By Jake Seiner, Daily Free Press Staff
Saturday night, Agganis Arena will serve an unusual purpose for a sports venue:
Doc Brown need not worry –– this rip in the space-time continuum is temporary, and will only function as a platform for the past, present and future of Boston University men’s hockey.
A bit of history will precede Saturday’s contest with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as the No. 2/3 Terriers will raise the banner commemorating their 2008-09 national championship run at 6:30 p.m.
The game itself, set to start at 7 p.m., will pit the present-day Terriers against a few pieces of its future, as the U-18 squad brings with it a pair of future Terriers –– forward Matt Nieto and defenseman Adam Clendening, who have both verbally committed to BU for the 2010 season.
Nieto, highly regarded for his playmaking abilities, led the US National Team Development Program with 67 points (26 goals, 41 points) in 64 games last season. The winger from Long Beach, Calif., is, “an explosive skater and a gifted goal scorer and playmaker,” according to US Hockey Report.
Clendening, a Niagara Falls, N.Y. native, backed out of an initial commitment to Boston College earlier this year before verbally committing to BU this fall.
“Adam is a very competent player with good hockey sense,” U-18 coach Ron Rolston told USA Hockey earlier this year. “He is [a] good defender with his stick and makes it tough on other team’s forwards. He makes good decisions with the puck.”
Nieto and Clendening will find themselves lining up against four former-NTDP standouts in senior Luke Popko, junior captain Kevin Shattenkirk, junior Colby Cohen and sophomore David Warsofsky.
Colby Cohen back in lineup
Cohen, whose recovery from off-season hip surgery kept him out of last Saturday’s 2-2 tie against St. Francis Xavier University, will be back in the lineup for BU Saturday night.
BU coach Jack Parker expects Cohen’s hip will be at 100 percent for next week’s regular season kickoff at the University of Massachussets-Amherst.
“I think there’ll be some lingering effects psychologically, maybe,” Parker said. “Might even be a little [slowed] conditioning wise, but there’s no lingering effects . . . he’s better off than he was last year as far as the hip itself is concerned.”
Cohen’s ice time in the future will be determined by his performance Saturday night, Parker said.
Rollheiser will not dress Saturday
Parker entered the 2009-10 season with plans for a rotation at goal, likely centered between sophomores Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser.
Those plans were likely spoiled –– at least for the near future –– when Rollheiser suffered a high-ankle sprain shortly before the start of the season. Rollheiser, who went 6-4-1 with a 2.13 goals against average in 12 games (10 starts), is considered week-to-week at this point, according to Parker.
“It could be a month, or it could be three days,” Parker said about Rollheiser’s return.