By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
Before Friday night’s game in Agganis Arena section 118, dozens of fans held up their own unique Garrett Noonan sign to honor the Boston University men’s hockey senior captain. Whether the signs said “State of the Noonan” or “A Noonan Hope,” they were all held high to support the Terriers’ leader on the night of celebration for him and his classmates.
After the first period, that celebration shifted to the other end of the arena where former BU coach Jack Parker’s number was being retired and hung from the rafters. His number six hung over section 108 as the fans, as well as some prominent BU hockey alumni, chanted their thanks to the longtime bench boss.
And finally, after the Terriers topped Northeastern University 4-1 to snap a nine-game winless streak, the celebration shifted to the BU locker room. It was the most eventful evening of the year for a team that has only won once since November.
It was finally a night that the Terriers will want to remember.
“Every guy that was playing tonight showed a lot of heart,” said BU captain Patrick MacGregor. “A lot of guys were fired up before the game… I’m so proud of the team and the way they responded to everything tonight against Northeastern – a good team in our league and a good team in the nation as well.”
It started with the seniors, as forward Matt Ronan joined Noonan and MacGregor at center ice for the pregame ceremony (senior forward Jake Moscatel was honored last season while senior goaltender Anthony Moccia will be returning for another season at BU). None of them scored in the game, but each of them played strong defensively in holding the second-best offense in Hockey East to a single goal on sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire.
The end of the game marked the final home game for a group of seniors that are a part of the transition period between BU coaches. It has been a tough final season for the trio, but winning on senior night had meaning for that crew.
“I think it means a lot to everybody,” said BU coach David Quinn. “These guys mean an awful lot to the program. It’s been a difficult year for everybody but our success moving forward — I hope they feel a part of it.”
The program is going through that transition period now thanks to the retirement of Parker, who coached the senior class for their first three seasons at BU. It was a class that started with eight members, but as Charlie Coyle, Adam Clendening, Yasin Cissé, Matt Nieto and Sahir Gill all left the program for other levels of hockey, MacGregor, Noonan and Ronan are now the only three that remain.
“It’s a special thing I’ll remember forever,” MacGregor said. “I’m pretty fortunate to be a part of both eras I think. The rest of the senior class, the junior class and the sophomore class feels the same way.”
The strong performance along with the two celebrations overshadowed what was set to be viewed as a bad night for the BU hockey program, as several players were suspended by the team for events that Quinn called a “college decision.” However, even that worked in BU’s favor, according to Quinn.
“Usually when you have to sit guys, it’s amazing what the guys that are playing can do,” Quinn said. “They all kind of rally around each other.”
“We’re getting better, and like I said, during the course of this month, there’s some games we didn’t win that I thought we deserved to win,” Quinn said. “I think our guys are optimistic. I think we feel good about the win tonight, and hopefully we’ll regroup and get ready to go in tomorrow.”