November mailbag: submit your questions!

It’s the end of the month, and in keeping with a new feature started this season, we are once again taking questions for a monthly mailbag post. Submit any questions you may have – from player analysis to an inside look at the team to our projections going forward to anything about college hockey in general – and we’ll answer them in a post next week.

You may leave your questions here in the comments section or send us an email with Men’s Hockey Mailbag in the subject line to [email protected] Questions can be anonymous and you may submit more than one question. We will be taking any and all questions until Saturday night at midnight (after the final BC game), so start sending them in now!

Eagles soar over Terriers in season series finale

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

In the closing game of the No. 13 Boston University hockey team’s season series against No. 2/3 Boston College, the Eagles avoided a season sweep with a 6-1 drubbing of the Terriers Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

It was the Terriers’ first loss in their last six games, ending BU’s longest win streak since closing out its 2008-09 NCAA championship run.

Boston College scored first for the first time this season against BU. Senior goaltender Kieran Millan struggled to cover the puck on an initial shot 5:15 into the period from just in front of him, and the puck slid to his left, where freshman Danny Linell waited and slipped it past both Millan and junior defenseman Max Nicastro.

BU evened the score near the end of the period. Junior defenseman Ryan Ruikka released a slap shot from the point that went wide, but Corey Trivino found the rebound behind the net and his centering pass deflected off a BC skate and past goaltender Brian Billett.

The Eagles re-took the lead in the second period when senior Tommy Cross carried the puck into the offensive zone and lifted a backhander up over Millan to give BC a 2-1 lead.

BU ramped up the offense as the period continued but struggled to find the back of the net. With just over six minutes remaining in the period, the Terriers lost control of the puck and lost track of BC junior Chris Kreider, who charged into the BU zone largely unchallenged and fired a wrister off the left post and past Millan to give BC a 3-1 lead.

The Eagles extended their lead to 4-1 just over two minutes later, when freshman Johnny Gaudreau jumped on a juicy rebound off a Brian Dumoulin shot and buried it with 4:05 remaining in the frame.

With less than two minutes remaining in the second period, the Eagles caught the Terriers in the middle of a change and sent sophomore Bill Arnold into the BU zone with just one Terrier on the play. Arnold took his time winding up on a slapper and fired it past Millan to give the Eagles a commanding 5-1 lead going into the second intermission.

In the third period, the Terriers replaced Millan in net with senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser. BU failed to score on 15 seconds of a 5-on-3 and BC successfully killed off the remaining 1:45 of a penalty. Shortly after, freshman Evan Rodrigues carried that puck into the offensive zone but had it poked away from him, and BC took it the other way on a 3-on-1. Senior Paul Carey cashed in on the advantage with a wrister from the right circle that beat Rollheiser blocker-side.

Friday notebook: BU tops shot total with penalties, Cisse records first collegiate goal

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

The score sheet from Friday night’s game between the No. 13 Boston University Terriers and the No. 2/3 Boston College Eagles required a lot of ink. Aside from the eight goals scored in BU’s 5-3 win, the teams combined for 79 penalty minutes on a total of 30 penalties through the 60-minute game. BU sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan took four penalties alone, three of which came in the second period.

BU’s penalty total was especially alarming since it took more penalties (17) than total shots (15) in the game.

“It doesn’t surprise me with this team,” said BU coach Jack Parker when asked what he thought of the number of penalties his team took.

But both Parker and sophomore forward Charlie Coyle said after the game that they were upset by the number of dives BC took and got away with Friday night. By the third period, when the two teams combined for 15 penalties, the referees finally picked up on the Eagles’ diving and ejected forward Steven Whitney from the game for embellishment.

“You could definitely see it out there,” Coyle said of BC diving. “I saw one guy, obviously 21 [Whitney], doing it all game, and there’s just no need for that. It kind of ruins the game and it ruins the flow of the game.”

Parker voiced his frustration with BC’s diving, but also blamed his team for taking too many dumb penalties and turning a 5-3 win into a disgraceful showing.

“[BC was] diving all over the place,” Parker said. “They finally got a dive penalty, but they … they dove and got some penalties, but we took some stupid penalties too. Pathetic, that stuff that’s going on out there. Absolutely pathetic.”

Cisse collects first collegiate goal

Not all of Friday’s game was disappointing for the Terriers. Redshirt freshman forward Yasin Cisse finally found the back of the net to earn his first collegiate goal and point.

Cisse’s tally came with 2:57 remaining in the first period and BU holding onto a 1-0 lead. Freshman forward Alexx Privitera sent a long pass up to Cisse, who was waiting by the BC blue line and sped past two Eagles to earn a breakaway before roofing a shot over BC goalie Parker Milner’s shoulder.

“It was a great pass by [Privitera] to send him in,” Parker said. “He pulled away from the guy with really great-looking speed and drilled it. Really nice goal.”

The goal was especially sweet for Cisse since it was his first in almost two years. Cisse was playing his final season of USHL hockey for the Des Moines Buccaneers in December of 2009 when he suffered a torn tendon in his right ankle. Cisse had 19 points through the club’s first 18 games, but was unable to return to the ice that season.

In his freshman year at BU, he re-injured the same ankle in the team’s opener on Oct. 8 at the Icebreaker in St. Louis, and he had to miss the rest of the 2010-11 season. Cisse finally returned to the ice for the Terriers on Nov. 5 in a game against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Despite his physical play and some artistic passes and set-ups in the offensive zone, however, Cisse did not see any results in the points column next to his name until Friday night.

Cisse is expected to be both a physical presence and a goal-scorer for the Terriers, and Coyle, Cisse’s linemate on Friday, said it was a relief to finally see Cisse cash in.

“We’re all happy for him,” Coyle said. “You could tell he was waiting for it, obviously, and just to get it, especially in a big game like this against BC, it made it that much more special for him. So we were all happy to see him get that and hopefully continue that.”

Notes: Freshman forward Cason Hohmann also netted his first career goal Friday night when he scored on the power play eight minutes into the third period to make it a 4-1 game … Freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera earned his first career point Friday on his assist on Cisse’s goal … Senior goaltender Kieran Millan was outstanding in net, stopping 42 shots, 21 of which came on BU penalty kills. The save total was two shots short of his career-high of 44, which he recorded in a game against the University of New Hampshire last season … BU’s win Friday marked the first time the Terriers have won back-to-back games at Conte Forum since the 1993-94 season. BU’s current five-game win streak is its longest since winning seven straight to close out its 2008-09 NCAA championship campaign.

BU downs BC 5-3

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

By the end of the game between the No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team and No. 2/3 Boston College at Conte Forum Friday night, the crowd said it all.

“This is our house” chants rung loud and clear from the four-plus buses worth of BU (8-4-1, 6-3-1 Hockey East) students that made the trip up Commonwealth Avenue, a clear indicator of the Terriers’ 5-3 win over the Eagles (10-5-0, 7-3-0 Hockey East).

But that doesn’t mean it was pretty. The Terriers took 17 penalties – two more than their total amount of shots, 15 – allowed 45 shots on net and played as their usual, lackadaisical selves with a lead in the third period.

“Beat BC 5-[3] for the second time in a row up there, you’d think we should be ecstatic about our team,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “Instead, it’s hard to watch . . . It was absolutely insane the way we played tonight. Nothing else that went on in that game compares to how stupid we were.”

After looking sluggish coming out of the gates, the Terriers got on the board on the power play at 10:15 thanks to sophomore forward Charlie Coyle. Sophomore forward Matt Nieto and junior defenseman Max Nicastro were credited with assists as Coyle slipped one right under the cross bar and by BC goaltender Parker Milner for the 1-0 lead.

The goal gave the Terriers a bit of momentum, which eventually led to another BU goal at 17:03, this time from red shirt freshman Yasin Cisse, his first point in a BU uniform. Cisse found a hole over Milner’s shoulder for the tally, which was assisted by freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera, who also picked up his first career point.

Offense wasn’t the only highlight, though, as team also killed two penalties – both from sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan – to preserve the lead.

In the second, a period controlled by the Eagles, BU made what offense it could muster count. An unassisted Noonan goal – a slapper from near the blue line – at 13:21 put BU up 3-0, but was the only Terrier shot on goal of the period.

The goal-scoring blueliner continued his first-period trend by taking two of BU’s seven penalties in the second, tempting a struggling BC power pay.

Despite a 23-shot barrage on senior goaltender Kieran Millan, the Eagles couldn’t break through on the man-advantage until 16:59 when forward Bill Arnold found the back of the net.

Seconds later, the Eagles and their fans thought they netted another, but the no-goal call was upheld after the referees went to the replay. After a skirmish in front of the net that resulted in an Eagle on top of Millan, the puck ended up in the net – but only after the whistle blew.

BU picked it up in the third, thanks in large part to a five-minute penalty on forward Pat Mullane after he slammed freshman forward Evan Rodrigues into the boards head-first.

The Terriers took advantage when Rodrigues’ linemate, freshman Cason Hohmann, found a rebound at the right post and put in in for a 4-1 BU lead at 8:00. It was Hohmann’s first goal as a Terrier and was assisted by sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening and junior defenseman Sean Escobedo.

BC made it closer at 14:36 on a goal from defenseman Edwin Shea, but senior forward Corey Trivino effectively ended the game with an empty-net goal from the BU defensive zone to make it 5-2 at 16:57.

Second later, BC forward Barry Almeida made is 5-3 at 17:16 with a power-play goal, and much of the remaining time was one long scramble by BU. Junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson took a slashing penalty when the scored, and served two more minutes for tripping 20 seconds after he got out of the box.

Parker was disheartened at the amount of penalties BU committed – and frustrated with how BC handled itself.

“They’re diving all over the place,” Parker said. “I’m not blaming the referees. Diving is too difficult, is just too difficult for referees to figure out. But it happens. It’s unbelievable . . . Somebody else besides the referees is going to have to straighten that out.”

When it was all said and done, BU got the win, and a memorable one at that. It is the team’s fifth straight, it clinches the season series against the Eagles, and it gives them back-to-back wins against BC as visitors for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

“We didn’t play great tonight. We know that,” Millan said. “But we won, which is in the end all that matters.”

Coach Parker reflects on Mike Grier’s NHL career

On Thursday, the NHLPA announced that former Terrier Mike Grier was officially retiring from a 14-year NHL career. Grier was a star in his three years at BU, winning a national championship in his sophomore season and collecting 120 points (59 goals, 61 assists) in three seasons on Comm Ave. Grier then spent his NHL career building a reputation as a tough, physical forward who consistently put up 20-plus point seasons. In our regular Thursday interview with coach Jack Parker, we asked the bench boss to share what he remembers the most of his former star. The following is what he had to say:

First of all, the first thing that jumps out about Mike’s career was that when he was here, he was an absolutely fabulous guy. Great teammate, great act around the campus, great representative of us in the classroom. He always did the next right thing and you couldn’t help notice who he was, that he was a BU hockey player. He was a good advertisement of who a BU hockey player was.

I remember when we were recruiting him. When we recruit players we sit around and we talk and we like to have that player have something really special. What’s the one special thing he does? What’s the one thing [Adam] Clendening does? He’s a real good offensive defenseman. What’s the special thing about [Garrett] Noonan? He’s a vicious competitor. We were talking about Mike, and the thing that’s special about Mike Grier is his size, right? ‘No, no, the thing that’s special about Mike Grier is watch after every game. When he walks out of the dressing room, he’s got four of his guys tailing around after him and he’s got five guys he just played against waiting to see him and talk to him because he’s such a terrific guy. He’ll be captain of this team, I guarantee it, if we get him here.’ That didn’t come to fruition because he signed before his senior year. But he’s lived up to that in spades, lets say, a terrific, terrific kid. A kid making sure he did the right thing. And he was a great example of what we want with a hard work, competitive, hard-nosed player.

And sooner or later everybody has to join the beer league. And this summer he was working out with [BU strength and conditioning coach] Mike Boyle and wondering whether or not he was going to get another year in. Same with Jay Pandolfo. Chris Drury was pretty sure he wasn’t [going to play another year]. But all those guys played together, it was all around the same time. Jay did hook on again and get another year and he’s doing pretty well on the Islanders. I’m sure Mike could have played but he didn’t sign in the right spot he wanted. I’m sure there are several teams that would have taken him but none that he wanted. A terrific career in the NHL, a terrific representative of the NHL as well. Now we’ll see him around some BU hockey games more often.