Last call: October Mailbag questions

We haven’t had a ton of questions submitted for our October Mailbag, but we are indeed going to have one for you this week.

If you haven’t yet sent your question — in a blog post comment, to [email protected] or @BOShockeyblog — please hurry because, well, there are about five hours of October left.

You can find more details here, but if you have any comments or concerns feel free to reach out.

We hope to answer your questions during our travels to Grand Forks, N.D., on Friday.

From the FreeP: Escobedo celebrates birthday with game-winning goal against UMass

By Annie Maroon/DFP staff

AMHERST — There was initially a bit of confusion over who had won the game for the Boston University men’s hockey team on Saturday. The Mullins Center PA announcer originally credited senior defenseman Sean Escobedo, but the scoresheet at the end of the game gave the goal to junior wing Sahir Gill. Freshman center Danny O’Regan set up the play, and it had appeared that he might even have been the last Terrier to touch the puck.

For Escobedo, though, it was no surprise when he was eventually recorded as the goal-scorer.

“Oh, boys, I got it,” he said with a grin when asked if he had, indeed, been credited with the game-winner to beat the University of Massachusetts 3–2 on his 22nd birthday.

The game appeared bound for overtime in the moments before the goal, with less than 90 seconds left in regulation on a 2–2 tie. Both BU freshman goalie Matt O’Connor and UMass netminder Kevin Boyle had been impressive and finished with 34 and 32 saves, respectively.

BU’s top two returning goal-scorers up front, junior Matt Nieto and senior Wade Megan, had already scored, but it was one of BU’s least offensively-oriented defensemen who made the difference.

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Three Up, Three Down: O’Connor, upperclassmen push BU past UMass 3-2

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Three Up

Matt O’Connor
While the Boston University men’s hockey team has not made a decision yet upon who will be the starting goaltender, freshman Matt O’Connor has done enough to earn serious consideration at that No. 1 job.

O’Connor shined in the Terriers’ 3–2 win at the University of Massachusetts Saturday night, making 34 saves and only allowing two goals in the process. Both of the goals he allowed did not come at even strength, as the first was on the power play while the second was on a penalty shot.

The Toronto, Ontario native made his biggest impact in the third period though, as he stopped an astounding 20 shots to keep the game level and give BU a chance to take the lead. Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo took that chance, scoring a game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

Escobedo credited O’Connor for keeping the game level long enough for the team to score a third and decisive goal on UMass goalie Kevin Boyle.

“You can’t say enough about him,” Escobedo said. “He has stepped up pretty big for us. We had a couple defensive lapses tonight and last night and he came up huge for us.

“We definitely thanked him. He bailed us out a couple of times and to see a freshman play like that is pretty special.”

Wade Megan
He has not been grabbing the headlines like the underclassmen have been, but senior captain Wade Megan has quietly been producing offense for the Terriers this season.

Megan has scored in each of the last three games and has a point in each of the team’s four games this season. In each game that he has scored, Megan scored the team’s first goal to get the offense started.

The 6-foot-1 forward and his linemates, sophomores Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues, have been moved up to the top line for the past two games after starting the season on the second line. Thanks to the early emergence of Hohmann (three goals, three assists) and Rodrigues (five assists) along with Megan’s consistency, Megan’s line has already looked like it could be among the top lines in Hockey East.

Garrett Noonan
As one of Hockey East’s top scoring defensemen in the 2011-12 season, junior defensmean Garrett Noonan was expected to continue his role as a scoring defenseman this season.

After only totaling a goal and no assists through the first three games of the season, Noonan added to his assist column by earning two assists on Saturday night.

Noonan earned a primary assist on Megan’s goal before earning a secondary assist on junior forward Matt Nieto’s goal in the second period.

The BU defensive unit has added a couple of offensively-gifted defensemen in freshmen Matt Grzelcyk and Ahti Oksanen. However, Noonan will be looking to keep up the production he had Saturday night and lead the team’s defensemen in points on the season.

Three Down

Defensive turnovers have become a problem for the Terriers early in the season, as they have been forced into some bad decisions by aggressive forwards on the University of New Hampshire and UMass.

One of these turnovers turned into a goal Saturday when a BU defenseman lost the puck behind his own net and let UMass move the puck into the slot. While O’Connor stopped the first opportunity, he could not handle the next shot, which was a close-range wrist shot by UMass forward Shane Walsh.

One defenseman in particular who had trouble with turnovers on the night was sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera, who had been having a strong start to the season until Saturday night. Privitera made multiple careless passes and misplayed a few bouncing pucks throughout the game, which led to him taking a penalty in the first period.

Escobedo said that while the team prepared for the UMass forwards to aggressively pressure him and his teammates, the BU defense was sloppy with the puck in the first half of the game.

“I think tonight and yesterday we kind of expected them to come out pretty hard,” Escobedo said. “We were watching game film on them for the past weeks and we knew what to expect. We just weren’t executing on our passes in our own zone so it kind of looked a little sloppy.”

The Terriers took eight penalties at Mullins Center, not including a costly penalty shot that gave UMass both a goal and a wave of momentum.

Eight different Terriers took penalties on Saturday, which gave the minutemen six power plays, only one of which they capitalized on.

While BU improved upon its discipline in the third period, when the team did not commit a single penalty, acting head coach Mike Bavis said he was only unhappy with the team’s stick penalties, noting freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s second-period hooking penalty as an example.

“That is something that we have really tried to address and we are going to continue to address because it is something that really can take the momentum away,” Bavis said. “It is one thing to get a penalty for a charging. You really are physical and you want to impact the game that way. But to take stick penalties, it really brings the team down.”

Like the night before, the Terriers as a team struggled at the faceoff dot against the Minutemen.

Freshman center Danny O’Regan was the only one of BU’s four centers who finished Saturday’s game with more faceoff wins than losses.

Fellow freshman center Wesley Myron did not fare nearly as well as O’Regan at the faceoff dot, winning only two of the 17 faceoffs that he took on the night. Myron won five of his twelve draws the night before.

Over the span of the series, BU only won 67 faceoffs while it lost 85. The Terriers had won the faceoff margin in each of its first two games before this series.

UPDATED: Escobedo scores game-winner on birthday as No. 13 BU tops UMass, 3-2

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo scored the game-winning goal with
less than two minutes left in the Boston University men’s hockey team’s
3-2 win over the University of Massachusetts on Saturday.

AMHERST — The No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team battled back from an early 2–0 deficit Saturday night to top the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the second night in a row, this time by a score of 3–2.

Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo — who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Saturday — gave the Terriers (3–1, 3–1 Hockey East) the win with a goal at 18:38 into the third period.

With time winding down and the game seemingly headed for overtime, freshman forward Danny O’Regan threw a shot on goal. A number of Terriers crashed the net but it was Escobedo who got his stick on the puck to stun a loud UMass crowd at the Mullins Center.

“Our top six [forwards] found a way to gut it out and get us on the board and obviously pull to 2–2, then to find the same way to do it, to go 3–2,” said acting head coach Mike Bavis, who ran the Terrier bench this weekend with head coach Jack Parker out due to back problems. “Hopefully that’s a strong statement about who we can be as a team going forward.

Neither team performed particularly well in the first period, though both goalies — freshman Matt O’Connor for the Terriers and sophomore Kevin Boyle for the Minutemen — made a number of nice saves.

UMass (1–3, 0–3 Hockey East) took a 1–0 lead 16:49 into the first when the Terriers turned the puck over behind their net during a Minuteman power play. UMass first-line right wing Shane Walsh took advantage, beating O’Connor stick side for the first goal of his collegiate career.

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Live blog: BU visits UMass for back end of home-and-home

Time, location: 7 p.m., Mullins Center (Amherst)

BU lines:
Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Evan Rodrigues
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Sahir Gill
Matt Lane – Wes Myron – Yasin Cissé
Mike Moran – Ben Rosen – Ryan Santana

Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Garrett Noonan – Ahti Oksanen
Matt Grzelcyk – Ryan Ruikka

Matt O’Connor
Sean Maguire
Anthony Moccia

UMass lines: 
Michael Pereira – Branden Gracel – Shane Walsh
Rocco Carzo – Steven Guzzo – Conor Sheary
Patrick Kiley – Kevin Czepiel – Eddie Olczyk
Peter DeAngelo – Eric Filiou – Evan Stack

Conor Allen – Joel Hanley
Colin Shea – Darren Rowe
Mike Busillo – Adam Phillips

Kevin Boyle
Steve Mastalerz
Jeff Teglia 

Referees: Tim Low, Kevin Shea
Assistant referees: Brendan Blanchard, Chris Millea

Live blog:

Three Up, Three Down: New lines, strong goaltending highlight BU’s 5-2 win

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Three Up
BU’s new lines
After just one goal against the University of New Hampshire last weekend – and no points in two games from the top line – Boston University head coach Jack Parker decided to change things up for game three against the University of Massachusetts.
Most significantly, he made sophomore Cason Hohmann’s line, with senior captain Wade Megan and sophomore Evan Rodrigues on the wings, the starters. He also moved junior Sahir Gill from center to right wing, making space for freshman Danny O’Regan as the second unit’s center.
It worked. Hohmann and O’Regan each netted a pair as No. 13 BU (2-1, 2-1 Hockey East) scored a season-high five goals.
We’ve got pretty good depth up front and whether it’s Wade Megan as a senior or Danny as a freshman or Hohmann coming into his own,” said associate head coach Mike Bavis, who coached the team with head coach Jack Parker out with a back injury.
“It’s so early you’re trying to put those pieces together and see what really takes off, and some times it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Matt O’Connor
So far, so good for the freshman goaltender. He stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced Friday night, moving to 2-0 in his college career. He also posted a scoreless half game against UNH last week.
Bavis was particularly impressed with O’Connor, who the coach said bailed the team out quite a few times when it came to turnovers in the defensive zone.
[O’Connor] clearly has played very well again, seemed very poised in there,” Bavis said.
O’Connor and freshman Sean Maguire were set to rotate in the early going, but on Thursday Parker was very noncommittal in terms of getting each netminder a start this weekend. With O’Connor playing well Friday, which of the rookies will start Saturday is far from clear.
I would expect Sean Maguire to play soon if he doesn’t play tomorrow,” Bavis said. “He’s looked very good in practice.”
First-intermission ceremony
BU athletics honored Parker Friday for entering his 40th year as the team’s head coach with a quick ceremony between the first and second periods.
The more than 75 former BU hockey players in attendance stepped onto the ice as John Cullen, BU’s all-time points leader, and Travis Roy presented Parker with a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
A lot of people feel so strongly about Coach Parker, and his devotion to them and his devotion to Boston University that I think that it was a strong statement to see so many of those players,” Bavis said.
Three Down
Escobedo’s turnover
BU had an overall solid night on defense, but a number of turnovers behind the blueline hampered what could have been a very impressive night.
One particularly unfortunate turnover came toward the end of the second period with BU leading 2-0. Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo tried going down the right side but lost the puck to UMass junior Branden Gracel, who took a shot from the left circle to beat O’Connor, ending the shutout bid.
However, Bavis credited UMass speed and aggressiveness more than anything else for the mishaps.
“They certainly come with such great speed,” Bavis said. “They’re coming so hard that we didn’t respond well, but that’s going to happen time to time.
But Sean Escobedo’s had a fantastic start to the year. You just kinda pat him on the back and say alright, you’re going up next.”
While the BU centermen performed on the scoring sheet, they didn’t do as well with draws.
Only two Terriers – senior Ben Rosen (6-5) and junior Sahir Gill (3-2) – won more than half of their faceoffs as the team went 33-43 overall.
BU struggled as a team with faceoffs last season, particularly when it lost its top two centers at the end of the first semester, and that appears to still be the case this time around.
Even the top two centers, Hohmann and O’Regan, didn’t fare well. Hohmann went 7-13 as O’Regan did slightly better at 8-13.
Third-period penalties
BU managed to stay out of the penalty box for most of the game, garnering just three minors in the first 40 minutes of play, but it lost much of that progress in the final frame.
Four Terrier penalties gave the Minutemen myriad opportunities to get back in the game. Defensemen Garrett Noonan and Alexx Privitera took cross-checking and interference penalties, respectively, seven seconds apart, giving UMass a 5-on-3 opportunity.
The Terriers got lucky when junior Michael Pereira got called for unsportsmanlike conduct for kicking O’Connor’s loose stick out of the way less than a minute later.
When Terriers did end up in the box, though, the penalty-killing units came through strong. It allowed just one goal and seven shots in six UMass power-play chances.

O’Regan benefits from lineup shuffle, scores first two collegiate goals

By Kevin Dillon/DFP staff

On a night when more than 70 former Boston University hockey players were among the fans in Agganis Arena, it was a player with BU hockey in his blood that shined brightest on the ice. Freshman forward Danny O’Regan, son of former BU forward Tommy O’Regan, netted his first two career goals while leading the No. 13 Terriers over the University of Massachusetts by a score of 5–2.

O’Regan was put in a position to succeed with his move up to the second line over the third line. Instead of two freshmen on either wing, the Needham native was playing alongside junior forward Matt Nieto and Sahir Gill.

With the switch, O’Regan went from playing with linemates who each are yet to score their first collegiate point to playing between players who combined for 28 goals and 73 points last season.

“Danny’s obviously a very talented kid and makes a lot of plays, and those are two pretty big play-makers in Nieto and in Gill,” said BU associate head coach Mike Bavis. “I think [BU coach Jack Parker] was intrigued to see how that would work. Obviously it was pretty good.”

O’Regan’s first goal of the game, which doubled as his first collegiate goal, came just under five minutes into the second. Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk rushed the puck up the left wing and whipped it into the slot, where O’Regan received the pass from between his legs and snapped it over UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz to give BU a 2–0 lead.

Grzelcyk and O’Regan were not done producing offense together though. When BU went on a 5-on-3 power play a little over four minutes into the third period, Grzelcyk sent another perfect pass to O’Regan who was open again in front of the crease. Just like the first time, O’Regan sent the puck into the roof of the net and gave the Terriers a two-goal lead.

While Grzelcyk’s crisp passes were part of the success for O’Regan’s goals, another was O’Regan’s tendency to be in the right positioning for the goal. Both of O’Regan’s goals came from in-close chances where he got shots from right in front of the net.

“He found a way to get to the net tonight and he got a couple of chances to bury them and he buried two tonight,” said sophomore forward Cason Hohmann, who also netted two goals on Friday. “He is a very talented, very smart hockey player.”

O’Regan’s performance likely did not come as a surprise to Parker, who praised him following the first two games of the seaosn. While the 5-foot-10 forward did not record any points in either effort, his intelligent play at both ends of the ice seemed to impress Parker.

“He is a skilled player but he also has played very very well defensively up there in his own end,” Parker said of O’Regan Thursday. “I thought he was our best center [at the University of New Hampshire last Saturday] as far as playing on the defensive side of the puck and not getting caught in the wrong positions. He played pretty hard down there and he can move the puck and get the other two guys in the lineup playing well.

Based upon his play on Friday, O’Regan will likely remain at center on the second line between Nieto and Gill. Bavis said the focus on Saturday’s game for O’Regan will not be to score another two goals necessarily, but to try to minimize the drop off from his impressive night.

“Consistency is a huge issue at every level, and our job is to try to minimize that drop,” Bavis said. “So we talk about that all the time. We have a quick turnaround tomorrow, and part of that will be the time the guys spend tonight and tomorrow getting themselves ready to play mentally.”

UPDATED: O’Regan, Terriers top UMass, 5-2

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

Two diminutive centermen and a freshmen goaltender led the No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team to a 5-2 win over the University of Massachusetts on Friday.

Freshman goalie Matt O’Connor made his second start in net for BU (2-1, 2-1 Hockey East) and kept the Terriers in the game through the Minutemen’s (1-2, 0-2 Hockey East) aggressive pressure in the first two periods. Freshman center Danny O’Regan had his first two collegiate goals, and sophomore center Cason Hohmann surpassed his goal total from all of last year when he picked up his second and third of this year.

“I think our guys really rose when they needed to make a big play, and the score certainly indicated that,” said associate head coach Mike Bavis, who was on the bench in place of head coach Jack Parker because Parker is having back issues that prevent him from standing for too long.

O’Connor held the Minutemen at bay through the first period, although their pressure on the Terrier defensemen earned them a number of quality chances. Through the first 20 minutes, UMass forechecked with an energy that seemed to rattle BU’s defenders, but O’Connor was steady in the net.

Less than a minute into the second period, Hohmann justified Parker’s decision to make him BU’s first-line center for the night. He drove into the UMass zone and dropped a pass to senior wing Wade Megan. Megan dragged the puck across the slot, pulling Mastalerz out of position, and slid the puck into an open net.
Hohmann said playing on the first line didn’t change his approach to the game.

“I know it’s my first start since I’ve been here, but not really,” he said. “It’s just a normal game like every game.”

Then it was the turn of BU’s new second-line center, O’Regan. Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk hit him with a centering pass from the corner, and O’Regan tipped it over Mastalerz and into the top of the net for his first collegiate goal. O’Regan had been playing on the Terriers’ third line but was moved up to center the second for Friday’s game.

The Minutemen cut the lead in half with about five minutes left in the second, when senior defenseman Sean Escobedo couldn’t stop Brandon Gracel from breaking into the Terriers’ zone. Gracel fired a shot around sophomore defender Alexx Privitera that found its way behind O’Connor.

UMass threatened again on a power play at the end of the period, when freshman forward Wesley Myron went off for tripping, but they couldn’t score. Then BU got a prolonged chance on the man-advantage, which turned into a 5-on-3 when UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko took a cross-checking penalty.

Grzelcyk and Privitera traded places high in the zone, and then Grzelcyk fed a pass to O’Regan near the goal line. O’Regan one-timed it over Mastalerz again for his second goal of the night.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Bavis said of Grzelcyk’s two pinpoint passes that created goals. “He has that in his game, and we expect that he’ll continue to do that.”

The Terriers didn’t make it easy on themselves after that, almost killing off a 5-on-3 of their own when Privitera took an interference penalty to bring on another two-man advantage for UMass, this one almost two minutes long. Mike Pereira went off for unsportsmanlike conduct to make it 4-on-3, but the Minutemen still made BU pay when defenseman Joel Hanley ripped a shot through the five-hole on O’Connor.

Once again, though, the one-goal margin didn’t last long. Hohmann took matters into his own hands less than a minute later, barreling to the net by himself and, when he didn’t score on his first try, whacking his own rebound past Mastalerz. He also added an empty-netter with 50 seconds left to play.

Now older and wiser – Parker and Bavis have both emphasized the difference between being an 18-year-old freshman and a 19-year-old sophomore at this level – Hohmann has some advice for younger players like O’Regan to keep their level of play consistent.

“When you get opportunities, you make the most of them,” he said. “You’ve got to be very confident. Even when you don’t play as much, you’ve got to go out there and just be confident and know that you’re here for a reason.”