BU captain Matt Grzelcyk ‘confident in a turnaround’ in 2014-15

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
Seven months removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, Boston University junior captain Matt Grzelcyk was forced to don a red non-contact jersey during Bruins development camp last week.
MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will captain a BU team
looking to rebound from a lackluster 2013-14 campaign.
But the 5-foot-9 defenseman will once again be ready to don the Scarlet and White this fall.
The Charlestown native took part in his third development camp with the Bruins, who selected the puck-moving blueliner in the third round (85th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
While Grzelcyk was held from contact during the five-day camp held at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Mass., he was still able to take part in certain drills and showcase the agility and playmaking potential that made him one of the Terriers’ most dynamic players over the last two seasons.
Grzelcyk, who played alongside fellow Hockey East talent in players such as Boston College sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald and Northeastern sophomore defenseman Matt Benning during the camp, said that attending the event has been an important part of his offseason regiment over the past three years.
“I mean, it’s always fun to come in for a week and just learn from all the management and see what they have to say so we know what to work on when the season comes along,” Grzelcyk said after the camp’s final scrimmage Sunday afternoon.
Seeing Grzelcyk back out on the ice should serve as a relief to a BU community that last saw the defenseman play Jan. 8, 2014 in a 4-2 loss to Dartmouth College. Just days before BU’s Frozen Fenway tilt against the University of Maine Jan. 11, Grzelcyk dislocated his left shoulder in practice and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery.
The loss of a playmaker like Grzelcyk – who recorded 28 assists in 57 games with BU over the past two seasons – had a massive impact on the Terriers.
During the 19 games in which Grzelcyk dressed, the Terriers posted a lackluster record of 7-10-2. In the 16 games following Grzelcyk’s injury, BU put up a woeful 3-11-2 line.
The results looked even worse on the BU power play during Grzelcyk’s absence. In 19 games with a healthy Grzelcyk, the Terriers successfully converted on 18 of 76 power-play opportunities, good for a 23.7 percent conversion rate – one of the highest marks in the country at the time.
Without Grzelcyk quarterbacking the team out on the ice during the man advantage, BU managed just eight power-play goals in 73 chances – a shocking 10.1 percentage rate.
Despite the severity of his injury, Grzelcyk stated that his shoulder feels fine and that wearing a non-contact jersey was more of a precaution than anything during the camp.
“[The shoulder] feels 100 percent,” Grzelcyk said. “I just want to make sure I’m ready for October.”
After a disappointing 2013-14 campaign that saw BU slump to a ninth-place finish in Hockey East, the Terriers appear to be primed to make a comeback this season.
Not only does BU feature a strong returning core that includes Grzelcyk, senior forwards Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues, junior forward Danny O’Regan and sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon, but an impressive recruiting class should also provide a shot in the arm for the Terriers.
Notable members of the upcoming class include defensemen John MacLeod and Brandon Hickey, as well as standout forward Jack Eichel, who has the potential to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
For Grzelcyk, the addition of these new players should have multiple benefits during the season.
“It definitely creates a little more excitement in the locker room,” Grzelcyk said. “I think it’s good for the returning guys because we’ll have a lot of good competition in practice and stuff, so I think only good can come from it.”
Grzelcyk will take an even larger role with the team going forward, as the USNTDP product was given the title of team captain in April. Despite the honor, Grzelcyk said that he will not change his approach both on and off the ice this season.
“I’m probably just going to stick to what I’m doing, that’s what got me the recognition in the first place but it’s always nice to have that trust and belief from your teammates and coaches and things like that,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s definitely a humbling experience.”
While Grzelcyk was not able to fully participate in all of the drills and scrimmages during the camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acknowledged that he was happy with Grzelcyk’s performance as a whole.
“I thought he was good,” Chiarelli said. “He wasn’t able to participate fully, but Matt’s had a good collegiate career so far and I would anticipate that he picks it up again when he gets back. We’ve got some real good skating defenseman and he’s one of them. I was happy with it.”
The 2014-15 season may be over two months away, but Grzelcyk said that both he and the team are already focused on erasing the memories of a lackluster 2013-14 season and returning the Terriers to the top of the Hockey East standings.
“I think everyone is confident in a turnaround for sure,” Grzelcyk said. “It was a tough year with transitions and new recruits, a new coach and stuff, but I think we can use it to our advantage and kind of motivate us for the season going forward.”

Cason Hohmann undergoes shoulder surgery, should be ready for 2014-15 season

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Boston University junior forward Cason Hohmann underwent shoulder surgery on Wednesday, March 19 and will be sidelined for the next three to four months, per BU coach David Quinn. Hohmann should be ready by the start of next season.

The surgery was the result of a shoulder injury suffered in a game against the University of North Dakota on Nov. 22, 2013. The center missed five games before returning to action on Jan. 4 against Harvard University.

Hohmann was fifth on the team this season with 19 points, and will be the top returning career point scorer with 61 through his first 104 games.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, it said that Hohmann’s surgery was on Feb. 19. This was incorrect, as it should have read March 19. It has been corrected and we apologize for the error.

Three up, three down: BU’s offense comes from centers in win over Holy Cross

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Three Up

Scoring from the middle
The Boston University men’s hockey team has high expectations from its top two centers, and for good reason. Sophomore center Danny O’Regan led the team in points (38) a season ago, while junior center Cason Hohmann scored more than a point per game through the first half of the season.

The duo showed why those preseason expectations were so high Saturday night, when they each scored in the Terriers’ 3-2 win over the College of the Holy Cross. O’Regan’s goal in particular was a pretty one, as he found a seam in the Crusader’s defense and undressed goaltender Matt Ginn with a deke before backhanding the puck into a gaping goal.

It came as no surprise that the top two centers made a big impact in the game, but it was a nice sign for the Terriers that two of their top contributors are back on the scoresheet.

Nick Roberto provides spark on power play
It was not just the two returning centers that shined Saturday night. Freshman center Nick Roberto scored his first collegiate goal — second if you count the goal he scored in the preseason game against St. Francis Xavier University — and had several other scoring chances in the contest.

“He’s a guy that we’re lucky to have,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I think his best hockey is ahead of him. He’s certainly made the transition to college hockey, I don’t want to say look easy, but it’s certainly been a smooth transition for him, and he has fit right in.”

Roberto has found a nice niche as a man in front of the net on the power play, and has won several puck battles against bigger defensemen than him. If he can continue to do that, he may find himself with more of an even more prominent role than he already is.

Playing time spread throughout roster
Quinn started the year by saying that he didn’t really know much about his players, as he had only spent a few weeks with the group. After the first weekend, Quinn has gotten to know his players a lot better as every player on the roster (with the exception of third-string goaltender Anthony Moccia) earned ice time on the weekend.

After freshman forward Brendan Collier, senior forward Matt Ronan and freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby made their season debuts Friday night, sophomore forward Mike Moran, freshman forward Kevin Duane and freshman defenseman T.J. Ryan all appeared in Saturday’s game.

“I did it because I thought they deserved to be in there,” Quinn said. “From a numbers standpoint we have 14 forwards and seven D-men. It’s not like we’re dripping with bodies around here. The guys that came in tonight certainly had great nights.”

Three Down
MacGregor familiarizes himself with sin bin
The season is still young, but senior captain Patrick MacGregor has already found himself in the penalty box more at consistently high rate. MacGregor has four minor penalties through the first two games, including another two interference penalties Saturday night.

MacGregor was good defensively for the most part on the weekend, but he was also the man matched up with Holy Cross forward Mike McNamara when the Crusaders scored their first goal of the game. He will have a longer leash than most in terms of making mistakes due to his leadership abilities, but Saturday’s contest featured a few notable ones that need to be fixed come next weekend.

Ryan shaky in debut
Ryan made some nice plays, including one where he forced a turnover with a nice pinch at the blue line and created a scoring chance. However, the freshman made multiple poor decisions with the puck in his own zone that led to turnovers, and was not particularly good in one-on-one situations.

The one play in particular that stood out with Ryan in one-on-one situations was the Crusaders’ second goal, when forward Adam Schmidt faked outside and slipped inside on Ryan before being tripped up and scoring a goal from his stomach. Ryan was beaten and then tried to recover by taking a penalty*, but Schmidt scored the goal anyway.

While Ryan was not great Saturday night, it is important to keep in mind that it was only his first collegiate game and that most freshmen need time to adjust to the faster pace of play early in the season.

*Correction: Ryan was not called for a penalty on the play. The referee raised his arm for a delayed penalty as Schmidt was hooked down on the rush, but the penalty was waved off once the goal was scored.

Terriers struggle with power-play conversion
BU has scored twice in two games on the power play, but it has missed several other opportunities to cash in with a man advantage. Currently, the team’s power play percentage is at 16.6 percent (2-for-12).

It is not that the Terriers have not moved the puck well, but rather that there is nobody available to finish off the passing play. During a first-period power-play opportunity, Hohmann had the puck to Ginn’s right three times with the opportunity to shoot, but elected to pass into a crowd of defenders instead. The idea was right, in that there were forwards with open chances at the goal if the puck had reached their sticks. However, the Crusaders defenders were playing to defend the pass, leaving Hohmann with an open look at goal.

Hohmann’s power-play goal Saturday night came off of a rebound, as senior captain Garrett Noonan’s shot bounced off of Ginn’s pad and into space where Hohmann easily finished the play. Perhaps the Terriers will look to create more opportunities off of shots Friday against Rensselaer.

2013-14 men’s hockey preview issue

Thursday brought the annual hockey preview edition of The Daily Free Press, and this year all eight pages of the issue were dedicated to men’s and women’s hockey.

Be sure to grab a copy and share it with your friends if you’re on campus, but if you are not, here is a look at all of the content the issue features.

The season preview, which details what to expect from David Quinn’s first year as coach, is the first story of the issue.

Here is more background on Quinn and the path he took to go from BU hockey player to head coach of his alma mater.

Jake Moscatel dreamed of playing for BU his entire life, but getting there was not easy.

Garrett Noonan is back, he is captain, and he has business to take care of.

Sophomore year was a chance for Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann to break out. Now, they have a chance to lead.

Hockey East is only getting tougher with the arrival of Notre Dame and the emergence of UMass-Lowell and Providence. Where does BU fit in? Check out our power rankings.

On the women’s front, take a look at the season preview as Brian Durocher’s squad tries to get back to the national championship, and a profile of Kerrin Sperry, who is a leader both between the pipes and with ROTC.

What is Patrick MacGregor’s favorite pregame music? Find out in our lighthearted “Seven Questions” Q&A.

You can find the digital copy of the issue here.

From the FreeP: Terriers drop in rankings after rough weekend

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

After its two losses last weekend, the Boston University men’s hockey team fell from No. 9 to No. 11 in this week’s USCHO.com poll and from No. 10 to No. 11 in the USA Today poll. The Terriers (12–9–0, 9–6–0 Hockey East) are also now tied with next week’s opponent, Providence College, for third place in Hockey East after sitting alone in third for most of the season so far.

The Terriers’ bad weekend was a good weekend for the surging University of Massachusetts-Lowell, which moved from No. 18 to No. 15 and No. 15 to No. 12 in the two polls, respectively, with its 4–3 win over BU.

Providence is not ranked in either poll, although it received 24 votes in the USCHO.com poll.

Always a plus to have Hohmann on the ice
Sophomore forward Cason Hohmann leads the Terriers in plus-minus with a plus-17 rating. That puts him fourth in Hockey East and six points higher than the second-highest Terrier rating, which is the plus-11 of his linemate, senior Wade Megan.

Hohmann certainly is not an improbable candidate to lead that category, since he also leads BU in points (22) and assists (16). He is also tied for third in goals, with six, and has spent the year centering Megan, who leads the team and is tied for second in Hockey East with 12 goals.

For more, go to dailyfreepress.com.

Cason Hohmann’s overtime goal leads BU past RPI, 3-2

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff 

The No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team did not play like a well-oiled machine Friday night against Rensselaer Polytechnic University, but an overtime goal from sophomore forward Cason Hohmann helped the Terriers past the Engineers, 3-2, at Agganis Arena.

The Terriers (11-6, 8-4, Hockey East) continued their sluggish play from their 6-0 loss to the University of Denver in the first two periods of the game, but used a strong third period and overtime frame to come back and get their first win of 2013.

“I told [RPI coach Seth Appert] after the game if there was any justice they would’ve won this game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They played better than us in the first two periods, they had better chances, they were bumping us, they played harder. We were dipsy-doodling around. We still looked like we were in Denver.”

The Engineers (6-8-4) got on the board first with a quick play off a faceoff in BU’s zone. After RPI center Jacob Laliberte won a faceoff to his left, forward Ryan Haggerty snapped his seventh goal of the season between freshman goaltender Sean Maguire’s legs to give RPI a 1–0 lead 10 minutes into the first period.

BU answered just over five minutes later, though, with the fourth line doing the damage. Freshman forward Mike Moran picked the puck up along the right boards and drove it hard to the goal from a sharp angle. His initial chance was pushed into the slot, where senior forward Ryan Santana found it and fired it top corner.

The play was reviewed, as the referees initially thought Moran had interfered with RPI goaltender Bryce Merriam, but the goal stood as Santana’s first of the season. It was the Yorba Linda, Calif., native’s fifth goal of his career.

The game remained tied until the second period, when RPI found the back of the net again. After a strong BU penalty kill, the Engineers grabbed a bit of momentum and finally capitalized on it when forward C.J. Lee found the lower left corner on a shot from the slot. It was the senior’s second goal of the season.

RPI outplayed the Terriers through the first two periods, but BU came out of the locker room with an extra jump in its step for the third period. Part of the jump in performance had to do with Parker shaking up the line combinations and only using three forward lines, as Santana moved up to the third line and junior forward Matt Nieto moved up to replace freshman forward Wesley Myron on the first line.

The Terriers finally scored again 5:30 into the third when junior forward Sahir Gill found a rebound in front of the goal. Junior defenseman Garrett Noonan set up the play with a nice cut to the slot, and his backhanded shot set up the rebound for Gill. It was Gill’s third goal on the season.

That goal pushed the game to overtime, and it took just less than three minutes for Hohmann to score the game-winner from Gill and junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor. Hohmann waited with the puck and looked for the pass before snapping the puck into the top right corner for the game-winning goal.

While Nieto did not get a point for the game-winning goal, Hohmann and Parker credited him as a big part of the play thanks to his hard drive to the net on the two-on-one.

“Kudos to him,” Hohmann said. “He took the guy with him. The guy slid on the ice and I just waited it out and waited it out and the goalie just gave me the whole top corner. Luckily it went in.”

Merriam had a strong game for RPI, stopping 38 of 41 shots. Maguire was also solid at the other end, making 26 saves. The freshman is now 3–0 at Agganis Arena and allowed his first two goals at home in Friday night’s win.

“I thought our goaltender played very well,” Parker said. “He likes playing in Agganis Arena obviously. He’s played very well here.”

Friday also marked the debut of senior forward Jake Moscatel, who was a plus-1 in his first game as a Terrier. He played on the fourth line, which Parker said helped carry the team through the first two periods.

“[Moscatel] played hard, he bumped guys, he made nice plays, he got the puck out of the zone,” Parker said. “He did all the things you like a fourth liner to do, and he was very noticeable in a positive way.”