By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – As the sun set on 2011 and rose for what will amount to be the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team’s second season, the Terriers’ new-look offense provided a glimpse at what 2012 will be like – and no one on BU liked what they saw.
The Terriers (10-6-1, 8-4-1 Hockey East) – thrusting sophomore Sahir Gill and junior Wade Megan into the first- and second-line center spots, respectively – fell 5-2 to No. 5/6 University of Notre Dame in a New Year’s Eve matchup at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Following the well-documented dismissal of forward Corey Trivino and departure of forward Charlie Coyle, coach Jack Parker was forced to make some dramatic changes to his team’s offensive lines, most notably the first two.
The changes yielded two trios – senior captain Chris Connolly, Gill and red shirt freshman Yasin Cissé on the first line, with sophomore Matt Nieto, Megan and junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson on the second – with high ceilings but generally unimpressive results in their debut.
The root of those unimpressive results could very well have been BU’s poor performance with faceoffs. On the night, the Terriers won just 19 draws, compared to 40 for the Fighting Irish (12-6-3).
Without Trivino’s .558 faceoff success rate and Coyle’s .531 mark, BU’s .322 rate was a far cry from its .502 average on the season.
“[Notre Dame has] some big, strong centermen that are really good at taking faceoffs,” Connolly said. “In the same breath, we do have two new guys [Gill and Megan] who are taking draws that aren’t really as used to it as much. I think that’s just something to practice and after practices, working with coaches [on]; guys who ever have the potential of taking them need to get in there and start practicing because I think it’s a big part of the game.”
Megan, unhappy with his faceoff success, was 5-and-8 on draws, good for a .385 winning percentage – the best on the team against the Fighting Irish. He said he played center the first half of his freshman season and “felt OK” in his first game back in his old position.
“Obviously it’s different,” Megan said. “I’m getting back into it, re-learning some stuff. It’s tough, especially after a break like that, to just jump in to a new position.
“There’s definitely some things I need to work on, faceoffs being one of them. It’s going to take a little getting used.”
Freshman Cason Hohmann, the third line’s center, was close behind Megan with an 8-and-13 record (.380) on the night, with one of those wins resulting in a goal from junior assistant captain Justin Courtnall.
Nieto, Gill and junior forward Ben Rosen were a combined 3-and-16 on draws.
The faceoff failure led to an overall underwhelming performance in the offensive end, in Parker’s eyes.
“I didn’t like it,” Parker said bluntly of the team’s newly formed lines. “Our third line was our best line. Hohmann, Rodrigues and Courtnall played extremely well for the most part. I thought everybody else struggled.”
It wasn’t all bad for Megan and the Terriers, though, as the 21-year-old scored his eighth goal of the season 14:52 into the third to narrow the deficit to 5-2.
“The forward for them was rolling up and I kind of read that he was going to try to a blind, backhand pass to that defenseman,” Megan said, “so I followed him up and was able to pick it off. The ice was not great, a little soft, so I didn’t want to get too fancy, just shelf one and luckily it went in.”
It was BU’s NCAA-best eighth short-handed goal of the year, but wasn’t enough output from Gill and Megan to satisfy Parker.
“[Megan had] that nice shot and a goal but I don’t think either one of those lines played very well,” Parker said.
Still, it’s not as if anything will change soon. With just two forwards – junior Ryan Santana and sophomore Matt Ronan – on the bench now, Gill and Megan seem to be in their new spots to stay.
“I’m just going to have to get used to it,” Megan said. “I don’t really have a choice.”