By the numbers: University of Maine Black Bears

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

With the odd Thursday-Saturday game schedule for the Boston University men’s hockey team this week, the Terriers’ opponent tonight, the University of Maine, got neglected in both our weekly preview and our weekly interview with Jack Parker.

So in place of a full-blown preview, here’s the low-down on some stats you’ll want to know about the cellar-dwelling Black Bears in preparation for tonight’s game.

The schedule
–Maine is 2-10-2 overall and 1-6-2 in Hockey East
–The four points makes them last in the conference standings, one point behind UMass-Lowell
–The wins came on Oct. 13 (4-3 over Army) and Nov. 10 (4-3 over UMass-Lowell)
–The ties came on Nov. 16 (2-2 with UMass) and Dec. 1 (2-2 with Vermont)

In Hockey East
As the record indicates, Maine has seen little success in the conference this season.

The Black Bears have the:
         -worst offense (1.43 goals per game)
         -second-worst defense (2.93 goals per game, tied with UMass)
         -worst power play (7.5 success rate)
         -worst special-teams net (-6, tied with UMass-Lowell)

Maine also has:
         -the most penalty minutes (15.4 minutes per game)
         -a respectable penalty kill (83.6, tied with BU for 4th)

The Maine offense gets progressively less productive as the game goes on. This season, it’s scored eight goals in the first period, seven in the second and five in the third.

–Senior forward Joey Diamond leads the team with three goals to go with his three assists
         -Last season, Diamond posted 25 goals and 22 assists on what was arguably the conference’s top line
         -Sophomore forward Connor Leen has also scored three times 

–Freshman forward Devin Shore leads the Black Bears with seven points (one goal, six assists) 
–Only two Black Bears have a positive plus-minus rating: Shore (plus-2) and sophomore forward Andrew Cerretani (plus-1) 
         -Three more are even on the year

–Junior Martin Ouellette, a 2010 Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick (seventh round, 184th overall), has started seven games in net to the tune of a 2.40 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage
         -Junior Dan Sullivan has started six games, putting up a 3.34 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage

From the FreeP: No. 9 Terriers ready for home-and-home with No. 1 Boston College

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

A young Boston University men’s hockey team has had a few big tests during the first two months of the 2012-13 season, but none will compare to what it’ll face this weekend.
The No. 9 Terriers (7–4, 5–3 Hockey East) will host Boston College, which has topped the national polls all season, at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Agganis Arena before visiting the Eagles at Conte Forum at the same time Saturday night.
But even with the weekend’s magnitude, rivalry and conference implications, it doesn’t mean the players won’t just enjoy it.
[It’s a] a fun weekend too, I might add,” said associate head coach Mike Bavis. “This is why our kids and their kids for the most part choose these schools, for a chance to play a big game against your biggest rival. The fans focus on how big it is, and that is the easy part, but it is fun for our guys to play in these games.”
It may be fun, but it’ll also be difficult. BC (10–1, 8–1 Hockey East) has reeled off 10 straight after dropping its season opener to Northeastern University.

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From the FreeP: Jack Parker changes lines as BU prepares to visit Vermont, host New Hampshire

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s starting goaltender competition may have a clear leader, but when the Terriers take the ice Friday against the University of Vermont it will be the “other” goalie in net.

Freshman Sean Maguire will make his third start of the season for the Terriers (5–3, 4–2 Hockey East) against the Catamounts (1–3–2, 1–3–2 Hockey East) at 7 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

“Matt has established himself as one, maybe Sean has established himself as 1A,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “[Maguire] has looked much sharper [of late]. His last outing he looked much sharper and he has looked much sharper in practice. I am very pleased with his progress.”

While O’Connor will start Sunday — a 1 p.m. matchup with No. 5/6 University of New Hampshire at Agganis Arena — Parker said the rookies trading off is not a given anymore.

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From the FreeP: No. 12 Terriers travel west to take on No. 5 North Dakota

By Annie Maroon/DFP Sports

Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker does not know yet who will be in net for the No. 12 Terriers against No. 5 University of North Dakota on Friday. However, he’s looking forward to being back behind the bench.

Parker, who did not travel to the team’s game at the University of Massachusetts on Saturday due to back problems, said he is feeling better and that he remembers missing a road game due to health problems once before, about 12 years ago against Merrimack College.

“It’s much more nerve-wracking watching the game when you’re not on the bench and involved in the game, so I went out to dinner with Travis Roy,” Parker said of that night. “Saturday, my back was aching so I didn’t really go anywhere, I just lay on the couch and chilled.”

While Parker was at home, freshman goalie Matt O’Connor was recording 34 saves against the Minutemen to help lead the Terriers to a 3–2 win. O’Connor was named October’s Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Month, sharing the award with Providence goalie Jon Gillies.

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No. 13 men’s hockey to play home-and-home with UMass Minutemen

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

When the No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey team drops the puck against the University of Massachusetts Friday night, there will be a new face on the other bench.

Well, sort of new.

John Micheletto left the University of Vermont coaching staff after nine years to be UMass’ head coach, a position that opened up when Don “Toot” Cahoon stepped down in June after 12 years at the helm.

The Terriers (1–1, 1–1 Hockey East) will get their first look at Micheletto and the 2012-13 Minutemen Friday at Agganis Arena at 7:30 p.m., then again the next night at the Mullins Center in Amherst at 7 p.m.

“We will see a team that is physical and real fast,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “[The Minutemen] looked really good on the power play [against Boston College Saturday], and they looked really good killing penalties.

“They are a team that will really come at you on the forecheck, and I think they really move the puck well.”

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Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Evan Rodrigues
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Sahir Gill
Matt Lane – Wes Myron – Yasin Cissé
Mike Moran – Ben Rosen – Ryan Santana

Garrett Noonan – Ahti Oksanen
Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Matt Grzelcyk – Ryan Ruikka

Matt O’Connor
Sean Maguire

Terriers to play first road game of season at UNH

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff 

The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s first road trip of the year will take them to No. 15 University of New Hampshire on Saturday. There, they will face a team BU coach Jack Parker said he expects to compete for home ice in the Hockey East playoffs this year.

The last time the Terriers (1–0, 1–0 Hockey East) saw the Wildcats (2–0) was in the conference quarterfinals last year, when BU won the best-of-three series but needed two double-overtime games to do it.

“When we saw them in the playoffs, they had been playing a much better brand of hockey [than earlier in the year] and it was obvious that one of the major reasons why was because they were getting great goaltending,” Parker said. “They were not tentative. I think when you’re not getting great goaltending, you can be tentative.”

Sophomore Casey DeSmith, the goalie responsible for that feeling of security among the Wildcats, finished his freshman year with a .926 save percentage and played at then-BU senior goalie Kieran Millan’s level during the quarterfinals. He’s just one of the returning New Hampshire players Parker said will compensate for the loss of their top scorer, Stevie Moses, who graduated in the spring.

“Moses wasn’t a big scorer until his senior year,” Parker said. “He was a pretty good scorer, but he wasn’t a big scorer. They’ve always had somebody step up from junior to senior year and put up a lot of points. They’re losing a big goal-scorer in Moses, but the year before that they lost the Player of the Year [Paul Thompson] who was a right winger and thought, ‘Oh, how are we going to get goals?’ Well, they got it out of Moses. I think they have more balance this year than they had last year, and I think their first line, even though they don’t have Moses, is probably a better line overall.”

UNH will be the first team in Hockey East to get a look at BU freshman goalie Sean Maguire. His classmate Matt O’Connor picked up his first collegiate win against Providence College last weekend, and now it’ll be Maguire’s turn to try and do the same.

“I thought he looked really sharp today,” Parker said of Maguire after practice on Thursday. “He’s obviously anxious to get going. I’m sure he’ll be a little bit nervous. Matty [O’Connor] had the chance to play at home. [Maguire will] be playing on the road in front of an angry crowd, so that’ll be a little bit different. And he’ll be playing on the big ice surface. But he looked sharp.”

Since BU only played one game last weekend and will only play one this weekend, the freshman goalies, who are alternating games until one earns the starting role, will have to sit longer than usual between starts.

“I think [playing one game per weekend complicates the rotation], because now Maguire’s got to sit almost two full weeks before he plays again,” Parker said. “So after this weekend, after Saturday night, then we’re getting into a couple back-to-back games that make it a little easier. Everyone can prepare to play.”

BU’s practices this week have had an added quirk. Some NHL players who played at BU, most recently Nashville Predators forward Brandon Yip and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, have joined the Terriers for practice as the NHL lockout drags on.

“When we scrimmage it is nice to have six lines and eight defensemen, because then you don’t get exhausted scrimmaging,” Parker said. “So we will probably do that. I hope we can’t do it anymore. I hope they get the contract done and they’re all playing next week.

“It’s nice to have our guys who think they’re guns see the guys who really were guns, and went to the NHL, still doing it the right way. That certainly holds true with Yip and [Chris] Higgins and Whitney. When we were doing laps the other day, those guys were easily winning them all. Like, ‘whoa, these guys still know how to do this.’ They’re still willing to do that, which is important.”

Senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka said he’s appreciated skating with the former players.

“It helps a lot, and it’s good to see those guys, because I played with a few of them, and just hanging out with them and getting a few laughs in and stuff, it’s nice having them around,” Ruikka said.

Ruikka said he expects a good game on the Wildcats’ home ice, the biggest ice surface in Hockey East.

“They’ve got a big ice surface so we’re going to need to be skating a lot,” Ruikka said. “Just make sure we’re staying to the middle of the ice, playing defense and just keep guys to the outside. They’re a quick transition team, so we’ve got to be ready for that. Other than that, I think we’re ready to go.”

BU set for regular season opener with Friars

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

The nine Boston University men’s hockey freshmen all got a small sample of what college hockey is like in Sunday’s 5–0 exhibition win over the University of Toronto. The newcomers will get the full experience of Hockey East at 7 p.m. Saturday as No. 12/14 BU will take on Providence College at Agganis Arena in the season opener.

The Terriers did not fare well in their first matchup of the season with Providence last year, falling 5–3 on the road. However, the Terriers got their revenge on the Friars later in the season, beating Providence 6–1 and 8–0 in January.

Even with both lineups filled with young players — Providence’s 14 freshmen tops BU’s nine — BU coach Jack Parker said that he could use the three games his team played against Providence last year to help prepare for Saturday.

“They’ve got some good returning guys coming back,” Parker said. “I remember they blitzed us right after we got off the bus down there, but then we kind of blitzed them here.

“I would say that those games last year give us a pretty good indication of the style of the new coaches — what Providence plays under [Providence coach] Nate [Leaman] now as opposed to what they played under [former Providence coach Tim] Army.”

The Friars will ride the bus up to Boston only a day after their game with Sacred Heart, which may leave the Terriers with fresher players than Providence. However, Parker said he does not see the night of rest as an advantage for BU.

“This would be a lot different if this was December or this was January,” Parker said. “In some ways this might be an advantage to them because they are playing a real game that counts … That is an advantage. It is a disadvantage that they have to play the night before and we don’t. So I would say that it is probably a wash.”

Providence’s two-game weekend will be a chance for it to get its freshmen, including 2012 Calgary Flames draft picks forward Mark Jankowski (21st overall) and goaltender Jon Gillies (75th overall),  some playing time.

Saturday’s game features a matchup of two teams who lost their starting goaltenders from a year ago.

Parker said he has not made up his mind about who will be his team’s starting goalie for Saturday’s game, but that he will tell whoever he chooses Friday before practice. The choice is between the two freshmen goaltenders, Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire, as junior goaltender Anthony Moccia is still sidelined with an injury.

While neither goalie had a chance to stand out in Saturday’s exhibition win due to Toronto’s lack of scoring chances, the two freshmen defensemen, Matt Grzelcyk and Ahti Oksanen, had two assists apiece.

“The two of them played extremely well that night and the two of them will play together even though they are freshmen,” Parker said. “Sometimes you want to split them up but they seem to complement each other pretty well and they both play really well on the power play”

The Terriers will be missing one of those defensemen on Saturday, as Oksanen will sit out the first two games of the regular season for violating an NCAA rule.

Oksanen’s violation occurred while he was playing for the Espoo Blues U20 team in his native country of Finland when a professional player played two games with his junior team. Oksanen will be suspended one game for each game that player participated in with his team.

“It is just a violation that had nothing to do with him, but had to do with who was out on the ice with him,” Parker said. “He didn’t know. He couldn’t say to the team, ‘I can’t play because he is on our team.’”

Until his return, either redshirt senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka or senior defenseman Sean Escobedo will take Oksanen’s spot at the blue line on the power play. Junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor will take the sixth defenseman spot in the lineup.

With first game of the season approaching, senior captain Wade Megan said the team is excited to get on the ice against Providence.

“It’s the first game of the season, and we’re both going to really excited and up for it,” Megan said. “We’re just going to make sure our guys are focused and ready for it because we know they’re going to be ready for us and they’re going to be playing hard.”