By Kevin Dillon/DFP Sports
It was the end of the road for Jack Parker and the Boston University men’s hockey seniors Saturday night when the Terriers lost to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell 1-0 at TD Garden in the Hockey East championship. However, Saturday’s loss was just the end of the first chapter for BU’s freshmen, who give Terrier fans a lot to look forward to over the next three seasons.
One freshman who stood out in particular was goaltender Sean Maguire, who earned the loss on the night despite only allowing a single goal in 29 shots. Maguire, who took over the starting job after fellow freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor went down with a collapsed lung, shined in his opportunity as the No. 1 backstop.
In his six games he has played since finding out he would be the starter for the rest of the season — four of which were playoff games — Maguire had a .956 save percentage and 1.51 goals-against average. The Powell River, British Columbia native made more than 30 saves in four of those six starts.
“He played his best hockey when his stablemate went down, when Mattie O’Connor went down,” Parker said. “He took us to a different level. He certainly gave us a chance to win tonight, and certainly gave us a chance to win last night the way he played the last 30 minutes of the game last night.”
Despite Maguire’s strong postseason performance, he did not earn any Hockey East tournament honors. Two of his classmates — forward Danny O’Regan and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk — were named to the Hockey East All-Tournament team for their performance in the past four games.
O’Regan, who became the first BU freshman to lead his team in points on the season since Tony Amonte did it in the 1989-90 season, was second on the Terriers with four points in the tournament. He had two power-play goals in BU’s 6-3 win over Boston College Friday.
His strong performance in the tournament was just an extension of his stellar play to close out the season. Since the beginning of 2013, O’Regan totaled 27 points in 23 games, including eight multi-point games.
“I’m pretty amazed at the effort that [O’Regan’s line] brought, especially down the stretch,” said BU captain Wade Megan. “You look at Danny O’Regan and Rodrigues played a heck of a postseason for us and that line in general. You can’t ask for any more from those guys, they gave it all they had.”
Grzelcyk also made the All-Tournament team for his strong two-way defensive ability. The Charlestown native had two assists and was a plus-2 in the Hockey East tournament while making several crucial defensive plays. On one play in the third period, Grzelcyk caught up to UMass-Lowell forward Ryan McGrath on a rush and dove to poke the puck off his stick and end the scoring threat.
Hockey East recognized O’Regan and Grzelcyk for their performance on the season by naming them to the All-Rookie team Thursday night. The duo continued to prove they belonged there with their play in the tournament.
While O’Regan and Grzelcyk stood out in particular, all of BU’s freshmen had their moments in the postseason, including defenseman Ahti Oksanen and forwards Matt Lane and Sam Kurker.
Lane and Kurker in particular improved their play toward the end of the season — which Parker credited to increased ice time and confidence. In the final four games, Lane scored two of the seven points he scored all season, while Kurker notched one of his three goals on the season.
Senior forward Ben Rosen, who centered the two freshmen wingers on the third line since late January, said that the duo started playing better together once they stopped “bickering.”
“I came in there and I just tried to settle things down and calm them down and make sure that they were working together, we were working as a line,” Rosen said. “I was going to be the defensive guy and let them play offensive, obviously Lane coming from the national team, he’s a very skilled guy, and Kurks being a second-rounder, he’s a skilled guy with a lot of goals last year. “
“I let them just kind of play their game and settle things down and obviously it worked out for us.”
Kurker and Lane showed improvement at the end of this season, which bodes well for next season. With Megan gone next year, someone is going to have to move up to a top-six forward role and pick up the scoring slack.
“There’s a lot of terrific young players on this team and if you’re a BU fan I think the next couple years are going to be exciting because those guys are great hockey players,” Megan said. “I have a feeling they’re going to be back here in years to come.”