The Boston University Terriers finished up the last of their two exhibition games with another impressive win. However, as head coach David Quinn expressed on Saturday and again after Thursday’s game, the team still has work to do.
Their first game, last Saturday, was against the Prince Edward Island Panthers, a member of the Atlantic University Sport, a governing body that includes many of the Canadian university teams that took on Hockey East universities last weekend as part of the preseason. Though the Terriers and Panthers spent a large portion of the game in non-even play—a result of the incredible number of penalties called on both teams—it didn’t stop the Terriers from trouncing them 10-2. Freshman forward, Patrick Harper scored an astounding five goals during that game, on six shots on goal—two even strength, two power play and a short handed. He added two assists for seven points on the night which earned him Warrior of the Week honors as announced on Monday, October 3rd.
With all the whistles that stopped play, and the many variations of special teams—some of which hadn’t even been practiced yet, as Coach Quinn joked after—it was somewhat difficult to get a sense of if there was any chemistry beginning to take shape among the line combinations.
Thursday night’s game was an equally high scoring affair for the Terriers as they hosted USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 team, whom they beat 8-2. And once again Harper showed his skill. He got a hat trick with two even strength and one power play goal and added an assist on the evening for four points. While he had more goals than his line mate Bobo Carpenter, who had two on the evening, Carpenter added three assists for a five-point game.
Penalties in the game against the NTDP were not nearly as many, for either team, as Saturday’s game saw. In the first period, the Terriers took just one penalty, an interference call on Boston Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy. The penalty was unnecessary, and could speak to something to watch with McAvoy going into the regular season. The Terriers were up 3-0, and while it is possible that McAvoy’s intentional unavoidance of the NTDP player was in retaliation for something that happened previously on the ice, such a penalty was a selfish one on McAvoy’s part. During the game against Prince Edward Island, he went up to one of the Panthers players during the third period and took a moment to whack him on the back of his leg, where there is no padding, though fortunately he did not get whistled for that one.
Coach Quinn has mentioned that for both of these exhibition games he has dressed a young squad. He had nine freshmen on the bench: one goalie, two defensemen, and six forwards. Of course, when three of those freshmen, along with a returning sophomore, get drafted in the first round of this past summer’s NHL Draft and another of them goes in the second round of the same draft, that speaks to the level of talent that is at his disposal. However it’s not something that he’s going to let them get too high on. Quinn does a good job of reminding them that there is a lot of work that goes into being a good hockey club—though after these two exhibition games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the players indulge in a brief moment of ego.
Of those freshmen who were drafted in the first two rounds, none of them was the unstoppable goal-scoring machine with the last name of Harper. He wasn’t chosen until the fifth round—when the Nashville Predators snagged him—but you certainly wouldn’t know it from his play. And it is clear that he has definitely found chemistry with Carpenter and their center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson—himself just a sophomore who was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Boston Bruins.
The real first test for this team though will come as the puck drops in Hamilton, New York on Saturday when the Terriers visit the Colgate University Raiders in the first game of the regular season. However, picking up 18 goals in two games definitely gives the Terriers a boost to their confidence that unlikely will have them coming out of the tunnel at the Class of 1965 Arena with some determination and conviction.