BU to play Maine in 2014 edition of Frozen Fenway

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team will take part in its second Frozen Fenway game, this one against the University of Maine, as part of a two-week series of hockey and skating events at Fenway Park in January 2014.

The City of Boston, the Hockey East Association and Fenway Sports Management announced this third edition of Frozen Fenway on Thursday. BU played Boston College in the inaugural event on Jan. 8, 2010, topping the Eagles 3-2 in front of 38,472 fans. That crowd was the largest ever to watch a college hockey game in the eastern U.S.

“It’s truly an honor to be part of Frozen Fenway once again,” said BU assistant vice president and director of athletics Mike Lynch. “We couldn’t have asked for a better night back in 2010 when we started this event against Boston College. We’re thrilled to team up with Hockey East, Fenway Sports Management and the City of Boston for what should be another fantastic game against Maine in this edition’s finale.”

The BU-Maine game at Fenway on Jan. 11, 2014 will headline the second of two Hockey East doubleheaders that week. Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell will play earlier in the day on the 11. Game times and ticket information will be announced in the coming months.

Merrimack College will play Providence College on Jan. 4, followed by a matchup between BC and the University of Notre Dame that evening. Public skating, which was part of the event in years past, is also expected to be part of the festivities.

“We are excited about the return of hockey to Fenway Park,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. “We are particularly pleased that with these two doubleheaders, all of our men’s programs will have had the opportunity to experience Frozen Fenway, including the University of Notre Dame, our newest member.”

From the FreeP: Goalie duo impresses in rookie campaign

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

For all but the luckiest hockey teams, goaltending is often a question. The Boston University men’s team found an unconventional answer this year, using freshmen Sean Maguire and Matt O’Connor as complementary pieces in net for most of the season.

While resolution in the form of a clear No. 1 goalie never came, both were good enough that rotating them was logical. BU goaltending coach Mike Geragosian said he thinks the competition was also the best way for both to develop, each pushing the other to stay sharp.

“I don’t think it’s a [Kieran] Millan-[Grant] Rollheiser roommate situation,” Geragosian said. “I think there’s mutual respect for each other, but there’s also mutual compete, that, ‘Hey, if you don’t play well, I’m going to play well.’

“And that’s what’s great about these two. They’re only going to get better because of that drive, versus, ‘Oh, I’m happy not playing.’”

Maguire eventually started 21 games to O’Connor’s 18 because O’Connor was out for the season after being hospitalized in early March with a collapsed lung. O’Connor made 10 of BU’s first 15 starts as Maguire worked out some early kinks, but they split time from January through the end of February.

By the numbers, each played better when starting every game, or at least the majority of the games. Between Oct. 26 and Dec. 6, when O’Connor started all but three of BU’s 12 games, he had a .924 save percentage, compared to .910 on the year.

The change was even more extreme in Maguire’s case. When O’Connor was scratched from his scheduled start on March 2, Maguire started consecutive games for only the second time all year. He then started the next six, putting up a .957 save percentage in those eight games, including four in the postseason, to bring his overall save percentage up to .926 on the year.

Those numbers are not everything — Maguire’s late run was the product of improvements he made all year, and it would have been tough to maintain the success O’Connor had early over an entire year, regardless of how often he played. But they do illustrate the balancing act involved in developing two successful goalies.

For more, including a look at what Maguire and O’Connor said about sharing the job and what might be in store next year, go to dailyfreepress.com.

From the FreeP: Parker’s career ends with inconsistent 2012-13 season

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

Jack Parker’s last season as the Boston University men’s hockey coach will be remembered for that reason alone. It will also be recalled as a hard season to figure: The Terriers, despite their youth, played a strong first half, a nearly perfect month of March wand a six-week stretch between those two that doomed their year.

“If you told me at the beginning of the year we would have gone to the Hockey East championship game, with as young a team as we had, I would have said that’s a pretty good year,” Parker said. “But not the way it unfolded. The bookends were pretty good. The six-week span in January was the ‘blah.’”

BU (21-16-2, 15-10-2 Hockey East) began the season dressing nine freshmen regularly. The team later lost center Wesley Myron to the ECHL, but nearly every other rookie made significant contributions in the end. With the amount of playing time they got, they had no other choice.

Freshman Danny O’Regan proved himself a top-six center and led the team with 38 points. Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk finished with 23 points, third among all Hockey East defensemen. In net, both freshmen Sean Maguire and Matt O’Connor played well enough to start alternating games all year, until O’Connor suffered a collapsed lung near the end of the season.

“I remember thinking that we had to have either [sophomore center Cason] Hohmann or [Yasin] Cissé make a big jump from the year before, and we had to have either Myron or Danny O’Regan play on the first two line centers,” Parker said. “As it turns out, Hohmann made a big jump and O’Regan played great.”

Between the freshmen jumping in and older players, including Hohmann and senior captain Wade Megan, starting off hot, BU went 10-5 in the first semester against the nation’s toughest schedule. It faced Boston College and the University of New Hampshire three times and the University of North Dakota twice, beating each once.

For more, including a look at why BU may have struggled so much in the middle of the season, go to dailyfreepress.com.

Matt Nieto looking for new challenges with Sharks

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

After foregoing his senior season to sign an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks, Matt Nieto said he’s ready for a new challenge beyond what college hockey can offer him.

“I think that’s what it came down to – I want to challenge myself, and I thought that it was better for my development as well,” Nieto said Monday after joining the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s AHL affiliate.

Nieto said he’s been weighing his options since BU’s season ended on March 23 and only decided to sign with the Sharks “recently.” Outgoing head coach Jack Parker and incoming coach David Quinn had both been notified of his decision by Monday.

“It was up in the air,” Nieto said. “All year I was just trying to focus on winning. I was just waiting till the end of the season to make a decision.”

San Jose drafted Nieto in the second round (47th overall) of the 2011 draft. He said the three-year deal he signed is worth $833,000 per year.

The 20-year-old wing also said he plans on finishing the remaining courses he needs to earn his BU degree over the next few years.

In his junior year, Nieto put up 18 goals and 37 points, with 28 of those points coming after Jan. 4. From mid-February to the end of the season, his line, with sophomore wing Evan Rodrigues and freshman center Danny O’Regan, was BU’s best, with all three playing significant roles both on the power play and at even strength.

O’Regan was also drafted by the Sharks, in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2012 entry draft. Nieto said with a laugh that it would be exciting to play with O’Regan again at the professional level in the next few years.

Nieto said he didn’t consider leaving BU after his sophomore season, in which he had the second-most points of any Terrier (42) and tied for the second-most goals (16) in 37 games. Known as a streaky scorer, he said sticking around for his junior year helped him in a number of ways.

“I definitely gained maturity,” Nieto said. “I think, along with that, I struggled at the beginning of the year. I know one of my weaknesses is that I need to be more consistent, so I think there’s a lot of things that I can use moving forward from this season.”

Matt Nieto to sign with San Jose Sharks Monday

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

Junior Matt Nieto will begin his professional career and sign an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks Monday, according to his mother, Mary. The forward reported to Worcester to sign and join the Sharks’ AHL affiliate.

The 6-foot, 192-pound left wing has already alerted Jack Parker and David Quinn, tabbed to be the new Boston University men’s hockey coach last week, of his decision.

Nieto’s decision to forgo his senior year comes just nine days after the conclusion of a season in which he led the team in goals (18) and finished second in total points (37) behind linemate and fellow Sharks prospect Danny O’Regan. Nieto struggled for much of the season but turned it on down the stretch, netting 28 of his 37 points after the new year.

The decision caps a three-year career in scarlet and white, highlighted by a 42-point (16 goals, 26 assists) as a sophomore. He netted 10 goals and 13 assists as a rookie in 2010-11.

The Long Beach, Calif., native was drafted by the Sharks in the second round (47th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.