Matt Lane signs AHL contract with Rochester Americans

BU assistant captain Matt Lane has signed an AHL contract with the Rochester Americans for the 2016-17 season, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Lane, an undrafted free agent, becomes the third Terrier since the end of the season to sign a professional contract.

During his senior campaign at BU, Lane finished fourth on the team in points (28), recording 14 goals and 14 assists, both career highs. Lane finished his BU career with 69 points and 33 goals.

A native of Rochester, New York, Lane is now the third BU player to join the Americans within the last year, as former forwards Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann have both spent time with the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate this season.

Pluses and Minuses: No. 9 Terriers notch 3rd consecutive win

Danny O'Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn praised his team last weekend for giving full, 60-minute efforts in two wins over the University of Maine.

Those are the kind of games, he said, that are needed down the stretch drive as points become even more valuable. Even against a team like Merrimack College, one that had lost nine in a row coming into Friday, the Terriers would need another complete performance.

In another wire-to-wire effort, the Terriers (14-7-4, 8-4-3 Hockey East) shut out Merrimack, 4-0, with the combined efforts of two netminders, senior Sean Maguire and sophomore Connor LaCouvee.

Four different Terriers scored en route to BU’s third consecutive win and fourth game in a row which the team has earned at least a point.

“I thought we played smart hockey, we possessed it, we didnt turn the puck over,” Quinn said, “a lot of good things and a tough game to play, tough game to play.”

We’ll take a look at the good, the bad and the straight up weird in this Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses 

Lane at the top

We’re going to go out on a limb and assume not many people had Matt Lane as their preseason pick to be the team leader in goals.

But as of the end of this game, that’s where Lane finds himself, though he is technically tied with his classmate, winger Ahti Oksanen.

A week after Maine head coach Red Gendron said his team had “no answer” for Lane and his linemates, Lane scored his 14th goal of the season about halfway through the third period of this one, getting his own rebound and tapping the puck past Merrimack (7-14-5, 2-8-5 Hockey East) goaltender Collin Delia.

The goal was one portion of his three-point night, the second straight game that Lane has recorded three points. In his last four outings, Lane is averaging two points per game.

A lot of what Lane has done to get better in the goal department, according to Quinn, is the fact that he is adding more practice time to his shooting.

“Well, number one, he skates so well,” Quinn said. “Two, he’s really worked on his shot, he’s scored some goal-scorer’s goals. He can really snap it, he gets it off quick, he understands you gotta get inside the hash marks to create some offense and it’s great to see him get rewarded.

“I mean, 14 goals for him is a heck of a senior year.”

Oksanen’s milestone 

Speaking of the other skater with 14 goals, Oksanen added his latest tally at the 18:42 mark of the third period, BU’s fourth and final goal.

But the goal, in the grand scheme of the game, was irrelevant. However, for Oksanen, it was more than just stat-padder.

The empty-netter was Oksanen’s 50th-career goal in the BU uniform, a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that he was a full-time defenseman at this time two years ago. He also joins senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan as the second Terrier to reach the half-century mark in career goals this season.

For as much as he shoots the puck — both during games and practice — Oksanen makes it work and continues to be a force any time he touches the puck in the offensive zone.

Seniors stand out 

If it hasn’t been apparent already, the big takeaway from this game was the fact that the seniors played well.

Four elder statesmen (Lane, Oksanen, O’Regan and captain Matt Grzelcyk) combined for six points in the win. O’Regan’s lone point of the night came on a shorthanded attempt in the second period where he took the puck from center ice and broke all alone on goal, beating Delia up high.

“Danny played great tonight, had a lot of energy in the third period,” Quinn said, “him and Matt Lane I thought had really good third periods and, again, your seniors, your seniors have to deliver and three of them get goals tonight so good night for them.”

In the crease, Maguire made all the stops he needed to (27 total), including 10 on Merrimack power-play chances. But that’s only a smidgen of what happened with Maguire tonight. More on that in the minuses…

Minuses 

Bad break for Maguire

Early in the first period during a Merrimack rush, Maguire didn’t quite look himself. It wasn’t the fact that he wasn’t stopping the puck, but he couldn’t move from post-to-post with the quickness that he normally has.

But it was no fault of his own. In an unfortunate incident, his skate blade somehow popped off, and he was forced to come out of the game for a 5:49 stretch to get it fixed.

In that brief span, Maguire not only lost his bid for a shutout (he would have had to have played the full game), but he also lost his chance for a win. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored what turned out to be the decisive goal, which gave LaCouvee the victory.

Sarah has more about this “peculiar” situation in her sidebar.

Penalties add up, power play fails to convert 

It wasn’t as if the BU penalty kill wasn’t good, as it went a perfect 6-for-6 for the evening.

But the fact that the Terriers took six penalties in one game is definitely on the negative side. The second period could have gotten out of hand, with the Warriors garnering seven shots on net.

BU’s power play had ample opportunity to get an extra-man goal, but went 0-for-4. Going back to the Terriers’ 1-1 tie with No. 5 Boston College, BU is 1-for-18 on the power play.

Quinn held no secrets about his feelings toward the power-play unit on Friday.

“Didn’t like it,” Quinn said. “Not surprised we didn’t have success. Just, we’re too slow. We’re too methodical, we’re too slow, there’s no pace to our power play right now, which is kind of funny because it was clicking at a great pace when we came back from Christmas but we’re just, we don’t have a shooter’s mentality, we don’t pass it quick enough.

“Other than that, it’s unbelievable.”

Transcript: Comments from Matt Lane following tie vs. Merrimack

Talked to junior forward Matt Lane, who scored BU’s only goal against Merrimack on Friday, on his way to the buses. Here’s all of what he had to say:

On his goal:
“It was just a power-play goal. We were trying to get pucks to the net, and luckily I got to the net and jammed home the rebound.”

Big-time goals this season:
“Just getting to the net. I guess if you look at all my goals, they’re all in tight. The bounces have gone my way at an opportune time. But basically just getting to the net, being a net-front presence and that’s how I’ve been creating my scoring opportunities.”

How to clean up penalties?
“We’ve definitely got to move our feet. It’s a small ice surface out there, a pretty chippy game. We’ve just got to move our feet more, keep our sticks down, not take stick penalties and stay out of the box more.”

Smaller ice detrimental?
“I don’t think it plays in our hands, but I also don’t think it’s an excuse. But you’ve got to give them credit. They play a jam-packed style, they lock it down and I’d say a 1-1 game is their ideal goal.”

Young team, how can you be a leader?
“Just that. Just be a leader. Be vocal, help these guys when they need it. It’s a long season, and as we move into the second half here, they’re not really freshmen anymore. And if we’re going to have a good team, we’re going to need all of them, especially since there’s so many, and they’re all in the lineup. I’d say as an upperclassman, just being a vocal presence and being there for whatever those guys need.”

Personal improvements needed?
“Just working every day in practice. Working on my shot, working on moving my feet, playing on my advantages. I think I’ll be alright.”

How to win tomorrow?
“We’ve got to stick to the game plan. We’ve got to get to the net, we’ve got to win our one-on-one battles, and we’re back on our home ice. If we do that, we should be okay.”

From the FreeP: Matt Lane excels in 2nd game of weekend sweep

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

Friday night was special for the Boston University men’s hockey team. It celebrated its seniors, it honored former coach Jack Parker and it won its first game in nearly a month. Sophomore wing Matt Lane sat on the bench as a spectator for all of it.

While he was dressed for the game, a disciplinary action stopped him and three other Terriers (10-20-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) from seeing ice time.

Twenty-four hours later, the sophomore threw his hand up into the air after he scored his second goal of the game en route to the Terriers completing a weekend sweep of Northeastern University.

“The best way to motivate him is to sit him,” said BU coach David Quinn. There is no other way to do it. I benched him toward the end of a game about three or four weeks ago, and he came back and had his best night shortly thereafter. Obviously he sat [Friday] and he comes back and he plays the way he did tonight.”

Read more at dailyfreepress.com

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.”

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.”

Grading the Terriers: Scoring depth helps Terriers to 4-2 win over Huskies

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Offense: A-
The key to the BU offense Friday night was its scoring depth, which is something new for the Terriers. The last time a forward on BU’s third or fourth line scored an even-strength point was Feb. 11 against Harvard, when freshman forward Mike Moran scored.

However, the Terriers got goals from bottom-six forwards senior Jake Moscatel and freshman Matt Lane Friday night, Those, coupled with goals from usual suspects — senior Wade Megan and freshman Danny O’Regan — helped the offense to a four-goal night.

It was not just that the Terriers were scoring, but they were creating good scoring chances. BU had 37 shots on the night and seemed to carry the pace of the game through the first and third periods.

Defense: B
It was a much better night for the Terriers defensively in terms of keeping the Huskies away from the front of the goal. BU coach Jack Parker pointed to that area as a weak point in BU’s 5-6 loss to Northeastern in the first round of the Beanpot and praised his team’s effort at keeping the Huskies away from grade A scoring chances Friday night.

Senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka was beaten cleanly by the speed of Northeastern forward Cody Ferriero on the Huskies’ first goal, but BU’s defense was overall strong for the circumstances it went through in the game. Junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan left the game early in the second period when he separated his shoulder and will likely be out for the rest of the season. Junior defenseman/forward Matt Ronan will have to step into the lineup in Saturday night’s season finale.

Goaltending: B+
With fellow freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor out for the rest of the season, Sean Maguire is in a position to step up and make a name for himself as BU’s goaltender. With his 31-save performance Friday night, he has now made 117 saves in his past three starts, which is good for a .944 save percentage.

The key to his performance Friday night was his rebound control, as he had one of his better games of the season at holding onto the puck. The Terriers will rely on Maguire to be at the top of his game in the final game of the season in search of a top-four seed in the Hockey East tournament. The Powell River, British Columbia native has performed better at Agganis Arena this season, recording a .937 save percentage at home with only a .912 save percentage on the road.

Special Teams: B-
Neither team took many penalties in the game, but neither team scored with any of their man advantages. Northeastern’s power play looked better than the Terriers’ did though, as the Huskies moved the puck well and got several scoring chances on the power play.

After a strong weekend on the power play against the University of Vermont, BU was relatively unsuccessful at creating scoring chances Friday night. However, its perfect 3-for-3 penalty kill performance helps the Terriers to a B- rating.

X-Factor: Start of the third period
The Terriers carried a slim 2-1 lead into the third period and had almost let Northeastern tie it several times to finish the second period. However, a strong start to the third period — including goals from O’Regan and Lane in the first six minutes of the frame — gave BU the insurance it needed to hold its lead.

Scoring late in games is nothing new for O’Regan, who leads the team with seven goals in the third period. Lane’s goals have tended to come late in games as well this year, as two of his three goals have come in the final frame of regulation.