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.”