From the FreeP: Matt Nieto poised to improve performance

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
With a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period, fans eagerly yelled at the No. 10/11 Boston University men’s hockey team as it calmly distributed the puck around Providence College’s defense, looking for a hole to shoot through.

As time ticked down on the power play, freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk slipped a pass down to junior forward Matt Nieto, who one-timed the puck from a sharp angle into the back of the net to tie the score at two apiece.

The goal was Nieto’s fourth in his last six games, as he continues to prove to the impatient fans that he is one of the top offensive players BU (13–9–1, 10–6–1 Hockey East) has despite his slow start to the season. As BU coach Jack Parker pointed out, Nieto has always been a player who improves his production in the second half of the season.

“He’s always been a streaky scorer,” Parker said. “I said to him yesterday or the day before, ‘your time of year,’ because he’s always come on in the second half of the year and really put some numbers up. We’re hoping he continues that.”

Coming on strong in the second half of the season has certainly become a trend for Nieto. It began his freshman season, when he only scored six points before the New Year and went on to score 17 points in the second half.

From the FreeP: Men’s hockey satisfied with 3–3 draw vs PC

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
Given the number of momentum swings and lead changes at Agganis Arena Saturday, a 3–3 tie could seem like an unsatisfying outcome for the Boston University men’s hockey team against Providence College.

BU (13–9–1, 10–6–1 Hockey East) coach Jack Parker didn’t see it that way, though.

“The best part of that game was the fact that they came right out and scored in the third, and we had to come back twice to get a tie out of it,” Parker said.

BU outshot Providence (10–10–4, 8–6–3 HE) 31–29 despite lagging behind the Friars for much of the game. Freshman goalie Matt O’Connor, while still not quite playing in his early-season form, held off the Friars late in the game to keep them from leaving Boston with two points.

Three up, three down: Danny O’Regan continues to roll in tie with Providence

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
The No. 10/11 Boston University men’s hockey team may not have picked up a win against Providence College Saturday night, but it still came away with three out of four points on the weekend.
The points are particularly important considering the Terriers (13-9-1, 10-6-1 Hockey East) started the weekend tied with the Friars (10-10-4, 8-6-3 Hockey East) for third in the conference, and missed a pair of prominent players (Garrett Noonan for both games, Evan Rodrigues for Saturday’s contest).
Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU.
Three up
BU takes the season series
Saturday’s tie doesn’t affect this at all, but it is noteworthy nonetheless.
By winning two of the three regular-season games against the Friars, BU won the series and therefore gets the tiebreaker in the event that the teams finish the season with the same number of points.
The way things are going in Hockey East right now — the top five teams are separated by just five points — the tiebreaker could be a difference-maker, especially if BU and PC are on the cusp of who gets the home-ice advantage during the conference quarterfinals.
We got five out of six points against Providence College this year in the regular season, and that’s an accomplishment because this team, Providence College, really works hard,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They pride themselves on outworking the other team. They’ve got plenty of talent as well.”

Danny O’Regan
With another goal and another assist, the freshman forward continued his absolutely torrid stretch of 11 points in his last six games. His most recent point, the game-tying goal in the third period Saturday, proved to be especially important, allowing the Terriers to salvage a point after falling behind twice.
He is now second on the team in total points (nine goals, 13 assists for 22 points) and second in goals, trailing only senior captain Wade Megan’s 12.
Parker said he was impressed with both O’Regan and junior forward Matt Nieto — both San Jose Sharks draft picks — because their line continued to score even in Rodrigues’ absence.
O’Regan’s game-tying tally allowed him to tie the freshman goal total of his father Tom, who was a rookie at BU in 1979-80.
Terriers blocking shots, still
It has been a theme all season, and Saturday was no different.
BU blocked 26 Friar shots — led by sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera’s eight and senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka’s five — considerably more than PC’s 17. Privitera now has 70 on the season.
The Terriers did a good job getting in shooting lanes, and although their shot selection wasn’t always the best at the other end, they did a good job giving the Friars similar problems while in the BU defensive zone.
Three down
Matt O’Connor
Parker generally rids his goalies of a lot of the goals they let up, but the Terriers’ freshman netminder Saturday night gave up a couple softies.
The first came in the opening period when PC tied it on a one-timer from the point. O’Connor looked like he made the save but the puck trickled through his legs.
It happened again in the second when freshman forward Sam Kurker turned the puck over and PC’s Steven McParland scored unassisted. McParland drove to the net on the left side and appeared to have barely tapped the puck before it went throug O’Connor’s five-hole again.
To be sure, O’Connor did make 26 saves and his outing represents an improvement over his last few games. His three goals allowed are the fewest in four starts since Christmas.
The game was progress, so Parker will take it.
I don’t think he is quite as … dominant as he was first semester in many of his games,” Parker said. “But he is certainly playing really solid right now, and he doesn’t look antsy or rattled.”
Another slow start
BU’s bench boss hasn’t used the phrase “60 minutes of BU hockey” or a “a good 60-minute effort” of late, but that doesn’t mean Parker isn’t looking for it.
Both nights this weekend the Terriers came out of the gate slow in the first before waking up and looking like the team they have the potential to be. Bad turnovers and sloppy passes marred BU’s play before senior forward Ben Rosen gave the team a 1-0 lead at 17:34.
We’re still coming out of our grand funk since Christmas,” Parker said. “We’re a little jumpy with the puck. That’s why we’re turning it over. We’re hesitant sometimes, but it’s almost like a tennis match. You take a little time to get your stroke down and then all of a sudden now we feel like we’re getting going.”
If BU can get the slow starts out of the way and play a strong game for all three periods, it has a good chance of again becoming the force it was during first semester.
Late penalties                     
The Terriers are likely thinking “No harm, no foul,” but this one could have very easily gone the other way.
After O’Regan tied it up 3-3 and gave BU much of the momentum, it started to swing in favor of the Friars thanks to a pair of ill-advised Terrier penalties.
Junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor got called for interference at 13:59, then Privitera went to the box for a blatant trip at 16:10. Both plays handicapped a BU team that had been flying around the ice looking for a sweep but instead was left a man short.
On the weekend BU took just eight penalties — all of them minors— which is a marked improvement over recent weeks. But it again took the steam out of the team late.

Terriers earn 3-3 tie with Providence at home

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team battled to a 3-3 tie with Providence College on Saturday night. BU (13-9-1, 10-6-1 Hockey East) outshot Providence (10-10-4, 8-6-3 HE) 31-29 despite lagging behind the Friars for much of the game.

BU’s entire third line had a hand in the first goal of the game, late in the first period. Freshman forward Sam Kurker found his classmate Matt Lane with a well-placed cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, and Lane carried it down the wing. He shot low on Providence goalie Jon Gillies, producing a rebound that came right to senior center Ben Rosen as he crashed the net and knocked in his third goal of the year.

The lead was short-lived. Less than two minutes later, senior defenseman Sean Escobedo went to the box for interference, and 11 seconds into the power play, PC defenseman Myles Harvey fired a low slap shot that found its way through O’Connor’s five-hole.

After a series of careless passes in the first – on two, BU gave the puck away at their defensive blue line only to catch a lucky break when Providence went offsides – the miscues finally hurt the Terriers early in the second. Kurker lost the puck at BU’s blue line and PC forward Steven McParland picked his pocket, drove in on net and stuffed the puck past O’Connor without much difficulty.

Midway through the period, freshman defenseman Ahti Oksanen was rocked by a big hit along the boards near Providence’s bench. He skated off gingerly, although he returned a few minutes later. Shortly afterward, with a Friar already in the box, freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was knocked into the boards by PC forward Noel Acciari, who went to the box for elbowing.

BU tied it up in the waning seconds of the 5-on-3. As Grzelcyk and Privitera played catch and the impatient crowd started calling for them to shoot, Grzelcyk finally fed Nieto in the corner, and he snapped a one-timer into the top right corner before Gillies could get over.

Providence grabbed the lead back on a goal by sophomore wing Shane Luke. Luke and his center, Ross Mauermann, were alone coming into BU’s zone, and Luke snapped a high shot past O’Connor for the 3-2 lead.

Then a strange situation worked in the Terriers’ favor as they tied it up at 3. As his line worked the puck around the zone, senior wing Ryan Santana was pinned against the Providence crossbar by Steven Shamanski. As freshman center Danny O’Regan wound around the net and stuffed the puck past Gillies, Santana couldn’t get out of the crease in time, so the play was originally called no goal.

After review, though, it was determined that Santana was impeded while trying to get out of the crease, and the goal counted. The score remained 3-3 through the end of regulation and through an overtime period where the best chance came late on a close-range shot from Hohmann.

Live blog: No. 10/11 Terriers host Providence looking season series sweep

Time/location (TV): 7 p.m., Agganis Arena (NESN)

BU lines: 
Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Sahir Gill
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Ryan Santana
Matt Lane – Ben Rosen – Sam Kurker
Mike Moran – Wes Myron – Jake Moscatel
Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Ahti Oksanen – Ryan Ruikka
Matt Grzelcyk – Patrick MacGregor
Matt O’Connor
Sean Maguire
Anthony Moccia
Providence lines: 
Mark Jankowski – Tim Schaller – Drew Brown
Steven McParland – Noel Acciari – Chris Rooney
Brandon Tanev – Kyle Murphy – Derek Army
Shane Luke – Ross Mauermann – Paul de Jersey

Myles Harvey – Will Goss
Alex Velischek – Tom Parisi
John Gilmour – Steven Shamanski

Jon Gillies
Russ Stein
Dylan Wells

Referees: Tim Benedetto, Kevin Keenan
Assistant referees: Bob Bernard, Jeremy Lovett
Live blog:

Evan Rodrigues day-to-day, hand not broken

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

Jack Parker spoke with an air of concern after the No. 10/11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s 3-2 win over Providence College Friday night. Sure, his team had won after falling behind 2-0, but it lost sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues to an apparent left hand injury after he got hit hard into the boards.

All is well, though, as Rodrigues’ hand is not fractured, according to team sports information director Brian Kelley on Twitter. Rodrigues is day-to-day and will miss Saturday’s game at Agganis Arena vs. the Friars.

With Rodrigues in one piece the Terriers look to have dodged a bullet. The Etobicoke, Ontario, native has been on fire of late, netting eight of his 18 points this season in the last four games, including BU’s first two goals Friday night.

The hot streak comes after Rodrigues went five games over the course of more than a month without a point.

“He arguably might be the best forward on our team right now, and sure is one of the hottest players in the league right now,” Parker said Friday night. “That’ll be tough to replace.”

Fortunately for him, the team won’t have to for too long.

Senior forward Ryan Santana is expected to replace Rodrigues as second-line right wing Saturday night.

Rodrigues’ absence also opens up a lineup spot for freshman forward Wes Myron, who “is chomping at the bit to get back in,” according to Parker, after being a healthy scratch the last two games.

Rodrigues shines, then leaves with possible broken hand

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After more than 45 minutes of Friday’s game, the scoreboard could have read: Providence College 2, Evan Rodrigues 2.

The sophomore wing hadn’t done it all on his own, of course. Passes from his linemates, freshman Danny O’Regan and junior Matt Nieto, helped set him up to fire home his first goal.

On his second goal, though, he jammed home a rebound from close range, then went sliding across the ice on his stomach to celebrate tying the game 2-2.

“He’s just coming into his own,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “He’s one of the best players in the league, and he’s got a lot of confidence. He’s got a great line. Nieto’s playing great. O’Regan’s a great center-iceman.”
With the second goal, Rodrigues moved into a tie with O’Regan for the second-most goals on the team (eight) and third-most points (18). But that’s where his stat line will stay, at least for the next few games, after a hit from behind that sent him off the ice with what appeared to be a broken hand early in the third period. 

Rodrigues was battling Providence forward Noel Acciari for the puck in the corner behind Providence’s net. He appeared to lose an edge as Acciari shoved him from behind, and the combination of those factors sent him crashing face-first into the boards.

He crumpled to the ice immediately and lay there, holding his wrist, for a minute before he skated off, doubled over. He didn’t return, and BU coach Jack Parker said he would receive X-rays on his hand that night to evaluate the team’s suspicion that it was broken.

The sight of the Terriers’ only scorer gliding slowly off the ice could either have deflated BU or inspired them. They chose the latter. Moments after Rodrigues left the ice, junior wing Sahir Gill was upended behind the Providence net. When he got up, he picked up the puck at the side of the crease, carried it through defenders behind the net and slid a wraparound goal past Friar goalie Jon Gillies to give BU the lead.

Once they had the lead, even though Providence outshot them 13-7 in the third, the Terriers’ intensity didn’t flag. Forwards – notably Gill and senior forward Wade Megan – kept the puck moving forward out of BU’s zone.

When Providence beat freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and came down on a 2-on-1 on sophomore Alexx Privitera, Privitera almost wrestled the puck away from the Friar forward and into the corner until the rest of the Terriers could get back. BU’s pace had been picking up throughout the second, but once Rodrigues left the ice, they were relentless.

Gill said he thought losing Rodrigues had a visible impact on BU’s play for the rest of the third period.

“Guys’ shots are getting harder on the forecheck, and I thought we did a lot of the little things right,” he said.

Friday was Rodrigues’ second two-goal game out of his last three. Against Northeastern University on Jan. 18, he had two goals and two assists, and he had one goal the next night against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

“He arguably might be the best forward on our team right now, and sure is one of the hottest players in the league right now,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “That’ll be tough to replace.”

With Rodrigues out at the very least for the near future, more offensive responsibility falls on the shoulders of Nieto and Gill. Both have played better after slow starts to the season. Gill has at least one point in five of his last six games, and Nieto has crept back up to tie for third on the team with six goals.

Gill was also one of the most visible players on the ice on Friday – first with his goal, then with two breakaway attempts in the next several minutes. He didn’t score on either, but he showed the speed and determination he’ll need to replace Rodrigues’ finishing touch.

“Even if he’s in the lineup or if not, we’re two guys that need to step up,” Gill said of himself and Nieto. “Just speaking for myself, it’s got to be better. Close isn’t good enough this time of year.”

Three up, three down: Sean Maguire stops 32 in win at Providence

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The No. 10/11 Boston University men’s hockey team fell behind early to Providence College, but used two goals from sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues and a late tally from junior forward Sahir Gill to clinch a 3–2 victory at Schneider Arena Friday night.

Here is a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Terriers.

Three up

Maguire bounces back
Freshman goaltender Sean Maguire struggled in his last outing, allowing six goals in a 6–5 loss to Northeastern University. However, the Powell River, British Columbia, native recovered nicely in the win, making 32 saves in the effort.

“Bouncing back is probably one of the hardest things to do,” Maguire said. “The boys really worked well in front of me today and they helped me do that.”

Some of his best efforts came at the end of the third period, including save in which he made a full split to kick aside a shot from forward Paul de Jersey on a rebound.

With the exception of the loss to Northeastern, Maguire has not allowed more than two goals in a game since his second career start at the University of North Dakota. Following the win Friday, Maguire leads the team with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Sahir Gill steps up late
The moment sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues went down with an apparent hand injury, junior forward Sahir Gill took his game to a new level. The following shift after absorbing a big hit behind Providence goalie Jon Gillies, Gill took the puck by a defenseman in the slot, around the net and tucked the puck inside the post for the game-winning goal.

The 5-foot-10 forward was not done though, as he made some nice plays on the penalty kill to help preserve the lead. He even skated in on breakaways twice, but Gillies shut him down both times with nice stops.

With the goal on the night, Gill improved his total to five on the season. Gill, who scored 12 goals last season, will need to continue stepping up as the season continues, especially if Rodrigues misses significant time with the injury.

Taking fewer penalties
The Terriers took a couple of almost costly penalties down the stretch, but held themselves to only three penalties in a very close game. The lack of time on the penalty kill was key to BU coming back throughout the game, as it only took one penalty throughout the first two periods.

This was a change from its 4–3 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, when BU took seven penalties and spent a large portion of the game in the penalty box. BU had taken four or more penalties in three of its last four losses, so staying out of the penalty box was an important factor in coming out on top.

“It’s beneficial anytime, you don’t wear out your guys,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “But it was big tonight the way we penalized ourselves the last two games, and I thought we were better disciplined job staying out of the box but still playing real hard.”

Three Down
Losing Rodrigues
The Terriers may have won the game but an injury to Rodrigues will leave a sour taste in the mouth of BU fans. Providence forward Noel Acciari hit Rodrigues from behind behind Gillies and appeared to injure Rodrigues’ wrist on the play.

Rodrigues was in the middle of a two-goal performance in which he had not only scored goals, but made a few nifty passes to create scoring chances for his linemates. The sophomore from Etobicoke, Ontario had scored five goals and three assists in his last four games, and had been a sparkplug on what has been BU’s best line of late.

It remains to be seen how long Rodrigues will be out, but his absence will certainly leave a large hole in the Terriers’ offense.

Another Slow Start
With another slow start in tonight’s game, BU struggling out of the gate is becoming a trend. The Terriers allowed two goals and struggled to get the puck out of its own end for most of the first period before taking a little bit of momentum at the end of the frame.

The first goal was the result of a lost coverage after an offensive-zone turnover by freshman forward Sam Kurker. That was followed by another missed coverage after a defensive zone faceoff that allowed forward Brandon Tanev to backhand one around Maguire.

“There’s two goals that were absolutely nothing to do with Sean Maguire,” Parker said. “But give our team credit. We came back and played hard and the last five minutes of the period we came out pretty good.”

Power play woes
The Terriers had a chance to really take momentum of the game in the second period when Providence took three penalties. However, the BU power play struggled to create any chances and failed to score on Gillies.

BU’s power play has picked up its performance as of late, scoring four times in its last two games. However, the unit did not gel as well tonight, and consistently had shots from the point blocked and sent back out to center ice.