Ronan accomplishes high school dream, scores first goal as Terrier

By Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff
Senior wing Matt Ronan scores his first career goal.
Photo by Michelle Jay/DFP Staff

The final buzzer sounded and the Boston University men’s hockey team shook hands at center ice with the No. 7 University of Massachusetts-Lowell, tying the River Hawks 2-2.

But for the Terriers (8-15-4, 3-8-3 Hockey East), there was still some anticipation on the Agganis Arena scoreboard, despite the final score staying as it was. The entire team stood under the video board, watching to see who would flash on the screen as part of the three stars of the game.

When the team saw senior forward Matt Ronan’s name pop up, both he and the Terriers beamed with excitement.

“Yeah three stars, too, I didn’t think I’d ever be one of those,” Ronan said after seeing his name as the No. 3 star. “That was pretty cool to be recognized as one of the top three players of the game, it’s a pretty exceptional experience.”

The Woburn native had always dreamed of playing with the BU — especially with his brother Dan donning the scarlet and white last decade — but had seen just limited action through his first three years with the Terriers. During those first three seasons, Ronan played in just a combined seven games, tallying just one point, an assist against Northeastern University last season.

This year for the Terriers — a team with a multitude of injuries on both ends of the ice — Ronan has seen more playing time, getting into 16 games thus far.

With his increased role on the ice this season, Ronan competed in the Beanpot for the first time.

“I think I’m beyond excited,” Ronan said before Monday’s loss to the Eagles. “I can’t believe I’m finally going to be able to play in one,”  “But yeah, it’s just — it’s a crazy time of year, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

The special week for Ronan did not end after his first appearance in the Beanpot, though. Friday night against Lowell, the senior fourth-liner did something he had never done before at the college level — score.

Heading into the second period, the Terriers were down 2-1 to the River Hawks, a problem that has plagued the team all season. In BU’s previous 10 games that it fell behind after one period, the Terriers had a 1-9-0 record, with those two points coming against Providence College all the way back on Nov. 1.

With the bottom line out for the Terriers early in the second frame, though, the momentum shifted and ended up helping give BU its first point from a game in which it trailed after one period in over three months.

Ronan started the play by flinging the puck into the left corner boards from the neutral zone, and  linemate, freshman Brendan Collier, gave chase and fought off a UML defenseman for possession.

Ronan did not sit back on the ice and watch the play unfold, instead taking the opportunity to skate toward the net, right down the middle of the slot.

The senior received a pass from the freshman and one-timed the puck into the top-right corner of the net, just over the reach of sophomore goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s glove.

Ronan, who scored 15 goals during his final two seasons at Belmont Hill School, never imagined scoring with the Terriers with the way the last few years have gone.

“Honestly, I used to dream in high school when I was scoring goals, I’d have dreams that I’d be scoring,” Ronan said. “I don’t think I’ve had a goal in my dreams in the last four years.”

Coach David Quinn said he was more than thrilled to see Ronan get his first-ever mark in the goal column.

“For him to get a goal is, I’m sure pretty special for not only for him, but for everybody, and it was special for me to watch it,” Quinn said. “He’s a great kid, he does a lot of great things and it’s fun to see kids like that get rewarded.”

BU defense steps up following loss of Garrett Noonan, holds Northeastern scoreless in win

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

The No. 18/19 Boston University men’s hockey team received a crushing blow to its defense when junior defenseman Garrett Noonan separated his shoulder, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. With sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera already missing the rest of the campaign due to a team suspension, the Terriers were whittled down to playing their final player on the roster, junior forward/defenseman Matt Ronan.

Down to its last resort, BU’s defense excelled Saturday night at Agganis Arena and held Northeastern University scoreless in a 5-0 BU win.

The defensive dominance started early for the Terriers, as they held Northeastern without a shot for a little over the first 18 minutes of the game. The Huskies barely controlled the puck in BU’s zone in the frame, as they only attempted eight shots — two of which were blocked.

Part of the success was due to the strong defensive-zone play of freshman defenseman Ahti Oksanen. Oksanen, who is recognized as an offensive-minded blueliner and has struggled in his own zone at times this season, had one of his best games of the season in terms of positioning.

Oksanen, who is 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, struggled to handle some of the bigger forwards by BU’s goaltenders earlier in the season when BU lost to Northeastern twice, and even in Friday night’s BU win. However, Oksanen was more successful against Northeastern’s bigger forwards Saturday night.

“I thought Ahti played real well tonight,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I thought he struggled a little bit last night, but he came back and played physical, played better with the puck.”

While Oksanen did not produce any offense on the night, three of his fellow defenders did. Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo, who celebrated senior night after the game, led defensemen with two assists in the game.

Escobedo, who is usually considered a defensive-minded defenseman, recorded his third multi-assist game of the season Saturday night. He was also a plus-2 on the night and blocked two shots, which leaves him tied for national lead with 91 blocks.

“I think [Escobedo is] the best defenseman in the league, defensive defenseman for sure,” Parker said. “He really gave us a lot of minutes and played well too.”

While Escobedo is not known for his offense, perhaps the most surprising point of the night came when Ronan earned his first career assist. Ronan rifled a wrist shot toward Huskies goaltender Chris Rawlings that junior forward Sahir Gill tipped into the back of the net. At first glance, it looked as if Ronan scored his first career goal in his fifth career game.

“I’d give [the goal] to him gladly if I could,” Gill said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have tipped it. But I was real happy for him.”

With Noonan watching the game from the stands, Ronan will be a part of the team’s lineup the rest of the season. Parker played five defensemen for most of the night, but appeared to give Ronan more ice time as his team’s lead expanded.

“[Ronan] played well in the defensive zone,” Parker said. “That’s what he’s got to do most, but he didn’t look nervous out there at all and he played well. Good for him.”

BU playing well against Northeastern’s offense bodes well for the Terriers entering the Hockey East quarterfinals next week. Merrimack’s offense was only slightly better than Northeastern’s during the regular season, averaging only .06 more goals per game.

“This is where it counts,” Gill said. “Win you’re in, you lose you’re out. Good finish to the season, but that’s all it is. It’s time to kick it up a notch and make it count.”

Injuries to Wade Megan, Ben Rosen may leave Terriers shorthanded

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

DENVER — There was a lot of room to move around on the Boston University men’s hockey team’s bench late in the third period of BU’s 6–0 loss Saturday night at the University of Denver. With a man in the penalty box and a whole lot more sent back to the locker room thanks to penalties and injuries, BU did not have a lot of options in terms of personnel.

The Terriers (10–6, 8–4 Hockey East) began sending their players back to the locker room starting in the first period when senior forward Ben Rosen was elbowed in the head by Denver (10–6–3, 7–4–3 WCHA) defenseman Scott Mayfield. Rosen glided to the bench in apparent pain while Mayfield was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

Rosen, who was sick last night according to BU coach Jack Parker, did not return to the game. Parker said the fourth-line center is under evaluation for a concussion.

“He may or may not have a concussion so we’ll have to check him out tomorrow,” Parker said. “So it was definitely a precaution, but also might’ve been something to do with what happened with the food poisoning.”

Rosen was one of two seniors to go to the locker room with an injury in the contest, as senior captain Wade Megan left the ice holding his shoulder in the final three minutes after being tripped up on a rush. Megan did not have ice on his shoulder after the game and “should be fine” according to senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka.

With former Terrier Yasin Cissé gone for the QMJHL, and Justin Courtnall leaving the team shortly before the season’s start, the team has a limited number of forward options to turn to should Rosen or Megan miss any games.

The only other two options left at the forward position are senior Jake Moscatel and junior Matt Ronan, who have combined for one game played. That game was last year against Merrimack College on Feb. 3, when Ronan earned a spot in the lineup.

Moscatel, who played for BU’s club team in the fall of 2011, joined the Terriers that December as a walk-on. He is yet to see any playing time for the Terriers, but Ruikka said he thinks Parker would not hesitate to insert either him or Ronan into the lineup should Megan or Rosen be forced to miss any games.

“I think coach would give them a shot,” Ruikka said. “They have been working hard in practice and looking pretty good out there. If someone can’t play, they are the next ones in.”

Another option would be for the team to dress seven defensemen and only 11 forwards, but that is not an option for the next game thanks to sophomore Alexx Privitera’s game disqualification penalty he earned Saturday night.

Privitera, who had already been penalized on the night, jumped into a scrum in front of freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor in the second period and earned a matching roughing penalty with Denver forward Ty Loney. However, on his way up from the scrum, Privitera kicked Loney earned a suspension for BU’s next game.

Freshman blueliner Matt Grzelcyk has returned from Ufa, Russia after being the final player cut from the U.S. National Junior squad and should be ready for Friday’s game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. BU has also had a competition for the final defenseman spot going on all season between Ruikka and junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor, so finding a sixth defenseman to play is not a problem.

However, not having the seventh defenseman available could leave BU down to their last few options before playing a full game with fewer than 18 skaters.

“Yeah we are short kind of in numbers,” Ruikka said. “But we have got a lot of really good players. So if we just stick together and keep playing, we can play a few men down if we need to. We have got enough good players to get the job done I think.”