Pluses & Minuses: Two goals in 25 seconds seal Terrier win

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn has said for weeks now that, with the exception of one poor game, his team has deserved to win.

With all that on its shoulders, plus a senior night celebration, the retiring of Jack Parker’s number and the suspension of numerous players for violating a team rule, BU snapped a nine-game winless streak Friday evening.

Here’s a closer look at what went right, and really the only thing that went wrong, for the Terriers during their 4-1 win over Northeastern University.

Pluses

25 seconds in the first
Coming into Friday night’s game, the Terriers had not scored since the first period of their tilt with the University of New Hampshire on Feb. 17. In that three-game stretch, BU was also shut out back-to-back times for the first time in 72 years, and, since both of those shutouts came at the hands of the University of Notre Dame, shutout by the same team for the first time in program history.

So, when Kevin Duane fired a shot off a defenseman and into the net with just over nine minutes remaining in the first, he didn’t just give the Terriers a 1-0 lead; he also ended the longest scoreless streak in BU history – 183 minutes and 19 seconds.

This time it took just 25 seconds for BU to find the back of the net again as sophomore wing Danny O’Regan put his 10th of the season by Northeastern netminder Clay Witt to give BU a 2-0 lead it would hold for the rest of the period.

The 25-second spree was just the second time this season BU had scored two goals in the first.

“It gave us some energy,” Quinn said. “You need some puck luck in this game. We won a national championship with some puck luck, let’s not kid ourselves here. This is a sport where the thing isn’t round and you can’t predict which way it bounces. So it’s nice to get a bounce in your favor every now and then.”

A shorthanded, empty net goal
The Terriers lead the nation in shorthanded goals allowed with 11. (One of those came during last night’s game, but we’ll get to that later). They have also given up 11 empty net goals.

With less than three minutes left in the game, and with BU holding a 3-1 lead, Northeastern went on the power play and pulled Witt to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. Roughly 20 seconds into the penalty kill, sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen flung the puck from almost behind the Terrier’s own goal toward the other side of the ice.

The goal was the first shorthanded tally of the season for the Terriers and, compared to the 11 they have given up, just the third empty netter of the year as well.

Jack Parker and the seniors
From the fans holding up dozens of signs for senior captain Garrett Noonan to Parker and his family standing at center ice watching his banner drop down from the rafters, a lot of love filled Agganis Arena Friday evening. While those two events were not the only reasons why the Terriers played well, they did seem to give the players a jolt on the ice.

“I know what Coach Parker means to all of those players,” Quinn said. “He coached them all – well most of them, and if he didn’t coach them, he recruited the freshman class – so there’s certainly a connection there. And there will be a connection with Jack for every player that moves forward and comes through this program. He’s so symbolic of this program.”

Minuses

The power play
Even during this stretch of time where the team has played better without winning any games, they have struggled to convert on power-play opportunities. That continued against Northeastern when BU had just over 10 minutes of time with the man advantage and managed to give up a goal instead of score one.

Northeastern notched its only goal of the game during the middle of the second frame when wing Braden Pimm turned the puck over near center ice, then broke away from the pack. He then deked out BU sophomore netminder Sean Maguire to put the Huskies on the board.

As was mentioned earlier, the goal contributed to the Terriers’ 11 shorthanded goals allowed this season – the most in the nation.

Finally, a night to remember for the Terriers

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

Before Friday night’s game in Agganis Arena section 118, dozens of fans held up their own unique Garrett Noonan sign to honor the Boston University men’s hockey senior captain. Whether the signs said “State of the Noonan” or “A Noonan Hope,” they were all held high to support the Terriers’ leader on the night of celebration for him and his classmates.

After the first period, that celebration shifted to the other end of the arena where former BU coach Jack Parker’s number was being retired and hung from the rafters. His number six hung over section 108 as the fans, as well as some prominent BU hockey alumni, chanted their thanks to the longtime bench boss.

And finally, after the Terriers topped Northeastern University 4-1 to snap a nine-game winless streak, the celebration shifted to the BU locker room. It was the most eventful evening of the year for a team that has only won once since November.

It was finally a night that the Terriers will want to remember.

“Every guy that was playing tonight showed a lot of heart,” said BU captain Patrick MacGregor. “A lot of guys were fired up before the game… I’m so proud of the team and the way they responded to everything tonight against Northeastern – a good team in our league and a good team in the nation as well.”

It started with the seniors, as forward Matt Ronan joined Noonan and MacGregor at center ice for the pregame ceremony (senior forward Jake Moscatel was honored last season while senior goaltender Anthony Moccia will be returning for another season at BU). None of them scored in the game, but each of them played strong defensively in holding the second-best offense in Hockey East to a single goal on sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire.

The end of the game marked the final home game for a group of seniors that are a part of the transition period between BU coaches. It has been a tough final season for the trio, but winning on senior night had meaning for that crew.

“I think it means a lot to everybody,” said BU coach David Quinn. “These guys mean an awful lot to the program. It’s been a difficult year for everybody but our success moving forward — I hope they feel a part of it.”

The program is going through that transition period now thanks to the retirement of Parker, who coached the senior class for their first three seasons at BU. It was a class that started with eight members, but as Charlie Coyle, Adam Clendening, Yasin Cissé, Matt Nieto and Sahir Gill all left the program for other levels of hockey, MacGregor, Noonan and Ronan are now the only three that remain.

“It’s a special thing I’ll remember forever,” MacGregor said. “I’m pretty fortunate to be a part of both eras I think. The rest of the senior class, the junior class and the sophomore class feels the same way.”

The strong performance along with the two celebrations overshadowed what was set to be viewed as a bad night for the BU hockey program, as several players were suspended by the team for events that Quinn called a “college decision.” However, even that worked in BU’s favor, according to Quinn.

“Usually when you have to sit guys, it’s amazing what the guys that are playing can do,” Quinn said. “They all kind of rally around each other.”

Whether it is remembered as the night Parker’s number was retired, the last night at Agganis for the three seniors or even the night BU snapped a losing streak without four of its key players taking the ice, Friday night was a memorable one for the Terriers.

“We’re getting better, and like I said, during the course of this month, there’s some games we didn’t win that I thought we deserved to win,” Quinn said. “I think our guys are optimistic. I think we feel good about the win tonight, and hopefully we’ll regroup and get ready to go in tomorrow.”

UPDATED: Shorthanded Terriers outlast No. 9 Northeastern, 4-1

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

There was a sense of excitement in the air Friday at Agganis Arena.

The night started with the Boston University men’s hockey team honoring its four departing seniors, and then a first-intermission ceremony retiring former coach Jack Parker’s No. 6 jersey instilled an energy in the crowd of 5,577 rarely seen this season.

In between, though, came the most important 25 seconds of the night for the Terriers. They scored twice in that span en route to a 4-1 win over No. 9 Northeastern University, the team’s first victory in more than a month and second in the last three months.

This one came with BU playing undermanned. As a result of a violation team rules, freshman Nick Roberto did not dress while sophomores Matt Lane and Mike Moran and senior Jake Moscatel dressed but did not play. Coach David Quinn rolled three lines, and for most of the game — after freshman T.J. Ryan went down hard into the boards during the first — the Terriers had five defensemen.

Sources indicated 4-5 more Terriers will not see the ice Saturday when BU (9-20-4, 4-12-3 Hockey East) and Northeastern (18-11-4, 10-7-2 Hockey East) face off at Matthews Arena.

“I wouldn’t call it immaturity,” Quinn said. “I would call it a college decision. A college student making a bad decision, and all of us in this room have made it. It was nothing big. I still love them. And they’re still staying on the team and we’re moving forward.”

Added NU coach Jim Madigan, who called his team’s effort Friday night its worst of the season: “It looked like they were all playing to me. They had the right ones out.”

With the win, BU is guaranteed the No. 9 seed in the Hockey East tournament. It will visit the University of Vermont or the University of Notre Dame next weekend for a one-game playoff.

Despite having just 14 skaters, BU killed all five penalties and kept the shots-on-goal margin to a reasonable 32-27 in favor of Northeastern. The Terriers also led in the only category that really matters — goals — with ease.

BU’s scoreless streak, the majority of which came last week during back-to-back shutouts at the hands of Notre Dame, reached 183:19, the longest in program history. Then it came to a screeching halt when the Terriers scored twice in 25 seconds during the first period.

Freshman wing Kevin Duane ended the drought at 10:59 when his centering pass deflected off of a Northeastern defenseman and by Husky netminder Clay Witt. Moments later, sophomore wing Danny O’Regan scored his team-high 10th of the year when he beat Witt five-hole on a shot from the right circle.

“You need some puck luck in this game,” Quinn said. “We won a national championship [in 2009] with some puck luck, let’s not kid ourselves here. This is a sport where the thing isn’t round and you can’t predict which way it bounces. So it’s nice to get a bounce in your favor every now and then.”

Both goalies made a handful of big stops to keep the game close. Witt settled in for a bit, stifling the Terriers’ poor power play (0-for-7), including one close save on a back-door chance for senior captain Garrett Noonan during a BU 5-on-3. Sophomore Sean Maguire stoned Northeastern freshman Mike Szmatula during a one-on-goalie breakaway shortly thereafter.

BU broke through again at the 7:49 mark in the second when freshman center Robbie Baillargeon followed up on O’Regan’s drive to the net with a drive of his own, finishing with a backhanded shot by Witt’s stick side. That goal, assisted by junior Evan Rodrigues, was the one that impressed Quinn the most.

“I just like that line,” Quinn said. “When they’re going, they look like a legitimate first line in college hockey, and I thought they did at times tonight.”

Northeastern struck back while on the penalty kill. Assistant captain Braden Pimm forced a turnover in the neutral zone, went in on a one-on-goalie and deked around Maguire for the easy backhander. It was the 11th shorthanded goal BU gave up this season.

Pimm nearly netted another with 7:09 to go in the third. After the Huskies poked at a loose puck in the crease for several seconds, Maguire — on his back — made a glove save on Pimm’s wraparound bid to keep it a two-goal game.

Sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen scored a shorthanded empty-net goal with 2:35 left to ice it.

The Terriers wrap up their regular season Saturday at Matthews. The game means nothing for them standings-wise, so the only significance it carries comes in the form of intangibles — momentum, self-esteem, feel.

“As a coach, you wonder, was your performance related to the way you played or the way they didn’t play?” Quinn said. “We’ll find out tomorrow night.”

Live blog: Seniors, Jack Parker share spotlight as BU hosts Northeastern

Time/location (TV): 7 p.m., Agganis Arena (NESN)

BU lines:
Evan Rodrigues – Robbie Baillargeon – Danny O’Regan
Brendan Collier –  Cason Hohmann – Kevin Duane
Tommy Kelley – Dillon Lawrence – T.J. Ryan
Matt Lane – Mike Moran – Jake Moscatel
Garrett Noonan – Matt Ronan
Ahti Oksanen – Patrick MacGregor
Doyle Somerby – Dalton MacAfee
Sean Maguire
Matt O’Connor
Anthony Moccia
Northeastern lines: 
Kevin Roy – Mike Szmatula – Zach Aston-Reese
Mike McMurtry – John Stevens – Braden Pimm
Adam Reid – Dalen Hedges – Torin Snydeman
Mike Jamieson – Tanner Pond – Ryan Belonger

Mike Gunn – Dustin Darou
Dax Lauwers – Colton Saucerman
Jarrett Fennell – Jake Schechter

Clay Witt
Derick Roy
Bryan Mountain

Referees: Ryan Hersey, Geoff Miller
Assistant Referees: Chris Aughe, Bob Bernard
Live blog:

Sources: David Quinn to suspend players for Friday’s game vs. Northeastern

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

A number of Boston University men’s hockey players will be suspended for Friday night’s game with Northeastern University, sources confirmed to The Daily Free Press.

The exact number of players being disciplined is unclear, but sources indicate at least three players will be benched Friday.

The highlights of the game were supposed to be a pregame senior ceremony and the first-intermission Jack Parker number retirement ceremony. It’s also a crucial Hockey East game as the 10th-place Terriers jostle for seeding during the final weekend of the regular season.

The BC Hockey Blog was the first to report the news.

UPDATE, 4:43 p.m.: BU’s official lineup is as follows:

Evan Rodrigues – Robbie Baillargeon – Danny O’Regan
Brendan Collier –  Cason Hohmann – Kevin Duane
Tommy Kelley – Dillon Lawrence – T.J. Ryan
Matt Lane – Mike Moran – Jake Moscatel
Garrett Noonan – Matt Ronan
Ahti Oksanen – Patrick MacGregor
Doyle Somerby – Dalton MacAfee
Sean Maguire
Matt O’Connor
Anthony Moccia

From the FreeP: Men’s hockey wraps up regular season with Northeastern home-and-home

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

If there is anyone in Hockey East who can empathize with David Quinn — struggling to find any consistency in a young team during his first season as head coach — it might be the man running the opposing bench this weekend.

Jim Madigan suffered a similar poor start in his tenure as the Northeastern men’s hockey coach, guiding the Huskies to a 13-16-5 record in 2011-12 after being hired the summer before. That regressed to a 9-21-4 mark last year.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the No. 9 Huskies are one of the top teams in the conference this season, and it will be that team Boston University wraps up its regular season against this weekend. The team’s open up a home-and-home series at 7 p.m. Friday at Agganis Arena — featuring a senior night ceremony before the game, then the Jack Parker number retirement ceremony during the first intermission — followed by a 7 p.m. matchup at Matthews Arena the next night.

For more, read dailyfreepress.com

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.”

Three up, three down: Terriers’ hot finish key headed into postseason

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
After all that, the Boston University men’s hockey team is hosting a Hockey East quarterfinal series.
The No. 19 Terriers (18-15-2, 15-10-2 Hockey East) handled Northeastern University, 5-0, Saturday night at Agganis Arena. With a little help from UMass-Lowell, which beat Providence 4-1, BU nabbed the third seed in the league tournament and will play Merrimack at Agganis next week.
Here’s a look at what went right (a lot) and what went wrong (a little) against the Huskies (9-21-4, 5-18-4 Hockey East).
Three up
Finishing hot — and happy
To paraphrase junior forward Sahir Gill, if you told BU a month ago it would finish third in the conference, it would’ve taken that in a heartbeat.
The team’s well-documented struggles in the second semester are a bit easier to swallow now that they finished with four wins in the last five games, taking eight out of 10 points and sneaking into the top four in the process.
During the midst of BU’s slump coach Jack Parker mentioned there was something wrong with the locker room — nothing in particular, maybe, but some sort of tension or stressor. Losing will do that to a team.
Now, though, seems to be different.
We played more of a team game,” Gill said of the difference between this weekend and two earlier losses to Northeastern. “At times this year we had a tough streak after Christmas I think, maybe guys were maybe pulling in different directions.
“Everyone thought it had to be them or it was one individual that was going to get us a win, but I think the best that we play is when we’re as a team, and I think tonight and this weekend you saw a lot of [that].”
Sahir Gill’s pair of goals
Gill is a distant sixth among BU’s top-six forwards in terms of scoring, but with a pair of goals in the third period Saturday he climbs to a respectable 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) on the season. He also has four points his last three games.
Gill said he felt “a little relief” to net a pair, adding that everyone’s going to need to contribute in the playoffs with the Terriers having exactly zero healthy scratches.
He also mentioned a conversation between he and Parker during which the coach told him to pick it up effort-wise.
“The points haven’t been coming but it can get frustrating at times but you don’t want to be a distraction that way. You want to keep playing hard. You don’t want to be a liability,” Gill said. “The quote I like to refer to is, ‘If it’s not working, you’re not working hard enough.’
“I don’t think [Parker] was happy with my effort, and I agreed with him, that’s just something I kind of wanted to go in this two games this weekend was just really focus on working hard first and not worrying about the points and sometimes that’s just they way it goes.”
Sean Maguire’s third shutout of the season
The freshman netminder has now started four games in a row — the first time a BU goalie has done so all season — and discounting the game in which he found out he was starting just hours before, he has played very well.
With 26 saves Saturday night, Maguire improved his save percentage to .919 and goals-against average to 2.72.
More important than the numbers, though, is his confidence headed into the postseason. He and the team know he will be in net every night, and although he didn’t exactly have to stand on his head to whitewash the Huskies, another shutout can only improve everyone’s level of comfort in the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect.
“It’s nice to see guys blocking shots with a minute left, two minutes left to get that shutout for him,” Gill said. “For him going forward, that’s probably huge.”
Honorable mentions: Danny O’Regan (one goal, two assists), Matt Ronan (first career point, an assist), special teams (two power-play goals, 4-for-4 on the penalty kill).
Three down Two down
The second period
After BU steadily controlled play throughout the first, outshooting Northeastern 11-2, the Huskies flipped the script a bit the next 20 minutes.
The Huskies ended up with a slight 10-9 shots on net advantage, but the disparity in momentum was bigger.
The change from the opening frame to the middle one didn’t escape Parker.
They outplayed us in the second period,” Parker said. “We were waiting for something bad to happen, it looked like, and then we came out and got the goal right off the bat in the third, and that kind of took the pressure off.”
Lack of depth
It wasn’t an issue this game, but hey, it’s hard to find “downs” in a 5-0 win, especially when the win is a team’s fourth in five games.
With junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan suffering a badly separated shoulder in the first game of the weekend, BU has exactly as many healthy scratches as Jake Moscatel had career goals before Friday night: zero.
The injury forced junior walk-on Matt Ronan into action for the third time this season and his fifth as a Terrier. He didn’t play poorly Saturday — he even assisted Gill’s second goal — but he also didn’t play a whole lot, by design.
Sooner or later rolling five defensemen for most of the game will likely come back to hurt BU, if only via fatigue.
It’s no one’s fault Noonan got hurt. Each team runs into its fair share of injuries as a season progresses.
The Terriers just happened to have theirs at the worst possible time.