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.
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.”

Danny O’Regan, Matt Grzelcyk look forward to chance at U.S. World Junior roster

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

A couple of Boston University men’s hockey players will be turning in their scarlet and red for red, white and blue later this month, as sophomore forward Danny O’Regan and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk were named to the 26-man preliminary roster for the 2014 United States National Junior Team Wednesday.

O’Regan and Grzelcyk will participate in training camp from Dec. 15 through Dec. 18 at the University of Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena and are looking to remain on the final 23 players going to the tournament in Malmo, Sweden from Dec. 26, 2013 through Jan. 5, 2014. For more on the U.S. team, check out Chris Peters’ United States of Hockey blog.

BU coach David Quinn, who helped the U.S. to a bronze medal in the 1986 World Junior Championship, said he was excited for O’Regan and Grzelcyk to play in the tournament.

“Every time a guy goes and plays in the World Junior tournament and comes back, they’re better players,” Quinn said. “It happened to me, it happened to me when I was here. It happens to those guys when they go and they become better players. Playing on that stage against the competition, you just come back with a whole new level of self-confidence and it really helps you.”

Grzelcyk, who was the final cut from the 2013 U.S. team that won the gold medal in Ufa, Russia, said last year’s experience has helped his mindset entering this year’s camp. The Charlestown native has one goal and six assists through 14 games this season with BU.

“I think just being at the tournament and even just seeing it from a bird’s eye view and just getting a feel for the atmosphere at the tournament and stuff like that gives you a little more confident going into camp,” Grzelcyk said.

“I think just [the 2013 U.S.] team was obviously really great, they won the gold. I don’t really hold much of a grudge at all. Obviously they made the right decision.”

O’Regan, who led the Terriers in scoring last season and is tied for the team lead in goals this season with five, was not among those invited to training camp last season. However, he had played with the U.S. U-18 team in 2011-12, and totaled 10 points in 14 games with the squad.

“Just seeing my name on the list was truly an honor,” O’Regan said. “Everyone is a great player, so yeah I’m just really excited to be on the list and to be going to the camp in Minnesota.”

BU recruit Jack Eichel was also named to the preliminary roster. Eichel is the youngest player on the roster, as he was born Oct. 28, 1996. However, he has some high expectations for the tournament based on his play with the U.S. National U-18 team this season, as he has totaled 17 goals and 35 points in 19 games for the team.

Grzelcyk said he has played with Eichel, who is from North Chelmsford, in a couple of tournaments and a Wednesday night league.

“He’s a really good kid and obviously he’s really talented to be the youngest guy there,” Grzelcyk said. “So it’s a true honor for him.”

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.”

Breaking down the HEWBA and Boston Hockey Blog Hockey East awards

The Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association announced Wednesday the organization’s year-end awards as voted on by members of the media who cover the conference in a variety of capacities. Boston College sophomore Johnny Gaudreau took home Player of the Year honors while Providence College goalie Jon Gillies was tabbed Rookie of the Year and UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin Coach of the Year.

The complete results, followed by the ballots of each of the Boston Hockey Blog writers, are as follows.

Player of the Year: Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College, (Runner-up: Jon Gillies, Providence College)
Coach of the Year: Norm Bazin, UMass Lowell (Runner-up: Nate Leaman, Providence College)
Rookie of the Year: Jon Gillies, Providence College (Runner-up: Kevin Roy, Northeastern)

All-Hockey East First Team
*Johnny Gaudreau (So.), Forward, Boston College
Steven Whitney (Sr.), Forward, Boston College
Mike Collins (Jr.), Forward, Merrimack College
Trevor van Riemsdyk (So.), Defense, New Hampshire
Chad Ruhwedel (So.), Defense, UMass Lowell
Jon Gillies (Fr.), Goaltender, Providence College

All-Hockey East Second Team
Kevin Goumas (Jr.), Forward, New Hampshire
Pat Mullane (Sr.), Forward, Boston College
Joseph Pendenza (Jr.), Forward, UMass Lowell
Jordan Heywood (Jr.), Defense, Merrimack College
Mike Matheson (Fr.), Defense, Boston College
Connor Hellebuyck (Fr.), Goaltender, UMass Lowell

All-Hockey East Rookie Team
*Danny O’Regan, Forward, Boston University
*Kevin Roy, Forward, Northeastern
Devin Shore, Forward, Maine
*Mike Matheson, Defense, Boston College
Matt Grzelcyk, Defense, Boston University
Jon Gillies, Goaltender, Providence

* = unanimous selection

Kevin’s picks
Player of the Year: Johnny Gaudreau
Coach of the Year: Norm Bazin
Rookie of the Year: Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East First Team
Johnny Gaudreau – Mike Collins – Steven Whitney
Trevor Van Riemsdyk – Mike Matheson
Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East Second Team
Joseph Pendenza – Pat Mullane – Evan Rodrigues
Sean Escobedo – Eric Knodel
Casey DeSmith

All-Hockey East Rookie Team
Kevin Roy – Danny O’Regan – Devin Shore
Mike Matheson – Matt Grzelcyk
Jon Gillies

Picking Johnny Gaudreau over Jon Gillies was a tough choice for me, but in the end Gaudreau was just the most impressive overall player in the league this season. He led the conference with 36 points in 27 Hockey East games while tying for the league lead in game-winning goals (five). It is tough to compare goalie statistics with player statistics, but Gillies was only third in Hockey East in goals-against average (2.17) and save percentage (.929) during Hockey East play.

Mike Matheson earned the spot on the First Team because of his play in his own defensive end as well as his offensive ability. The freshman was tied for second in the league in points by a defenseman with 17, but his plus-18 plus-minus rating bumped him up to the First Team. Sean Escobedo earned a spot on the Second Team thanks to his performance in his own zone this season. Escobedo led the league in blocked shots (76) and was relied upon heavily whenever his team had to preserve a lead.

It was tough to leave Kevin Goumas off of my Second Team, but Joseph Pendenza and Evan Rodrigues were simply better in Hockey East play. Pendenza scored two more goals than Goumas while playing on a team that played all four forward lines consistently, while Rodrigues scored four more goals and had a league-best plus-16 rating.

Some honorable mentions include Goumas, Chad Ruhwedel, Matt Nieto, Jordan Heywood, and Connor Hellebuyck.

Tim’s picks

Player of the Year: Jon Gillies
Coach of the Year
: Nate Leaman
Rookie of the Year: Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East First Team
Johnny Gaudreau – Kevin Goumas – Mike Collins
Trevor van Riemsdyk – Mike Matheson
Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East Second Team
Matt Nieto – Pat Mullane – Steven Whitney
Sean Escobedo – Chad Ruhwedel
Casey DeSmith

All-Hockey East Rookie Team
Kevin Roy – Danny O’Regan – Devin Shore
Matt Grzelcyk – Mike Matheson
Jon Gillies

For my picks, I used players’ performance throughout the season — not just Hockey East play. There were surely plenty of strong choices, and none of mine are outlandish, but here I’ll elaborate on a few.

My picks of Jon Gillies for player of the year and Nate Leaman for coach of the year were simple: They lifted Providence to within a win of the Hockey East regular-season title in a season when the Friars weren’t supposed to have a chance. Gaudreau, the other obvious choice for player of the year, was far from alone in helping BC to the No. 2 seed. It’s similar for Norm Bazin. Don’t get me wrong – he has done a spectacular job turning Lowell around in just two seasons – but it was much less of a surprise after they tied for second in 2011-12.

My Second Team has what could be a couple surprise choices in Matt Nieto and Casey DeSmith. Nieto, though, put BU on his back down the stretch is it clinched home ice in the quarterfinals. His seven-game point streak (which included two playoff games, granted) featured nine goals and four assists to launch him to tied for seventh in the conference in scoring. For DeSmith, it was mostly a matter of a lack of other choices. Many voted for UMass-Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck, but he started just half of the River Hawks’ 36 games. 

Annie’s picks
Player of the Year: Johnny Gaudreau
Coach of the Year: Norm Bazin
Rookie of the Year: Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East First Team
Steven Whitney – Johnny Gaudreau – Kevin Goumas
Trevor van Riemsdyk – Jordan Heywood
Jon Gillies

All-Hockey East Second Team
Pat Mullane – Danny O’Regan – Kevin Roy
Michael Matheson – Sean Escobedo
Connor Hellebuyck

All-Hockey East Rookie Team
Kevin Roy – Danny O’Regan – Devin Shore
Michael Matheson – Matt Grzelcyk
Jon Gillies

Although I eventually went with Gaudreau for Player of the Year, my decision essentially came down to a coin toss between him and Gillies. While Nate Leaman has surely led the Friars well, I attribute their playoff run, and their success all year, much more to Gillies’ play, so Norm Bazin was an easy Coach of the Year choice for me. 

I left Mike Collins off my first team, where many others had him, mainly because of the way he tailed off at the end of the year as Merrimack fell out of the race for home ice. He had just two points over the regular season’s last seven games. (I also made my decisions based on overall stats, not just conference.)

I like Kevin’s choice of Rodrigues on the second team, but I couldn’t quite pick him over O’Regan or Roy in the end. O’Regan has been arguably BU’s most consistent forward this year. He led the Terriers in scoring with 34 points in the regular season and hasn’t gone more than two games without a point all year – all as a freshman who didn’t turn 19 until Jan. 30.

And Roy deserves recognition as by far the best player on a last-place team. His 1.17 points per game  is the third best in the conference, despite him being part of the eighth-best offense. With a better supporting cast, he might well have been able to put up the kind of numbers that would have earned him my ROY vote over Gillies.

Three up, three down: BU defense stifles Merrimack, but Terriers still have work to do

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team took the first necessary step forward of the postseason on Friday, beating Merrimack College 3-0 at Agganis Arena in the first game of the Hockey East quarterfinals. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU in Game 1.

Three up
Peppering Marotta 
BU hit Merrimack junior goalie Sam Marotta with 45 shots Friday, and attempted a total of 77 compared to the Warriors’ attempted 50. In the second and third periods, they had 20 Grade-A chances to Merrimack’s four.

Although BU coach Jack Parker praised the Warriors’ energy in the first period, BU outshot them 13-7 even in that frame. The Terriers picked up the pressure from there, registering 15 shots in the second and 17 in the third. Marotta had a .933 save percentage on the night, stopping 42 shots, but that wasn’t enough to earn his team the win.

“We looked pretty sharp with the puck, played hard without it, and I liked our grit, and I liked our poise with the puck,” Parker said.

Defense creates “hole in the middle”
For most of the game, BU’s defensemen kept Merrimack to the perimeter in the offensive zone, preventing them from getting quality scoring chances. That was nowhere more apparent than on the shot chart from the second period: Merrimack didn’t take a single shot from below the faceoff dots or anywhere in the slot.

The Terriers didn’t block an outstanding number of shots. In fact, they only blocked seven, a relatively low figure by their standards. But they forced the Warriors to the outside, making it harder for them to challenge freshman goalie Sean Maguire.

“We did a good job of not giving them big jumps, two-on-ones or three-on-ones,” Parker said. “We had a couple of two-on-ones and they didn’t. So we did a good job on that. But we did defend pretty well in Grade-A. I think that was an aberration that that was such a big hole in the middle. I don’t think that happens very often with them. They usually get the puck to the net. So we played pretty well there.”

Santana on the board
Before Friday’s game, senior forward Ryan Santana hadn’t scored since Jan. 4 against Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. He picked up his second goal of the year to give BU a three-goal cushion just 55 seconds into the third period Friday, a rare payoff on the scoresheet for all the work he’s done on BU’s power play and penalty kill recently.

“He’s a senior. He’s getting a lot of ice time. He was a fourth-liner for us – he’s still a fourth-liner for us, but he now kills every penalty and plays every power play, and nobody deserves it more than he does,” Parker said. “He works so hard, and he’s a great example of, keep working. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Three down 
Power play underperforms
In eight power-play opportunities, the Terriers had 14 shots, almost a third of their total on the night. However, they scored just one goal, the rebound Santana jammed past Marotta early in the third.

Second- and third-chance goals on the power play are nothing to complain about. Considering the number of shots BU had, though, their production could be disappointing. The Terriers also failed to capitalize on a prolonged 5-on-3 in the third period, although they were already up 3-0 by that point.

Lack of depth on defense exposed, briefly 
The scariest moment of the night for BU came not from any Merrimack scoring chance, but when freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk slammed awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Grzelcyk stayed facedown on the ice for a minute or so and skated off favoring his left leg.

He returned for the rest of the game and took his shifts as usual, although he appeared to be skating somewhat stiffly at times. Parker said it was a relief to see him return, although he wasn’t sure whether the ankle might swell up more after Grzelcyk removed his skate.

If Grzelcyk had been unable to play the rest of the game, BU would have had five defensemen dressed, including junior Matt Ronan, who played sparingly.

“As my twin brother Bob always, says, ‘I was a-scared,’” Parker said. “We can’t afford to lose [Grzelcyk] or anybody, so it was nice to see him get up. When he walked off, I thought, he’s going to be okay. We’ll see what happens when he takes his skate off – it might puff up a little. We’re really thin there.”

Not done yet
This isn’t a negative so much as a fact, but BU still has at least 60 more minutes to play against Merrimack, and despite the way they’ve dominated the Warriors this season, they can’t afford to take them for granted in a best-of-three series.

The Terriers’ NCAA tournament hopes rest on making it deep into the Hockey East tournament. That’s especially true because eliminating Merrimack from the conference tournament actually removes Merrimack from being a Team Under Consideration for the NCAA tournament, thereby hurting BU’s standing in the PairWise rankings. So even though they’ve now won three straight games for the first time all year, the Terriers still have plenty of work ahead of them before they can begin to celebrate.

Freshmen lead the way in 5-4 win over Maine

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

ORONO, Maine — Early this season, it was almost impossible to talk about a strong Boston University men’s hockey performance without mentioning multiple freshmen. That was true again on Saturday, as rookie goalie Sean Maguire held his team in the game long enough for his classmates – Danny O’Regan and Matt Grzelcyk chief among them – to secure the 5-4 BU win at the University of Maine.

Through two periods, Maine (8-16-6, 4-11-6) had 24 shots and just one goal. That goal was the one Maguire said he’d like to have back, a second-chance shot for Maine’s Ryan Lomberg after the initial attempt was blocked.

By the end of the night, Maguire had allowed four pucks past him but stopped 40 more, a season high for BU (14-2-2, 11-7-2 Hockey East) goalies.

“I thought he was terrific in the first period,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I don’t think he had a chance on the last two [goals].”

While Maguire was turning away shot after shot, O’Regan scored twice on the power play, his 11th and 12th goals of the year. He got the Terriers on the board with a power-play goal in the second, and his next tally, which gave BU a 4-1 lead, was set up by his classmate Ahti Oksanen. Oksanen controlled a rebound on a third-period power play and found O’Regan wide open at the side of the net.

Oksanen also took the initial shot that led to O’Regan’s first goal, picking up two assists the night after scoring the game-tying goal and an assist on Friday. After not recording a point since Jan. 19, he had four this weekend.

Despite cooling down offensively somewhat this semester, Grzelcyk still ranks second in Hockey East in points by defensemen (and ties for third in freshman scoring, behind O’Regan and Northeastern’s Kevin Roy).

He got back on the scoresheet in a big way Saturday, driving into Maine’s zone alone and snapping a wrist shot over Ouellette to make it 3-1 with less than a minute remaining in the second period. Grzelcyk also blocked two shots and played a more physical game than usual in the defensive zone.

“We have our defensemen scoring goals, and that’s huge,” Maguire said. “Secondary scoring. Our freshmen are a big part of our group here.”

Of course, the nine players who recorded at least one point for BU Saturday make clear that the freshmen didn’t win the game alone. But the Terriers’ first-semester success was largely defined by its rookies: strong performances from both Maguire and classmate Matt O’Connor, consistent offensive production from O’Regan, scoring threats from Grzelcyk and Oksanen on the blue line.

Since New Year’s, those contributions have been less consistent. Saturday’s win was far from perfect, but it was one small return to early-season form for a team that’s a long way from where it was in December.

“We’ve got to have O’Regan scoring goals,” Parker said. “We’ve got to have Grzelcyk chipping in.”

BU’s two sophomores were crucial to Saturday’s win as well. Second-year center Cason Hohmann had a goal and an assist, and right wing Evan Rodrigues, after being denied by Ouellette on multiple Grade-A chances throughout the night, finally set up the winning goal with 3.8 seconds left in overtime.

“In general, it wasn’t just the freshmen, but … a pretty good effort from everybody,” Parker said.

From the FreeP: Terriers aim to earn senior class’ first Beanpot

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

Ahti Oksanen may only have learned the word “Beanpot” recently, but the freshman defenseman from Finland understands the significance of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s matchup with Northeastern University Monday night.

“They have told me quite a lot about it,” Oksanen said of his teammates. “I’m starting to feel as excited as the other guys.”

No. 9/11 BU (13–10–1, 10–7–1 Hockey East) will face Northeastern (7–13–3, 4–11–3) at 5 p.m. Monday at TD Garden. Senior defenseman Ryan Ruikka is the only Terrier who has won a Beanpot, as BU has uncharacteristically fallen short of the trophy for the last three years. Boston College won in each of those three years.

One Terrier who could easily fill Oksanen in on Beanpot history is his classmate, Needham-born center Danny O’Regan. O’Regan’s father, Tom, was the tournament MVP for BU in 1982, and O’Regan said he has been going to Beanpot games since he was about eight years old.

For more, visit dailyfreepress.com.

Grzelcyk final player cut from U.S. World Junior squad

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Boston University men’s hockey freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was in Ufa, Russia Thursday with the U.S. National Junior Team, hoping for his shot to play for a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships.

However, after Team USA’s 8–0 win over Team Germany Thursday, the squad decided to name Windsor Spitfires blueliner Patrick Sieloff the team’s seventh defenseman Friday morning and send Grzelcyk home as the final player cut from the team.

In reaction to being cut from the team, Grzelcyk tweeted, “Lots of emotions today, but I have to be thankful for the opportunity. Good luck to Team USA the boys deserve it!”

The decision took an unusually long time, as Team USA had already played a game in the tournament without making its final decision for the 23rd player on its roster. The drawn-out process bothered BU coach Jack Parker, who now does not have Grzelcyk available to play in Saturday’s game between the No. 6 Terriers and the No. 14 University of Denver.

“I think it is really taking advantage of the kid and the schools those guys play for,” Parker said in a phone interview Thursday. “If they had cut him before they left Helsinki, he would have been home in time to play for us.”

Parker highlighted the extensive travel Grzelcyk had to do as one of the reasons for his disappointment in the decision-making process. Ufa is a two-hour flight away from Moscow, Russia, and a flight from Moscow to New York takes over 10 hours. There are no direct flights from Moscow to Boston or Denver.

“It is awful hard to get home, especially if he has to travel by himself,” Parker said. “That will be brutal. I think they have done him and us a disservice.

“They should have made that decision before they left Helsinki.”

Grzelcyk, Noonan make statements in nationally televised win

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.”

In a game televised nationally on NBC Sports, Grzelcyk made an impression. His only point was that goal, on which senior forward Wade Megan sprung him with a pass through the neutral zone. Grzelcyk carried the puck all the way down below the goal line, then tucked it behind BC goalie Parker Milner on the wraparound.

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.”