Boston University: A team without an identity — or answers

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff 

Dartmouth College coach Bob Gaudet opened up his postgame media session with one of Jack Parker’s favorite lines — “It was a good college hockey game” — but he’d likely be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Boston University dressing room who would agree.

Gaudet’s Big Green had just dispatched the Terriers, 4-2, at Agganis Arena Wednesday night, something that has turned into an all-too-familiar sight for BU, which drops to a season-worst three games under .500 at 7-10-2.

Another blown lead. Another shorthanded breakaway goal serving as a dagger. Another generally poor performance from David Quinn’s crew.

“The better team won tonight,” Quinn said matter-of-factly.

Quinn was at a loss, though, when it came to why Dartmouth — which entered the night with two wins all season — outplayed a Terrier team that in September was expected to compete for home ice in the Hockey East playoffs. He couldn’t pinpoint why BU dropped its second straight game to a sub-.500 ECAC team to open 2014 except for the Terriers, seemingly, just not having the desire.

“They need to want to win more,” Quinn said. “You’re in a corner with somebody, you have to want to win a battle. That’s all it is. And we’ve lost that along the way somehow.”

Quinn seems to have lost something along the way, too. At times in his first year at the helm, Quinn has been fired up after a loss — with the Terriers’ poorly timed penalties, their positive aggressive play and so on.

But Wednesday, Quinn was — while frustrated — almost calm in speaking to the media. He spoke lower and kept his answers short.

Sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk adopted a similar tone.

“It seems like we are not a very determined group right now,” Grzelcyk said, voice low and arms crossed. “And we need to fix that for sure.”

Quinn doesn’t know why BU lost the desire, but he does know when. It was sometime between beating Cornell at Madison Square Garden Nov. 30, the last time BU won a game, and playing at Merrimack College the following Friday.

Since then the Terriers have lost to Merrimack, tied Merrimack, lost to Bentley, lost to Harvard and, now, lost to Dartmouth.

Wednesday was another low point. Two freshman with little experience in prominent offensive positions, Dillon Lawrence and Brendan Collier, were the top two left wings due to teammates’ injuries. There was no rhyme or reason for the personnel decisions.

“I didn’t know who else to put up there,” Quinn said. “It’s at the point where you’re just trying things. … Right now I don’t think anybody played well tonight.”
The same went for sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire, who made his first start since mid-November.

“Again, I don’t really have much of an opinion right now,” Quinn said. “He made some good saves, I know that.”

BU might be able to learn something from Dartmouth. The Big Green started the season 0-8 before beating Harvard and then-No. 8 Yale back-to-back. They proceeded to stay competitive — losing three straight 3-2 games — before getting two ties before topping BU.

The 3-11-2 record doesn’t necessarily reflect it, but Dartmouth has been playing significantly better.

“That’s what killed us early in the season — mistakes, and other teams capitalized,” said Dartmouth forward Eric Neiley, the owner of that shorthanded dagger. “So we knew in order for us to win, that’s what we needed to do. We’ve been focusing on getting the puck and moving it up ice quick and having a quick transition.”

Quinn is hoping for a similar turnaround. As he has on other occasions, he guaranteed change.

“I don’t know why. And that’s my responsibility,” Quinn said. “I’ll figure it out, I think I have a good inkling why right now, and it’s going to be addressed.”

Quinn has suggested recently that his players are complacent — not complacent with where the team stands as a whole, because there is nothing in that sense to be content with, but complacent as individuals. BU has had a hard time getting and staying healthy during this down stretch, including missing forwards Evan Rodrigues, Nick Roberto and Jake Moscatel on Wednesday. With no healthy scratches, no one needs to be worried about losing their spot.

That could also be the case when BU plays Maine at Fenway Park Saturday (weather permitting), but Quinn didn’t want to get that far ahead of himself.
“I’m thinking about what we need to do tomorrow,” Quinn began, “to start getting better and start changing what’s going on right now.”

5 thoughts on “Boston University: A team without an identity — or answers

  1. BU seems to have lost all their pride in the program. Maybe most of the team should think of moving on next year. There are plenty of players who care out there who want a first class education.

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