A.J. Greer Continues Strong Play Following Promotion to Second Line
By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service
When David Quinn decided to shuffle the forward lines in the Hockey East tournament, it came as a surprise to some. The team had been rolling offensively, with all four lines chipping in, playing with pace and consistency.
But while some initially may have questioned the move, nobody is second-guessing the second-year coach, whose team clinched a spot in the NCAA championship game with Thursday’s 5-3 win over North Dakota, as the game of freshman A.J. Greer has since flourished.
Promoted to the second line after spending much of his freshman year on the fourth, Greer has added a spark to the line that features Cason Hohmann and Ahti Oksanen.
“I thought Hohmann and Ahti really could have used his speed and his strength,” said Quinn. “And he’s got a good skill set. I just thought he gave us the best-looking lineup when we made that decision, and it’s been a good line.”
Bumped up to the second line prior to the Hockey East semifinal matchup against UNH, Greer has put up 1-2–3 totals in five games. But the scoring line hasn’t told the whole story. The freshman’s uses his speed to his advantage on the forecheck, constantly keeping defensemen on their toes and coughing up pucks. He’s not afraid to shoot the puck, which opens up opportunities for his line mates. At 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, he can be a physical force.
Greer’s strength was on display again Thursday night, scoring a goal while landing two shots on net. He was on the ice for Doyle Somerby’s goal that made it 4-1, the goal that proved to be the difference in the game.
“He earned the opportunity,” said Quinn. “We didn’t just throw him a bone. We liked a lot of the things we’ve seen in games and throughout practice.”
Greer was finally rewarded on the scoresheet with his second period goal. The Terriers were leading, 2-1, and had an opportunity to pad their lead on the powerplay. As Jack Eichel broke the zone, he spotted Greer near the right point. Eichel made the pass to Greer, who one-timed the pass to give BU the 3-1 lead. It was his first goal since Jan. 3.
“[Defenseman Brien Diffley] slid me the puck and got over the blue line,” Eichel said of the play. “Saw [Greer] opened up, tried to put it in his wheelhouse where he could hammer one.”
The heavy one-timer by Greer beat UND goalie Zane McIntyre high on the right-side. The goal, scored at 11:20 of the second period, provided much-needed momentum for the Terriers.
“He works on his shot a lot,” said Eichel. “He’s got a great one-timer.”
The move has brought added energy to the top-six, with Greer’s explosiveness and creativity. It’s also put a top-six weapon in Robbie Baillargeon on the third line.
“Again, I thought it was a good combination; big, strong left winger who can skate, has good hands, can shoot the puck, can bring a physical element to that line,” said Quinn, “and he’s done a really good job.”