Robbie Baillargeon leaves BU, transfers to Arizona State

PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

One of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s most experienced forwards has left the program ahead of the 2016-17 season.

Robbie Baillargeon has transferred to Arizona State University as a graduate student. The Sun Devils, who captured the the 2014 ACHA national title, are entering their first season of Division I competition. 

Baillargeon began his college hockey career at Agganis Arena in 2013, bursting onto the scene as a bright spot from a 10-21-4 season. The Enfield, Connecticut native’s 27 points were best on the team, while his 10 goals and 17 assists were both tied for the team lead.

Also the Ottawa Senators’ fifth round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Baillargeon’s torrid scoring pace slowed down come his sophomore campaign. 

His three goals and 13 assists were helpful contributions en route to BU capturing a Beanpot Trophy, Hockey East regular season title and Hockey East Tournament championship. Baillargeon, who starred with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL before joining the Terriers, also battled mononucleosis in 2014-15.

Come Baillargeon’s junior year, his performances became inconsistent, as head coach David Quinn tossed various linemates his way. The future Sun Devil finished with six goals and six assists, with a trio of three-game point streaks popping up throughout the 2015-16 season.

After BU was bounced from the 2016 NCAA Tournament by the University of Denver on March 26, speculation arose that Baillargeon would finish his college career beyond Commonwealth Avenue. He wasn’t named a captain of any sort for his senior season, and now he’ll take his talents to The Grand Canyon State’s up-and-coming program.

BU captain Matt Grzelcyk ‘confident in a turnaround’ in 2014-15

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
Seven months removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, Boston University junior captain Matt Grzelcyk was forced to don a red non-contact jersey during Bruins development camp last week.
MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will captain a BU team
looking to rebound from a lackluster 2013-14 campaign.
But the 5-foot-9 defenseman will once again be ready to don the Scarlet and White this fall.
The Charlestown native took part in his third development camp with the Bruins, who selected the puck-moving blueliner in the third round (85th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
While Grzelcyk was held from contact during the five-day camp held at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, Mass., he was still able to take part in certain drills and showcase the agility and playmaking potential that made him one of the Terriers’ most dynamic players over the last two seasons.
Grzelcyk, who played alongside fellow Hockey East talent in players such as Boston College sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald and Northeastern sophomore defenseman Matt Benning during the camp, said that attending the event has been an important part of his offseason regiment over the past three years.
“I mean, it’s always fun to come in for a week and just learn from all the management and see what they have to say so we know what to work on when the season comes along,” Grzelcyk said after the camp’s final scrimmage Sunday afternoon.
Seeing Grzelcyk back out on the ice should serve as a relief to a BU community that last saw the defenseman play Jan. 8, 2014 in a 4-2 loss to Dartmouth College. Just days before BU’s Frozen Fenway tilt against the University of Maine Jan. 11, Grzelcyk dislocated his left shoulder in practice and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery.
The loss of a playmaker like Grzelcyk – who recorded 28 assists in 57 games with BU over the past two seasons – had a massive impact on the Terriers.
During the 19 games in which Grzelcyk dressed, the Terriers posted a lackluster record of 7-10-2. In the 16 games following Grzelcyk’s injury, BU put up a woeful 3-11-2 line.
The results looked even worse on the BU power play during Grzelcyk’s absence. In 19 games with a healthy Grzelcyk, the Terriers successfully converted on 18 of 76 power-play opportunities, good for a 23.7 percent conversion rate – one of the highest marks in the country at the time.
Without Grzelcyk quarterbacking the team out on the ice during the man advantage, BU managed just eight power-play goals in 73 chances – a shocking 10.1 percentage rate.
Despite the severity of his injury, Grzelcyk stated that his shoulder feels fine and that wearing a non-contact jersey was more of a precaution than anything during the camp.
“[The shoulder] feels 100 percent,” Grzelcyk said. “I just want to make sure I’m ready for October.”
After a disappointing 2013-14 campaign that saw BU slump to a ninth-place finish in Hockey East, the Terriers appear to be primed to make a comeback this season.
Not only does BU feature a strong returning core that includes Grzelcyk, senior forwards Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues, junior forward Danny O’Regan and sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon, but an impressive recruiting class should also provide a shot in the arm for the Terriers.
Notable members of the upcoming class include defensemen John MacLeod and Brandon Hickey, as well as standout forward Jack Eichel, who has the potential to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
For Grzelcyk, the addition of these new players should have multiple benefits during the season.
“It definitely creates a little more excitement in the locker room,” Grzelcyk said. “I think it’s good for the returning guys because we’ll have a lot of good competition in practice and stuff, so I think only good can come from it.”
Grzelcyk will take an even larger role with the team going forward, as the USNTDP product was given the title of team captain in April. Despite the honor, Grzelcyk said that he will not change his approach both on and off the ice this season.
“I’m probably just going to stick to what I’m doing, that’s what got me the recognition in the first place but it’s always nice to have that trust and belief from your teammates and coaches and things like that,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s definitely a humbling experience.”
While Grzelcyk was not able to fully participate in all of the drills and scrimmages during the camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acknowledged that he was happy with Grzelcyk’s performance as a whole.
“I thought he was good,” Chiarelli said. “He wasn’t able to participate fully, but Matt’s had a good collegiate career so far and I would anticipate that he picks it up again when he gets back. We’ve got some real good skating defenseman and he’s one of them. I was happy with it.”
The 2014-15 season may be over two months away, but Grzelcyk said that both he and the team are already focused on erasing the memories of a lackluster 2013-14 season and returning the Terriers to the top of the Hockey East standings.
“I think everyone is confident in a turnaround for sure,” Grzelcyk said. “It was a tough year with transitions and new recruits, a new coach and stuff, but I think we can use it to our advantage and kind of motivate us for the season going forward.”

1st line shows improvement against New Hampshire

By Sarah Kirkpatrick/DFP Staff

DURHAM, N.H. — Close, but not close enough. Better, but not good enough.
The Boston University men’s hockey team came close to a win against the University of New Hampshire Friday night and, were it not for several highlight-reel saves from Wildcats goaltender Casey DeSmith against an improved first line, the Terriers very well could have left Whittemore Center with a victory.
Instead, BU (8-17-4, 3-9-3 Hockey East) lost 4-3, its six consecutive game without a win. BU outshot UNH (17-15-1, 9-8 Hockey East) 40-27, including 13 shots in the final frame. It was the first time the team has outshot an opponent since a 4-1 win over Bentley University on Dec. 13, and much of that recent improvement can be attributed to the play of the first line.
That line, consisting of junior Evan Rodrigues, freshman Robbie Baillargeon and sophomore Danny O’Regan was doing nearly everything right on Friday. Those three combined for 15 of BU’s 40 shots, and each scored a goal against UNH. They are responsible for five of the six Terrier goals in the past two games.
“I thought the three of us were really moving tonight and making smart plays and being creative when we could and making plays down low,” O’Regan said after the loss to UNH. “I thought we were really clicking tonight.”
Rodrigues gave the Terriers life near the end of the first period, scoring a power-play goal on a rebound with 7.7 seconds left in the frame. He also assisted on an O’Regan goal at the 8:53 mark of the second period. It was the second consecutive multipoint game for Rodrigues, as he notched a goal and an assist against Harvard University in Monday night’s 6-2 loss.
BU coach David Quinn attributed the improved play of the first line in part to Rodrigues’ health. Rodrigues dealt with a knee injury earlier in the year but has started to recover.
“Well he’s getting healthier,” Quinn said. “I really like that line … Evan still has to shoot the puck more. He has to shoot quicker because he gets a lot of chances, but it’s nice to see him getting on the scoreboard because we need him. We need him to score goals and create offense.”
O’Regan’s goal came midway through the second period on a deke around DeSmith, bringing the Terriers within 3-2.
“We were all going off the adrenaline of the score and the chances on each shift,” he said. “We felt great.”
The Terriers certainly felt that adrenaline late, and were within 4-3 after a Baillargeon goal midway through the third frame. O’Regan could have tied the score up and gotten his 10th goal of the season with just minutes left in the game, but an unbelievable save from DeSmith preserved the score at 4-3. O’Regan lay on the ice in disbelief for several seconds after the save.
“We played the right way in the second and third period,” O’Regan said. “The whole team was really buzzing. We were all over them. A couple mistakes cost us, but I think offensively we were right on point. We ran into a hot goalie, got a little unlucky. A bounce here, a bounce there … I thought we did the right things. It was a tough loss. It seemed like stuff was starting to come together.”
Quinn said that the first line is starting to come together due in part to the players’ increased focus on simplicity.
“The game dictates that you need to just chip it behind somebody and go get it, or just make the simple play and that’s one thing we’ve been talking about,” Quinn said. “This isn’t about special plays, this is about making the simple by over and over again and if you do that, the special plays will just happen. And I thought that line is doing a much better job of it.”
O’Regan also noted that the line has been playing in a much improved, simpler fashion as of late.
“We have been playing a lot better lately,” O’Regan said. “We are starting to work hard. Making the simple plays is starting to work out. We are three guys who have some pretty good chemistry and have been keeping it simple. I think that was the key tonight.”
But Quinn said ultimately, while the Terriers and the first line in particular have shown great improvement over the past few weeks, it is frustrating not to escape with a win.
“We’ve made a lot of strides, we’ve played a lot more purposeful, we’ve been a lot more mature as a hockey team over the last month and we don’t have a lot to show for it,” Quinn said. “… [I’m] happy with the effort, happy with the progress we’ve made, very disappointed in the result.”

Pluses and Minuses: Penalties, turnovers doom Terriers in loss at Michigan

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The No. 13/14 Boston University men’s hockey team fell at the hands of No. 4 University of Michigan, 2-1, at Yost Ice Arena Friday night. Here is a look at some of the pluses and minuses for the Terriers in their second loss of the season.


Minuses

Team discipline dooms Terriers from start
BU has made a habit of spending time in the penalty box this season, a place that they found themselves a lot again Friday night at Michigan.

It started in the first period, when the Terriers took three penalties in the first 12 minutes of the game and allowed nine power play shots. One of the penalties was a too many men on the ice penalty, which is the second one BU has taken in as many games.

Besides a penalty shot induced by a hook from sophomore forward Mike Moran, the other four minor penalties were taken by four different defensemen. Senior captain Patrick MacGregor, who was benched for the first period because of the penalties he had taken in recent games, and freshman Dalton MacAfee were the only two defensemen that did not take a penalty in the game.

One reason the penalties were so necessary was because Michigan was passing the puck so well and had chances to get open looks at sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor. Three of the four penalties were tripping penalties while the other was an interference call, all of which were to stop the fast-paced Michigan offense from getting past them.

“It’s the theme of our year so far,” said BU coach David Quinn. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Even with the Terriers struggling to stay out of the box Friday night, penalty trouble has not been as much of a problem for BU as it has been for several other teams in Hockey East. BU is eighth in the league with 12 penalty minutes per game, 10.6 minutes per game behind league leader Northeastern University (22.6).

Sloppy puck-possession play leaves Terriers without offense
Quinn has stressed all season the importance of his team making the smart, five-foot pass instead of a long stretch pass through the neutral zone looking for a big play. However, the Terriers found themselves looking for longer passes again Friday night, and it fell right into the hands of the Wolverines defense that was waiting for them.

Several Terriers tried to squeeze longer passes through a suffocating Michigan defense, in turn creating offensive opportunities for the opponent instead of their own team. Quinn also pointed out BU’s struggles with passing on the initial rush as a reason his team did not possess the puck for much of the game.

“Coming down on a 2-on-2 or a 3-on-3 in tight areas with high-risk plays and boom, they turn it over and they go the other way,” Quinn said. “Against this team that is the last way you want to play. You can’t play that way. We did it all night long. … That’s the frustrating part.

“Decision making is a big part of this game. You’ve got to make good decisions, and when we had it we didn’t make great decisions.”

Pluses


Robbie Baillargeon finds the back of the net again

Freshman winger Robbie Baillargeon scored his first collegiate goal last Saturday against Wisconsin, and now he is on a bit of a streak. With less than two minutes remaining in the first period — a period in which the Terriers were outshot 14-6 — Baillargeon rifled a wrist shot over Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort’s shoulder while falling backward.

Quinn showed his confidence in Baillargeon’s abilities early when he put him on the first line with sophomore center Danny O’Regan and junior winger Evan Rodrigues, but decided a move to a line with sophomore winger Matt Lane and junior center Cason Hohmann would suit his skills better. Since joining that second line, Baillargeon has two goals and two assists and has been arguably the Terriers’ best forward.

“He’s got great skills,” Quinn said of his top-scoring freshman. “He’s a really good player. He’s going to produce a lot of offense for us.”

Matt O’Connor stands tall
The top Terrier on the night by a long shot was O’Connor, who made 42 saves in a losing effort. O’Connor was stellar on the penalty kill and 5-on-5, and made several key saves that required him to move post to post to kick the puck aside.

For more on O’Connor’s night, click here.