By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.