From the FreeP: Terriers play to 2-2 tie with SFX

By Scott McLaughlin, DFP Staff

On paper, a 2-2 tie at home against St. Francis Xavier University is a disappointing way for the Boston University men’s hockey team to open its 2009-10 season. But as anyone who’s ever participated in an exhibition game will tell you, results aren’t the most important thing in the preseason. What actually happens in the game is.

And as is the case with most exhibition games, there were both positives and negatives for the Terriers to take away from Saturday night.

The most noticeable of these positives was the Terriers’ total domination in the shots category. BU outshot the X-Men, 53-16, including a 19-3 margin in the first period and an 18-3 margin in the third.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, X-Man goalie Joseph Perricone, who is in his first year at St. Francis Xavier after spending five seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League, stood on his head, making 51 saves and rarely getting caught out of position.

“I’m glad we didn’t get 53 shots on us,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I thought their goalie played well. I thought we shot into him a lot, too, but he made some very nice saves.”

BU’s constant possession and consistent offensive pressure reached its climax with just under five minutes to go in the first when St. Francis Xavier took three penalties in just over a minute, culminating in a power-play goal for junior forward Nick Bonino.

After a Matthew Bragg hooking penalty, Rob Warner gave BU a 5-on-3 when he got called for cross-checking just four seconds into Bragg’s penalty. A minute and two seconds later, Josh Day took a slashing penalty.

The Terriers kept the puck in the zone for the full 3:22 (including two minutes of 5-on-3) they were on the power play, peppering Perricone with nine shots during that time. They finally found the back of the net when the rebound of freshman defenseman Ben Rosen’s slap shot found its way to Bonino on the right doorstep, where he buried it into the empty net.

Although they did find the back of net once, the Terriers missed a golden opportunity to put a crooked number on the scoreboard and completely deflate the X-Men’s spirits by failing to score during the 5-on-3. Instead, withstanding BU’s offensive firestorm proved to be a turning point in favor of St. Francis Xavier.

“We were lucky to get out of that with them just scoring one,” X-Man coach Brad Peddle said. “I think that re-energized our group, and in the second period, we came out and started playing much better.”

BU, on the other hand, started to get away from what had been so successful in the first ––throwing pucks into the crease and crashing the net in search of rebounds.

“One of the disappointing things, and I said this to my team, about the game was we appeared as if we wanted to make some pretty goals or some easy goals, and we didn’t really work hard enough to go get the four-foot goal,” Parker said. “We wanted to take the 25-foot shot or make the great pass, but in reality, goals are scored from two feet out most of the time, not 30 feet out.”

One of the few exceptions to this more lax approach was sophomore forward Corey Trivino’s goal with 4:10 left in the second. Freshman forward Alex Chiasson took the puck toward the front of the X-Man net from the left corner, but lost control before he could get a shot off. Luckily for the Terriers, though, Trivino gained control of the loose biscuit at the top of the slot and roofed it over a down-and-out Perricone to give BU a 2-1 lead.

But Perricone returned to brick-wall form in the third, saving all 18 shots he faced in the frame to keep his team in the game. The X-Men knotted the game at two with 2:41 left in regulation when junior goalie Adam Kraus failed to cover a bouncing puck and Bryce Swan managed to whack it past him to force the tie.

Missing players: Victor and Vinny Saponari, Colby Cohen and Grant Rollheiser were all inactive for the game. The Saponari brothers were away from the team to deal with a death in the family. Cohen was given an extra week to recover from offseason hip surgery. Parker said he “could’ve played, but we didn’t want to rush him back.” Rollheiser is recovering from a leg injury that is not believed to be serious.

Around Hockey East

First, we want to thank all you guys who are stopping by the BHB. We’ve heard a lot of good things and are encouraged by the number of people stopping by, and it makes us feel good to know you appreciate what we’re putting together. Our coverage is only going to continue to get stronger as the year goes on, and we encourage you to keep checking us out and offering suggestions on things you’d like to see on here.

Now to the good stuff. In addition to the BU-SFX game at Agganis Arena, a number of other teams kicked off their season with exhibition games against squads from Canada’s Atlantic University Sports conference:

New Brunswick 3, UMass-Amherst 2The Varsity Reds tallied three first period goals, including two off the stick of John Scott Dickson. UMass fought back with two third period goals, but couldn’t equalize the lead taken by the defending AUS first-place finishers.
UNH 8, Acadia 1 – Five Wildcats picked up goals, including two by Peter LeBlanc, while 12 Wildcats made their way onto the scoresheet.
Northeastern 7, St. Thomas 5 – The graduation of Brad Thiessen leaves some big goalie pads to fill for the Huskies, and five goals on 16 shots from the combination of Mike Binnington and Chris Rawlings doesn’t give the NU faithful much to feel confident about after Saturday night’s game. Still, the Huskies came away with the victory on the strength of two third period goals. The win was well deserved as NU tallied 46 shots on goal, including 21 in the first and 17 in the third periods.
Sunday sees three more games with HE teams involved, as Lowell plays host to Acadia, Vermont looks to hold off New Brunswick, and St. Francis Xavier travels a ways up the B Line to take on the Eagles of Boston College.

St. Francis Xavier Photos and Quotes

By Scott McLaughlin and Jake Seiner, DFP Staff/All photos by Isabel Slepoy, DFP Staff

Jack Parker
Opening statement
“I was really happy with our overall effort as far as poise with the puck and some basic team things we practiced. We only had three days of practice, and we did pretty well. We did pretty well on our breakouts and we did pretty well on our D-zone coverage.

“I was disappointed with one major thing, and that is, as the game progressed we were having our way with them on shots, and it appeared as if we thought, ‘Well, we’ll get the next goal. We’ll get the next goal.’ We never really went after it to make sure we got the next goal. We thought it would come easy. Their goaltender played extremely well, and then we took some stupid penalties.

“I’m amazed that we outshot them 53 to 16. That’s hard to do when you lose 43 faceoffs. We were horrible on faceoffs. We won 26 and we lost 43, and usually teams do a good job generating offense off faceoffs. But we did a good job blocking shots. The worst part of our game was how inept we were on faceoffs.

“We got a chance to see some freshman play and some guys, sophomores, who didn’t play much last year as freshmen, and I thought they all played pretty well. I thought all the freshman defensemen played very well. There was probably less pressure on them as far as pace of the game than there was on our forwards because the game was going at such a pace that the puck was always in their end because we’re on them and we’re forechecking them and getting control of the puck. And they’re playing defense and they’re playing really hard defensively in their own end.

“So, every time our forward got a puck, there was a guy all over him, and every time one of our defensemen got a puck, there wasn’t anyone all over him because they weren’t forechecking us that hard. They were just kind of sitting back with a one-man forecheck. I thought the speed of the game didn’t bother the rookie defensemen, but the speed of the game did bother the rookie forwards. I don’t mean up and down. I mean how quick you have to think. Some of our freshman forwards didn’t quite have what will get to be a better feel for the speed of the game.”

On the play of St. Francis Xavier goalie Joseph Perricone

“I’m glad we didn’t get 53 shots on us. I thought their goalie played well. I thought we shot it into him a lot, too, but he made some very nice saves.”

On line combinations

“I know that the lines will be different next game for two reasons. One, the Saponari brothers will be back. Their grandfather died, so those guys were at home for the last three days. So, those two guys will play next week and that’ll give us two other guys who will be out of the lineup. We dressed an extra forward tonight. It’ll be interesting if we’re not able to do that again. Otherwise, there’ll be three forwards who don’t play next week.

“I’m going to try to get Bonino different wings next weekend, give Trivino different wings next weekend and I’ll give Popko different wings next weekend just to see how they fare with somebody else. Nothing is set in stone except that Bonino and Trivino will be the first two line centers and the first two line left wings will be Cohen and Connolly. After that, it’s a toss up on who’s going to play the right wing on those lines and who’s going to fill out the other lines. There’s lots of ice time to be won or lost in these next couple weeks.”

On the play of Zach Cohen

“Our coaching staff, the first thing we said when we went into the dressing room, ‘Best player on the ice –– Zach Cohen. Best player on the ice –– Zach Cohen.’ He played extremely well.”

On the penalty kill

“We practiced a little bit yesterday. We showed [the freshmen] the last power plays we killed against Miami and how we worked and how we play our system. So, they looked at that and came out with a better idea of what we want to do. Then we also have a bunch of guys who killed penalties last year. The freshman defensemen were a little bit tentative, but everybody else played pretty hard. It’s not as if it’s all new to everybody. We have a few freshmen, but for the most part I was confident they’d be OK there.”

On the play of Joe Pereira

“He’s making a bid to play on the first two lines. He knows he’s going to be on the first three lines, but he’d like to be on the first two. He’s playing hard and playing with a little more confidence with the puck. He was very noticeable tonight speed wise. You’d like to see a little more get accomplished out of all that, though.”

On the freshman defensemen

“I expect them all to play well. We recruited them. We know who they are. We’ve seen them play in the past. They all kind of played up to the style we thought they were. Rosen’s a more clever guy with the puck and not a real physical defenseman. Escobedo’s a very physical defenseman. And Nicastro’s a very, very physical defenseman. I thought they all handled the puck well. I thought Nicastro did a good job with the puck. I thought Escobedo probably looked the most poised out of all of them out there, but I thought Ben played well and I though Max played well.”

On the status of Colby Cohen

“Colby could’ve played this week, but we didn’t want to rush him back. So, Colby will play next week and one of those three freshman defensemen won’t play.”

On getting away from crashing the net as the game went on

“I thought we had a lot of shots in close in the first period. I thought as the game progressed, we were getting a little too clever and taking the 30-foot shot and not getting to the net and not looking for rebounds. There were rebounds to be had and we weren’t nearly as on top of it as we were in the first period. One of the disappointing things, and I said this to my team, about the game was we appeared as if we wanted to make some pretty goals or some easy goals, and we didn’t really work hard enough to go get the four-foot goal.

“We wanted to take the 25-foot shot or make the great pass, but in reality, goals are scored from two feet out most of the time, not 30 feet out. You’ve got to work a little more and that’s what Trivino did. Trivino was there for the rebound and made a great play, and he didn’t get it from 30 feet.”

St. Francis Xavier coach Brad Peddle

Opening statement

“I was hugging my goalie when he came into the room. We came into this knowing what we were up against, the defending national champs. I liked how our guys competed from start to finish and just found a way at the end to tie the game. I thought both sides had some pretty good chances late to win it. But overall, I’m pretty pleased with our guys and the effort they put forth against a very, very formidable opponent. I can see that after last year’s national championship, what’s left of that team is gonna carry this team a long way for Boston University. We were pretty impressed with them and really thrilled that we had the opportunity to come down and play them.”

On BU’s three-minute power play near the end of the first

“The first period kind of turned when we took those three penalties because the shots were 6-3 or whatever at that time. But then we took those three penalties in a row, and I think they had 12 shots on net in pretty much three minutes of zone time in our own end. So, they’re starting to wear down our D a little bit there in the first. After the first period, we had a good meeting in the locker room and talked about just playing 5-on-5 hockey. We were lucky to get out of that with them just scoring one. I think that re-energized our group and in the second period, we came out and started playing much better.”

On the feeling-out process

“We usually come down every year and play these games against Hockey East teams, and it’s usually that the first part of the game is a feeling-out process for both teams. I thought our guys were probably standing around a little bit watching the national champs for a little bit. As the game got going and we got into it and it was close, I think our guys started thinking, ‘Hey, let’s turn it up a notch here. Let’s start skating with these guys.’ I think that’s when it started to really open up. It was pretty exciting there in the third period when it was going back and forth. We’re pretty happy with being able to be in that game and also having the chance late to win.”

On the non-playing of the Canadian national anthem

“I can’t say it’s disrespect because this a very, very classy organization. I’m sure it was just a miscue on someone’s behalf. There were a few guys looking back at me, saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ And I just said, ‘Just don’t worry about it, guys. Just play the game.’ Then Coach Jack sent his captain over to explain what had happened. Those types of things happen. Of course we would’ve liked to here the anthem, but I know a classy guy like Jack Parker’s not gonna do that purposely.”

Kieran Millan

On his new pads, which featured a “B” on one side and a “U” on the other

“They’re a little different from what I wore last year. They have an interesting design on them, a little flashy. I like them. I have another helmet coming in this week, so hopefully that one will match well with the pads.”

On how he picked them out

“Actually, some of my teammates kind of chose it. They looked through catalogs of custom designs and they thought that one looked good with the BU colors, so I went with it. I guess it was a good choice. They liked it.”

On the performance of BU’s freshman defensemen

“I was actually really surprised at how well they played. Obviously, defense is a pretty tough position to adapt to new speeds and new players coming in and faster forechecks. But they did a really good job, especially at using the time that they had and making quick decisions and getting the puck out. I thought our breakout was actually really good even though we’ve only had really one practice or a couple practices. I think as the year goes, they’ll get even better, but I was very impressed with what I saw tonight.”

Nick Bonino

On how he thinks the team performed

“Great. I mean, it’s frustrating to tie obviously, even in an exhibition game. But we came out and competed hard. It was the first game for all the freshmen, and they played really well. We ran into a hot goalie, but I think we played hard the whole game.”

On his first-period goal

“I just went to the net with my stick down like coach [Mike] Bavis preaches in practice. The puck just bounced out and I was lucky to get a stick on it.”

On how St. Francis Xavier got back in the game

“I think they kind of just settled down. They were bringing the puck out a little easier. I don’t know. We pressed them the whole game, but it seemed like we tried to get a little cute as the game went on, and they were able to steal the puck and go the other way. I think we had a lot of success early, just getting the puck to the net and going to the net. But then we started trying to make the pretty play, and it didn’t really work out too well for us.”

On how the team’s staying focused on this year and not last year

“Just looking forward. We’re not trying to downplay how last year went, but we can’t really think about that if we’re gonna have any success this year. So, we’ve just been kind of keeping guys focused on what’s ahead. Now we’re focused on U.S.A. and then on UMass. We’re not really gonna think about how good we were last year or how awesome things went at the end last year.”

On how the forwards are coming together

“It’s good. We have a lot of forwards on this team who are really good, and some of them last year didn’t get as big of an opportunity to play because we had such a deep lineup. So, it’s gonna be interesting to see who can step into what position and what role this year. We have 15 forwards. Tonight, 13 of them played well. And we’ll get the Saponari brothers back next week, and they’ll have a shot to get an opportunity. So, it’s really good. It’s looking good at this point.”

35 fun facts to get you ready for the season

While reading through this year’s media guide, I decided to compile a list of some interesting facts that the average fan may not know.

1) The Terriers have more players from New York (5) than any other state.

2) Jack Parker has coached in more NCAA tournaments (23) than any other coach.

3) Of the 29 schools that he has coached at least 10 games against, Parker has a losing record against just four of them –– Minnesota (8-10-2), North Dakota (7-11-1), Michigan (7-8) and Northern Michigan (3-6-1).

4) No current Terrier has recorded a collegiate hat trick.

5) Nick Bonino has come the closest, recording two goals on six occasions (the last on 3/6/09 at Providence).

6) Bonino needs 21 points to become the 77th player in program history to reach 100 career points.

7) Fourteen Terriers have been drafted by NHL teams. They are: Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Bonino, Eric Gryba, Colby Cohen, Andrew Glass, Kieran Millan, Grant Rollheiser, Vinny Saponari, Corey Trivino, David Warsofsky, Alex Chiasson, Justin Courtnall, Wade Megan and Max Nicastro.

8) Justin Courtnall’s father, Geoff, played 17 seasons in the NHL and his uncle, Russ, played 16 seasons.

9) With a capacity of 8,373, UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center is the largest arena in Hockey East.

10) Merrimack’s J. Thom Lawler Arena is the smallest with a capacity of 3,000.

11) The Terriers will be spending six nights in hotels during the regular season ­­–– Nov. 7 in Bangor, Maine; Nov. 27 and 28 in New York City; and Feb. 25, 26 and 27 in Burlington, Vt.

12) Before Brad Thiessen of Northeastern won it last year, the Hockey East Player of the Year Award had gone to a player from BU, BC or UNH for 14 straight seasons.

13) The Hockey East Championship has been won by BU, BC, UNH or Maine for each of the last 13 seasons (Providence won in 1996).

14) The Terriers lose six of their top seven scorers from last season (Bonino was second), but return their top four plus/minus guys –– Bonino (+29), Shattenkirk (+28), Warsofsky (+26) and C. Cohen (+24).

15) The Terriers were 9-0-0 on neutral ice last season. They play four regular-season games on neutral ice this season.

16) The Terriers were 25-0-0 when leading after two periods last season.

17) The only two Terriers to ever wear a number above 40 are Jason Tapp (#83 from 1998-2002) and Matt Gilroy (#97 from 2005-09).

18) The Terriers have had three first-team All-Americans in the same season on three occasions –– 1950 (Walt Anderson, Ralph Bevins and Jack Garrity), 1958 (Bob Dupuis, Don MacLeod and Bob Marquis) and 1972 (Dan Brady, Bob Brown and John Danby).

19) Rick Meagher is the only Terrier to be named a first-team All-American three times (1975, 1976 and 1977).

20) The Terriers have had two top-10 Hobey Baker finalists in the same season twice –– 1996 (Jay Pandolfo and Chris Drury) and 2009 (Matt Gilroy and Colin Wilson).

21) Drury is the only Terrier to make the Hobey top 10 more than once (top 10 in 1996, runner-up in 1997, winner in 1998).

22) Drury is the only Terrier to record 100 career goals (113).

23) Five Terriers have recorded 200 career points –– John Cullen (241), David Sacco (217), Chris Drury (214), Rick Meagher (210) and Mike Eruzione (208).

24) Kevin Shattenkirk is the first junior captain of the Terriers since Jack O’Callahan in 1977-78.

25) O’Callahan is the only player in Terrier history to serve as captain for two seasons.

26) Two Terrier goalies have made more than 1,000 saves in a season –– Sean Fields (1035 in 2002-03) and Scott Cashman (1027 in 1989-90).

27) Fields (2000-04) holds Terrier records for saves in a season (1035), saves in a career (3055), minutes in a season (2435:16), minutes in a career (7308:13), games played in a season (40), games played in a career (123) and wins in a career (62).

28) Ryan Whitney led the 2003-04 Terriers with 25 points, the fewest by a Terrier team leader in the last 45 years.

29) Eric Gryba needs 52 penalty minutes this season to break Freddy Meyer’s all-time Terrier record.

30) The Terriers have not been shut out since being blanked by UMass-Lowell in a 0-0 tie on Feb. 2, 2007.

31) The Terriers have faced Michigan nine times in the NCAA Tournament, more than any other school. They are 5-4 in those meetings.

32) The 1992 US Olympic team featured a program-record six Terriers –– Clark Donatelli, Scott Lachance, Shawn McEachern, Joe Sacco, Keith Tkachuk and Scott Young.

33) Keith Tkachuk has appeared in more Olympiads (4) than any other Terrier.

34) Tkachuk needs 16 points to become the first Terrier to record 1,000 career NHL points.

35) The Terriers have had four players drafted in the top 10 of the NHL Draft –– Rick DiPietro (#1 in 2000), Scott Lachance (#4 in 1991), Ryan Whitney (#5 in 2002) and Colin Wilson (#7 in 2008).

From the FreeP: BU Favored to Repeat in Hockey East

By Jake Seiner, DFP Staff/Photo by Sarah Gordon, DFP Staff

Despite losing five of its eight top scorers and its top defensive pairing, the 2009-10 version of the Boston University men’s hockey team is still the team to beat in Hockey East, according to the conference’s coaches.

The Terriers took home six of the nine first-place votes up for grabs in the Hockey East preseason coaches poll –– BU coach Jack Parker was not

permitted to vote for his own team. The other four first-place votes were split evenly between the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Boston College.

“I think it’s realistic that we should be picked in the top two, three or four teams in the league,” Parker said. “I don’t know if I would have picked myself number one if I were picking a team, but I think it’s realistic with us coming back with a real strong group.”

Lowell, who the Terriers defeated, 1-0, in the Hockey East Tournament finals, took the second spot in the coaches poll. The Riverhawks return nearly their entire starting roster from a year ago, including their top-seven scorers and 84 percent of their total scoring from 2008-09.

Parker, for one, thinks Lowell’s ranking is very well deserved.

“I picked them the number one team,” Parker said. “They have almost everybody back and I think they have something like [12] seniors on their club. They had a great second half last year including almost knocking us off, knocking Northeastern off –– knocking them out in the playoffs. They had a terrific second half of the year and they’re ready to win something big.”

While earning the top spot is a sign of respect for the Terriers, it doesn’t necessarily change BU’s outlook heading into the season, according to Parker.

“I don’t think anybody’s worried about having a target on our back,” he said. “After our first game at [the University of Massachusetts-Amherst], things will be different. . .You start earning points this year when you start playing real games.”

Parker addresses movement of banner raising

The Athletic Department’s announcement that the raising of championship banner for the 2008-09 team would take place on Oct. 10 against the US National Under-18 squad has stirred a bit of controversy in Terrier Nation.

It was initially announced that the ceremony would take place before the Oct. 20 regular-season home opener against the No. 5 University of Notre Dame. The move means the ceremony will instead occur before a preseason game, and not before the nationally-televised Notre Dame game –– the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

The decision to move the raising was made by Parker himself, despite concerns from some of the BU fan base, because the coach thought the move would help avoid any distractions created by reminders of last year’s title campaign

“I wanted to get rid of last year, and we would have already played a regular season game against UMass, so that was a difficult situation,” Parker said. “We wanted to get all the fanfare about that our of the way before we played an actual game. And we do have a couple of big recruits we’re recruiting on the national team, and it’ll be nice to have them in the building while we’re doing that.

“I know there were people upset with me on that because they had made plans to go away that weekend, but the banners will still be there when they come back.”

Parker Reactions

The Boston Hockey Blog caught up with BU coach Jack Parker for his reaction to the Terriers earning the top spot in the Hockey East preseason coaches poll, and more…

“It’s going to be real difficult to try to look at who’s going to be a top-four team or who’s going to win the league or who’s [sic] the two teams that are out of the playoffs,” Parker said. “I do think the two teams that will take the biggest jump from last year are Maine and BC. BC took a big fall last year and weren’t expected to. I think that’ll spur them on to be a real good team.

“I think Maine had a real solid second half. They didn’t win a lot of games but they played much, much better in the second half. They really got good at the end of the year so I think they’ll really be a team to be reckoned with.

“I think the league was correct in picking Lowell so high. I picked them the number one team –– you can’t vote for yourself so I picked them the number one team. They have almost everybody back and I think they have something like [12] seniors on their club. They had a great second half last year including almost knocking us off, knocking Northeastern off –– knocking them out in the playoffs. They had a terrific second half of the year and they’re ready to win something big.”

Parker on being picked as Hockey East favorites:

“I don’t think this team needs any more confidence. I think it’s realistic that we should be picked in the top two, three or four teams in the league –– I don’t know if I would have picked myself number one if I were picking a team, but I think it’s realistic with us coming back with a real strong group coming back.

“I don’t think anybody’s worried about having a target on our back. We aren’t the number one team this year and after our first game at UMass, things will be different. . .You start earning points this year when you start playing real games.”

Parker on putting last year’s championship campaign in the past:

“We’ve done a little bit by playing a little bit more before the season’s started. Before we finally play a real game at UMass we will have a couple of exercises, a couple of people coming in to talk to the team and a couple of other things we’re going to do to keep people focused on the objective at hand and not the product of last year.”

Parker on captains Kevin Shattenkirk, Eric Gryba and Nick Bonino as leaders:

“They’ll do a terrific job for two reasons. One, they want to win, and secondly, they had great role models last year. They were really in tune to what those guys were doing. And I think they helped those captains last year. A lot of leadership was in those three guys on last year’s team. I think just putting the C and the As on their shirts will help them recognize their role, but they already had that role last year.”

Parker on the moving of the banner raising to Oct. 10 vs. the US National U-18 Team:

“Yeah that was my decision and I think a lot of people were upset by that because they heard originally it was going to be the first regular season home game. There were three reasons for that: One, I wanted to get rid of last year, and we would have already played a regular season game against UMass, so that was a difficult situation and we wanted to get all the fanfare about that out of the way before we played an actual game.

“And we do have a couple of big recruits we’re recruiting on the national team, and it’ll be nice to have them in the building while we’re doing that. I know there were people upset with me on that because they had made plans to go away that weekend, but the banners will still be there when they come back.”

Parker on expectations of the freshmen:

“They’re some expected to fill big roles and some expected to fill smaller roles but they’re all expected to contribute. It remains to be seen who those some guys are. It’s amazing because sometimes you think this guy will be the. . .guy right off the bat, but then this guy steps up.

“The telltale sign of our success this year will be our sophomores stepping up. Will the freshman line last year –– I don’t think they’ll play together –– but the freshman line from last year was very important to our team last year and they become more important this year. All the other sophomores who didn’t play a lot as freshman last year, well they become real important to us, and the new freshman will really have to jump over those guys.”

Parker on starting the year with UMass, Notre Dame, Michigan and two games with UMass-Lowell:

“We could be 0-5 after that. I know we won’t be 5-0. I think it’s real tough. I’d be very happy if we’re over .500 after those five games. Those are five real good teams. Two of them are real tough places to play at UMass and UMass-Lowell. We’ll have our hands full. Last year, we started off with North Dakota, Michigan State and Michigan, too, so we’ll see how it all unfolds.”