By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
The No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team’s 4-3 win over Northeastern University Friday night marked the first time the two teams met during the 2011-12 season, meaning it was also the first time former Terrier and current Husky Vinny Saponari faced off against his former teammates and coach.
Saponari’s well-documented tenure at BU resulted in him and his older brother Victor being removed from the team in May 2010 for “conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player,” BU coach Jack Parker said in a statement at the time.
In the days leading to Friday’s BU-Northeastern game, Saponari expressed his excitement on Twitter – “I would b lying if I told you fri the 13th of jan was not a date I hve been looking fw to for a long time,” he tweeted on Thursday – and spoke with the media after the game, touching on a variety of topics. The following is a transcript on his comments on everything from facing his old team to playing at Fenway on Saturday to visiting Agganis Arena in March.
On how he felt during the post-game handshakes:
Just frustrated. It was an emotional game, it was an awesome game. A lot of chances both ways, a lot of speed, a lot of tempo. Two teams that are trying to find their way in the second half. Going through and seeing all those guys, it’s awesome. To get a chance to play against them, and still be as close of friends as I am and be able to compete like that against them, it’s awesome.
On good-hearted ribbing with his old teammates:
Oh, definitely. Inside jokes here and there, just messing around with each other, definitely. Slashing each other behind the play a little bit, laughing and stuff like that.
On the 2-on-1 with Adam Reid in the second period:
I wouldn’t say just that I wanted one [goal] tonight, it was just the type of game it was, I knew it was going to be a close game like that. It was going to come down with a little chance like that, [which] could go either way. And he shot, and that’s an alright decision, I was just frustrated.
On keeping his emotions in check this game:
I think it definitely is [harder to do that]. It’s easy to get frustrated when you want to win. You obviously want to win, and playing against those guys is a lot of fun but it’s definitely emotional too. When you get frustrated it’s easy to get more frustrated than you would in a normal game. That’s true of BC, BU games; they’re all like that. Obviously BU for me it’s a little more, but everyone else is the same way too when we play BU.
On whether or not he talked to BU coach Jack Parker at all Friday night:
No, I did not. I didn’t see him at all.
On how the league has changed since his 2009-10 season with BU:
Every night’s a battle. Merrimack’s had an unbelievable season, unbelievable start. They’ve got great goaltending, they’re tough to play against. Then teams like Providence come up with big wins. UMass-Lowell this season has a great team. It’s just a lot of fun every night to know that you’re going to get a good game and it’s going to be exciting. The fans in every building we have gone to this year have been awesome too, so it’s been a fun year.
On team’s ninth-place positioning in Hockey East despite recent success:
I think it’s kind of the way our schedule is set up. We had some many league games off the start when we were just coming together, a lot of new pieces, a new coach. Then we hit a stretch of out-of-league-play games, and that was when right we were hitting our stride. We were able to win a lot of those, which was great, but then you come back to league play and you get BU, and that’s always a tough game.
On playing at Fenway Park on Saturday:
Last time it was snowing which made it a little difficult, but I don’t know if it’s going to snow tomorrow. I would say guys think it’s going to be colder than it is. Sometimes they overdress underneath and it’s actually pretty much the same kind of hotness out there and you get too hot if you wear warm gear or something like that.
On playing at BU on March 2:
It’ll be great to play in that building. I spent two years there and have a lot of great memories. It’s a really nice facility, and just getting to play against close friends again, that’s just what’s exciting about it. You don’t get many chances to play against your friends in such a competitive game like that, so it’s fun.
On what he expects from the student sections:
I’m sure they’ll be ruthless and I’ll love it. That’s part of being in college hockey: Away fans are on you all the time, signs and stuff like that, and we love that, it’s awesome.