Boston University's hockey team didn't have many nights to remember last season, but two in particular were easily forgettable for those in scarlet and white. The Terriers were drubbed twice in their two meetings against the University of Maine, 7-0 at Alfond Arena and 7-3 at Fenway Park.
David Quinn's program has been energized by a successful recruiting class and a hot start on the ice that has seen the Terriers rise all the way to No. 3 in the national rankings. Playing in Orono is always a tall task for the opposition, but BU will be prepared and ready a week after facing archrival Boston College on the road in front of a sold out crowd at Conte Forum.
Alfond Arena is a whole different beast, but this Maine team isn't on the same level as teams of glory's past. Red Gendron's squad has already lost twice on home ice this season and had to eek out wins against lowly Massachusetts just two weeks ago.
Maine fans will get their first live look at BU freshman phenom Jack Eichel, who is expected to go either No. 1 or No. 2 in next June's NHL Draft. With a point Friday night the USNTDP product has the chance to become the first Terrier since Shawn McEachern in the 1988-89 season to start his career on an eight-game point streak, according to BU Sports Information Director Brian Kelley.
Fans watching Eichel for the first time will notice his unusual skating stride, but his immense speed and ability to make up ground on an opponent. He has an incredibly long reach, a world-class shot and patience and poise with the puck.
Eichel hasn't been the only player to start the season guns blazing for BU. Senior alternate captain Evan Rodrigues has been very streaky this season, scoring all 10 of his points in four games. He had two three-point games in his first eight before scoring two points in each of last weekend's games.
With Gendron getting the last change on home ice it will be interesting to see who he matches up with Eichel. It would seem only obvious to have Devin Shore's line out against Eichel's as much as possible. Shore, one of the best two-way centermen in college hockey, could pose one of the tougher matchups for Eichel all season.
Maine's biggest detriment to success Friday night will be its defensive troubles and struggles between the pipes. Matt Morris and Sean Romeo have combined for an .887 save percentage for the Black Bears this season. The pair have let in their share of soft goals, but a defense prone to turnovers and breakdowns hasn't helped matters.
Maine will honor its 1999 NCAA Championship team on Friday night, to commemorate 15 years since the Black Bears' second national title. BU and Maine have quite a history, including during the 1992-93 season. The Terriers were the only blemish on Maine's 42-1-2 campaign that season that culminated in the school's first ever NCAA Championship. Two years later the Terriers knocked off Maine, 6-2, for the 1995 NCAA Championship.
Friday's puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen locally in Maine on WVII, WFVX and WMPE and nationally on Fox College Sports.
|Boston University (5-1-1, 3-1-1 HE)||Maine (3-6-1, 2-2-0 HE)|
|Head Coach||David Quinn (2nd year)||Red Gendron (2nd year)|
|All-Time Series Record||58-50-13||50-58-13|
|Home/Away Record||3-0-0 (Away)||3-2-1 (Home)|
|Goals Per Game||3.71 (2nd)||2.40 (9th)|
|Goals Against Per Game||1.86 (2nd)||3.50 (10th)|
|Leading Scorer (Points)||Jack Eichel (13)||Cam Brown (9)|
|Leading Goal Scorer||Jack Eichel/Danny O'Regan (5)||Cam Brown (5)|
|Assists Leader||Jack Eichel (8)||Steven Swavely (5)|
|Top +/-||Jack Eichel (+13)||Cam Brown (+3)|
|Most Penalties||Nikolas Olsson (8)||Jake Rutt (7)|
|Projected Starting Goalie||Matt O'Connor (1.61/.947)||Matt Morris (3.02/.899)|
|NHL Draft Picks||7||4|
|Injured List||Nikolas Olsson, Robbie Baillargeon||Unknown|
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.