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.”