All photos by Michelle Jay/DFP Staff
By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
The two most important goals of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 4–2 win over Boston College on Friday came from defensemen: junior Garrett Noonan broke a scoreless tie halfway through the second period, and freshman Matt Grzelcyk put away the eventual game-winner to give the Terriers a crucial boost at the start of the third.
“Obviously Grzelcyk’s, that was the biggest goal of the game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They make it 2–1 and come out and start grinding away at us, and we immediately get the lead right back.”
But Grzelcyk also spent the night setting up plays with spot-on breakout passes, most memorably hitting junior wing Sahir Gill with a no-look pass that sent him off on a breakaway in the first.
Had Gill not tried and failed to go five-hole, Grzelcyk would now have 12 points, which would tie him with University of New Hampshire sophomore Trevor van Riemsdyk as the highest-scoring defenseman in Hockey East. As it is, his nine assists tie him for fourth in the conference among both forwards and defensemen.
Parker said it was no surprise to see Grzelcyk perform in front of 6,150 fans at Agganis Arena against BU’s biggest rival. After all, the freshman did score his first collegiate goal in the Terriers’ 4–2 loss to the Eagles on Nov. 11.
“He’s been pretty poised since he arrived,” Parker said. “He’s a pretty confident kid.”
Meanwhile, after his goal, Noonan spent most of his night mixing it up with BC forwards. If there was a crowd of players shoving and throwing punches, whether in the neutral zone or in the crease, chances are Noonan was there. Eight of the Terriers’ 32 penalty minutes were his — and that 32 is inflated by the 14 belonging to sophomore Alexx Privitera, who received a 10-minute misconduct.
“It’s good, seeing stuff like that,” Noonan said, grinning, of the various scuffles he took part in.
Temperaments aside, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Noonan to look at Grzelcyk and see a younger version of himself in some ways. Not physically, of course: Grzelcyk, at 18, is just 5-foot-9, compared to Noonan’s more imposing 6-foot-1, and accordingly, Noonan is fonder of throwing his weight around.
But both have an offensive sense that’s rare in a defenseman. Both went beyond firing big slap shots from the point on Friday – they wove through opposing defenders, Noonan cutting his trademark path down the backdoor and Grzelcyk using his speed to overpower the Eagles.
Last year, Noonan scored 16 goals, far and away the most of any Hockey East defenseman. Grzelcyk’s points thus far have mostly been assists, but he continued to show on Friday that he has as much of a finishing touch as any BU blueliner.
“He’s been awesome all year,” Noonan said of Grzelcyk. “He’s pretty special. He played great tonight again, and he’s been doing that all year. He’s one of our best players and we expect that out of him every night. He’s just a great kid and everyone’s happy to see him do that.”
By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
The No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team kept their hopes of winning the regular-season series with No. 1 Boston College alive thanks to a 4–2 win at Agganis Arena Friday night.
After losing to the Eagles (10–2, 8–2 Hockey East) in the same building on Nov. 2, the Terriers (8–4, 6–3 Hockey East) took advantage of their home ice this time around. Freshman goalie Matt O’Connor led the Terriers to the win with 35 saves in the game.
Neither team could get on the scoreboard in the first despite high shot totals for each team. BU O’Connor made 18 saves in the first while BC goalie Parker Milner made 14 of his own.
“Unbelievable goaltending by both goalies as the game was nothing-nothing for as long as it went,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “There were a lot of things happening out there, opportunities for both teams.”
The intensity of the rivalry showed to end the first period, when each team had players exchange punches. All five skaters on the ice for each team got into the scuffle and junior defenseman Garrett Noonan and BC forward Kevin Hayes were given two minor penalties apiece.
The Terriers got the scoring started 9:04 into the second period, when sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues cut across the slot with the puck and fired a shot high and wide. The puck ricocheted off the glass and onto junior forward Matt Nieto’s stick, and Nieto threw it on net before junior defenseman Garrett Noonan got the rebound in the slot for the goal.
“[Nieto] made a great breakout pass and I just carried it and shot it,” Rodrigues said, “and [Nieto] followed up, and he rang one off the post and [Noonan] followed up and batted one out of mid-air, which is nice.”
After earning an assist on the first goal of the game, Rodrigues added his name to the scoresheet again when he tallied his second goal of the season seven minutes later. The sophomore one-timed a pass from freshman forward Danny O’Regan over Milner’s glove to give BU a two-goal lead late in the second.
Rodrigues, O’Regan and Nieto started the game to match up with BC’s top line, and the decision paid off as their unit helped produce the first two goals of the game.
“[The second line] made some things happen, and they were playing against one of their best lines so they had to be careful defensively too,” Parker said. “We tried to get them out there, we tried to match up but we won’t be able to do that tomorrow.”
However, BC did not take long to add a goal of its own. The Eagles’ top line answered quickly when captain Pat Mullane knocked a rebound past O’Connor less than 40 seconds after Rodrigues’ goal. Mullane’s linemates, Johnny Gaudreau and Steven Whitney, earned assists on the goal.
The score remained that way into the third period despite a close chance for senior captain Wade Megan. Megan launched a hard wrist shot off the inside of the crossbar with four seconds remaining in the period and the play was reviewed, but the referees determined that the puck never crossed the line.
That did not stop BU from scoring an insurance goal early in the third period. Megan tipped the puck to freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in the neutral zone, and the Charlestown native did the rest, carrying the puck all the way around the net and wrapping it around the far post for his second goal of the season.
Grzelcyk’s goal was his second of the season, both of which have come against BC.
Megan added a shorthanded empty-net goal in the third, which was his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Parker said the way the team transitioned from defense to offense was one of the keys to the team’s win.
“We moved the puck out of our zone pretty well,” Parker said. “We found some guys behind them and made them stretch out a little bit … We have six pretty talented defensemen, and that is their forte that they can move the puck and that they can handle the puck.”
With the loss Friday night, BC coach Jerry York will not be able to pass Ron Mason’s record for all-time wins as a coach Saturday night at Conte Forum against the Terriers. York will try to tie the record for the second time in the final matchup of the regular season for the rivals.
If the game goes the way it did Friday night though, BU fans will be in for another treat.
“Must have been a fun game to watch,” Parker said. “I thought we played extremely well.”
Time/location: 7:30 p.m., Agganis Arena
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Evan Rodrigues
Sahir Gill – Wes Myron – Sam Kurker
Matt Lane – Ben Rosen – Ryan Santana
Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Garrett Noonan – Patrick MacGregor
Matt Grzelcyk – Ahti Oksanen
Johnny Gaudreau – Pat Mullane – Steven Whitney
Kevin Hayes – Bill Arnold – Danny Linell
Quinn Smith – Patrick Brown – Brooks Dyroff
Cam Spiro – Michael Sit – Brendan Silk
Teddy Doherty – Patrick Wey
Michael Matheson – Patch Alber
Isaac MacLeod – Colin Sullivan
Referees: Tim Benedetto, Tim Low
Assistant referees: Matt Riegert, Joe Ross
By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
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