Here we are again. For the third straight year, Northeastern is in the Beanpot championship game. This time around it’s BU lining up on the other side.
I’ll say it. BU is really, really good. They’re the third ranked team in the country. The Terriers are in first in Hockey East and are up four points on second place BC with a game in hand. Their first round game against Harvard, although going to double overtime, was one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen in a while.
We all know about Eichel. He’s amazing. Everybody and their mother is talking about how great the BU offense is, and they’re right. BU is scoring an average of 3.69 goals per game. They’re powerplay is converting 26.3% of their chances. They’ve scored an incredible 49 goals in the third period. We all know about their offense.
What has gone under the radar is how good the defense is on this BU team. It has been a huge part in the quick turnaround. BU has the third best defense in Hockey East with four of their regular defensemen being freshman. Goalie Matt O’Connor is ranked second in goals against average and save percentage, behind only Mike Santaguida in both categories. Although it doesn’t get the same amount of love as BU’s offense, the defense has been excellent.
The keys to this game for Northeastern are the same ones we’ve seen before. They can’t give up penalties. BU is the best powerplay team in Hockey East and Northeastern is next to last on the penalty kill. Witt (presumably) will have to be excellent again in net because BU will put up a ton of shots. With the inevitable third period surge the Terriers will have, at no point can you feel comfortable with a lead. This is certainly an uphill battle for Northeastern, but it’s just one game. Northeastern has already beaten one third ranked opponent; who’s to say it can’t happen again?