From the FreeP: Reviewing the freshmen debuts

By Jake Seiner, DFP Staff

Terrier Nation had a lot to look forward to Saturday night as the defending national champion Boston University men’s hockey team took the ice for the first time since toppling Miami University in the national title game in April.

Chief among the things to see were the players who weren’t on the ice for that game in Washington D.C, as Saturday night’s 2-2 tie with St. Francis Xavier University offered BU fans their first look at BU coach Jack Parker’s latest crop of freshmen –– a group ranked as the sixth best incoming class in the country by Inside College Hockey.

Four of BU’s seven newcomers heard their names called in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, with forward Alex Chiasson’s name coming first –– the St. Augustin, Que., native was selected in the second round (38th overall) by the Dallas Stars. Chiasson saw plenty of ice time playing on BU’s second line, centered by sophomore Corey Trivino and alongside senior Zach Cohen.

Chiasson was among the most productive Terriers on the ice, taking four shots including an isolated look against SFX freshman goaltender Joe Perricone in the first. Chiasson tried to beat Perricone top right, but didn’t appear to get the puck up to the top shelf, and the net-minder shoveled the shot to the far corner with his blocker with relative ease.

Additionally, Chiasson showcased his physicality, laying a strong hit on an SFX defender in the first, and his athleticism, using his speed to draw the first of three penalties late in the first that led to BU’s first goal.

Of all the freshmen, however, the most impressive performances came from the defensive corps, with Sean Escobedo, Max Nicastro and Ben Rosen all playing “very well,” by Parker’s account. All three proved responsible in the defensive end, and Parker noted that as a group, the threesome showed strong puck control throughout the game.

“They all kind of played up the style we thought they were,” Parker said. “Rosen’s a more clever guy with the puck . . . Escobedo’s a very physical defenseman and Nicastro’s a very, very physical defenseman.”

“I was actually really surprised at how well they played,” sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan said of the freshman blueliners. “Obviously, defense is a pretty tough position to adapt to at new speeds and new players coming in and faster forechecks. But they did a really good job, especially at using the time they had and making quick decisions and getting the puck out.

BU’s other three freshman forwards, Justin Courtnall, Wade Megan and Ryan Santana, rotated on the fourth line with sophomore Ross Gaudet, who did not dress for any games in 2008-09. All three showed positive flashes, as Megan led the way with four shots –– including three in the third period.

Additionally, Courtnall demonstrated his physical nature, throwing his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame into numerous body checks.

Still, it was apparent the speed of the college game was causing some discomfort among the group. The fourth line missed its mark with a number of routine passes, and on more than one occasion a freshman forward was unprepared to receive a pass and let a potential scoring opportunity slip by as a result.

The defenders appeared more comfortable than the forwards, likely because the speed of the game was much different for the forwards and the defenders, Parker said.

“Every time our forward got a puck, there was a guy all over him,” Parker said. “Every time one of our defensemen got a puck, there wasn’t anyone all over him because they weren’t forechecking us that hard. They were just kind of sitting back with a one-man forecheck.

“Some of our freshman forwards didn’t quite have what will get to be a better feel for the speed of the game.”

One Comment

  1. The start of the third paragraph should read, “Two of BU’s seven newcomers heard their names called in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, one in the summer of 2008 and another in the summer of 2007,” or however you’d put it.
    2009: Chiasson, Megan
    2008: Nicastro
    2007: Courtnall

    Great job with this blog, though. It’s great to see additional coverage.