Monday, September 15, 2014

A note from your BU men’s hockey writers

Dear Boston Hockey Blog readers,

In May, the Board of Directors of The Daily Free Press voted to transition to a digital-first approach, with a weekly print edition. As part of this transformation, we have redesigned our website, and all DFP blogs — including this one — have become part of the dailyfreepress.com domain.

Thus, from here on out, you can find all BU hockey-related content at the new Boston Hockey Blog at hockey.dailyfreepress.com. We will no longer post at this URL.

All of our old content will be archived on the new blog, so don’t fear — you can still find articles from previous seasons with little trouble.

As your new men’s hockey writers, we plan to use this new digital opportunity to expand the depth and diversity of our coverage of the Terriers. Through more features, videos, photos, graphics and in-depth statistical analysis, we hope to give you a closer and more interactive look at your favorite team.

We look forward to continuing the DFP standard of providing top-notch men’s hockey coverage. As always, don’t hesitate to send us a tweet, email (sports@dailyfreepress.com) or comment with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

All best,
Sarah Kirkpatrick, Conor Ryan and Andrew Battifarano
2014-15 BU men’s hockey beat, The Daily Free Press

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Terriers snag another recruit in '99 D David Farrance

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

It didn’t take long for the Boston University men’s ice hockey team to add another promising recruit to its program, as the Terriers have reportedly received a commitment from ’99-born defenseman David Farrance.

The news comes the same day as Patrick Harper's announcement of his commitment to BU.

The Victor, New York, native had an impressive 2013-14 campaign with the Syracuse Stars of the United States Premier Hockey League U16 division, compiling 32 points (20 goals, 12 assists) in 28 games – tying him for the team lead in scoring.

The highly touted blueliner has already gotten off to a hot start this year with Syracuse, scoring four goals and adding an assist over the team’s first three games.
Noted for his speed and advanced ability to generate offense, Farrance should be a key contributor to future Terriers teams.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Terriers add '98-born recruit Patrick Harper

By Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff

The Boston University men's hockey team may have its roster in place for the 2014-15 season, but the Terriers continue to add players for the future.

Forward Patrick Harper announced on his Twitter account Friday morning that he has committed to the school, joining forwards Clayton Keller, Kieffer Bellows and Hank Crone as the fourth 1998-born player to do so.

The 5-foot-8 forward played midget hockey last season for both Connecticut Oilers and the New Jersey Rockets. In 24 games with the Rockets, Harper tallied 29 points on 13 goals and 16 assists. During the USA Hockey Select 16 Camp this summer, the Connecticut native scored three goals in five games played.

Harper is considered undersized for his position, but has made up for it in skill. He's known for his strong passing and goal-scoring abilities throughout the offensive zone.

This season the forward will play hockey with Avon Old Farms prep school in his home state.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

O’Connell looks to guide men’s hockey back to winning ways

FILE PHOTO/DEREK GEE O'Connell captured four Beanpot
championships during his tenure with the Terriers from 1995-99.
By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

After more than a decade away, Albie O’Connell has finally returned to Commonwealth Avenue.

The former Boston University men’s hockey team captain joined the Terriers in April as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season, completing a full-circle move for O’Connell, who is once again affiliated with the same program that he played for almost 20 years ago.

“It’s great. I’m excited,” O’Connell said. “I’m excited for the year to start. I think we’ll have a pretty good team. I think how good guys can get throughout the year and how they improve is going to dictate the outcome of how we end up.”

O’Connell joined the Terriers during the 1995-96 season as a heralded recruit. Over a year before his arrival at BU, the Watertown native was selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round of the 1994 NHL Draft.

Playing a key role on a BU squad filled with NHL talent such as Chris Drury, Shawn Bates and Tom Poti, O’Connell and the Terriers established one of the greatest stretches in program history in the late 1990s, posting a 97-41-14 record from 1995-99.

While there were many positive takeaways to choose from for O’Connell, his fondest memory of playing for the Terriers was the team’s success in the annual Beanpot tournament. O’Connell and other members of the Class of 1999 are one of only four classes in program history to win four Beanpot titles.

Even though O’Connell was never able to capture an NCAA title, he made two Frozen Four appearances with BU in both 1996 and 1997 – including a loss to the University of North Dakota in the 1997 championship game, 4-2. Captaining the team during his final campaign in 1998-99, O’Connell led his squad in scoring with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) in 36 games.

By the end of his career with the Terriers, O’Connell acknowledged that learning under longtime BU head coach Jack Parker helped him grow as a hockey player in multiple areas – mostly due to the completive tone that Parker established from the get-go with his teams.

“He was a great coach,” O’Connell said of Parker. “We had good teams, so it was very competitive. It was setting a high standard and then coming to work and practice every day trying to get better on and off the ice. We held a high standard and he made the practices more competitive. It was very intense. He was ready to go for practice, which led to players being ready to go and be ready to compete everyday.”

While O’Connell may have turned in his scarlet and white sweater in 1999, he did not hang up his skates following his departure from Walter Brown Arena. O’Connell later played professional hockey for four teams in both the East Coast Hockey League and the British National League from 1999-02, compiling 132 points (54 goals, 78 assists) in 127 pro tilts.

Once he put a close to his playing career, O’Connell immediately made the transition from the ice to behind the bench, serving as an assistant coach at Berkshire Prep School in Sheffield during the 2002-03 season before making the move up to the collegiate level the following year at Colby College.

After stints at both Niagara University and College of the Holy Cross, O’Connell entered into the Hockey East coaching ranks in 2007-08 as an assistant coach at Merrimack College before serving the same role over the last six seasons with both Northeastern University (2008-11) and Harvard University (2011-14).

Throughout his coaching career, O’Connell has garnered praise for his recruiting skills. During his time at Northeastern, the Huskies received commitments from both standout Providence goaltender Jon Gilles and 2014 Hobey Baker Award recipient and former Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau. Both players later de-committed from the program.

For O’Connell, the key to his success in terms of identifying talent is to trust his instincts and to collaborate with the rest of his staff.

“Just going out there and working hard,” O’Connell said. “Using your resources, using what you see and not listening to anyone and trusting what you’re looking at and what your staff is looking at and what you’re trying to do as a group – that’s the biggest thing.

“Working with [associate head coach] Steve [Greeley] and [head coach] David Quinn so far, it’s been really positive. They’ve both been very sharp when it comes to what they’re looking at, and they’re very organized and hard-working, so hopefully I’m a good addition to that.”

While he has excelled at building up multiple teams, O’Connell is certainly no slouch when it comes to instructing his players on the ice. During his first season with the Crimson in 2011-12, O’Connell helped establish the country’s most potent power-play unit, which posted a 27.3 percent success rate.

While the duty of serving as both a recruiter and a mentor has its own set of challenges, O’Connell holds both jobs in equally high esteem.

“They’re both fun jobs,” O’Connell said. “Basically, it’s two different jobs. One, you’re trying to help build the team, the other one, you’re trying to help coach the guys that you were trying to recruit, so they’re both equally tough jobs, but at the same time, both fun and rewarding.”

The journey back to his alma mater has been a long and winding road for O’Connell, but the 38-year-old coach doesn’t have much time to reflect.

With an influx of freshmen already training at Agganis Arena and the season opener almost a month away, O’Connell is diverting all of his energy toward helping a talented group of players achieve the same level of success that he attained almost two decades ago.

“Hopefully, we’re a lot better at the end of the year than at the start, because we’ve got nine or ten freshmen,” O’Connell said. “Practice is going to be important, player development is going to be important…Hopefully at the end of it, we’ll make good strides as a group.”

Men’s hockey adds 4 additional freshmen to complete 2014-15 roster

MICHELLE JAY/FILE PHOTO
Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn will welcome four additional freshmen to his team for the 2014-15 campaign.












By Conor Ryan & Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff

With a little over a month until the start of the 2014-15 regular season, the Boston University men’s hockey team has finally put the finishing touches on its roster with the inclusion of four more freshmen on the team.

The four new Terriers – two forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender – will help push the final roster to 26 total players.

BU will add another puck-moving defenseman with the arrival of Brandon Fortunato. Playing last season with the United States National Team Development Program U-18 team, Fortunato led all blueliners in points with 39 (three goals, 36 assists) on the year.

The North Hills, New York native, who also played alongside incoming BU freshmen forward Jack Eichel and defenseman John MacLeod, helped the USNTDP squad capture the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World U-18 Championship.

The Terriers will also receive a boost on offense with the addition of forward A.J. Greer, an imposing 6-foot-3 presence out on the ice. Greer put up impressive numbers over the last two seasons at Kimball Union Academy compiling 92 points (39 goals, 53 assists) in 61 games.

During the 2012-13 season at KUA, Greer skated alongside current BU sophomores forward Nick Roberto and defenseman Doyle Somerby. Greer, who does not turn 18 until Dec. 14, is the youngest player on the Terrier roster.

Another netminder will join the ranks of the Terriers this season, as goaltender Connor LaCouvee was also added to the team. Playing last season with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League, LaCouvee earned team MVP honors after posting a 2.82 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

LaCouvee, hailing from Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, stepped up his game in the BCHL playoffs, putting forward a .929 save percentage in seven games.

Rounding out the list of new players is forward Nikolas Olsson, who last played for the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League over the last two years. In 75 games with Sioux City, the Escondido, California, product recorded 23 points off of 13 goals and 10 assists.

The arrival of four new freshmen was not the only news roster-wise for the Terriers Wednesday, as a team source confirmed that defenseman Dalton MacAfee is no longer a member of the team. No reason was given for his departure.

A standout at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, MacAfee played in 31 games last season for the Terriers, recording three assists while leading all defensemen in plus-minus at -3.

MacAfee is not the first Terrier to depart the team this offseason, as freshman forward Brendan Collier and redshirt sophomore defenseman J.D. Carrabino were cut from the roster in May.

Earlier this year, BU head coach David Quinn acknowledged that a large incoming class would likely force the team to make some roster cuts in order to free up space.

Fortunato, Greer, LaCouvee and Olsson will round out a 10-member Class of 2018 that also includes forwards in Eichel, Chase Phelps and J.J. Piccinich, as well as defensemen in MacLeod, Brandon Hickey and Brien Diffley. The first wave of BU’s incoming freshmen signed their National Letters of Intent back in May.

Monday, July 14, 2014

BU captain Matt Grzelcyk ‘confident in a turnaround’ in 2014-15

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

Seven months removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, Boston University junior captain Matt Grzelcyk was forced to don a red non-contact jersey during Bruins development camp last week.

MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will captain a BU team
looking to rebound from a lackluster 2013-14 campaign.
But the 5-foot-9 defenseman will once again be ready to don the Scarlet and White this fall.

The Charlestown native took part in his third development camp with the Bruins, who selected the puck-moving blueliner in the third round (85th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

While Grzelcyk was held from contact during the five-day camp held at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Mass., he was still able to take part in certain drills and showcase the agility and playmaking potential that made him one of the Terriers’ most dynamic players over the last two seasons.

Grzelcyk, who played alongside fellow Hockey East talent in players such as Boston College sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald and Northeastern sophomore defenseman Matt Benning during the camp, said that attending the event has been an important part of his offseason regiment over the past three years.

“I mean, it’s always fun to come in for a week and just learn from all the management and see what they have to say so we know what to work on when the season comes along,” Grzelcyk said after the camp’s final scrimmage Sunday afternoon.

Seeing Grzelcyk back out on the ice should serve as a relief to a BU community that last saw the defenseman play Jan. 8, 2014 in a 4-2 loss to Dartmouth College. Just days before BU’s Frozen Fenway tilt against the University of Maine Jan. 11, Grzelcyk dislocated his left shoulder in practice and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery.

The loss of a playmaker like Grzelcyk - who recorded 28 assists in 57 games with BU over the past two seasons - had a massive impact on the Terriers.

During the 19 games in which Grzelcyk dressed, the Terriers posted a lackluster record of 7-10-2. In the 16 games following Grzelcyk’s injury, BU put up a woeful 3-11-2 line.

The results looked even worse on the BU power play during Grzelcyk’s absence. In 19 games with a healthy Grzelcyk, the Terriers successfully converted on 18 of 76 power-play opportunities, good for a 23.7 percent conversion rate – one of the highest marks in the country at the time.

Without Grzelcyk quarterbacking the team out on the ice during the man advantage, BU managed just eight power-play goals in 73 chances – a shocking 10.1 percentage rate.

Despite the severity of his injury, Grzelcyk stated that his shoulder feels fine and that wearing a non-contact jersey was more of a precaution than anything during the camp.

“[The shoulder] feels 100 percent,” Grzelcyk said. “I just want to make sure I’m ready for October.”

After a disappointing 2013-14 campaign that saw BU slump to a ninth-place finish in Hockey East, the Terriers appear to be primed to make a comeback this season.

Not only does BU feature a strong returning core that includes Grzelcyk, senior forwards Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues, junior forward Danny O’Regan and sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon, but an impressive recruiting class should also provide a shot in the arm for the Terriers.

Notable members of the upcoming class include defensemen John MacLeod and Brandon Hickey, as well as standout forward Jack Eichel, who has the potential to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

For Grzelcyk, the addition of these new players should have multiple benefits during the season.

“It definitely creates a little more excitement in the locker room,” Grzelcyk said. “I think it’s good for the returning guys because we’ll have a lot of good competition in practice and stuff, so I think only good can come from it.”

Grzelcyk will take an even larger role with the team going forward, as the USNTDP product was given the title of team captain in April. Despite the honor, Grzelcyk said that he will not change his approach both on and off the ice this season.

"I’m probably just going to stick to what I’m doing, that’s what got me the recognition in the first place but it’s always nice to have that trust and belief from your teammates and coaches and things like that,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s definitely a humbling experience.”

While Grzelcyk was not able to fully participate in all of the drills and scrimmages during the camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acknowledged that he was happy with Grzelcyk’s performance as a whole.

“I thought he was good,” Chiarelli said. “He wasn’t able to participate fully, but Matt’s had a good collegiate career so far and I would anticipate that he picks it up again when he gets back. We’ve got some real good skating defenseman and he’s one of them. I was happy with it.”

The 2014-15 season may be over two months away, but Grzelcyk said that both he and the team are already focused on erasing the memories of a lackluster 2013-14 season and returning the Terriers to the top of the Hockey East standings.

“I think everyone is confident in a turnaround for sure,” Grzelcyk said. “It was a tough year with transitions and new recruits, a new coach and stuff, but I think we can use it to our advantage and kind of motivate us for the season going forward.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Report: Sean Maguire to miss 2014-15 season

By Sarah Kirkpatrick/DFP Staff

Boston University men’s hockey junior goaltender Sean Maguire will sit out the entirety of the 2014-15 season with a medical redshirt, according to a report from Jeff Cox.



Maguire played in 16 games for the Terriers during the 2013-14 season, with a goals-against average of 2.90 and a save percentage of .919. During his BU career, Maguire has a save percentage of .923 and a 2.68 GAA.


BU still has reinforcements at the goaltending position, as it recently added goaltender Connor LaCouvee from the British Columbia Hockey League to its recruiting class for2014-15. LaCouvee joins junior goaltender Matt O’Connor, who played the most minutes in net for the Terriers last season, and graduate student Anthony Moccia.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

5 future Terriers taken in 2014 NHL Draft

 By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

It was another successful draft weekend for the Boston University men’s hockey team, as five future Terriers were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.

BU and crosstown rival Boston College led all NCAA programs with five players taken in the draft apiece.

’96 forward Maxim Letunov was the first Terrier taken off the board, drafted in the second round (52nd overall) by the St. Louis Blues. Originally from Moscow, Letunov played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, finishing third on the team with 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists). Letunov will return to Youngstown for the 2014-15 season and is expected to join the Terriers the following year.

Another BU recruit was selected just five picks later, as soon-to-be freshman defenseman John MacLeod was taken in the second round (57th overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning. A native of Dracut, Mass., MacLeod played in 52 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program U18 team last season, recording five goals and six assists for a total of 11 points.  MacLeod, who played alongside two other incoming BU freshmen — forward Jack Eichel and defenseman Brandon Fortunato — with the NTDP U18 squad, is expected to be a physical presence on the BU blueline next season.


In the third round of the draft, incoming freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey was selected by the Calgary Flames (64th overall). Described by BU head coach David Quinn as a “fantastic skater” in a similar vein to captain and junior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Hickey played with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, contributing four goals and 18 assists (22 points) in 49 games. The Leduc, Alberta, native was the first AJHL player to be taken in the draft.


Another member of BU’s 2014-15 freshman class was taken in the fourth round, as forward J.J. Piccinich was taken with the 103rd pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Paramus, N.J., product played for the Youngstown Phantoms last season alongside Letunov, finishing second on the team in scoring with 27 goals and 31 assists (58 points). The 5-foot-11 forward projects as a strong skater with great offensive instincts.


The final future Terrier chosen in the draft was 2014 forward Liam Coughlin, who was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round (130th overall). A 6-foot-3 South Boston native, Coughlin recorded 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) as a senior at Catholic Memorial in 2012-13 before totaling 45 points (18 goals, 27 assists) in 53 games with the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League last season.

Sixty-two current and future NCAA players were chosen during the two-day event, marking the 13th consecutive year in which more than 60 college hockey players were selected in the NHL Draft. Former NCAA players made up 31 percent of NHL rosters during the 2013-14 season, an all-time high.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Terriers add goaltender LaCouvee, '98-born Bellows

By Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff

This summer continues to be a productive one on the recruiting front for the Boston University men's hockey team.

Forward Kieffer Bellows made his commitment with the Terriers official on Twitter Wednesday night, making him the third '98 player to agree to attend BU. 

At Edina High School this season, Bellows notched 27 points in 25 games played. He also scored three times in five games during his team's state title run.

Bellow's 5-foot-11 stature has allowed him to develop into one of the top power forwards in the amateur ranks. In May, he was selected 14th overall by the Sioux Stampede in the USHL Phase I Futures Draft. The Minnesota native is the son of former NHL winger and Stanley Cup champion Brian Bellows.

It has not been confirmed what season Bellows will be joining the Terriers, but fellow '98-born players — forwards Clayton Keller and Hank Crone — are set to be on Commonwealth Avenue for the 2016-17 campaign.

BU also added goaltender Connor LaCouvee to the mix. He joins junior netminders Matt O'Connor and Sean Maguire and graduate student Anthony Moccia.

LaCouvee played in 38 games for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (Port Alberni, British Columbia) in 2013-14, posting a 2.82 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. According to a report, LaCouvee will join the Terriers for the 2014-15 season.