This is a first in what we hope will be a monthly series of mailbags where you as readers have the opportunity to ask us anything you can think of and have us answer to the best of our ability. You can send in questions anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “Mailbag” in the subject line, or you can wait until the end of the month when we will post a reminder up on the blog and have a place for you to submit questions as comments here.
In this edition of the mailbag, we answered questions about the team’s classes, practice players and walk-ons, expectations, goaltending rotations and more. Enjoy!
Q: Where do you guys like to cover games when BU hits the road? -Josh
I (Arielle) will answer this one since Tim has not gotten a chance to travel around Hockey East yet.
One of my favorite places to visit is Matthews Arena. They have a new press box that has a great view of the visitor’s bench, which is really helpful in terms of judging attitude and seeing where injured players are. It’s an old building with a really loud fan-base, which creates an exciting atmosphere that makes the game more enjoyable.
The media food at BC is awesome, but there is not much else about Conte Forum that I like. UNH is a fun place to visit because the rink is modern and clean but also pretty intimate. You feel like you’re close to the action no matter where your seat at UNH is located. The fans there are also great. Maine fans are also fun, and there is some great food in the area (Pat’s Pizza, Dysart’s Truck Stop), but Orono is literally in the middle of nowhere. The rink is badly in need of renovations, which Maine started doing over the summer. I’m not sure whether they were moving the press boxes, but if not, the Maine press box is among the worst in Hockey East. It is impossible to see the action because you’re in the last row and are not significantly higher than the fans, so someone like me can’t see over them.
Q:Do you believe that the goaltender of this season will always be Millan? He seems to show areas of inconsistency and I understand that he is a young goalie, but why not see what Rollheiser can give the team? –Anonymous
The No. 1 goalie this season will likely continue to be Millan barring an injury or some real strange turn of events. In college years, Millan is not a young goalie, and through his first three years, he has proven that he deserves to be the Terriers’ top goalie. This is not to say that Rollheiser is not a good goalie; he is just not as good as Millan. BU has seen what Rollheiser can give the team. It’s not like he’s never played. He just simply is not as good as Millan.
Does Millan ever have a bad game or make a bad play? Of course, but it is also important to remember that Millan helped win a national championship, was a Hockey Commissioners’ Association, New England and Hockey East Rookie of the Year, was a Hockey East Tournament MVP, was the team’s Most Valuable Player last season, holds the program’s single-season saves record and holds the program’s career wins record. Millan had a .932 save percentage last season, so while he may make an occasional mistake, he is an outstanding goaltender.
Rollheiser has played in 24 games throughout his BU career, and while he has not been a bad goalie by any stretch, his .887 career save percentage and 11-7-4 record (although he played in 24 games, he hasn’t earned a decision in all of them) is not good enough to justify a platoon with Millan.
Contrast the expectations for this year’s team with the expectations for last year’s team. –Greg (submitted via live blog and included here because we’ve had multiple questions about this)
Last year’s team was not expected to be as good as this year’s team. The Terriers were a very young team last year and had some talent, but lacked in depth and experience. In a way, it was a bit of an overachievement for last year’s team to finish third in Hockey East, but a tournament run was not out of the question for last year’s squad.
This team should be better than last year’s team. The Terriers are a year older, have more depth and should have learned from last season’s mistakes. Redshirt freshman forward Yasin Cisse should make his debut for the Terriers on offense, and with the addition of freshmen Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann, BU should be much deeper up front this season. The defense will miss departed blue-liner Dave Warsofsky, but the Terriers should benefit from having one of the best goalies in Hockey East in Kieran Millan between the pipes.
Through October, the team obviously has not impressed in terms of effort and coming ready to play, but there are a few hints of a talented team that are encouraging. First, the Terriers tend to score in bunches. They have scored at least two goals within three minutes in five of their six games so far. When a team pulls that off consistently, it shows that the team has some semblance of a killer instinct and proves they are a dangerous team no matter what the lead.
Along those lines, the Terriers have proved that they can come back from large/early deficits. This team, despite not always coming ready to play, does not lie down and roll over for its opponents either. They keep battling and never count themselves out. BU also leads the nation in shorthanded goals with four this season. That is another sign that this team takes advantage of whatever opportunities it gets no matter what the situation.
There are definitely some worrying trends with this team. The defense has been awful through the first month and is the ninth-worst defense in the nation. They are still a bit undisciplined and take too many unnecessary penalties, and they definitely struggle with the mental aspect of the game. If they can figure out defense and mentality, however, watch out. The Terriers could be a team to reckon with come March/April.
Q: Out of curiosity, after seeing Anthony Moccia rise from the practice squad onto the team this year I have a couple questions 1. How many practice players does BU generally retain? 2. Are they generally like recruited walk-ons, i.e. the coaches go looking for practice players each year or are they students with hockey experience who show up on campus and try out or something like that? 3. Any other recent (or not) players who have been elevated in such a way to fill a spot? – Anonymous
We had to ask Coach Parker about this one because we were not sure about all the details. From what he told us, a player joining the team after serving as a practice-squad player is not unheard of, but certainly not the norm – obviously a vast majority of the players go through the regular recruiting process and the team does not retain many practice players. It is more common to have practice goalies than regular skaters.
Moccia in particular was an interesting case. He came to BU (after graduating from nearby prep school BB&N in 2010) and wanted to try out for the team, but with two juniors (Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser) and a senior (Adam Kraus) already on the roster, there just wasn’t room. Moccia had an understanding with coach Parker that after being the practice goalie his freshman year, he could join the team as the third-stringer this year. BU did not recruit Moccia. He came to campus and asked Parker if he could try out for the team, much like Matt Gilroy did. Gilroy is probably the most recent walk-on to rise up like Moccia. For goalies, John Curry was a third-string walk-on back in 2003-04, played five minutes of garbage time in net his freshman year, and became the Terriers rock in net for his next three seasons.
Moccia also is not on a scholarship. Contrary to popular belief, not all Terriers have full scholarships. The NCAA only allows 18 scholarships per team, so while some of the Terriers are at BU on full scholarships, others have partial scholarships or no scholarships at all.
Q: Given that guys like Ryan Ruikka and Ross Gaudet were red-shirted their freshman year, are they expected to stay next year to take advantage of their last year of eligibility? I know they probably don’t need to take any classes to graduate (I’m thinking mainly of Mr. “4.0” Ruikka here), so what would they do on campus? Along that line, do players take 2 or 3 classes a semester? I know they couldn’t take the full 4 with their practice schedule. – Anonymous
Ruikka will definitely need to enroll in graduate school if he wants to stay at BU for four years. We aren’t sure what the story with Gaudet is. The number of classes each player takes depends on the player and how many credits he has left. Normally players do either one or two summer semesters per year in order to lighten their course load during the season. Garrett Noonan took two summer sessions this summer, while others did not, so he can take less classes during the year than some of his other teammates. It is not unheard of for players to take just one academic class near the end of their time at BU. Also, most of the players are in Metropolitan College, which means their classes are at night and thus after practice. They normally have about an hour after practice to shower and eat something before going to class.
Whether or not Ryan Ruikka and Ross Gaudet stay at BU to finish their four years of eligibility is entirely up to them and yet undecided. It depends on if they want to stay with the team, which, of course, would be heavily influenced by how much ice time they get this year.
As far as ice time goes, that’s also a wild card, so we’ll have to see how it plays out over the course of the long season. Ruikka is healthy (for now) and back in the lineup (also for now), but Parker has said that he expects Ruikka to stay in the lineup, so as long as he is healthy, ice time shouldn’t be much of a problem for him.
Gaudet should get a decent amount of ice time, but because there is more depth at forward, he will have to fight pretty hard for a spot in the lineup should Hohmann or Cisse step up this season.
I’m a fan of Ben Rosen and have really like the heart the kid has moving from little used defenseman freshman year to a really solid checking line center last season. He seems to have been removed from that role and frankly, he’s the type of player the team needs in the lineup (more now than before). What do you see happening to him this year? – Anonymous
This year Rosen will likely be a fringe third- or fourth-line forward (depending on how Parker lists it any given week), fighting for his spot in the lineup game-to-game. Parker said Rosen will stay at forward assuming the defense stays relatively healthy, but how much playing time he’ll get is up in the air.
The current combination of him at center with Justin Courtnall and Kevin Gilroy on his wings makes for a solid, older, grind-it-out type of fourth line that Parker has said he likes so far. But with a log-jam of forwards this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rosen lose playing time to a guy like Hohmann, whom BU could expect bigger things from, especially in the long term.