Time/location: 7 p.m., Tsongas Arena (Lowell)
Time/location: 7 p.m., Tsongas Arena (Lowell)
By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
Boston University men’s hockey senior defenseman Ryan Ruikka moved up to play fourth line forward for a brief stint early in February, shifting his playing style to be more offensive-minded. Even with the brief experience at forward, Ruikka has never shown that he is an offensive-minded player, as he only has four career goals.
So when Ruikka had more than a fifth of his team’s shots in No. 13/15 BU’s 3-0 loss to No. 12 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Friday night at Agganis Arena, it was apparent that there was something wrong with his team’s offense.
One of the main problems with the Terriers’ offense, as pointed out by BU coach Jack Parker, was that it had trouble getting through Lowell’s trap defense. Lowell had all five players sit back in the neutral zone at times, cutting off any BU offense before it made it into the offensive zone.
“We were forcing the puck up the ice and playing it 2-on-4 too much instead of regrouping and finally another area to carry it in,” Parker said. “I think Lowell played extremely well defensively”
Lowell coach Norm Bazin pointed out BU’s skill at creating offense from the weak side of the ice after the game, and said his team did a good job of shutting that lane down.
“We tried to hold the lines,” Bazin said. “I think maybe we forced a few more dumps than usual. However, overall they’ve got such dynamic forwards that we just try to do a good job of having a strong backcheck.”
Once BU made it through the trap, which was not often, it struggled to get the puck to Grade- A scoring areas. After getting five Grade-A chances in the each of the first and second periods, the Terriers only mustered up three Grade-A chances in the third period when it was trying to come from behind on the scoreboard.
Senior captain Wade Megan led his team with four Grade-A chances, and led all BU forwards with his four shots on the game. BU only managed 25 shots on Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, which is its lowest shot total since its 5–1 loss to the University of Massachusetts on Feb. 1.
“I don’t think [Hellebuyck] saw a lot of Grade-A shots,” Parker said. “They played really well on the initial rush and really well covering out front.”
BU’s offense has been inconsistent recently, scoring fewer than three goals in three of its last six games. The Terriers had scored three goals or more in seven consecutive games leading up to its loss to UMass, which is also the same day that former BU forward Wesley Myron left the team.
BU was shut out for the first time since 2009 earlier in the season at the University of Denver, when it lost 6-0. With Friday’s shutout, BU has now been shut out twice in a season for the first time since 2009 as well, when it did not score against Northeastern University and University of Notre Dame.
For now though, BU has to regroup and figure out a way to break through Lowell’s defense when it travels to Tsongas Arena Saturday night.
“We didn’t generate enough offense the second half of the game,” Parker said. “We didn’t generate enough offense the whole time … Disappointed that we didn’t create more offense. Disappointed we come out without a point.”
By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
The No. 13/15 Boston University men’s hockey team made history Friday night Agganis Arena: For the first time since they started playing on campus in 1971, the team has endured a five-game home winless streak thanks to dropping a 3-0 decision to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
It was another step backward for the Terriers (14-13-2, 11-8-2 Hockey East) after they seemed to be trending upward thanks to taking three of four points from Maine last weekend.
It was a widely unspectacular game, but here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU against the visiting River Hawks (17-9-2, 11-8-2 Hockey East).
Yes, the Terriers gave up a power-play goal at the 14:55 mark in the third, but on the night BU killed five of Lowell’s six penalties — mostly in an impressive fashion — and allowed only five shots.
Lowell’s lone goal on the man-advantage came with nine seconds left on forward Sam Kurker’s tripping penalty — the latest in the freshman’s rash of minors in recent weeks — when the puck ended up trickling through freshman goalie Matt O’Connor’s legs.
BU coach Jack Parker was pleased with penalty kill overall, but harped on a pair of apparent missed calls, one of which lead to that power-play goal.
Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was battling for the puck behind BU’s net when a River Hawk knocked his stick out of his hands. Grzelcyk looked confused, as if he wanted a whistle, before trying to kick the puck out of the zone.
Parker was furious when Lowell scored seconds later.
“I believe it’s a penalty if you slash a guys stick out of his hands,” Parker, calmer after the game, said. “The guy slashed his stick out of his hands right in front of the referee and [Lowell] got the puck on through to net. We were playing three and a half because he [Grzelcyk] didn’t have a stick and like I say, I’m pretty sure that if you slash somebodies stick it’s a penalty.”
Effort has been a buzzword for Parker all semester, and Friday night the team continued to do well in that department, according to the coach.
“[The loss] wasn’t for our lack of effort,” Parker said. “We were pretty alert. We were pretty intense we were pretty emotional. This was not a blah game for us. We just couldn’t beat a team that was playing very well tonight.
Lowell’s first goal UML opened up the scoring at 5:35 in the second after a lengthy possession in BU’s zone. With defensemen Garrett Noonan and Grzelcyk exhausted and BU’s top line looking for a change, they got just a little too eager.
“Just a bad change,” Parker said. “We never should have changed when the puck is at our blue line. One guy came off early, another guy started to come off, try to go back down on again. But either way [Scott Wilson] really ripped it. That was a rocket.”
Terrier power play
BU came into the came having converted on 10 of their last 44 power-play opportunities, but went 0-for-3 with just four shots Friday night.
Much of that could be credited to Lowell — taking just three penalties to begin with was a sign of Lowell’s discipline, a factor coach Norm Bazin commented on after the game — but when the Terriers did get a chance they rarely set up in Lowell’s zone.
Parker said the crowd, which was unusually quiet Friday, had nothing to do with it.
“The fans were here. They would have energized us if we energized them,” Parker said. “We didn’t get a goal. We’re down 2-0, but we could have been winning eight in a row and if you’re down 2-0 and you’re not doing anything, creating enough offense, it doesn’t energize. So I don’t think it’s the fans’ fault at all. We had a nice crowd, but we didn’t give them enough to cheer about.”
With this loss the Terriers drop into a tie with Lowell for fifth in the Hockey East standings.
The top four teams get to host the Hockey East quarterfinals, but at this point, the Terriers might be wondering whether or not they want to play at Jack Parker Rink.
Photos by Michael Cummo/DFP Staff
By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
Agganis Arena was quiet on Friday, with even the student sections largely empty, and that lack of energy was mirrored on the ice for much of the game as the No. 13/15 Boston University men’s hockey team lost 3-0 to the No. 12 University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
“The fans were here. They would have energized us if we energized them,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “We didn’t get a goal. We’re down 2-0, but we could have been winning eight in a row and if you’re down 2-0 and you’re not doing anything, creating enough offense, it doesn’t energize.”
Freshman goalie Matt O’Connor stopped 24 of 27 River Hawk (17-9-2, 12-7-2) shots, but the Terrier (14-13-2, 11-8-2 Hockey East) offense mustered just 25 on UML rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck, few of them threatening.
“I don’t think he saw a lot of Grade-A shots,” Parker said of Hellebuyck. “They played really well on the initial rush and really well covering out front.”
BU had not been shut out in conference play since Nov. 6, 2009, against Northeastern University. The Terriers and River Hawks are now tied for fifth in Hockey East entering Saturday’s game in Lowell.
After an uneventful first period, UML’s Scott Wilson put the River Hawks on the board a little over five minutes into the second. UML held the puck in the Terriers’ zone for most of a shift. Then BU’s forwards changed with the puck at their defensive blue line, and their defensemen, junior Garrett Noonan and freshman Matt Grzelcyk, couldn’t get off.
Wilson came onto the ice and lifted a wrist shot over O’Connor without meeting much resistance from BU.
“We never should have changed when the puck is at our blue line,” Parker said. “But either way, [Scott Wilson] really ripped it. That was a rocket.”
BU had power play chances, one late in the second and one midway through the third, but didn’t exert the pressure on Hellebuyck they had against the University of Maine the weekend before. With UML’s Ryan McGrath in the box in the third, they spent most of the man-advantage pinned in their own zone by River Hawk forwards, struggling to break out.
“I thought it was an emotional boost during that play, where I think for maybe 15 or 20 seconds we had it — I think it might have been [Josh] Holmstrom or [Adam] Chapie — carried the play down deep, and that was a real emotional boost for the bench,” UML coach Norm Bazin said.
Shortly afterward, the River Hawks capitalized on a power play chance of their own. Freshman forward Sam Kurker went off for a trip, and UML captain Riley Wetmore took a shot that squeezed through O’Connor’s pads and across the goal line to make it 3-0.
Only two Grade-A shots made it through to Hellebuyck in the third, both from senior captain Wade Megan, and BU struggled to pick up rebounds around the net for second and third opportunities.
“I know it was a pretty good game for us as far as effort was concerned. And, for the most part, as far as brains are concerned,” Parker said. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t create more offense. Disappointed we come out without a point.”
Time/location: 7:30 p.m., Agganis Arena
Greg Amlong – Chad Ruhwedel
Joe Houk – Christian Folin
Zack Kamrass – Jake Suter
By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
With seven games remaining in the regular season, this weekend’s matchups against No. 12 University of Massachusetts-Lowell are crucial to the No. 13/15 Boston University men’s hockey team. Against the surging River Hawks (16-9-2, 10-8-2 Hockey East), everything must go right — including junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan avoiding the costly mistake he made last time.
“I expect I won’t spear anybody,” the defenseman said.
On Jan. 19, when UML beat BU (14-12-2, 11-7-2 Hockey East) 4-3, Noonan collided with River Hawk goalie Doug Carr late in the game and was called for spearing. He was suspended for two games by Hockey East for the incident.
Noonan said Carr is a good friend of his, and that they laughed about the incident after the fact. With that suspension behind him and just six penalty minutes in five games since, Noonan said he is ready for another chance at the River Hawks.
“They’re in your face,” Noonan said of UML. “We need to play the body. We need to be physical right back at them. We need to be ourselves.”
After a loss to Harvard University in the Beanpot consolation game that may have marked the low point of a six-week-long skid, BU took three of four possible points last weekend from the University of Maine.
Video from BU’s 4-3 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Jan. 19 and the postgame press conference.