Pluses and Minuses: Freshman defensemen show inexperience in loss to No. 17 Eagles

PHOTO BY DANIEL GUAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY DANIEL GUAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Losses have been hard to come by for both No. 2/3 Boston University and No. 17 Boston College entering into Friday night’s tilt between the archrivals at Agganis Arena.

With both squads posting a combined record of 8-0-5 since the start of December, something had to give.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, a seven-game unbeaten streak was not in the cards against their Chestnut Hill foe, as the Eagles skated off the ice at Jack Parker Rink with a 4-2 victory.

As with any game, there were both positives and negatives to take away from the 267th meeting between the Terriers and Eagles.

Minuses:

BU’s blueliners reveal their youth

For perhaps the first time all season, BU’s young defenseman corps — which have supplied the Terriers with sound play, keen decision making and a consistent output of offense from the blue line — proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel.

Throughout the game, BC’s forwards used their size and skill to consistently put BU’s defensemen on their heels, specifically the Terriers’ four freshman blueliners in John MacLeod, Brandon Hickey, Brandon Fortunato and Brien Diffley.

For BU coach David Quinn, it was his team’s inability to challenge the Eagles on transition proved to be the prime culprit for his team’s struggles, as maroon and gold skaters were constantly left unchecked before breaking into the Terriers’ zone.

“Our gap was horrific,” Quinn said. “It was the number-one problem for us all night long. Our D just did not hold the offensive blue line long enough. BC’s fast, we made them look a lot faster by just backing off.

“Like I said, we looked like we had four freshmen D tonight, and that hasn’t happened very often this year, so frustrating, because it’s not how we’ve been playing, but it was the case tonight.”

Penalties prove costly

Before Friday night’s contest got underway, the opening faceoff was disrupted for a few fleeting moments after BU senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues became tangled up with a BC skater and tumbled down near center ice.

It was a telling sign for what was set to transpire.

As has been the case throughout the almost century-long discord between BU and BC, Friday night’s game was marked by physical play, post-whistle extracurricular activities and penalties abound.

Both teams combined for 17 penalties in the match — including 12 in the first period — paving the way for multiple special-team chances throughout.

In the end, the Eagles were able to capitalize off of the Terrier’s undisciplined slip-ups, notching two 5-on-3 goals and one 4-on-4 tally to jump out to a commanding 3-0 lead after two periods.

While BU managed to light the lamp with an extra skater in the third — the fifth straight game in which the Terriers have scored on the man advantage — it was “too little, too late” for the scarlet and white.

“Dumb penalties in the first period set us back, Quinn said. “We had a power play and we take an offensive-zone penalty which you just can’t have and then we take two stupid penalties right after that which we really haven’t done all year. They get a 5-on-3 goal, they get a 4-on-4 goal and then they get another 5-on-3 goal and we’re down 3-0.”

Pluses

A quick start …. And a strong finish

The Eagles might have entered into the first intermission with a 2-0 advantage, but based off of the opening five minutes of play, it seemed as if the Terriers were primed to establish themselves on the scoresheet thanks to a few scoring chances generated against BC netminder Thatcher Demko.

Ultimately, BU’s undisciplined play ended up putting an end to the team’s impressive opening display.

“I thought that we actually got off to a pretty good start,” Quinn said. “I liked our first five minutes and then the penalties.”

BU only managed to compile nine shots against Demko over the final 20 minutes of play, but made its chances count, finding the back of the net twice — thanks to goals from junior forwards Danny O’Regan and Matt Lane — to give the Terriers new life after entering the period staring at a 3-0 BC lead.

The Sasquatch Effect

Down by two goals with a little over five minutes remaining in the game, the Terriers and Agganis Arena crowd seemed to receive a shot in the arm with the arrival of BU superfan “Sasquatch.”

No more than 20 seconds after the bewhiskered BU backer made his presence felt in the BU student section, Lane tipped a rebound offering past Demko to cut the Terriers’ deficit to one and send Agganis into a frenzy.

Was there a direct correlation? Likely not. But a Sasquatch sighting is always a plus in my book.

26 thoughts on “Pluses and Minuses: Freshman defensemen show inexperience in loss to No. 17 Eagles

  1. Bad news was BU not intense enough. Good news is that we were only one goal down until the empty net goal.
    Quinn must find some way to get this team ready at the first drop of the puck.
    As for Eichel his stock must be dropping with the pro scouts as his play is very average when playing top competition. He has great hockey skills but must get himself a little “dirty” and grind more in games. He must make his own chances and not rely on others to feed him the puck.

  2. Walter, I agree with you’re assessment. Please note the BC players from The USA team were primary factors to their victory. Aparently playing after the tournament was not a negative factor. An extremely disappointing and undisplined effort by B.U. Hope they rebound Sunday. I wonder if Quinn will rest Eichel tomorrow.?

  3. I am glad I have someone to agree with me about the Eichel “resting”. This coddling of players is something Parker and Kelly would not have done. Maybe I am too old school but BC looked ready to play and wanted to beat BU. Was this true of the BU squad ? ? I don’t think so.
    I think Quinn is a great guy and can get great players to BU but he needs to unleash one of his assistants to get a little mad during the games. As I have coached I know the players follow the lead energy wise from their coaches.

  4. Walter, are you in the locker room with Quinn between periods? Do you hear what he says to the guys on the bench? Have you coached at THIS level or higher as Quinn has? Did you miss the “trash can throwing incident” in Ohio? Quinn has the perfect temperament for this game and especially this AGE. It seems some people expect this team to go from last to first in a matter of 35 games or so? Parker is a “legend” we all get it….BUT if we’re going to give props to him when they are due we also have to question his (Parkers) decisions the last 5 years that led to the demise of the great BU hockey program. Quinn has taken that MESS and has basically done a 180 with it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and this is mine. And Walter, maybe you are too old school….the players back then were not as coddled as todays “stars” Things were very different back then. ( Same as in NFL with QB tackling restrictions, etc…we’ve gone soft LOL)
    Larry, do you think it’s possible that Eichel is now only playing in “his league”? your comment about resting Eichel today is just silly. Many in the hockey world agreed with the decision including former NHL players/commentators, of Quinn resting him. (Something tells me had Eichel gotten injured in that game, you’d be screaming for Quinn’s head for deciding to play him on such short rest?)
    BC is a GREAT team, despite their record and we all know how these games go…all players somehow elevate their game when it comes to this rivalry. BC was the clear underdog and they came out on top, and deserved to.
    I am SO proud of this BU team and especially the coaches that put this team together! Quinn, Greely and Albie clearly have the same vision and they WILL put together a national championship team. Wait for it…..

    • I could not disagree with you more. I do not what game you were watching but BC out played B.U. For 45 minutes before B.U. finally woke up in the last 15 minutes. Your continued disrespect toward Coach Jack Parker is both inaccurate and not appreciated. I have been in the locker room in the past and Walter is correct . One of my mentors was Jack Kelly. He taught life lessons much more than playing hockey .Coach Quinn has proved nothing to date. As you know Eichel was Parkers recruit. I hope he improves his coaching and makes better decisions in preparing the team. FYI, the first B.C. goal should have been disallowed. Do you know why ? The coaching staff that you are so proud stood there like the Agganis statue. I hope they play better especially Eichel , who should have received an assistant on BC second goal.

      • Larry,
        In case you haven’t noticed Coach Kelly and Coach Parker have retired. Coach Quinn has taken this team from worst to first in one year. Nobody is disrespecting Coach Parker or Coach Bavis, however anyone with any hockey sense can see that the recruiting classes their last few years were awful. That’s not being disrespectful it’s being truthful.
        I grew up with Coach Kelly and the last thing he would ever do is whine and complain about a BU coach. He is the reason we have BU hockey. Every program goes through highs and lows and a true fan takes the good with the bad, they don’t sit in the stands and bad mouth the coaches and players.

        • The recruiting classes were below average primarily do to the mishandling by the B.U. administration of well publicized incidents of poor behavior that were proven untrue in a court of law. This rush to judgement and subsequent inaccurate and inflamatory Globe articles scared away many recruits. I counted around a half dozen candidates that either changed their mind or eliminated B.U. from consideration. In my opinion Quinn had a horrible first year. He has shown tremendous improvement his second year, but in my mind is still unproven. I was a team manager when Jack Kelly was coach, I know how he operates. Finally please note that Jack Eichel was a Parker recruit. In my mind the best player he ever recruited.

          • It may have been the administrations fault but it wasn’t Quinn’s. You are correct that Eichel was Jack’s pick and he may be one of the best ever to suit up for the Terriers. Did you expect him to come out and say to the season ticket holders that we are going to stink this year and don’t bother to come watch because it won’t be worth it. Act like a true fan and be supportive instead of so negative. Very rarely does a new CEO come in and turn the place into a winner in less than a year.

          • No, Dan I expected him to be honest. All he had to say is please be patient and stick with me until I properly evaluate the talent. Please do not tell me how to act. I give him credit when deserved and criticize when I believe it is necessary.If you want to be a B.U. cheerleader that is fine. I have watched this team for 50 years, and I have a right to my opinion.

          • That’s the great thing about America and you certainly do have the right to your opinion. I don’t think it’s correct but it’s my right to say it. I’m hardly a cheerleader and I have been going to games since 1965. The game and times have changed. Jack Kelly was and still is an icon but his coaching style wouldn’t cut it now. The entire team would quit before the first week was over.

          • I have enjoyed our discussion. Hope B.U. does well this weekend. A better start to each game would be a step in the right direction. Jack Kelly was tough but fair. I believe he would be smart enough to adapt his coaching stlyle . He did when he went to the Whalers.

  5. Bc deserved that game. When did i say they didn’t? i have NEVER disrespected parker so calm down. Yes he recruited eichel but what about the mess from 2010-2014? He’s human ya know.
    Quinn had proved nothing is right. What coach.can with the mess he was handed last year?? And if you’re so tight with parker ask him yourself. He’ll tell you himself!
    Enlighten us why it shouldn’t have counted, the 1st goal?
    Improves his coaching? That’s a joke right? They are ranked between 1 and 2 with most off the team being his recruits. I think you’re just one of those people who thinks no one can outshine parker. But thing is…no ones trying to. Relax will ya?

    • You cannot blame Jack for 2014. In fact Quinn himself, prior to the season, stated that he had enough talent to be competitive. Obviously, this assesment was incorrect. The lack of talent was due to the unfortunate incident that was turned out to be misrepresented by the University as proven by a court of law. Jack was made a scape goat and had his reputation ruined. I know that B.U lost at least a half dozen top notch recruits due to this incident. All those stories leaked to the Globe simply were not true. In my opinion, Jack was forced out and never really wanted to retire , especially with Eichel coming aboard. My problem with Quinn is day game prep, strategy and adjustments. I hope they improve.

  6. I dont think Quinn is the type of guy to go on record to say “this group of kids aren’t going to cut it”.
    Are we talking the “sex scandal”? I would never blame that on a coach.
    Are you like an “insider” to see the game day prep, strategies etc? I’m honestly curious, It seems those qualities are a huge part of being a coach and I would assume the BU hockey people think Quinn has those?
    Anyway, I am very positive about this team and this coaching staff and you have the right to not be. Maybe you had someone else in mind who you think would’ve been better suited, who knows. But again, everyone has their opinion and is entitled to it. These blogs are not as active as they were last year so I’m not sure I recall any negative coaching comments in the beginning of the this season. We can not expect this staff to “fix” this system in one season. How you can’t agree that they have done a tremendous job thus far is strange to me. But not every coach is perfect. (Look at Belichick last night, letting Brady stay in when they were up by what 35? And he’s considered a genius! 😛 )
    Oh and one last comment about Eichel….the kid is amazing no ifs ands or buts, however, he is now in a league where the players are not leagues below him so he is bound to not look like a superstar ALL the time. That is not a coaches fault. I saw on the jumbotrom Quinn yelling at him after that 2nd? BC goal. and I was like GOOD! Because he should’ve been mad at him.
    Anyhoo….Great game yesterday. Hockey East is THE elite league with I think 6 or 7 of them in the top 20 nationally. So that was a huge win!
    So, nice chatting Larry, no hard feelings. I have nothing but respect for Parker and his accomplishments but I also feel Quinn is going to do some pretty special things here too!
    GO BU!!! and GO PATS!

    • I have enjoyed our debate. I am glad you have a passion for B.U. Hockey. It has always been my favorite team. A great victory over the best team in the league. A slow start but great resilience lead to a come back win. Jack Eichel is special and a threat to change the game every time he is on the ice.
      My issue with Coach Quinn originated at a meet and greet with premium season ticket holders, shortly after he was named coach. I attended with my daughter and about 100 other premium seat holders. When he was introduced, he clearly stated to the room that Jack left him with talent and the team would be competitive. To paraphrase him this was not a rebuilding situation. Obviously incorrect and a little bit insulting. He had the worst record a B.U. Hockey team had in 50 years. The teams best games were against the toughest competition. They could not beat below average or average teams and many nights did not show up. I thought he had a good summer changing his staff and this year , so far so good. My concern going forward is this team seems to be one step behind at the beginning of each game. For example during the Lowell game, Lowell was stretching our defense to create odd man rushes which led to one of their goals. B. U. finally adjusted in the third period. Finally against BC I thought they were better prepared. I hope he learns and improves.

  7. I must say, having been there on Friday (as well as Sunday), during even-strength, we played BC quite well. It was the 5-on-3 situations that killed us. Which raises the question … why did the refs make BU players serve some of BC’s penalties? I thought that was odd.

    • I thought at least two of the B.U. penalties were marginal at best. Why did Quinn show no emotion or argue with the referee? What was more even more disappointing was the first B.C. goal should have been disallowed. If you watch the replay, the B.C player clearly kicks O’ Conners stick into the corner after he lost it . I believe at that point the referee whistles the play dead and gives that player penalty. I heard our former Coach was quite unhappy with the refs.

  8. It’s one thing for a ref to not call a penalty. It’s infuriating to see them call the penalty on the team that was the victim of the penalty. Oh well. On to Vermont!

  9. Hello
    So i agreev about that first goal but didn’t they review it?? Now i can’t remember lol.
    Ok as far as quinn saying jackn left him with talent. .. that is technically true…o’regan, ahti, robbie, gryz, rodriguez… Those kids have talent but when matched up against the otger d1 teams…. They were clearly missing some key talent. I thought the same thing last year as to why they could best the better teams and not the avg ones. Im not sure parker couldve done THAT much better with that yeam but again who knows.
    Ok dont get all crazy on me but i am not a big fan of OC. I think he makes some crazy saves but seems to let the soft ones in?
    We are def too slow out of the gate. They need to play 60 full minutes!
    Now as far as quinn not getting maf not sure where you were sitting but i. Was in 103 and he WAS yelling at the refs. I don’t see it too often but he let out some f bombs too! I don’t think you should feel misled by him not saying that was a rebuilding year. I’m sure he wanted to go in being optimistic and not tell season ticket holders “this is going to be a shitty season” lol.
    I can’t believe only 12 games left. Im hoping for 2 BIG w’s this weekend! ! I’ll be watching crappy terrier tv (crazy how bad that is) or maybe just following the blog.
    HI GLEN# haven’t seen u on here.
    Hope all is well!

    • There was no review of the goal! Evan more important no protest by any one on the coaching staff. I am sure Jack would have requested a review. Sorry I do believe Coach Quinn deserves to be criticized for his misleading comments. He could have been more truthful by asking for patience during his first year. I believe the majority of fans would have respected him more and lowered there expectations. He seems to hide from any interaction with alumni or fans. I was quite surprised when he skipped out on the Holiday skate with the team. Every team member was present except for him. Once again Jack was always in attendance when he was the coach.

  10. Hi Allison! I’ve been here somewhat … not quite as much as others. The college hockey season does go by so much faster than other sport seasons. I wonder why? Maybe because it’s so much more exciting than other sports! Terrier TV has its issues for sure … especially getting a frozen screen and missing live action. Having said that, I remember what it was like back in the late 1980’s. Trying to follow this team from out-of-town was a labor of love and the information was so scarce. So, while I shun much of today’s technology, I’m thrilled to have that streaming video coverage. Of course it needs improvements but I’ll gladly take it!

    By the way, are you a FOH?

  11. Well I’m hoping our season is a bit longer than everyone elses! 🙂
    I was watching Sundays game and they had just gotten the penalty in overtime to put us on the PP and all of a sudden the tracker on the right of the screen says 4-3 BU. I was like HUH?? They havent even started to PP yet….and then like 10 seconds later Eichel scores. But you’re right….its better than nothing if you can’t be there live. I am not a friend of BU but I am a LONG time fan.

  12. I wish you were able to be there in person. It was hockey theater at its best! I totally know what you mean about that tracker on the screen. That has happened to me several times this season … with good and bad news breaking onto the screen before I could see it happen. My advice is to click on “Related” so that you will not see the “GameTracker”. This way, if there is a lag between the game and what you’re seeing on your screen, you won’t see the score change before you see the goal. Another recommendation is to join the Friends of BU Hockey. It’s a great way to support the team. What I like best, and look forward to after the season ends, is the Annual Friends Banquet at the GSU. It’s a cocktail party and then a 2-3 hour dinner with Bernie Corbett as the MC … of what I consider the Oscars for BU Hockey. It’s just a magnificent experience if you are a BU Hockey fan.

  13. Thanks for the tip about the tracker!! I’ll be using that this weekend for sure!
    The banquet sounds fun! Do the players and coaches go as well of just fans?

  14. Good evening Allison. You’re welcome. The players and coaches are all there … for sure … in addition to former players, family of the players, some band members (seniors, I believe). The format wouldn’t work too well without the players LOL. Players get called up to receive awards by award-presenters. There are usually about 10-15 awards that are given out during the evening. Anyway, during the cocktail hour, there’s ample opportunity to mingle with the players (before everyone is seated for the presentation). Of course the food is excellent too!

  15. LOL yea I guess that was a dumb question lol
    That is a great thing for the program to do!
    I will definitely look into it!
    Thanks for the info!
    GO BU!

Comments are closed.