Frozen Fenway Update

A few notes from media at Fenway Park:

-BU took the ice at 3:45, and after a few minutes of warmups, scrimmaged for 10 minutes or so. After the scrimmage, Parker ran them through 2-3 drills and worked them until around 4:20, then were joined on the ice by coach Mike Bavis’ son and Scott Lachance’s kids/Parker’s grandchildren. The team spent the rest of the practice session goofing around on the ice. Certainly seemed like a good time was had by all.

-Joe Pereira practiced in full, and indications are that, barring something unforeseen, he’ll be good to go for Friday’s game.

-David Warsofsky was not back from Saskatoon, where he helped the US capture gold at the World Junior Championships last night. The Marshfield native is expected to fly back to Boston tonight.

-BU coach Jack Parker said after practice that the ice was “fair,” adding that there were some soft spots he believed were caused by the sun. There were other activities on the ice before BU practiced today (there was a men’s league game going on when I arrived at 3), and Parker said he thinks the ice will be pampered a bit more between the women’s game and the men’s game Friday night than it was before practice today, when they just ran the zamboni once around.

-Kieran Millan will get the nod in net. Parker cited his solid performance against UMass last weekend as a reason why. Millan is actually very familiar with the outdoor game, and said he was a member at an outdoor rink in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Millan mentioned he thought the conditions for Friday would be relatively warm, to which I told him he should expect to be playing in the low teens, to which he reminded me that it gets to 30º-below pretty regularly in Edmonton. The lesson learned here, of course, is that you should just not bother talking winter weather with a Canadian…

-Talked to Millan about the sightlines, and he said that he actually feels more comfortable outdoors than he does in Agganis or other indoor rinks. Parker said he thought it felt weird because there was space behind the boards –– not seats –– but Millan said that wouldn’t be a problem for him at all.

-Neither Parker or Millan seemed to think the lights would give them much trouble, but I stepped outside and took a look around once the sun was down, and there is a light pole located perfectly at each end of the ice, meaning pucks dumped into the air could be tough to pick up. For those who have played baseball, picture trying to track a flyball in centerfield with a light right behind home plate –– then factor in that it’ll be dark and the puck is black. Of course, this shouldn’t cause too many problems with shots or passes, but when teams dump a puck into the zone, things could get dicey. Considering the rink is NHL-sized (smaller than a college rink, especially behind the cage), there’s potential for some bloopers as goalies play dumps into the zone.

Wraps up everything important I have to say. Scott will have a preview up for you guys in the next day or so, so keep an eye out for that.

UMass @ BU postgame audio

Still figuring out the best way to post this stuff, but for now, it looks like you’re going to have to download the audio to your computer. A mild pain, but it’s the best I can do for now:

UMass senior Brett Watson and coach Don Cahoon

BU coach Jack Parker

BU senior Zach Cohen and junior Colby Cohen

Enjoy, and if anybody out there is a Blogger expert and thinks they can walk me through getting this audio feeds posted straight to the blog, feel free to email me at [email protected] A little help would be more than welcome.

Terriers’ new-look power play goes 3-for-6

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

Just about every change Boston University coach Jack Parker made over the winter break paid off in Saturday’s 7-3 win over the No. 15 University of Massachusetts. Giving the players more time off than usual seemed to rejuvenate and refocus everyone. The new forward lines and defense pairings worked like a well-oiled machine. One of the biggest changes, though, was a new power play that went 3-for-6 in the game.

Normally, the Terriers’ top power-play unit features juniors Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen at the point with one forward on each wing and another in the slot. The goal is to set up shots from the point and get traffic in front for deflections and rebounds.

On Saturday, though, Parker employed what he referred to as a “reverse umbrella,” a formation the Terriers began practicing earlier in the week. In this setup, Shattenkirk was stationed in the center of the blue line with Cohen on the left wing, sophomore Chris Connolly on the right wing, junior Nick Bonino behind the net and sophomore Vinny Saponari in the slot.

The move paid dividends on its first chance. Just over 12 minutes into the game, Shattenkirk fed Cohen for a one-timer from the lower left circle. Cohen’s shot got through Saponari’s screen and hit the left post, and Bonino, who had left his spot behind the net in search of a rebound out front, was right there to bang home the loose puck.

Creating shots like that for Cohen and his NHL-caliber howitzer was one of the reasons for the switch. In the first half, teams made it a goal to have guys right up on Cohen and Shattenkirk at the point in order to take away their one-time chances. Cornell University coach Mike Schafer went so far as to say that the key to stopping BU’s power play was stopping Cohen.

“I’m hanging out down low, and that frees me up to shoot,” Cohen said. “Before, teams were really sitting up top on me and Shatty, but now I’m down low . . . I definitely like the new formation.”

Another reason for the switch was the Minutemen’s penalty kill.

“They give you two different looks, but for the most part, they play back and dare you to shoot it, and they get lined up and try to block the shot,” Parker said. “And when they’re facing out, it’s easy to do it. We made them face in by putting a guy behind the net . . . So, they had to play a different look now. That helped us out.”

Although UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon admitted that the new formation caught his team off-guard that first time, he attributed the Terriers’ 50-percent power play to something much simpler –– his goalie, junior Paul Dainton, not being able to see the puck through BU’s screens.

“The first time they used that alignment, we struggled a little bit,” Cahoon said. “But then as the period went on, we were fine. We let them take our goalie’s eyes away, didn’t step up to knock down pucks and didn’t pressure the puck enough, and those are the things that really hurt us on the PK.”

He’s right, too. The Terriers’ next two power-play goals actually came from the second unit, which featured senior Eric Gryba and freshman Max Nicastro up top and senior Zach Cohen, sophomore Corey Trivino and freshman Alex Chiasson down low.

With under a minute remaining in the first period, Chiasson collected the puck on the left half wall after a Nicastro keep-in, wheeled toward the slot and ripped a slap shot through Zach Cohen’s screen and into the left side of the net. Cohen asserted himself on the power play again early in the third. Trivino fired a slapper from the right circle that the 6-foot-3 forward was able to tip past Dainton from the top of the crease.

“We always talk about getting a couple dirty goals a game,” Cohen said. “That’s gonna happen if we get pucks to the net and go hard to the net. I’m a big body, so I just want to get in front of the net and cause some havoc.”

Although the prospect of Colby Cohen launching missiles from the faceoff dot or Zach Cohen planting himself inches in front of the goalie’s face are enough to strike fear into anyone, perhaps the scariest thing for BU’s next opponent, archrival Boston College, is that the Terriers will be adding sophomore David Warsofsky to one of those power-play units when he returns from the World Junior Championships this week.

Terriers down UMass, 7-3, to kick off second half

By Jake Seiner
Daily Free Press Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team entered Saturday’s contest with the No. 15 University of Massachusetts with a disastrous 4-9-3 start to their season in the rearview mirror.

By game’s end, the Terrier’s were driving full speed to a turnaround for their season, knocking off the Minutemen 7-3 at Agganis Arena.

The Terriers (5-9-3, 3-7-2 Hockey East) got multi-point efforts from six players, headlined by multi-goal performances from Colby (2 goals, 2 assists) and Zach Cohen (2g, 1a). Junior captain Kevin Shattenkirk picked up three assists, while sophomore Vinny Saponari and freshman Max Nicastro added two helpers of their own.

Junior Nick Bonino, freshman Alex Chiasson and senior Eric Gryba added goals of their own.

UMass (11-7-0, 6-4-0) was led by sophomore Casey Wellman (1g, 1a), senior Justin Braun (2a) and junior James Marcou (2a).

The Terriers were bolstered by a 3-for-6 effort on the power play, while they held UMass to three man-up goals on twelve power-play chances.

“Some guys came up big for us and had big nights and we need those guys to do that,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “In general it was a pretty good team effort. We got good goaltending. We played strong in our own zone, didn’t give up a lot of shots, and we didn’t have the massive breakdown where we let a guy walk in all alone or walk in from the corner.”

The BU power play gave BU a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Working at the bottom of the left circle, C. Cohen one-timed a pass from Shattenkirk on net. UMass netminder Paul Dainton made the initial save, but Bonino found the rebound on the right side of the crease and poked it home for his fifth goal of the season. C. Cohen and Shattenkirk were credited with assists.

About four minutes later, UMass winger T.J. Syner knotted the score at one after Wellman’s shot at net bounced off the skate of BU freshman defenseman Sean Escobedo and skidded to Syner’s feet. Syner took a big whack at the puck, and caught just enough to slide the disc past BU netminder Kieran Millan’s outstretched left leg and over the goal line.

With 52.3 seconds left, the BU power play again struck gold when Chiasson picked up a loose puck and wheeled into the high slot. Chiasson fired a slap shot from between the top of the circles at net, where Cohen was waiting with a textbook screen. Dainton never saw the puck, and Chiasson picked up his fifth goal of the season –– and third against UMass this year.

Midway through the second, Z. Cohen extended BU’s lead to 3-1 when he took in a pass at the left post of the UMass net. Z. Cohen deked behind the cage and turned a wrap-around attempt back into the UMass crease. The shot slid under Dainton’s left leg then bounced off his right and slid back into the cage. It was Z. Cohen’s team-leading seventh goal of the season, and Chiasson and Escobedo picked up assists.

Z. Cohen added his eighth goal of the season on another power-play tally early in the third when he tipped home a Corey Trivino one-timer.

Following consecutive penalties taken by Gryba and sophomore Ross Gaudet, UMass converted on a 5-on-3 opportunity and brought BU’s lead back down to one. Senior Braun, working from the right point, flicked a pass to Wellman at the left faceoff dot. Wellman wound and one-timed a laser that beat a sliding Millan top-shelf, right over the goalie’s right shoulder. It was Wellman’s 16th goal of the season, bringing him within one of Michigan State junior Corey Tropp’s nation-leading total.

With 8.5 seconds left in the second, C. Cohen extended the Terriers’ lead back to two goals with a one-timer that beat a sliding Dainton low gloveside. Saponari and Shattenkirk were credited with assists.

BU extended the lead to three goals with yet another power-play tally early in the third when sophomore Corey Trivino teed up a one-timer from the right point that was tipped in by Z. Cohen in front.

Gryba scored his goal while clearing a puck during a 5-on-3 power play for UMass in the third period. UMass pulled Dainton from the net, making it de facto 6-on-3 advantage, but Grya took advantage by burying a goal from beneath the circles in the BU zone.

The team’s collected a combined 20 penalties, with 13 being called on the Terriers –– four on sophomore Ross Gaudet alone.

“I thought the referees called it real, real tight for half the game –– the half they were watching us,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I didn’t mind any of our calls. You want to call those penalties, then I can’t believe there weren’t other calls made, but they didn’t see it that way. The amount of penalties that were called, and the types of penalties that were called were very, very tight on us.”

Terriers drop puck on second half Saturday vs. UMass

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team looks to move on from its disappointing first semester and start turning its season around when it hosts the No. 15 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Terriers (4-9-3, 2-7-2 Hockey East) currently sit in ninth place in the conference after being picked first in the preseason coaches poll. The outlook is bleak. BU’s only hope of earning an at-large NCAA bid is to have a second half like last season (15-1-3) or 2005-06 (15-2-2). Most likely, the Terriers will have to win the Hockey East title in order to make the NCAA Tournament.

The team, however, isn’t thinking about any of that.

“We can’t worry about where we’re gonna finish at the end of the season,” junior defenseman and captain Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We just have to worry about each game . . . We can’t worry about getting four points in a weekend. We have to focus on getting two points first.”

That simplistic approach is one of the results of the Terriers’ two-week break following a 5-3 loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Dec. 11. The time away from the rink gave players a chance to forget about hockey for a little while and come back rejuvenated.

“I think it was good for everyone,” Shattenkirk said of the break. “Everyone just went home, had some family time, got their minds off hockey for a little bit, which was good . . . I went home, and I didn’t even bring my equipment. I kind of just sat around and thought about things a little bit, what changes could be made. Just kind of relax and get ready to change everything around this half.”

“I think there seems to be a little better attitude in terms of being enthusiastic in practice,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “They’re not dreary. They’re not down. I think they were really depressed after we lost to RPI. Getting away for a little while was good. If we had practice the next couple days after that, it would’ve been tough.”

BU’s first test of the new semester comes against the same team it played in its regular-season opener. On Oct. 16, the Minutemen (11-6-0, 6-4-0) defeated the Terriers, 3-2, in Amherst. Both teams were led by freshmen in that matchup. UMass rookie Rocco Carzo had a goal and two assists, and Alex Chiasson netted both goals for BU.

The Minutemen raced out to a 7-1-0 start this season and staked an early claim to the top spot in Hockey East, but have since dropped to fourth following a 3-4-0 stretch to end the first half. They’re already two games into the second half, as they participated in the UConn Hockey Classic earlier this week. UMass beat No. 18 Union College, 4-3, in the first round on Tuesday, but lost to Bentley University, 4-1, in Wednesday’s championship game.

UMass is led by its explosive offense, which ranks eighth in the country with 3.53 goals per game. Shouldering most of that load is the outstanding 1-2 punch of junior James Marcou and sophomore Casey Wellman. Marcou leads the nation in assists (25) and points per game (1.76) and is tied for first in points (30). Wellman is second in goals (15), first in goals per game (0.88) and fifth in points per game (1.47).

“They’re just great players,” Shattenkirk said. “You have James, who’s just a great playmaker, and that bodes well for Casey because he can put the puck away. I think we just have to be tight on them and be hard to play against. You can’t really give them much room. We just have to do what we can to hit them every chance we get and try to frustrate them as much as possible.”

Game Notes: After Thursday’s practice, Parker said he wasn’t going to decide who would start in net Saturday until after Friday’s practice. He did, however, say that he expects to continue to use some sort of rotation in the second half. … Sophomore forward Vinny Saponari was limited in practice this week with back spasms, but is expected to play Saturday. He is expected to be on the top line with junior Nick Bonino and sophomore Chris Connolly. … BU will be without the services of junior forward Joe Pereira, who is recovering from hernia surgery, and sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky, who is playing for Team USA in the World Junior Championships.