From the FreeP: BU advances to semifinals of HE Tournament

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team will be heading to the TD Garden for the Hockey East semifinals for a record ninth straight season.

Junior forward Nick Bonino tallied a goal and two assists, junior defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk notched a goal and an assist, and sophomore goalie Kieran Millan made 34 saves as the Terriers shut out Merrimack College 3-0 in Sunday’s decisive Game 3.

“I thought we played great tonight from the get-go,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “Our real important guys really answered the call. Bonino played great tonight. Shattenkirk played great tonight. [Junior defenseman] Colby Cohen played great tonight. [Sophomore defenseman David] Warsofsky played great tonight. They all had tough nights last night, and they all bounced back and played great tonight. And our most important guy played great for the weekend, Kieran Millan.”

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  1. For a school – Merrimack – that allegedly prides itself on its unrivaled moral and academic standards and a coach who learned about integrity from one of the best, s direct desciple of Don Cahoon who learned the game from THE BEST IN COACH PARKER, I cannot believe once the outcome of Sunday’s game was apparent the behavior that Coach Dennehy allowed his players to exhibit. I am all for playing to the last whistle, and I understand every team usually has one guy like Bigos – but that young man is a freshman and when it became apparent to Dennehy and his Captains like Bowen and Barton that their season was coming to an end that night, I was astonished rather than showing Bigos how to lose with your head held high they joined the Shenanigans and seemed hell-bent on making sure that BU had NO healthy defensemen left by the end of the game. There were haymakers thrown by Merrimack and hitting from behind that went uncalled, and dirty hits were not new to game 3 as in game one I believe it was Periera who was blindsided and in game two NiCastro sustained a cut deep and over a foot in length. This was the type of WCHA hockey that Denver and Colorado College or North Dakota and Minnesota used to play 25 years ago. I remember how furious Coach got last year when a few Merrimack players were taking cheap shots the Friday before the Beanpot – How he held his composure and did not throw every insult in the book at Dennehy for allowing the inmates to run the asylum in that 3rd period is beyond me. Obviously, already down a defenseman entering the game with the NiCastro injury, there were parts of Sunday’s game where Shatt, Warsofsky, and C. Cohen ALL had to miss time due to some brutal hits and just general poor sportsmanship – wait, that is too kind – a COMPLETE LACK OF SPORTSMANSHIP by Merrimack and visit the locker room (in Kevin’s case, the runway to the locker room where they sprayed the freeze that dulls pain on him). This behavior should never be tolerated, but it was a particular shame in Merrimack’s 2010 Swan Song because they have some of the more talented players in the league coming back next year.

    I am not laying it ALL ON MERRIMACK, but there is a growing history of questionable on-ice behavior with Merrimack where BU is concerned, particularly when the team from North Andover KNOWS it has nothing to lose and thus try to end BU’s season along with theirs, and it was certainly 90/10 in terms of Merrimack playing the role of thugs in this series (and taking ten percent of the blame is being generous to that Merrimack squad), but in particular this game was beyond reprehensible and suspensions – even into next season – need to be considered by Commissioner Bertagna if Dennehy doesn’t do the honorable thing and take action himself. Absolutely telling was when Da Costa, easily the most exciting player to enter Hockey East as a freshman since Paul Kariya, decided to “man up” at the end and rather than end a distinguished season with his head held high for rescuing a program, he decided to prove he could be a hoodlum too at the most inapproprate time and instead his season ended in disgrace with a game misconduct. BU skated four defenseman for the bulk of the evening – through some miracle it is being said NiCastro might be back next weekend – but BU will have essentially ONE healthy Defenseman with experience in Gryba and the rest of their experienced Defensive corps will all be playing with injury come Friday. I hope that their blood is boiling and that alone is enough to carry Warso, Shatty, and Cohen through the semi-final, but it is gonna likely catch up with them to some extent should they make the final and I expect to see several players tried at Defense this week MUCH in the same way that Smolinsky was used in Defense toward the end of last season. Boy, do I wish that Brian Strait had stayed a final year now more than ever. BUT I do think that Millan getting his first shutout since the NCAAs last year is a good omen as he looked like himself for the first time since he was playing that ridiculous scoreless stretch during the second half of Hockey East play with his first shutout since the HE Tourney Final againt UML in 2009. He reminded us Sunday night that he can steal games for us, and if BU wants to make the NCAAs and have any chance of defending their title, he is gonna have to steal the Hockey East final as I have run the numbers and it is impossible no matter what happens elsewhere for BU to qualify without the automatic bid that the Hockey East tourney brings. Welcome back Millan of old, now if you could summon some of that BURN THE BOATS mentality of last year’s campaign, we need the good karma.