Sunday, July 30, 2017
By Neal E. Boudette
BU’s Jake Oettinger is one of four goalies vying to make the cut at for this week for the American team at USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich. While it’s an intense competition, he told me there’s a lot of camaraderie between the four netminders:
“When we’re on the ice, it’s every guy wants to be the best goalie, but when we step off the ice we’re teammates and friends. It’s good to hang out with those guys,” he said.
One of the others is Joe Woll, Oettinger’s teammate during their two years with the NTDP here, and now arch rival at the school up the street.
“I see him during the year and last fall we went to a Red Sox game together. Obviously competitors but also friends, so it’s fun to battle against him. He’s an unbelievable goalie and I can’t say enough good things about him,” Oettinger said.
He noted they don’t really get into discussions about who’s the better goalie. “I guess we’ll find out this year,” he laughed.
On Saturday, Oettinger gave up one goal on 11 shots in a half a game against the Finnish team. The goal scorer? Kasper Kotkonsalo, the 6'3" Finnish blueliner, who’s coming to BU as a freshman this year. Kotkonsalo fired a bullet of a wrist shot from the left point that pinged off the far post.
Oettinger would surely prefer to have Kotkonsalo protecting his goal rather than shooting on it, and is looking forward to the coming college season.
“I think we should pick up right where we left off. I think we should be a solid team again. We have a lot of really good guys coming back for our core, and the freshmen are going to be difference makers. It’s a really good recipe and we should be able to contend for championships.”
He said the team has plenty of motivation to work hard: “The feelings we went through losing the Beanpot and getting knocked out in t
Patrick Harper expressed similar optimism about the Terriers’ chance. “I think with the group of returning freshmen that we have and the guys we have in our locker room, we have all the talent to win championships, and that’s what the expectation is over at BU – to win,” he told me.
This year’s team will be a more mature and experienced group than last year’s, with the arrival of Drew Melanson, a graduate transfer from RPI, and Jake Witkowski, who’ll turn 21 before the season starts, and seniors including Brandon Hickey, John MacLeod and Nik Olsson.
“Experience plays a big part,” Harper said. “I know we were really young last year. Maybe that hurt us a little bit but I thought the group of players we had that were young really emerged throughout the year. But I’ m sure being an older team will be extremely helpful down the line for us.”
Over the summer Harper has been working on getting bigger and stronger. “I definitely worked on my shot. It’s about the release and not really about power for me. But I’ve been working on it a lot this summer.”