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On Campus: Predators prospect comes up big for Boston University

Harper second on Terriers in scoring after big performance in Beanpot

by Mark Divver / Independent Correspondent

Patrick Harper started his college career on a high note and he's finishing it that way, too.

But the Boston University forward, selected by the Nashville Predators in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 2016 NHL Draft, has endured some peaks and valleys between his freshman and senior years.

During his first season at BU in 2016-17, he had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 38 games, finishing second in scoring to fellow freshman Clayton Keller, who had 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists).

Though Keller jumped to the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes after that season, Harper came back for his sophomore year and raced out to the team scoring lead with 21 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in his first 20 games, more than teammates Jordan Greenway, now with the Minnesota Wild, and Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators.

But Harper came down with a respiratory illness that ended his season. He returned to score 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 38 games in 2018-19, but wasn't the same dynamic presence.

Harper's offensive prowess has returned this season. He has 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 23 games, one point behind defenseman David Farrance for the team lead.

With one goal and two assists, he was one of the catalysts in BU's three-goal, third-period rally against Boston College in the first round of the Beanpot tournament on Monday. For NCAA purposes, the game went down as a 4-4 tie after neither team scored in the five-minute overtime, but because it was a tournament game, the teams also played a 20-minute overtime, where BU won to earn a trip to the Beanpot championship game against Northeastern on Monday at TD Garden.

"[Harper] is an elite scorer. He's gotten stronger, he wins more pucks, he's playing in the dirty areas more,'' coach Albie O'Connell said. "He's always been able to score. He had a lot to prove. He's a really competitive guy.''

Harper's size (5-foot-7, 150 pounds) is not ideal in the pro game, but O'Connell said he believes the 21-year-old center can overcome it.

"A lot of it is the belief that a coach has in him," O'Connell said. "He's got the ability. He can score, he can make plays, he can play at pace. It's just, is the (coach) going to look down the bench and see a guy that size and trust in the fact that he can do it? He's obviously proven that he can (in college)."


Cole powered

Cole Koepke did his part to help University of Minnesota-Duluth sweep Denver University on the road.

The 21-year forward assisted on a goal and scored the game-winner on a power play in the third period of a 3-2 win on Jan. 31. He scored an empty-net goal in a 4-1 victory on Feb. 1.

The sophomore (6-1, 196) has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 26 games. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round (No. 183) of the 2018 NHL Draft.


Walking tall

Samuel Walker scored the winning goal in each game to give the University of Minnesota a road sweep against its border rival the University of Wisconsin, 6-2 and 4-2, last weekend.

The 20-year-old sophomore forward (5-10, 142) was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round (No. 200) of the 2017 NHL Draft.

He has 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 26 games for Minnesota. He leads the team with three game-winning goals.


Firstov leads way

Vladislav Firstov took over the scoring lead for the University of Connecticut with a six-point (two goals, four assists) weekend in a sweep of the University of New Hampshire.

The 18-year-old freshman forward had one goal and three assists in a 7-4 win on Jan. 31, then added a goal and an assist in a 7-4 victory on Feb. 1.

Firstov (6-1, 181) has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 27 games.

He was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft.


Novak steps up

Jakov Novak has 15 goals this season after scoring seven for Bentley University last season.

The 21-year-old sophomore forward scored one goal and set up the game-winner in Bentley's 3-2 overtime win against Niagara University on Jan. 31. He had an assist in a 4-2 victory on Feb. 1.

Novak (6-3, 202) has 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 28 games.

He was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round (No. 188) of the 2018 draft. 


Petro Power

Keith Petruzzelli helped Quinnipiac University climb into a tie for third place in the ECAC standings when stopped 52 of 53 shots in two home wins this past weekend.

The 20-year-old junior goalie made 22 saves Friday in a 5-0 victory against Cornell University, which went into last weekend ranked No. 1. It was Petruzzelli's second shutout of the season.

He followed that up the next night by making 30 saves in a 2-1 victory against Colgate University, raising his save percentage to .917.

Petruzzelli (6-5, 185) was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round (No. 88) of the 2017 draft.

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