiple goals. This weekend represents BU’s first Hockey East test of the season, so you can bet they’re chomping at the bit to grab some points. Highlighting the BU lineup are 11 NHL draft picks, most in the conference. They are led by 4 first-rounders from this past draft in Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Dante Fabbro, and Keiffer Bellows, the middle two of which are defensemen, the others, forwards. BU’s lineup also sees the returning and resurgent Nick Roberto, who was suspended for all of last season due to gambling. Patrick Harper also is a player to watch in the BU forward corps. Captain Doyle Somerby anchors the defense.
As a Husky fan, this is a really concerning matchup. Even with Oettinger’s stellar play and the absence of Nolan Stevens, I’m not too concerned about NU putting goals on the board, especially with the hot play of Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Zach Aston-Reese to start the season. The Huskies have the talent to put goals up against anybody. What scares me, though, is the defensive effort. We saw last weekend that there are some serious concerns, especially the struggles of Huskies’ defenseman Garrett Cockerill, and their goaltender Ryan Ruck. Craig Puffer blowing past Cockerill to pot the game-winning score through the five-hole of Ruck was tough to watch; the odds of it happening again are extremely high with the NHL-level talent BU brings to the table.
Northeastern is definitely the underdog in this series, but we’ve seen stranger results already this season in college hockey. Any points that Northeastern can take away from BU should be considered a positive. The DogHouse is sold out for Friday night, so it should be two stellar atmospheres to watch hockey in. We will be at both games providing commentary on Twitter @NUHockeyBlog.