The men’s ice hockey Terriers face off against the Denver Pioneers inside the opening round from NCAA West Regional Tournament tomorrow, the first time in nine years they‘ve scored back-to-back appearances inside the NCAA Tournament. 2015 national runner-up, BU team (21-12-5) hopes to go back to the Frozen Four and also the National Championship games to the second-straight year.
In 2012 marks the Terriers’ 34th trip towards the NCAA Tournament. They earn variety 3 seed inside the 2016 tournament’s West Regional and can face number two Denver (23-9-6 ) Saturday, March 26, in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The winning of the game will then play inside the West Regional final against either number-one St. Cloud State University or number four Ferris State University, using the victor advancing towards the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., on April 7.
Unlike last year, when BU claimed the Hockey East conference tournament crown, the Terrier men were swept two games to zero by UMass Lowell inside the 2016 quarterfinal. Regardless of the loss, they had been award an at large bid towards the national single elimination tournament from the NCAA selection committee on March 20. The tournament field, consisting of 16 teams playing in 4 geographic regions, is made up of 5 conference tournament winners and 11 at-large teams chosen from the committee.
“We’ve played 20 games against teams during this tournament, which happens to be the most from any team inside the tournament, ” says BU head coach David Quinn (CAS’89 ). “Our team is ready and tournament-tested because we perceive like we’ve played inside the national tournament the previous two months, so I don’t think the instant will certainly overwhelm us. ”
Tomorrow game is that the second time this season the Terriers have gone up against the Pioneers. On October 31 BU took a 5-4 overtime squeaker at Agganis Arena. Despite that victory, the team knows it face a formidable competitor. Denver comes into Saturday’s matchup having won 11 from their last 13 games.
“They’re a well-coached team, so I do know they’re plenty better team in March compared to October—but I hope We‘re too, ” Quinn says.
Both teams feature a well-rounded roster of experienced skaters, with no body player singled out for undivided attention from opposing defenders. A striking contrast involving the team, is the amount of goals scored by period. Denver has long been quick-striking team all seasons, outscoring opponents 37-22 to begin with period, while BU has outscored opponents 51-36 inside the third period. Additionally, both teams are 1-1-1 in games on neutral ice this season.
“In order to possess success inside the national tournament, you’d better be able to play 60 minutes, and we’d better be ready coming from the drop from the puck, ” says Quinn. “We want to obtain off to some fast start. ”
After their early exit using this year’s Hockey East tournament, the Terriers have experience time both to rest and to labor on several facets of the game in practices.
“It’s tough—you want to succeed as much championships as possible, so losing Hockey East really stung for a couple of days, ” says captain Matt Grzelcyk (COM’16 ). “One from the positives was we got lots of rest going into this weekend, so we should feel rejuvenated. ”
The West Regional game comes upon the heels of the series of accolades to the Terriers. Both Grzelcyk and assistant captain Danny O’Regan (COM’16 ) earned Hockey East First Team All-Star honors, and forward Ahti Oksanen (COM’16 ) garnered an honorable mention. Notching 22 points on 10 goals and 12 assists this season and leading BU defensemen having a plus-15 rating, Grzelcyk was chosen a First Team All-Star to the second straight year, this despite injuries that caused him to miss 12 games. O’Regan, who would be a Hockey East Second Team honoree junior year, leads the Terriers in points (43 ) and assists (27 ) and also has scored greater than 150 points in her career—just the 18th athlete inside the program’s history to attain that milestone.
Additionally, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (CAS’19 ) and Charlie McAvoy (CGS’17 ) landed spots upon the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.