Terrier seniors skate off Garden ice for final time without a trophy

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

There are a lot of ways to classify the members of the Boston University men’s hockey Class of 2013: best friends, leaders and even professional prospects, for some of them.

But there is one thing the seniors are not: champions.
With a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in Saturday’s Hockey East title game at TD Garden, BU (21-16-2) wrapped up its fourth consecutive season without a major tournament championship.
For captain Wade Megan, Sean Escobedo, Ben Rosen and Ryan Santana — the final four of what was originally a group of seven in the fall of 2009 — it was the end of their careers donning scarlet and white, four years without a single Beanpot, Hockey East regular season crown, Hockey East tournament title or national championship.
I didn’t think I’d be leaving BU without any trophies,” Megan said. “But the group of guys we had and the senior class this year was pretty amazing.”
The official senior class also includes fifth-year assistant captain Ryan Ruikka, who came to BU in 2008, and Jake Moscatel, who joined the team at the halfway point last season and will likely be back next year. But for the quartet that started together and ended together, Saturday’s loss, which also ended Jack Parker’s BU hockey career, served as the final dip after four years of peaks and valleys.

There was the low of the 2009-10 team that barely finished over .500 a year after winning the national championship, and the low of failing to get out of the Hockey East quarterfinals as sophomores the next year.
The Terriers looked like one of the best teams in the country at times when this group was juniors. Then they lost a pair of teammates to legal issues and had another quit on them — all in the middle of the season. The team pulled together and even managed an NCAA tournament bid.
Two members of the Class of 2013 ended their tenure at the school early for more joyous reasons — Alex Chiasson signed with the Dallas Stars in April 2012, then Justin Courtnall signed with the Providence Bruins in August — before another valley. A task force, commissioned following the arrests of a pair of players, slapped the well-documented “culture of sexual entitlement” label on the program last fall.
For a time, seniors’ final campaign seemed destined to be its best yet.
With a large freshman class, a miserable slump that consumed most of the second half and having two more teammates quit mid-season, the Terriers managed to finish in the top half of the conference standings.
The Terriers powered through Merrimack College in the quarterfinals, and even came from behind to beat rival Boston College in the semifinals.
But Saturday night, with a trophy on the line, BU couldn’t come through.
“It’s something you think about. It gets brought up a lot,” Rosen said of the championship drought. “But obviously we’ve been through a lot and we’re still here, and to make it to the Garden … it’s just a testament to how strong we’ve been as a senior class and as a team in general.”
The scene on the Garden ice after the game was a familiar one — a celebration and pure bliss on one end, disappointment and hunched-over bodies at the other.
“The last two years have been pretty tough, losing classmates and things like that,” Escobedo said. “But I think it has just made us closer as a unit. Even this year a couple guys have left early, but it has just made us a tighter unit and I think Coach is a big part of that.”
Parker, though, gave his squad a lot of credit. He told the team in the dressing room he was “proud to be their coach this year.”
“And I mentioned that I was happy that Wade Megan was my last captain, because he was a hell of a captain,” Parker said. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of those types of guys over my career here, over 40 years here. He was a terrific captain for us.”
“This wasn’t a hugging fest or a goodbye fest. We’ll see each other,” Parker continued. “It was more like any other time you lose your last game of the season. Kids are crying in the dressing room. They wanted to win it for the seniors, they wanted to go a little longer, they wanted to get a trophy.”
But as Megan put it, “It wasn’t meant to be.”
The seniors’ lasting legacy is yet to be determined. Will they be remembered as a troubled class, marred by people’s memories of the task force? One that failed to win anything on the ice? Or simply as Parker’s last?
Only time will tell for sure, but Megan has one idea.
With glassy eyes and a stare off into the distance, Megan found something else for the seniors to hang their collective hat on: laying a foundation for the future.
“What we did leave for this organization is we hopefully showed the freshmen and the younger guys what it means to wear the uniform and what it means to be a BU hockey player,” he said. “That’s very important to us. I think we did a good job of that.”

Three up, three down: BU defense stifles Merrimack, but Terriers still have work to do

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team took the first necessary step forward of the postseason on Friday, beating Merrimack College 3-0 at Agganis Arena in the first game of the Hockey East quarterfinals. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU in Game 1.

Three up
Peppering Marotta 
BU hit Merrimack junior goalie Sam Marotta with 45 shots Friday, and attempted a total of 77 compared to the Warriors’ attempted 50. In the second and third periods, they had 20 Grade-A chances to Merrimack’s four.

Although BU coach Jack Parker praised the Warriors’ energy in the first period, BU outshot them 13-7 even in that frame. The Terriers picked up the pressure from there, registering 15 shots in the second and 17 in the third. Marotta had a .933 save percentage on the night, stopping 42 shots, but that wasn’t enough to earn his team the win.

“We looked pretty sharp with the puck, played hard without it, and I liked our grit, and I liked our poise with the puck,” Parker said.

Defense creates “hole in the middle”
For most of the game, BU’s defensemen kept Merrimack to the perimeter in the offensive zone, preventing them from getting quality scoring chances. That was nowhere more apparent than on the shot chart from the second period: Merrimack didn’t take a single shot from below the faceoff dots or anywhere in the slot.

The Terriers didn’t block an outstanding number of shots. In fact, they only blocked seven, a relatively low figure by their standards. But they forced the Warriors to the outside, making it harder for them to challenge freshman goalie Sean Maguire.

“We did a good job of not giving them big jumps, two-on-ones or three-on-ones,” Parker said. “We had a couple of two-on-ones and they didn’t. So we did a good job on that. But we did defend pretty well in Grade-A. I think that was an aberration that that was such a big hole in the middle. I don’t think that happens very often with them. They usually get the puck to the net. So we played pretty well there.”

Santana on the board
Before Friday’s game, senior forward Ryan Santana hadn’t scored since Jan. 4 against Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. He picked up his second goal of the year to give BU a three-goal cushion just 55 seconds into the third period Friday, a rare payoff on the scoresheet for all the work he’s done on BU’s power play and penalty kill recently.

“He’s a senior. He’s getting a lot of ice time. He was a fourth-liner for us – he’s still a fourth-liner for us, but he now kills every penalty and plays every power play, and nobody deserves it more than he does,” Parker said. “He works so hard, and he’s a great example of, keep working. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Three down 
Power play underperforms
In eight power-play opportunities, the Terriers had 14 shots, almost a third of their total on the night. However, they scored just one goal, the rebound Santana jammed past Marotta early in the third.

Second- and third-chance goals on the power play are nothing to complain about. Considering the number of shots BU had, though, their production could be disappointing. The Terriers also failed to capitalize on a prolonged 5-on-3 in the third period, although they were already up 3-0 by that point.

Lack of depth on defense exposed, briefly 
The scariest moment of the night for BU came not from any Merrimack scoring chance, but when freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk slammed awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Grzelcyk stayed facedown on the ice for a minute or so and skated off favoring his left leg.

He returned for the rest of the game and took his shifts as usual, although he appeared to be skating somewhat stiffly at times. Parker said it was a relief to see him return, although he wasn’t sure whether the ankle might swell up more after Grzelcyk removed his skate.

If Grzelcyk had been unable to play the rest of the game, BU would have had five defensemen dressed, including junior Matt Ronan, who played sparingly.

“As my twin brother Bob always, says, ‘I was a-scared,’” Parker said. “We can’t afford to lose [Grzelcyk] or anybody, so it was nice to see him get up. When he walked off, I thought, he’s going to be okay. We’ll see what happens when he takes his skate off – it might puff up a little. We’re really thin there.”

Not done yet
This isn’t a negative so much as a fact, but BU still has at least 60 more minutes to play against Merrimack, and despite the way they’ve dominated the Warriors this season, they can’t afford to take them for granted in a best-of-three series.

The Terriers’ NCAA tournament hopes rest on making it deep into the Hockey East tournament. That’s especially true because eliminating Merrimack from the conference tournament actually removes Merrimack from being a Team Under Consideration for the NCAA tournament, thereby hurting BU’s standing in the PairWise rankings. So even though they’ve now won three straight games for the first time all year, the Terriers still have plenty of work ahead of them before they can begin to celebrate.

Three up, three down: Defense allows 50 shots against, but Maguire stands out

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

Against a University of Vermont team desperate to clinch a playoff spot, the Boston University men’s hockey team earned a 3-1 win at home Friday to move into a tie for fourth place in Hockey East. Junior wing Matt Nieto and freshman goalie Sean Maguire turned in outstanding individual performances for the Terriers. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU.

Three up
Maguire’s 49 saves
In his last three starts, Maguire has stopped 40, 36 and 49 shots. He said Friday that the more pucks he sees, the more focused he is, and that was evident as he turned away a barrage of 22 Catamount shots in the third period.

Of those 22 shots, 11 came from below the faceoff dots in the defensive zone, many rebound chances and one-timers that forced Maguire to react quickly. Vermont didn’t stop threatening until the final buzzer sounded, but Maguire held on to turn in one of his best performances yet as a Terrier.

Second line
Nieto got the first-star recognition, and rightly so, but his linemates, freshman Danny O’Regan and sophomore Evan Rodrigues, each had two assists on the night. Rodrigues created the rush that led to Nieto’s third goal, and O’Regan threaded a pass through traffic in the slot to set him up for his second.

“My teammates and linemates made it easy for me,” Nieto said. “They set me up for success where I just had to tap pucks into open nets.”

Nieto has six points – five goals and an assist – over the last two games, and Rodrigues has at least a point in seven of his last eight games.

Power-play success
After going 0 for its last 18, the BU power play scored twice on six opportunities Friday, with 10 shots. The power-play unit with O’Regan, Nieto and senior Ryan Santana up front and Rodrigues and freshman blueliner Ahti Oksanen at the points accounted for both goals.

That group has shown the balance of skills the Terriers need: O’Regan’s playmaking vision, Nieto and Rodrigues’ creativity with the puck and finishing ability, Santana’s hard work in the corners and at the crease, and Oksanen’s powerful slap shot from the point. Santana’s net-front presence and Rodrigues’ poise at the point have made them the Terriers’ most effective power-play unit.

“He has been a great addition to our power play in front of the net as well, getting screens and creating mayhem in front of their net,” Nieto said of Santana.

Three down
50 shots against
Vermont averaged 28.7 shots per game before Friday. They got 50 through to the net in the game, had 22 more blocked by BU players, sent 12 off target, and hit one pipe. All in all, the Catamounts attempted 85 shots to the Terriers’ 66.

BU allows, on average, more shots than it takes per game – 32.9 compared to 30.5 – but that ratio got out of hand Friday, forcing Maguire to make numerous saves on second and third chances from close range.

“We’ve got to play harder in front of our net than they do,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “We had too many times when they were banging away and we weren’t clearing them out, so we’ll take a look at that.”

Matching Vermont’s physicality
The Terriers got off to a quick start on Friday, but midway through the first period, the Catamounts’ style of play began to slow them down. Although they weren’t called for a penalty until almost 15 minutes into the period, they found other ways to impede the Terriers’ progress through the neutral zone and tie them up along the boards.

Despite being the most-penalized team in the league, BU isn’t a particularly physical squad, and early on Friday, it looked as though Vermont might be able to shove and check them off their game. Eventually, BU’s superior speed won out, but not without some bruises.

“I saw them play in a 1-1 game against UNH, their last game,” Parker said. “I had that game on film, and I watched that just to scout UVM and I thought they were unbelievably physical that night. They weren’t quite as physical tonight.”

BU winding down, Vermont winding up
In the first period, BU outshot Vermont 14-11. In the second, Vermont led 17-10 and in the third, 22-8. While BU didn’t play badly or lazily late in the game, they did lack some of the Catamounts’ intensity after the latter found themselves in a 3-1 hole, still fighting to secure a playoff spot.

“This is a desperate hockey club we played tonight,” Maguire said. “They’re going to be shooting from everywhere, trying to get some gritty goals, and that’s what they did tonight.”

Three Up, three down: Santana brings life to power play in 5-4 OT win

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team finished off a 5-4 overtime win over the University of Maine in the final four seconds at Alfond Arena Saturday night. Here is a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Terriers in the win.

Three Up

Santana helps the power play
BU coach Jack Parker made a personnel change to his second power play unit, moving senior forward Ryan Santana onto the line and moving sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues back to the point.

The change proved effective Saturday night, as that unit scored twice with a man-advantage. On both goals, a shot from the point kicked back out into the slot, where Santana won a battle for the puck and helped move it to freshman forward Danny O’Regan to shoot on a wide open goal.

“I thought he looked great,” Parker said. “He did a good job taking faceoffs for the power play. He was in their crease. He is the reason why our point men are shooting it low from the point, because there is a screen there.”

The BU power play had recently had an 0-for-12 stretch and had been struggling to get shots toward the goal before Santana’s addition.

Sean Maguire
For the first 20 minutes of the game, it looked as if Maine was going to run away on the scoreboard. The Black Bears led the Terriers in shots 10–3 through the first half of the first period, and then 18–8 by the end of it.

However, BU clung to its short deficit through the first frame thanks to 17 saves from freshman goalie Sean Maguire. The only goal that snuck past the Powell River, British Columbia native was a power-play goal that deflected off senior defenseman and to Maguire’s side, where he did not have a chance to make the save.

Maguire made a career-high 40 saves on the night, and made some key saves in the third period despite allowing three goals.

Holding on in the standings
The Terriers have struggled of late, but they have not fallen out of contention for the first place in Hockey East. With the overtime win Saturday night, BU has pulled even with the University of New Hampshire at third place in the league, only trailing first-place Merrimack College and second-place Boston College.

BU has a crucial series with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell coming up before its re-scheduled game against Merrimack College on Tuesday, Feb. 26. After those games, BU has weekend series with the University of Vermont and Northeastern University, who are both among the bottom four teams in the league.

“Not getting points in a weekend puts you way down. Every weekend is so important,” Parker said. “We are back in the thick of it.”

Three Down

Start of the game
The Terriers got outshot 18–8 in the first period, but it was more than just the shots totals that made Maine look like the better team. The Black Bears controlled the puck for much of the frame, dominating time of possession.

A bad start did not hurt BU in the end Saturday night, but BU could have left Alfond Arena with only one point on the weekend instead of three had Maguire not bailed the team out.

End of the game
BU started the game poorly, but it ended the game on an even worse run. The Terriers allowed three goals in the final period after earning a three-goal lead, including a goal in the final minute of play that sent the game to overtime.

This is not the first time BU has surrendered a three-goal lead this season. The team did it twice to Harvard on Jan. 9 before accomplishing the same feat Saturday night. However, Maguire said no one on the team lost its composure when they lost the lead.

“No one was scared on the bench,” Maguire said. “We kept our composure and I think that’s one of the traits of a strong team, and we have it. That’s why we won 5-4.”

Joey Diamond
Maine captain Joey Diamond agitated senior forward Wade Megan enough to take a double-minor penalty Friday night and then capitalized with a power-play goal on the ensuing man-advantage.

Diamond gave the Terriers fits again Saturday night, as he totaled a game-high nine shots and scored his team’s second goal to start a run in the third period. Fortunately for the Terriers, BU will likely not have to face the Long Beach, N.Y., native again, as he is graduating after the end of this season.

Three up, three down: Highlights hard to find in BU’s fourth straight winless game

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
The No. 13 Boston University men’s ice hockey team fell to Harvard University, 7-4, to finish last in the Beanpot for the second time in three years.
The Terriers (13-12-1, 10-7-1 Hockey East) jumped out to a 2-0 start before Harvard went on a 6-1 run over the course of about 40 minutes. Here’s a look at what went right — not a whole lot — and what went wrong for BU.
Three up
Power play
The man-advantage was a focus for the Terriers during their week between Beanpot Mondays, and it seems to have paid off, albeit in a loss.
BU had failed on 13 consecutive power plays chances but came through twice vs. Harvard. First sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues found the back of the net just 1:38 into the second to put BU up 3-2.
Then in the third, with the game well out of hand, sophomore forward Cason Hohmann did the same thanks to assists from linemates Wade Megan and Sahir Gill.
Senior captain Megan even tallied a shorthanded goal in the first period to make it a good day for BU special teams.
Ryan Santana                                     
The senior forward got some time on the power play vs. Harvard, manning the crease and trying to screen Crimson goalie Peter Traber.
BU coach Jack Parker’s lineup tweaks paid off again when Santana collected a pair of assists to double his total on the year. He set up freshman forward Mike Moran’s tally to open the scoring before assisting on Rodrigues’ goal.
With BU’s forward depth essentially nonexistent — defenseman Ryan Ruikka has been playing forward and senior forward Jake Moscatel has a separated shoulder — Santana could become an increasingly important role player for the Terriers down the stretch.
Mike Moran
Yes, it is hard to find positives in BU’s loss — but it’s easy to tip your cap to a freshman finally scoring his first goal of the season.
The Marshfield native found the rebound off Santana’s original shot and one-timed it into a wide open net at 3:12 in the first to give the Terriers their first goal of the game.
Moran had to fight for a lineup spot earlier this season, but with this season’s pair of mid-year departures that is no longer a problem. He, just like Santana, might play a bigger role in BU’s final nine games.
Three down
Sean Maguire      
Maguire had looked like he was starting to separate himself from fellow freshman netminder Matt O’Connor, and Parker said Maguire may have started Monday vs. Harvard even if he played vs. Merrimack Friday (a game postponed due to weather).
But the 6-foot-2 goalie gave up six goals on just 30 shots, giving him an ugly .800 save percentage on the night. He allowed a few big rebounds and at times looked lost when trying to find the puck, chances even the 6-15-2 Crimson jumped on.
Maguire appeared to have taken a whack in the head at the hands of a Harvard stick toward the end of the first, and after the buzzer he was hunched over with a trainer before leaving the ice.
He seemed fine,” Parker said of the goalie and his head. “He wasn’t fine at the time, but he was fine after that.”
Penalties, early and often
If you had to summarize BU’s season in one word, “undisciplined” might be it.
Penalties marred the Terriers again Monday night, just as they have so often have this season in general and the last month and a half in particular.
Freshman forward Sam Kurker took a pair of interference penalties less than five minutes apart in the first to get the parade started.
Sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera opened the floodgates with his five-minute kneeing penalty and the game misconduct partnered with it — his third ejection of the season — late in the second.
In all, BU committed nine penalties for 29 minutes.
Parker had no answers when it came to why his team spends so much time in the box. He has said in the past he punishes players for “dumb” penalties with 20-mile bike rides, but that does not seem to be working.
Most of our stupid penalties are at the end of the game when we don’t like what is happening and we let our emotions go the wrong way,” Parker said. “We have to just remove guys from ice time. That is the only thing you can do … If you don’t get on the ice, it is hard to take a penalty.”
Clearly there is a lot wrong with the Terriers right now, and “motivation” is far from the only way to label it.
Parker said one of his team’s problems is that they can’t get up for games, Monday included. He said even when his team went up 2-0 about halfway through the first period it wasn’t playing particularly well, and that lack of enthusiasm indeed came back to bite them.
BU is now 3-7-1 since Christmas and on the bubble for home-ice advantage during the Hockey East playoffs and a national tournament bid. All that comes after first semester that left them looking like one of the best teams in the country.
The major problem is the lack of compete and the lack of coming to the game and putting it on the line,” Parker said. They are almost waiting for something bad to happen.”
What else do they need?

Ryan Santana steps up in BU’s 3-2 overtime win against Rensselaer

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Thursday afternoon after the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team’s last practice of the week, senior defenseman Sean Escobedo said the team had a challenge. Who, in the absence of senior captain and leading goal scorer Wade Megan, would step up?
As the Terriers hosted the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Agganis Arena Friday night, Escobedo got his answer: Ryan Santana.
The senior forward, who switched from fourth-line right wing to center for much of the game as a result of Megan being out, scored a crucial game-tying goal in the first period and had arguably his strongest game of the year.
He played real well. Real well,” BU head coach Jack Parker reiterated. “He played on two different lines, too, so he got a lot of ice time.”
Indeed, after a less-than-impressive first 40 minutes for the Terriers (11-6, 8-4 Hockey East), Parker tinkered with the lines for the final frame. That resulted in Santana moving off the fourth line — during which he had freshman Mike Moran and senior Jake Moscatel on his wings — to third-line right wing with center Ben Rosen and left wing Matt Lane.
The changes led to big improvements for BU, as the Terriers came back to tie it in the third and then win it on sophomore forward Cason Hohmann’s overtime game-winner. But most of Santana’s damage came in the first two periods while he was playing his natural position of center.
The 24-year-old, Yorba Linda, Calif., native found the back of the net with about five minutes left in the first. Moran drove to the net and took the initial shot, then Santana got the rebound by RPI (6-8-4) goalie Bryce Merriam to knot the score at one.
The bottom two lines’ performance on the whole and Santana’s goal in particular drew praise from Parker, who said they played better than the top two offensive units for much of the game. Four of the top six forwards — freshmen Wes Myron and Danny O’Regan, sophomore Evan Rodrigues and junior Matt Nieto — stayed off the score sheet completely.
The third and fourth lines, our job is just to go out there and get it deep and try and bang bodies and put pressure on [RPI],” Santana said. “As the third and fourth line for tonight, those first two periods I think we did a good job of that. We didn’t try to do anything too fancy. That’s not really our job or our style.”
Santana would know.
In his three and a half seasons donning the scarlet and white, he’s never been a highly touted or flashy player. He’s never scored more than three goals in a season and has only 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in exactly 100 collegiate games.
But, once in a while, he comes through, just like Escobedo said someone would need to against the Engineers.
Santana’s energy also played a crucial role in helping the Terriers wake up from their apparent lackadaisical state over much of the last two games. After falling to the University of Denver 6-0 last Saturday, the Terriers were slow out of the gate again Friday.
Denver, we were still sort of Christmas mode. The work effort was there, but the awareness wasn’t there,” Santana said. “[Friday] from the first period we were still kind of in that Denver mode. Second period was a little better, and third period it was kind of like we were back to that first semester sort of awareness and playing, and that is a good — we have to carry that over to the next game now.
“Hopefully we can do that because we can’t make too many mistakes this second semester.”