No. 8 BU turns it around on defense in win over Merrimack

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
NORTH ANDOVER — As Boston University students ready themselves to return to campus this weekend for second semester, it seems too that the No. 8 BU men’s hockey team decided to end its month-long break after three poor performances.
The Terriers (12-7, 9-4 Hockey East) returned to their first-semester form Friday night when they visited Merrimack College, beating the Warriors (7-9-4, 5-5-1 Hockey East) with a strong defensive effort, the complete opposite of what the team turned in Wednesday when it blew a three-goal, third-period lead against Harvard University.
We gave ourselves a much better chance to win because of the attitude we had about defense-first,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “Nobody had a hangover from what we did to ourselves against Harvard. They wanted to come back and couldn’t wait to get back and try to redeem themselves. And they did more than that tonight. It was a huge win for us.”
BU did all of the things it needed to do but could not find the motivation for against Harvard. The penalty kill was perfect, killing off all three Warrior man-advantages, the forwards backchecked when they needed to and defensemen cleared rebounds in front of their own net.
The Terriers did surrender 38 shots, but many of those were from outside high-percentage scoring areas.
No matter where the shots were from, Sean Maguire stopped all but one. The freshman goaltender made 37 saves, allowing just a Kyle Bigos goal late in the third, for his fifth straight win.
The rookie has given up just three goals in his last four games.
Another huge game for Mags,” said sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera. “He is standing on his head lately. Both guys [Maguire and freshman Matt O’Connor] are playing well, but Mags especially has taken a big step forward here. We trust playing — we trust both of them — but he has been huge for us lately. He has been kicking it really well.”
Maguire got help from the skaters in front of him who blocked 25 shots in total — one more than the Terriers took on the night.
Privitera, who is returning from his two-game suspension, led the way with nine and now has a team-high 52 on the season. No other Terrier had more than two against the Warriors
Parker, who made Privitera sit out a second game after the blueliner got an automatic one-game suspension for a game-disqualification penalty, was more than pleased.
“I couldn’t be more happy [Privitera] is back in the lineup. I hope he stays there,” Parker said. “If he doesn’t lead the league [in blocked shots], his partner [senior defenseman Sean Escobedo] does. It’s a tough duo to get a puck to the net on. I thought he played great tonight. It was great having him back.”
Parker was complimentary of all six of his defensemen — Privitera and Escobedo, juniors Garrett Noonan and Patrick MacGregor, and freshmen Matt Grzelcyk and Ahti Oksanen — after what he called “a complete turnaround” from Wednesday’s game.
“As bad as our core of defensemen were the other night, it was just the opposite tonight,” Parker said. “They played real solid, play-the-right-way type of hockey.”
One of the pieces of the defensive core was MacGregor, who has had to battle all season to get in the lineup, often splitting time with senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka.
Against Merrimack, though, MacGregor gave BU a physical presence in the defensive end. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, easily BU’s largest defenseman, MacGregor being a physical presence is often the case.
“When Pat’s in the lineup he’s physical, and we like that about him and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted him out there,” Parker said.
Senior captain Wade Megan, who himself turned in a good effort on both sides of the puck while battling a sore shoulder, said this young BU team wants to avoid the mistakes it has made recently.
The team’s break, it seems, has ended.
Credit our guys, they just played phenomenal defensively,” Megan said. All of the little stuff that we were doing in the first half is coming back now. We need to do a lot more of the same.”

From the FreeP: Megan likely out as men’s hockey plays RPI for first time in two years

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

When the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team hosts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Agganis Arena Friday night, it may have more on its mind than just another non-conference January matchup. Some Terriers — the upperclassmen — will be thinking about last time.

The Engineers downed the visiting Terriers 4-1 on Dec. 11, 2010 in a game marked by BU getting “jobbed so bad by the referees it was unbelievable,” as BU head coach Jack Parker put it, and a third-period free-for-all that resulted in several ejections.

Parker said his players probably wouldn’t remember specifics from the game.

Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo indicated otherwise.

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Terriers lead conference in penalties after Saturday free-for-all

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

DENVER — The Boston University men’s hockey team entered Saturday’s game ranked fourth in Hockey East in penalty minutes per game. By the time their 6-0 loss to the University of Denver ended, they’d roughed, kicked and tripped their way to the league lead.

Despite a relatively disciplined start to the year, the Terriers averaged 17 penalty minutes per game in their three December contests, creeping up from the bottom half of Hockey East into the top five.

Then, against Denver, BU racked up 56 penalty minutes to the Pioneers’ 35 in what became an unruly mess by the final buzzer. They now average 15.9 minutes in the box per game, sixth most in the nation.

“We took some stupid penalties, and we’re going to pay for it,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “When I watch film, people will sit out the next game for sure, anyway.”

Ten of the penalty minutes on Saturday came on a disqualification penalty to sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera, who kicked a Denver player in a scrum after the whistle. Privitera alone accounted for 19 minutes in the box before he was ejected late in the second period. Ten more came from a late game misconduct to junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor.

The Terriers’ defensemen recorded 40 of those 56 minutes in total. They might easily have had more, but junior defenseman Garrett Noonan – recently named an assistant captain – got away scot-free after he hit Denver freshman Quentin Shore from behind and continued to shove him into the boards away from the play late in the third period.

MacGregor took the punishment for that play instead when he jumped in next to Noonan, punching Shore and drawing three penalties: roughing, cross-checking, and a game misconduct. Freshman forward Matt Lane served the ensuing seven-minute penalty in his place.

Parker said he had no idea how Noonan got away with the play, and that frustration, with the game 5-0 at that point, was likely part of the reason he went after Shore.

“Guys were getting frustrated, definitely, because pucks weren’t bouncing our way, but we’ve just got to battle through,” said senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka, one of only two Terrier blueliners who didn’t take a penalty on Saturday. “You can’t lose games like that.”

Privitera entered the game with a team-leading 32 penalty minutes on the year. He’s now up to 51. While his improved defensive play has been key to BU’s success this season, his lack of discipline has hurt the team repeatedly. On Saturday, his first penalty, for roughing, came 14 seconds after BU went on a five-minute power play. Denver scored twice on the ensuing 4-on-4 to take a 3-0 lead.

With freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk already missing because he couldn’t fly back from the World Junior Championships in Russia in time, the Terriers could ill afford to lose another defenseman. But when Privitera was ejected, they had no choice but to rotate five blueliners for the remaining 22 minutes of the game.

“I think we missed [Grzelcyk] a lot, with all the penalties and everything,” Ruikka said. “I was gasping for air, especially up here in the Mile High City.”

Of the other four least disciplined Hockey East teams – the University of Maine, Providence College, Northeastern University and the University of Vermont – only Providence has a winning record (7-6-3).

Meanwhile, BU’s main rivals for the top spot in Hockey East, Boston College and New Hampshire, are the two least penalized teams in the conference. They rank 45th and 46th in the nation, respectively, in minutes spent in the box per game.

BU’s penalty kill has also fallen off recently, succeeding just 81.2 percent of the time. Regularly losing players like Privitera, who’s become a significant part of the PK, only makes it harder on the players left shorthanded on the ice.

“We just need to keep those guys calmed down, because they’re good players for us,” Ruikka said. “They contribute for us on the power play and they create plays. We need them on the ice. We can’t have them in the locker room not playing for us.”

UPDATED: Denver rocks BU, 6-0, in U.S. Hall of Fame Game

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

DENVER — The No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team might have a lot of fond memories from its five-day trip to Colorado, but its matchup Saturday night against No. 14/15 University of Denver won’t be one of them.

The Terriers (10-6, 8-4 Hockey East) got blown out by the host Pioneers, 6-0, in a game marred by blown BU scoring chances, injuries and a number of bad penalties. Sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera took four penalties — including a game-changing roughing in the first period and a game disqualification in the second — at Magness Arena in the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

It’s the first time BU has been shut out since Nov. 6, 2009, a 1-0 loss to Northeastern University.

“We were in a daze out there,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It was like we had no intensity at all in our own zone, no alertness, no focus.”

The Terriers got off to a rough start, and despite finishing the first period with a few strong shifts were down 3-0 at the end of the frame.

Denver (10-6-3) assistant captain Shawn Ostrow got the scoring started when he redirected assistant captain Nick Shore’s shot from the blue line. The power-play goal at 4:59 gave the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead.

BU looked primed to turn things around about halfway through the period when defenseman Scott Mayfield was charged with a game misconduct and a five-minute major after elbowing senior forward Ben Rosen in the head.

Rosen did not return to the game, and Parker said he “may or may not” have a concussion. Rosen will be evaluated further in the coming days.

Just 14 seconds into what should have been an extended Terrier power play, however, Privitera got called for roughing behind BU’s net. That paved the way for a pair of 4-on-4 Pioneer goals nine seconds apart to extend the lead to 3-0.

After Ostrow’s shot, sophomore Zac Larraza found the rebound and beat freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor glove side. With Privitera still in the box and BU flat on its feet, DU freshman Quentin Shore found another rebound moments later to make it 3-0

“It’s 4-on-4. It should not be a problem, but we made it a problem,” Parker said. “So you can’t blame Privitera for those two goals, you can blame him [for taking] a stupid penalty anytime you’re a man up.”

The Pioneers made it 4-0 at 14:12 in the second when Nick Shore, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, finished a series of nifty Denver passes by getting off a shot as he fell to the ice.

Then it got ugly for BU.

Privitera took three more penalties at the 17:33 mark in the second: a two-minute minor, a five-minute major and a game disqualification after getting into a scrum and then kicking Denver’s Ty Loney.

The game disqualification comes with an automatic one-game suspension, meaning Privitera will miss BU’s game vs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday. Parker indicated Privitera may miss more time after the coach gets to take a look at game film and determine how severe the penalties actually were.

With the Terriers down a forward and a defenseman for the final 22 minutes, Denver made it 5-0 at 7:10 in the third. Assistant captain Chris Knowlton picked up a loose puck a long the boards and shot from the left faceoff dot for his 11th goal of the season.

A scrum late in the third period resulted in junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor getting tossed for a game misconduct. He and junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan teamed up on Nick Shore behind the BU net, which promptly led to all of the players on the ice getting tied up.

Noonan, who was playing in his first game since being named an assistant captain, initiated the fracas when he repeatedly pushed Nick Shore to the ice while Shore was chasing a loose puck.

“We took a lot of stupid penalties and that really — we beat ourselves there,” said senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka. “Guys were getting frustrated definitely because pucks weren’t bouncing our way, but we’ve just got to battle through.”

Senior captain Wade Megan left the game in apparent pain with 3:21 to play. He grabbed his shoulder after getting tripped and falling to the ice. After the game, though, Megan was not icing the shoulder and Ruikka said the captain was fine.

The Pioneers capped off their big game with a goal from Nolan Zajac — their third of the game on the man-advantage — in the final minute to account for the 6-0 final.

The all-around lackluster Terrier performance was the third year in a row BU came out slow after the multiple week, end-of-the-semester break, losing to Notre Dame last New Year’s Eve and Brown the season before.

“Guys might get a little complacent over Christmas break,” Ruikka said. “Not be working out and skating as much as you should be. We had a really good first half I thought. Guys might have taken a little bit advantage of that. We need to get back to work and get back on the winning streak.”

From the FreeP: Penalties hurt Terriers in loss to BC on road

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

CHESTNUT HILL — Going into a weekend home-and-home series with No. 1 Boston College, the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team led the league in a surprising category: fewest penalty minutes per game, averaging 10.5.

A team traditionally known for spending time in the penalty box, the Terriers (8–5, 6–4 Hockey East) returned to their ways in a weekend split with the Eagles (11–2, 10–2 Hockey East). BU took 12 penalties — 11 of them minors — for 32 minutes in a 4–2 win Friday at Agganis Arena and followed that up with eight more two-minute minors in Saturday’s 5–2 loss at Conte Forum.

But what hurt the Terriers the most, according to BU coach Jack Parker, was the team’s inability to kill them off. The Eagles struck four times on the man-advantage Saturday night to blow the game open by the end of the second period.

“Rule number one is don’t beat yourself in any game we play,” Parker said. “And we failed badly at rule number one [Saturday]. This is a bad combination — we took a lot of penalties, and I thought a lot of them were stupid penalties, and we did a lousy job killing penalties … That was the difference in the game.”

Among the so-called “stupid” infractions were penalties that came in the heat of the moment, when the Terriers let their emotions get the best of them against their archrival.
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From the FreeP: Privitera’s strong weekend helps BU split series with No. 5/6 North Dakota

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Alexx Privitera said he did not know why the University of North Dakota student section heartily booed him during Saturday night’s game, but by the end of it he certainly gave the fans reason.

The sophomore defenseman assisted freshman forward Matt Lane’s game-winning goal — the first tally of Lane’s NCAA career — with 1:50 left in the third period to help the No. 12 Boston University men’s hockey team to a 4–2 win over No. 5/6 UND.

“That’s 120 minutes of hard effort,” Privitera said of the series split at Ralph Engelstad Arena, which started with a 4–2 loss Friday night. “We played real hard all weekend, got great goaltending in both games. Grinded it out and it worked out for us. We were a better team the second game, bar none, and the score depicted that.”

BU (4–2, 3–1 Hockey East) followed up Lane’s goal with an insurance tally from freshman forward Danny O’Regan 11 seconds later. The goal sent the Terriers home a happy bunch after a few days in the Midwest.

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