By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
The skid continues.
The Boston University men’s hockey team (7-10-2, 2-4-1 Hockey East) continued its sluggish start to the new year, as it dropped its third contest in a row by falling to Dartmouth College 4-2 Wednesday at Agganis Arena. The Terriers remain winless since the end of November when they topped Cornell University at Madison Square Garden.
Here is a look at some of the minuses (and pluses) from the Terriers’ loss.
Defensive zone turnovers
BU had trouble getting the puck out of its own end Wednesday night, and it spelled trouble in terms of it keeping possession of the puck. A smart Dartmouth forecheck baited Terriers defensemen into making longer breakout passes, and once the pass was made the Big Green player would pounce on the puck.
“I think maybe guys got a little bit careless and kind of do it all themselves a little bit,” said sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. “I think we just have to focus on keeping our heads up and moving the puck as fast as possible.”
This was seen in Dartmouth’s second goal, when freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby tried to make a long pass from the left circle of his defensive zone to the right faceoff dot outside of the blue line. The feed went tape-to-tape with a Big Green forward, who started an offensive possession that ultimately led to the game-tying goal.
Don’t look now, but the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference is becoming a problem for BU as of late. In four ECAC contests this season, BU is 1-3 against ECAC opponents this season, being outscored 16-10 in those contests.
With the loss to Harvard University on Saturday in the books, the Terriers have also lost consecutive games to different ECAC opponents for the first time since 2010, when they lost to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Brown University back-to-back.
Another shorthanded goal
In what appears to be a recurring nightmare for the Terriers, Dartmouth forward Eric Neiley capitalized on a breakaway shorthanded goal to seal the Big Green victory Wednesday night. It was this same type of shorthanded breakaway goal that sealed Harvard’s victory Saturday night, and it is the fourth shorthanded goal BU has allowed in its last three games.
It is not that the power play has been bad — it has scored five times in the last three games — but these types of defensive lapses with a man advantage are atypical of a team that has the skill at the blue line to move the puck accurately and effectively.
Hohmann keeps scoring
It has been a joyous return to the lineup for one of BU’s top point producers, as junior forward Cason Hohmann notched his second goal in as many games Wednesday night. The speedy winger was Johnny on the spot for his goal, as he followed up on a rebound after a tipped shot from senior captain Garrett Noonan to record his fifth goal of the season.
Having Hohmann back in the lineup has improved the Terriers’ offense by a goal per game, as BU averaged two goals per game in the five contests in which he was sidelined but has averaged three goals in the two games since his return.
Grzelcyk and O’Regan make impact since returning from Sweden
Grzelcyk and sophomore center Danny O’Regan were already recognized as two of BU’s best players due to their season stats — O’Regan leads the team in goals (6) and Grzelcyk leads the team in shots (61) — but they have been proving it since their return from the World Junior Championships.
O’Regan, who scored a power-play goal on a great individual effort Saturday night, added another assist on Hohmann’s goal and increased his point total on the season to 13. Grzelcyk did it in reverse order, tallying two assists in Saturday night’s game before scoring a power-play goal Wednesday night.
By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
By Michelle Jay/DFP Staff
Time/location: 7 p.m., Agganis Arena
By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Coach David Quinn wouldn’t have it any other way.
“A Wednesday night game could not have come at a better time for us,” Quinn said. “I’m actually excited we get to play [Wednesday] night. We don’t have to live with that loss. And that’s what we talked about. Hey, we have an opportunity here in the next two games to feel very good about ourselves by next Sunday.”
“That loss” was Saturday’s 7-4 decision at Harvard, and it left the Terriers (7-9-2, 2-4-1) feeling anything but good about themselves.
Junior wing Evan Rodrigues and senior wing Jake Moscatel felt particularly bad — physically. Both will miss Wednesday’s game with “lower-body injuries,” according to Quinn.
Rodrigues missed the third period Saturday after bruising his knee at the end of the second, and Moscatel gingerly skated off the ice in the final five minutes after getting crushed into the boards.
Filling those two slots are two of a handful of lineup decisions Quinn will make between now and puck drop, decisions he had not fully figured out by the time practice ended Tuesday. He wants to sit those who took egregious penalties against Harvard — the team took nine minors, tied for its season high — and he started to tinker with lines Tuesday.
“Today was our first day [all together],” he said, noting Danny O’Regan and Matt Grzelcyk had Monday off following a whirlwind schedule involving the World Junior Championships. “I tried some things with lines and I’m still not sure.”
However, the Big Green’s power play ranks ninth in the country at 22.81 percent, right behind BU (seventh, 23.29 pecent). Junior forward Eric Neiley (13 points) has four power-play goals and nine total, more than double any of his teammates.
Sophomore goaltender Charles Grant (.895 save percentage, 3.59 goals-against average) has allowed more than three goals once since early November.
“They’re a team that has rebounded from a tough start. Even though they haven’t won a lot of games, they’ve played better,” Quinn said. “Watching them, I feel the way I do about everybody else. We have to do A, B and C if we’re going to have chance to have success. They’re a team that you can’t get fooled by their record, just like anybody else. Records don’t matter.”
Yes, it sounds like coachspeak. But there is some legitimacy to it. While 2-11-2 is ugly, the wins came against Yale, one of the top teams in the country, and Harvard, which, obviously, just dismissed BU. Dartmouth also tied Hockey East foes Vermont and Northeastern.
Maguire allowed two goals in 30 minutes.
“He was aggressive,” Quinn said. “He was a good goalie, he’s always been a good goalie. I saw out of him what I’ve seen a lot this year — confident, athletic, square to the puck.”
The difference against this Ivy League opponent, Quinn hopes, is that his team shows up with “passion and enthusiasm,” something it has lacked since the start of December.
Those two unquantifiable characteristics are especially important on defense, which Quinn was disappointed in Saturday. Instead of stressing it even more in the two practices since, however, he backed off a bit, saying the team had worked on defensive drills so much of late it may have had a detrimental effect.
“It comes back to passion and enthusiasm,” Quinn said. “When you play with passion and enthusiasm, you’ll defend better. You’ll play with more oomph and more pace and more desire — and that’s what defense is. It’s a want. It’s a passion and enthusiasm. That’s why I’m anxious to see how we do tomorrow night.”