UPDATED: BU’s season comes to end in South Bend

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Garrett Noonan lay on the ice nearly motionless. After taking a hit from University of Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns, the senior captain of the Boston University men’s hockey team needed a minute to gather himself and catch a breath. The Terriers (10-21-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) were down 3-1 with fewer than seven minutes left in the game.

Boston University defenseman Garrett Noonan and
Notre Dame forward T.J. Tynan battle for the puck.
Photo by Michelle Jay.
Noonan, despite being rattled from the previous play, returned to the ice, epitomizing the resilience of the entire team. In the end, though, ninth-seeded BU’s effort fell just short as the eighth-seeded Fighting Irish (21-12-2, 9-9-2) defeated the Terriers 3-2 at Compton Family Ice Arena in the opening round of the Hockey East tournament Saturday evening.

“None of us accepted it — accepted losing,” Noonan said. “It seems like whenever we were down we got back up. It’s an honor to say I got to play with those guys.”

For the first half of the game, the Fighting Irish started exactly where they left off two weeks ago, scoring two goals and shutting down BU’s offense.

Notre Dame initially got on the board after center T.J. Tynan pickpocketed sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen in BU’s zone. Tynan, who brought the puck over to the left circle, then sent a pass to his linemate, Bryan Rust, on the right side of the goal. After deking around sprawled-out BU goaltender Matt O’Connor, Rust flipped his shot into the left side of the net.

After the goal, the Terriers had two power-play opportunities — including one that carried over into the opening seconds of the middle frame — but the team failed to even record a shot with the man-advantage.

“You can feel it deflate the bench,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I think that’s happened to us over the last month because our power play has not been good. Not only has it not produced from a numbers standpoint, we haven’t looked good on it.

“You can just feel it on the bench, it kind of demoralized us.”

Having failed to convert on the power play, the Terriers needed to fend off the Fighting Irish after BU registered two penalties over the course of a three-minute span. Seconds after the team killed off the second penalty, though, Notre Dame increased its initial lead after left wing and captain Jeff Costello sent a shot from the right circle that went through O’Connor’s five-hole.

The score mirrored the previous meetings between the teams where the Fighting Irish defeated BU 2-0 in back-to-back games. The similarities ended with fewer than four minutes left in the frame, though, when junior wing Evan Rodrigues found the back of the net, snapping the team’s scoreless streak against Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays that had lasted roughly 155 minutes.

After putting multiple shots on Summerhays near the crease, Rodrigues finally broke through when he picked up his own rebound and notched it into the left side of the goal, making it a 2-1 game.

While that goal gave the team confidence, according to Quinn, it did not last for long as Notre Dame once again took a two-goal lead over the Terriers in the opening minutes of the third period.

As the game neared its end, though, the Fighting Irish gave BU an opportunity. With wing Mike Voran already in the penalty box for tripping, Johns hit Noonan, giving BU a 5-on-3 advantage for 51 seconds.

Although Noonan originally came off the ice with the help of a trainer, the defenseman stayed on the bench and eventually made his way back on the ice during the ensuing power play. With the Voran penalty having come off the clock just 11 seconds earlier, Noonan sent a pass over to freshman center Robbie Baillargeon, who bounced his shot off the back of the net, making it a one-goal game once again.

Despite pulling O’Connor for the final 1:19 of the game and a breakaway chance by freshman wing Nick Roberto, though, the Terriers could not complete the comeback.

As the final buzzer sounded, Noonan and several other Terriers glided down toward their goal hunched over with their season — and for some of them, their BU careers — having just come to an end.

“I think we’re all crushed,” Noonan said.

Live Blog: Terriers face Notre Dame in first round of Hockey East Tournament

Time/location: 7 p.m., Compton Family Ice Arena

BU lines:
Evan Rodrigues – Robbie Baillargeon – Danny O’Regan
Matt Lane – Cason Hohmann – Kevin Duane
Brendan Collier – Mike Moran – Nick Roberto
Tommy Kelley – Dillon Lawrence – Jake Moscatel

Garrett Noonan – Matt Ronan
Ahti Oksanen – Patrick MacGregor
Doyle Somerby – Dalton MacAfee

Matt O’Connor
Anthony Moccia

Notre Dame lines:
Sam Herr – T.J. Tynan – Bryan Rust
Jeff Costello – Steven Fogarty – Peter Schneider
Mario Lucia – Vince Hinostroza – Austin Wuthrich
Ali Thomas – Thomas DiPauli – Mike Voran

Kevin Lind – Stephen Johns
Shayne Taker – Andy Ryan
Eric Johnson – Jared Beers

Steven Summerhays
Joe Rogers
Chad Katunar

Referees: Mark Wilkins, Jeff Bunyon
Assistant Referees: Marc Sullivan, Jeremy Lewis

Live blog:

From the FreeP: Men’s hockey prepares for win-or-go-home tilt with Notre Dame

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

For just the second time this season, the Boston University men’s hockey team will enter a weekend with a chance to win three consecutive games. When the Terriers take to the ice Saturday though, they will have more pressure on them than just starting a streak as they take on the University of Notre Dame in a single-elimination game at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.

The Terriers (10-20-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) start the first round of the Hockey East playoffs after a weekend of firsts – the first time they swept a team this season and the first time they won a game on the road. The team accomplished those feats in the home-and-home series with Northeastern University despite benching several players over the course of the two games because of a violation of a team policy.

“I think we started to play some winning hockey,” said BU coach David Quinn. “There is a difference between playing well and playing winning hockey, and I think we did the things you need to do to win more often on Friday night and Saturday night than we have in the past.

“We were controlling play. We were in their end a lot. We had the value of zone time and patience and things we are going to have to do this weekend.”

For more, read dailyfreepress.com

Terrier seniors skate off Garden ice for final time without a trophy

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

There are a lot of ways to classify the members of the Boston University men’s hockey Class of 2013: best friends, leaders and even professional prospects, for some of them.

But there is one thing the seniors are not: champions.
With a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in Saturday’s Hockey East title game at TD Garden, BU (21-16-2) wrapped up its fourth consecutive season without a major tournament championship.
For captain Wade Megan, Sean Escobedo, Ben Rosen and Ryan Santana — the final four of what was originally a group of seven in the fall of 2009 — it was the end of their careers donning scarlet and white, four years without a single Beanpot, Hockey East regular season crown, Hockey East tournament title or national championship.
I didn’t think I’d be leaving BU without any trophies,” Megan said. “But the group of guys we had and the senior class this year was pretty amazing.”
The official senior class also includes fifth-year assistant captain Ryan Ruikka, who came to BU in 2008, and Jake Moscatel, who joined the team at the halfway point last season and will likely be back next year. But for the quartet that started together and ended together, Saturday’s loss, which also ended Jack Parker’s BU hockey career, served as the final dip after four years of peaks and valleys.

There was the low of the 2009-10 team that barely finished over .500 a year after winning the national championship, and the low of failing to get out of the Hockey East quarterfinals as sophomores the next year.
The Terriers looked like one of the best teams in the country at times when this group was juniors. Then they lost a pair of teammates to legal issues and had another quit on them — all in the middle of the season. The team pulled together and even managed an NCAA tournament bid.
Two members of the Class of 2013 ended their tenure at the school early for more joyous reasons — Alex Chiasson signed with the Dallas Stars in April 2012, then Justin Courtnall signed with the Providence Bruins in August — before another valley. A task force, commissioned following the arrests of a pair of players, slapped the well-documented “culture of sexual entitlement” label on the program last fall.
For a time, seniors’ final campaign seemed destined to be its best yet.
With a large freshman class, a miserable slump that consumed most of the second half and having two more teammates quit mid-season, the Terriers managed to finish in the top half of the conference standings.
The Terriers powered through Merrimack College in the quarterfinals, and even came from behind to beat rival Boston College in the semifinals.
But Saturday night, with a trophy on the line, BU couldn’t come through.
“It’s something you think about. It gets brought up a lot,” Rosen said of the championship drought. “But obviously we’ve been through a lot and we’re still here, and to make it to the Garden … it’s just a testament to how strong we’ve been as a senior class and as a team in general.”
The scene on the Garden ice after the game was a familiar one — a celebration and pure bliss on one end, disappointment and hunched-over bodies at the other.
“The last two years have been pretty tough, losing classmates and things like that,” Escobedo said. “But I think it has just made us closer as a unit. Even this year a couple guys have left early, but it has just made us a tighter unit and I think Coach is a big part of that.”
Parker, though, gave his squad a lot of credit. He told the team in the dressing room he was “proud to be their coach this year.”
“And I mentioned that I was happy that Wade Megan was my last captain, because he was a hell of a captain,” Parker said. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of those types of guys over my career here, over 40 years here. He was a terrific captain for us.”
“This wasn’t a hugging fest or a goodbye fest. We’ll see each other,” Parker continued. “It was more like any other time you lose your last game of the season. Kids are crying in the dressing room. They wanted to win it for the seniors, they wanted to go a little longer, they wanted to get a trophy.”
But as Megan put it, “It wasn’t meant to be.”
The seniors’ lasting legacy is yet to be determined. Will they be remembered as a troubled class, marred by people’s memories of the task force? One that failed to win anything on the ice? Or simply as Parker’s last?
Only time will tell for sure, but Megan has one idea.
With glassy eyes and a stare off into the distance, Megan found something else for the seniors to hang their collective hat on: laying a foundation for the future.
“What we did leave for this organization is we hopefully showed the freshmen and the younger guys what it means to wear the uniform and what it means to be a BU hockey player,” he said. “That’s very important to us. I think we did a good job of that.”

Freshmen finish season well, signal bright future for BU hockey

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.”

Live blog: BU, UMass-Lowell compete for Hockey East championship

Time/location (TV): 7 p.m., TD Garden (NESNPlus, NBCSN)

BU lines: 
Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Sahir Gill
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Evan Rodrigues
Matt Lane – Ben Rosen – Sam Kurker
Mike Moran – Ryan Santana – Jake Moscatel
Sean Escobedo – Ryan Ruikka
Garrett Noonan – Patrick MacGregor
Matt Grzelcyk – Ahti Oksanen
Sean Maguire
Anthony Moccia
UMass-Lowell lines:
Ryan McGrath – Riley Wetmore – Derek Arnold
Scott Wilson – Michael Fallon – Terrence Wallin
Shayne Thompson – Colin Wright – Adam Chapie
A.J. White – Joseph Pendenza – Josh Holmstrom

Greg Amlong – Chad Ruhwedel
Joe Houk – Christian Folin
Zack Kamrass – Jake Suter

Connor Hellebuyck
Doug Carr

Referees: Scott Hansen, Jeff Bunyon
Assistant referees: Bob Bernard, Marc Sullivan
Live blog:

With win over BC behind them, Terriers look ahead to Lowell

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff 

The Boston University men’s hockey team didn’t do a whole lot of celebrating at TD Garden Friday night.

Yes, the third-seeded Terriers came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat second-seeded Boston College, 6-3, in the Hockey East semifinals. Yes, they have won five in a row and seven of their last eight. And yes, they have extended Jack Parker’s career by at least one more game.

But the Terriers (21-15-2) still have a tall task in front of them — and they know it.

That tall task is in the form of top seed University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the only team in the conference to sweep BU in the regular season. The Terriers and River Hawks (25-10-2), who beat Providence College 2-1 Friday night, will square off at the Garden 7 p.m. Saturday night with the Hockey East championship on the line.

“We haven’t beaten them yet,” said freshman forward Matt Lane. “But it’s tough to beat any team four times in this league, so hopefully it will be a different outcome.”

A different outcome, the Terriers hope, than the aggregate 10-4 edge the River Hawks held in the three regular-season game. In two of those games — a home-and-home series Feb. 22-23 — BU’s offensive effort was particularly futile, getting outscored 6-1 and collecting just 41 shots in the two games.

That weekend, Lowell’s trap defense gave BU fits. It had a hard time breaking in UML’s defensive zone, and when it did it often had to settle for shots from the perimeter.

When those shots did get through — and the River Hawks are in the habit of blocking a ton of shots — the last line of defense for Lowell, freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, was more often than not up to the challenge.

Hellebuyck, who Friday was named to the All-Hockey East Second Team, has played in just 20 games after battling first for playing time early in the season and then injuries later on.

Still, his save percentage (.946) and goals-against average (1.46) are tops in the league.

“They’re tenacious defensively. They don’t spend a lot of time in their zone,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They block a lot of shots in front of their goaltender, they really pack it in, and they play a little different style of d-zone coverage than most other teams do. We’re going to have to adjust from what we saw tonight [vs. BC] to what they play.”

But here’s the thing about Lowell: They do that to everyone. Widely considered one of the best and hottest teams in the country, UML is 21-3-1 since Dec. 8.

Saturday’s matchup will be a rematch of the 2009 Hockey East championship game, a 1-0 Terrier win. It was also the last time either team made the finals.

There are a number of similarities between that game and Saturday’s, notably that BU is starting a freshman goaltender who has caught fire since his classmate went down with an injury.

Last time around, Kieran Millan took over the starting job in November when Grant Rollheiser got hurt in November 2008. This time, Sean Maguire has turned it on the last five games since Matt O’Connor was officially out for the rest of the season after suffering a collapsed lung.

There are many differences between those seasons — namely, BU was the best team in the country from start to finish in 2008-09, while this year’s team has taken more than its fair share of lumps — but the goal remains the same: Take home the trophy.

That sure is on junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan’s mind after scoring a power-play goal in his first game back from a separated shoulder.

Questioned on what it meant to hand rival BC its first loss at TD Garden after 14 straight wins, it didn’t take long for Noonan to change the subject.

“It’s obviously good to beat BC in the Garden — I don’t know if we have yet in my career here,” Noonan said. “I don’t know.

“The job’s not done yet. We need to win tomorrow.”