BOSTON -- To say the least, Boston University’s freshman class was touted highly ― as the best in college hockey ― before the start of this season.
Rookies lived up to the hype once again in the Terriers’ Thursday night exhibition game against the U.S. National Under-18 Team at Agganis Arena as Patrick Harper scored his second hat trick in as many preseason games and his classmates got some help, in the form of five points from sophomore Bobo Carpenter, en route to a 8-2 win.
"Certainly, I liked our effort tonight," said BU head coach David Quinn, whose team went 2-for-9 on the power play and 9-for-9 on the penalty kill. "I know sometimes the score can get out of hand and it might be a little bit misleading, but I thought that we competed most of the time for 60 minutes. I didn’t think we let the score dictate our effort."
The speed and skill of the Terriers was on display early and often in the first period as they scored three goals before the game was ten minutes old.
After an impressive five-goal performance in BU’s exhibition game last Saturday, Harper got the scoring started at the back end of a 2-on-1 sequence at 4:42. Classmate Clayton Keller fed the puck ahead to Harper, who slid the opening goal through Michigan-committed goaltender Dylan St. Cyr.
Patrick Curry doubled the BU lead by redirecting defenseman Chad Krys’ point shot into the top right corner of the net at the 6:05 mark, while Carpenter followed up Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s rebound to give the Terriers a 3-0 lead at 7:38.
"I definitely think the second year has been more comfortable for me, especially playing with two great players like Harper and Jakob," said Carpenter. "They just help me on and off the ice and I think our chemistry is really great. We have a lot of fun together."
The visitors had trouble adjusting to BU’s speed and size for much of the opening frame, but another future Wolverine Josh Norris brought the visitors within two goals as he took a feed from Notre Dame commit Graham Slaggert and burst through the center of the ice for a breakaway goal with less than ten seconds to play.
A goal for the visitors, and teachable moment for Quinn's young team.
"One of the things we have to learn is that when it’s a 50-50 puck, you have to assume defensive responsibility. I thought we got better as the game went on in that department," Quinn said. "We dressed nine freshmen. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. It’s going to take a little bit of time. Three of them are centers, and that’s a lot of responsibility."
Harper scored twice more in the second period, totaling his second hat trick in as many contests. He scored his first goal of the period at just the 24-second mark, taking a feed from Carpenter before turning into a wrist shot for a power-play goal.
"He’s an incredibly clever player," Quinn said. "He does a great job buying time, knows when to turn on his speed or slow it down. He plays the game with his head up and he’s got a great, quick release. Just a really, really smart hockey player."
Keller got BU on the board in a shorthanded situation as finished off a 2-on-1 rush with sophomore Jordan Greenway at 1:19. Harper and Carpenter connected again at 6:04, with the former taking a great pass in the slot for his eighth goal in less than five periods.
Future Boston College Eagle Jacob Tortora showed another flash of speed and skill for the visitors at 18:23, racing ahead of both BU defenders and beating junior Connor LaCouvee ― who relieved freshman Jake Oettinger, making his first start ― for the U.S. side’s second shorthanded goal of the night.
Carpenter finished for his second goal of the night just 15 seconds into the third period. Harper toe-dragged around his defender in the right circle and sent a perfect pass to the North Reading, Mass., native for an easy finish.
"I got the puck off the wall from the D and I didn’t see him, but I heard him. He is communicating really well," Carpenter said. "I chipped it to him, saw the move through his legs and was just in awe watching that. Coach really harps on us after we move the puck to get our feet moving, so that was my goal. I got to the net and his playmaking abilities got the puck to the middle."
Dante Fabbro finished the scoring with his second goal in as many games ― and BU’s second power-play goal of the contest ― at the 7:57 mark, winding into a slapper from the top of the slot with primary help from Forsbacka Karlsson.
"A lot of good things, but it’s early and it’s going to be a work in progress," Quinn said.
Adding in last Saturday’s 10-2 win over Prince Edward Island, BU scored 18 goals in its two exhibition contests. Not bad for a work in progress.