By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
After scoring just eight points in his freshman season, sophomore forward Cason Hohmann put up three in this game. In both last week’s exhibition against the University of Toronto and Saturday’s game, Hohmann looked stronger and better able to fight through defenders to show off his playmaking ability.
“I was a freshman last year and didn’t really know what to expect, and after a whole season you kind of know what to expect out of your teammates and how hard they work, so just more of a confidence issue,” Hohmann said.
Freshman goalie Matt O’Connor’s debut wasn’t perfect, but it was plenty good enough. He made 26 saves on 28 shots, and BU coach Jack Parker said he was especially pleased with the way the rookie bounced back after giving up two goals that put Providence in the lead.
“The thing that impressed me the most of my team was my freshman goaltender,” Parker said. “After giving up two, he didn’t give up any more. He could have been a little jumpy, but he wasn’t. He played very cool.”
O’Connor’s biggest moment may have come during a Providence 4-on-3 in the second, when he stopped two shots to help turn the momentum back BU’s way. His defense also helped him out, blocking 22 shots.
Although it never appeared the Terriers were running away with the game, they did seem to distance themselves from the Friars with their endurance late in the second period and into the third.
“I didn’t think we had the energy that they did, but it’s not an excuse that we played last night,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “I just thought they had a little more jump. Even on our scoring chances, I thought we were rushing them a little bit in the third instead of being a little more poised with the puck.”
Providence played Sacred Heart University on Friday night, while the Terriers were off, but both Leaman and Parker said that shouldn’t have worn the Friars out too badly this early in the season. Whatever the reason, speedier BU players including Hohmann and junior forward Matt Nieto did seem to be skating circles around Friar defenders as the third wore on.
As well as O’Connor played, he won’t be in net again until Oct. 26 against the University of Massachusetts. He’ll be rotating with his fellow freshman, Sean Maguire, to open the season, and while there’s certainly a chance this could be a positive for BU if both goalies play well, it also could be difficult to find a rhythm while sitting out 13 days between starts this early in the season.
“[I said] Sean, let me tell you something, you’re going to play against UNH,” Parker said. “It doesn’t matter if [O’Connor] makes 67 saves and shuts out Providence, he’s not playing the next game. You’re playing the next game. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t play well the next game or if you play great, he’s going to play the next game, because we’d like to have them push each other, but also be pulling for each other.”
Much of the offense against Providence came from the defense: sophomore blueliner Alexx Privitera tied for a team-high four shots (with senior wing Wade Megan), and defenders scored the first two goals. The first line, conversely, was pretty quiet, with junior center Sahir Gill recording just one shot and Nieto two.
While Hohmann’s development, and the defensemen’s contributions, could make the Terrier offense significantly deeper, they’ll still need consistent offensive pressure from Gill and Nieto.
Quality of competition
According to Parker, this kind of tightly-contested game is going to be typical of Hockey East this year, as it is every year. Playing a competitive schedule certainly isn’t a bad thing, but Parker cautioned that no team should ever expect to pick up an easy win in this conference.
“I saw Merrimack play Northeastern on Wednesday night,” Parker said. “I came away from that game saying, ‘Jeez, I wonder if we could beat either of one of those teams.’ And then I go watch Providence last night, saying, ‘I wonder if we can beat any of those teams.’ UNH obviously is off to a real good start. Lowell was picked to be high and I think they are one of the best teams, without question, in this league. They have almost everybody back, and yet Vermont goes in and ties them 1–1.
“There never has been, in a long time, an easy game in this league. But it seems to be getting worse instead of better. This is going to be one long grind from now until March, that is for sure.”