By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
The No. 10/11 Boston University men’s hockey team tied the U.S. National Under-18 Team, 3-3, in an exhibition game Sunday night at Agganis Arena, with goals scored by freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera, sophomore forward Matt Nieto, and junior defenseman Sean Escobedo. Here are three things that went right and wrong for the Terriers in the game.
What went right for BU:
The freshman forward is yet to score a goal this season, but he had a great game Sunday night. He tallied two assists in the game, including a beautiful drive into the zone that drew the defenseman before sliding the puck over to Nieto for the second goal of the game.
Rodrigues skated with the second line once again, and has found success on the right wing with sophomore forward Sahir Gill and Nieto as his linemates so far. Despite his lack of goals, Rodrigues’s play has not gone unnoticed by BU coach Jack Parker.
“He has got to get some goals. He would like to get some goals,” Parker said. “He has played very well all year getting more mature as we go along and I think he is getting much more confident.”
With Trivino and Coyle gone, Rodrigues should get more opportunities to make it on the score sheet.
BU fans got their first looks at two future Terriers: forward Matthew Lane and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk on Sunday. Both played well in the exhibition.
Lane, a 17-year-old from Rochester, N.Y., scored the first goal of the game by gaining separation from his defender and lifting a rebound over the outstretched pad of senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser.
On defense, Grzelcyk proved to be very capable of staying with some older forwards, ending the game with a plus-1 plus-minus rating. The Charlestown native also added an assist on the night.
While neither player has signed any official paperwork saying they will attend BU (thus preventing Parker from specifically commenting on their play), these two verbal commits showed that BU has a lot to look forward to.
Rollheiser has not gotten a lot of playing time this season, but he had a solid game Sunday night. The senior backup made 30 saves in his start, which was his fifth appearance of the season. While he did not have to make 45 saves like USA goaltender Jared Rutledge in the game, Rollheiser had the tough task of making saves when shots came in sporadic flurries.
“It wasn’t an easy game to play because the puck was down in the other end a lot and then there were power plays a lot, then all of a sudden they were on him,” Parker said. “Especially after they made it 3-2 I thought he made some really big saves.”
The Toronto Maple Leaf draft pick got some playing time in the exhibition while he normally serves as the backup to senior goaltender Kieran Millan. While Millan is not in danger of losing his starting job at the moment, Rollheiser’s play has shown he is a very capable backup should he ever be called upon.
What went wrong for BU:
While sophomore defenseman Patrick Macgregor has not looked bad on the stat sheet, he struggled to stay with the speedy NTDP players on Sunday night. The 6-foot-4 defenseman had the strength to outmuscle his younger opponents, but lost forwards a few times in the slot, leading to a USA goal. He was minus-1 on the night, but his plus-minus could have been worse had Rollheiser not made some nice stops. MacGregor will have to be careful not to have too many nights like he had Sunday. With sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening returning for next week’s game against Northeastern, MacGregor could be fighting for his lineup spot.
Junior forward Alex Chiasson had a great game on the first line on Friday night against Merrimack College, but struggled on Sunday, especially with decision-making on the power play. The 6-foot-3 forward used his size well in the game, but made some mental errors that caused turnovers at times when BU had possession in the offensive zone.
Chiasson also took a penalty when the Terriers had a 5-on-3 advantage, cutting short a very good opportunity for BU to jump ahead. The assistant captain has had issues with taking poorly timed penalties in the past, and it is a topic Parker has spoken with Chiasson about multiple times.
Chiasson also spent much of the game verbally jousting with 17-year-old Patrick Sieloff despite a pregame request from Parker not to respond to the NTDP’s trash talking.
“I tried to tell our guys, ‘Hey, after every whistle, just get away from [the trash talking],” Parker said. “’This is what’s going to happen. Expect it. They’re not being wise guys. They’re just trying to make sure that you’re not going to intimidate them. So don’t get mouthing off and don’t get arguments after the whistle. Don’t take a stupid penalty.’”
The Terriers did not have a lack of shots in the game as they peppered Rutledge for a total of 48 shots in the game. However, Parker did not like the shot selection at times by the Terriers, noting the tendency to wait too long before shooting.
“If I had one negative thing to say about my team it was that we didn’t shoot the puck enough although we attempted 82 shots,” Parker said. “We had the puck a lot and we overhandled it and tried to get something fine.”
BU will look to get back to taking the shot when it is available on Friday, when the Terriers travel to Matthews Arena to face the Northeastern Huskies for the first time this season.