By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
The No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team fell to No. 5/6 Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve. Here’s a look at what went wrong – and what went right – for BU Saturday night.
What went wrong for the Terriers:
BU had been improving defensively as the first semester came to a close, but their progress on the blue line took a major step back against Notre Dame. The Terriers deteriorated throughout the game in terms of blocking shots, directing traffic away from senior goaltender Kieran Millan, clearing the puck out of the zone and breaking up Notre Dame plays.
In the second period, junior defenseman Max Nicastro epitomized the BU defense when, in an attempt to pass the puck out of the zone, he sent a pass right to Notre Dame’s Peter Schneider in the slot instead. There were no Terriers in the immediate area around Schneider. Although that specific turnover did not result in a goal, a plethora of BU turnovers led to either odd-man rushes for Notre Dame, goals or simply robbed BU of scoring chances that could have helped stop the bleeding.
“I think it was the worst night in a long time that our four defensemen had,” BU coach Jack Parker said.
Millan has been inconsistent all season long, and his play at Notre Dame Saturday was no different. Millan looked good in the first period. He made a few impressive stops, especially on plays where the BU defense collapsed in front of him, but his play in the first period disappeared for the rest of the game. He often looked like he was fighting the puck or ducking away from shots, and he was giving up plenty of juicy rebounds for the Fighting Irish to pounce on.
In the second period, Millan seemed to keep up with a Notre Dame 2-on-1, but he inexplicably failed to close his five-hole as he went down and Joe Costello capitalized, slipping one through Millan’s legs to put Notre Dame up 3-1. In the third period, Millan dove way out of position, leaving an empty net open for Billy Maday to put the Fighting Irish ahead 4-1.
BU took plenty of stupid penalties, helping Notre Dame to a 2-for-9 power-play performance. Junior defenseman Sean Escobedo took an ill-advised penalty when he dropped his stick, so he held a Notre Dame player’s stick to the side of the BU net instead to attempt to defend the net. Freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera found himself with a two-minute minor after he blew a play at the blue line and struggled to catch up to his man on a rush the other way. Millan was able to keep up with the player, but Privitera still hooked him to put BU on the penalty kill for the rest of the period.
The worst penalty of the night came from junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson, who, toward the end of the third period, took out his frustrations on stick-less Notre Dame player, repeatedly slashing the man and earning himself a four minutes in the box. That type of frustration penalty is frowned upon coming from any player, but it is even worse when it comes from the assistant captain of a team.
“If that’s how he’s going to react when he doesn’t play well, then he should sit down,” Parker said of Chiasson’s penalty.
What went right for the Terriers:
It’s the goal for any team to score first, and the Terriers did that despite being outplayed for most of the first period. It seemed that Notre Dame was getting most of the puck possession in the opening 20 minutes, but with just 1:33 remaining in the first period, junior assistant captain Justin Courtnall put the Terriers on top when he banged home a rebound off freshman forward Cason Hohmann’s shot. The goal was Courtnall’s second of the season, leaving him one shy of matching his career total of three goals.
The game was basically over when, with 5:18 remaining in regulation, junior forward Wade Megan scored a shorthanded breakaway goal on Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays to cut BU’s deficit to 5-2. The goal was not going to win the game for the Terriers, but it did help them break out of a three-way tie with Colgate and Minnesota State to take sole possession of first place in the nation in shorthanded goals (8).
Megan alone has two shorthanded goals for the Terriers. Corey Trivino also has two shorthanded tallies this season for BU. Matt Nieto (1), Alex Chiasson (1), Sahir Gill (1) and Charlie Coyle (1) are the other Terriers who have scored shorthanded this year.