By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The No. 13/14 Boston University men’s hockey team fell at the hands of No. 4 University of Michigan, 2-1, at Yost Ice Arena Friday night. Here is a look at some of the pluses and minuses for the Terriers in their second loss of the season.
Team discipline dooms Terriers from start
BU has made a habit of spending time in the penalty box this season, a place that they found themselves a lot again Friday night at Michigan.
It started in the first period, when the Terriers took three penalties in the first 12 minutes of the game and allowed nine power play shots. One of the penalties was a too many men on the ice penalty, which is the second one BU has taken in as many games.
Besides a penalty shot induced by a hook from sophomore forward Mike Moran, the other four minor penalties were taken by four different defensemen. Senior captain Patrick MacGregor, who was benched for the first period because of the penalties he had taken in recent games, and freshman Dalton MacAfee were the only two defensemen that did not take a penalty in the game.
One reason the penalties were so necessary was because Michigan was passing the puck so well and had chances to get open looks at sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor. Three of the four penalties were tripping penalties while the other was an interference call, all of which were to stop the fast-paced Michigan offense from getting past them.
“It’s the theme of our year so far,” said BU coach David Quinn. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Even with the Terriers struggling to stay out of the box Friday night, penalty trouble has not been as much of a problem for BU as it has been for several other teams in Hockey East. BU is eighth in the league with 12 penalty minutes per game, 10.6 minutes per game behind league leader Northeastern University (22.6).
Sloppy puck-possession play leaves Terriers without offense
Quinn has stressed all season the importance of his team making the smart, five-foot pass instead of a long stretch pass through the neutral zone looking for a big play. However, the Terriers found themselves looking for longer passes again Friday night, and it fell right into the hands of the Wolverines defense that was waiting for them.
Several Terriers tried to squeeze longer passes through a suffocating Michigan defense, in turn creating offensive opportunities for the opponent instead of their own team. Quinn also pointed out BU’s struggles with passing on the initial rush as a reason his team did not possess the puck for much of the game.
“Coming down on a 2-on-2 or a 3-on-3 in tight areas with high-risk plays and boom, they turn it over and they go the other way,” Quinn said. “Against this team that is the last way you want to play. You can’t play that way. We did it all night long. … That’s the frustrating part.
“Decision making is a big part of this game. You’ve got to make good decisions, and when we had it we didn’t make great decisions.”
Robbie Baillargeon finds the back of the net again
Freshman winger Robbie Baillargeon scored his first collegiate goal last Saturday against Wisconsin, and now he is on a bit of a streak. With less than two minutes remaining in the first period — a period in which the Terriers were outshot 14-6 — Baillargeon rifled a wrist shot over Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort’s shoulder while falling backward.
Quinn showed his confidence in Baillargeon’s abilities early when he put him on the first line with sophomore center Danny O’Regan and junior winger Evan Rodrigues, but decided a move to a line with sophomore winger Matt Lane and junior center Cason Hohmann would suit his skills better. Since joining that second line, Baillargeon has two goals and two assists and has been arguably the Terriers’ best forward.
“He’s got great skills,” Quinn said of his top-scoring freshman. “He’s a really good player. He’s going to produce a lot of offense for us.”
Matt O’Connor stands tall
The top Terrier on the night by a long shot was O’Connor, who made 42 saves in a losing effort. O’Connor was stellar on the penalty kill and 5-on-5, and made several key saves that required him to move post to post to kick the puck aside.
For more on O’Connor’s night, click here.