Confirmed: Nick Roberto suspended for 2015-16 season

Junior forward Nick Roberto, who has not played a game for the Boston University men’s hockey team this season, has been suspended and will not play for the remainder of the season, sources confirmed to The Daily Free Press.

Roberto has been out of the lineup for BU as part of a team suspension.

College Hockey News was the first to report this story.

From CHN:

“According to several sources, Roberto’s suspension is the result of gambling activity he participated in during last season. Sources indicate that Roberto was not the only BU player involved, though those players are no longer with the hockey program. The identity of those players could not be confirmed. Other sources have indicated that players from other teams were involved, too.”

BU released a statement saying, “Beyond confirming that Mr. Roberto will not play for the Boston University hockey team this season, federal privacy laws prevent us from discussing his status.

“However, we can say that several months ago, we heard rumors that a BU hockey player had engaged in gambling. Although the rumors did not involve gambling on either college or professional hockey games, we nonetheless immediately conducted a thorough investigation and turned the results over to the appropriate authorities at the NCAA. Based on that investigation, the NCAA made its own findings and took remedial action, and we would refer you to that organization for further information.”

CHN’s report also cited the NCAA’s rule that “a player who is found gambling on any sporting event, amateur or pro in any sport, via a ‘bookie’ or the Internet, faces a minimum one-year suspension,” adding that for some of the players involved, “the gambling activities incurred ‘large’ debts, which eventually led to the situation coming to light.”

The report also said this instance of gambling at BU could be tied to a Massachusetts gambling ring that was broken up last month by state and federal investigators:

“In a 122-count indictment handed down after a year-long investigation, 33 people were indicted by a grand jury as part of the operation, which was based out of Boston and the South Shore. One of those was Keith O’Connell, who, sources indicate, is the same Keith O’Connell that is a former defenseman at Boston College and Massachusetts.

“O’Connell was charged with registering bets, using the telephone to register bets and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

In addition, per a report from WEEI.com, “Roberto is not currently being investigated by any law enforcement agencies. He is still enrolled at BU and still a member of the hockey team, and that is not expected to change.”

CHN wrote that Emily James, a spokesperson for the NCAA, said “the NCAA will have no comment regarding a potential investigation into the BU hockey program stemming from the alleged gambling.”

She could not be reached for immediate comment when The Daily Free Press tried.

Three up, three down: BU’s offense comes from centers in win over Holy Cross

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Three Up

Scoring from the middle
The Boston University men’s hockey team has high expectations from its top two centers, and for good reason. Sophomore center Danny O’Regan led the team in points (38) a season ago, while junior center Cason Hohmann scored more than a point per game through the first half of the season.

The duo showed why those preseason expectations were so high Saturday night, when they each scored in the Terriers’ 3-2 win over the College of the Holy Cross. O’Regan’s goal in particular was a pretty one, as he found a seam in the Crusader’s defense and undressed goaltender Matt Ginn with a deke before backhanding the puck into a gaping goal.

It came as no surprise that the top two centers made a big impact in the game, but it was a nice sign for the Terriers that two of their top contributors are back on the scoresheet.

Nick Roberto provides spark on power play
It was not just the two returning centers that shined Saturday night. Freshman center Nick Roberto scored his first collegiate goal — second if you count the goal he scored in the preseason game against St. Francis Xavier University — and had several other scoring chances in the contest.

“He’s a guy that we’re lucky to have,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I think his best hockey is ahead of him. He’s certainly made the transition to college hockey, I don’t want to say look easy, but it’s certainly been a smooth transition for him, and he has fit right in.”

Roberto has found a nice niche as a man in front of the net on the power play, and has won several puck battles against bigger defensemen than him. If he can continue to do that, he may find himself with more of an even more prominent role than he already is.

Playing time spread throughout roster
Quinn started the year by saying that he didn’t really know much about his players, as he had only spent a few weeks with the group. After the first weekend, Quinn has gotten to know his players a lot better as every player on the roster (with the exception of third-string goaltender Anthony Moccia) earned ice time on the weekend.

After freshman forward Brendan Collier, senior forward Matt Ronan and freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby made their season debuts Friday night, sophomore forward Mike Moran, freshman forward Kevin Duane and freshman defenseman T.J. Ryan all appeared in Saturday’s game.

“I did it because I thought they deserved to be in there,” Quinn said. “From a numbers standpoint we have 14 forwards and seven D-men. It’s not like we’re dripping with bodies around here. The guys that came in tonight certainly had great nights.”

Three Down
MacGregor familiarizes himself with sin bin
The season is still young, but senior captain Patrick MacGregor has already found himself in the penalty box more at consistently high rate. MacGregor has four minor penalties through the first two games, including another two interference penalties Saturday night.

MacGregor was good defensively for the most part on the weekend, but he was also the man matched up with Holy Cross forward Mike McNamara when the Crusaders scored their first goal of the game. He will have a longer leash than most in terms of making mistakes due to his leadership abilities, but Saturday’s contest featured a few notable ones that need to be fixed come next weekend.

Ryan shaky in debut
Ryan made some nice plays, including one where he forced a turnover with a nice pinch at the blue line and created a scoring chance. However, the freshman made multiple poor decisions with the puck in his own zone that led to turnovers, and was not particularly good in one-on-one situations.

The one play in particular that stood out with Ryan in one-on-one situations was the Crusaders’ second goal, when forward Adam Schmidt faked outside and slipped inside on Ryan before being tripped up and scoring a goal from his stomach. Ryan was beaten and then tried to recover by taking a penalty*, but Schmidt scored the goal anyway.

While Ryan was not great Saturday night, it is important to keep in mind that it was only his first collegiate game and that most freshmen need time to adjust to the faster pace of play early in the season.

*Correction: Ryan was not called for a penalty on the play. The referee raised his arm for a delayed penalty as Schmidt was hooked down on the rush, but the penalty was waved off once the goal was scored.

Terriers struggle with power-play conversion
BU has scored twice in two games on the power play, but it has missed several other opportunities to cash in with a man advantage. Currently, the team’s power play percentage is at 16.6 percent (2-for-12).

It is not that the Terriers have not moved the puck well, but rather that there is nobody available to finish off the passing play. During a first-period power-play opportunity, Hohmann had the puck to Ginn’s right three times with the opportunity to shoot, but elected to pass into a crowd of defenders instead. The idea was right, in that there were forwards with open chances at the goal if the puck had reached their sticks. However, the Crusaders defenders were playing to defend the pass, leaving Hohmann with an open look at goal.

Hohmann’s power-play goal Saturday night came off of a rebound, as senior captain Garrett Noonan’s shot bounced off of Ginn’s pad and into space where Hohmann easily finished the play. Perhaps the Terriers will look to create more opportunities off of shots Friday against Rensselaer.