UPDATED: BU mounts comeback, ties UMass 2-2

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

AMHERST — Possibly in celebration of the all-important “Halloweekend,” the Boston University men’s hockey team wore both of its costumes tonight in a 2-2 with University of Massachusetts.

The Terriers (2-2-1, 1-1-1 Hockey Easy) ditched their careless outfits in favor of their effortful ones after falling falling behind 2-0 in the first half against the Minutemen (1-2-2, 0-1-2 Hockey East), coming back to salvage the conference road matchup, thanks in large part to senior goaltender Kieran Millan (33 saves) and sophomore forward Matt Nieto (one goal, one assist).

“I thought our goaltender played great,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I thought he stole the point for us.”

But the first step to a comeback is, of course, falling behind, and the Terriers checked off that prerequisite early on.

Just 37 seconds after having their first goal called back – UMass forward Michael Pereira took advantage of a rebound, but he was ruled in the crease – the Minutemen netted another to take a 1-0 lead. Forward T.J. Syner netted no-doubter into the net vacated senior goaltender Kieran Millan, who has just stopped the initial shot.

It was the result of a relatively uneventful and unimpressive period for the Terriers, who failed to capitalize on both of their power plays and consistently dumped pucks without chasing. BU also had a problem with faceoffs, winning six of 16, which foreshadowed their 26-for-56 performance on the night.

BU came out without much energy again in the second stanza, performing at a level that yielded more turnovers, faceoff losses and slow transitions.

The poor Terrier play opened the door for UMass to extend its lead to 2-0 on a goal from UMass forward Conor Sheary. Defenseman Max Nicastro did the Minutemen a favor when he attempted to block the shot but missed, taking himself out of the play. Sheary capitalized after a pass from forward Rocco Carzo, promptly putting the puck in the top right corner at 6:08.

The Terriers picked up their game a bit in the last five minutes of the period, with Nieto cashing in on an assist from sophomore forward Charlie Coyle during one of BU’s only odd-man-rushes of the night. The goal was Nieto’s fifth in as many games, and was the first half of a comeback to be completed in the third.

“They turned the puck over in our own end and Coyle made a good heads up play and got me the puck,” Nieto said. “Me and Noonan had a 2-on-1 and he drove the net which gave me a little more time and space, and I found five-hole so it was a good goal.”

Nieto’s night wasn’t over yet, as he helped tie the game at 5:16 in the third by assisting sophomore forward Sahir Gill’s goal. Gill knocked it past UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle, who ended up on his stomach in the crease. Coyle was also credited with an assist, his second of the night and seventh of the season.

The teams remained tied through the end of regulation despite several chances on both sides, a trend that continued in overtime.

Less than a minute in, Gill centered a pass right in front of the UMass goal, but no Terrier was there to put it in. BU controlled play for the first three minutes of the extra time, with UMass getting most of their chances later on.

Parker took a timeout at 4:42 in OT, but not to draw up a play. He just wanted to give his best line – a two-line combination of Gill, Coyle and Nieto – a breather and a chance to regroup before the final stretch.

It didn’t work.

“I wanted one little play to see if we couldn’t chip a puck free to get going,” Parker said, “and then in the end of it, with six seconds left, we got the puck inside our blue line. We’re not going to be able to get a goal with six seconds left from their end. Then we turned the puck over trying to make a play to get [UMass] an unbelievable opportunity.

“[UMass] just flopped on the opportunity.”

Crusaders conquer Terriers

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

In an up-and-down battle at Agganis Arena on Saturday night, the No. 7/8 Boston University Terriers bowed to the Holy Cross Crusaders, 5-4.

Holy Cross struck first 6:26 into the period when senior goaltender Kieran Millan came out to the top of his crease to make a stop on Mike Daly but Erik Vos was camped out to Millan’s left, and he banged the rebound into a virtually empty net.

The Terriers got even soon after when senior forward Corey Trivino dropped a pass back to sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening, who fed the puck across the zone to sophomore forward Sahir Gill. With Matt ginn on the other side of the crease to defend Clendening, Gill simply tucked the puck into an empty net at 8:04.

BU took a 2-1 lead 40 seconds later when sophomore forward Charlie Coyle sent a puck across the zone to sophomore forward Matt Nieto, who found Chiasson down low. Chiasson beat Ginn easily for the score.

But the Crusaders, sparked by penalties from the Terriers, took control for the rest of the period. Just over halfway into the period, Patrick MacGregor was sent to the box for hooking. Sean Escobedo joined him 44 seconds later on a clear slash, and the Crusaders took advantage. Just 15 seconds into the two-man advantage, Adam Schmidt slipped a shot through a scrambling Garrett Noonan and Kieran Millan to tie the game.

The Crusaders regained the lead with just 2:23 left in the period. Millan stopped the initial shot from Andrew Cox, but left the puck lying in the crease. Schmidt put it away for the 3-2 advantage.

In the second period, Holy Cross doubled its lead to 4-2 with a little help from junior defenseman Max Nicastro, who booted a rebound off Andrew Cox’s shot past Millan.

At 12:53 in the third period, junior forward Wade Megan laid a nasty hit on Shayne Stockton. The Crusader was down on the ice for several minutes and Megan was ejected from the game. Holy Cross cashed in ten seconds into the man-advantage when Brendan Baker blasted a shot from the blue line past Millan.

Chiasson tightened the game to 5-3 at 9:31 when he scored right off a faceoff win by Trivino.

The Terriers killed off a 5-on-3 situation a little more than halfway through the period, and responded in due fashion when, at 12:45, Nieto caught a pass from Charlie Coyle, circled in front of the net and backhanded a shot past Ginn, bringing the Terriers to a 5-4 deficit.

Cohen’s Cup dreams fulfilled

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

When former Boston University defenseman Colby Cohen decided to forego his senior season to pursue an NHL career, he dreamed of winning a Stanley Cup. He never expected to win it one year later back in Boston.

“Obviously I had hopes to win the Stanley Cup and be able to raise the Cup,” Cohen said. “It’s just I thought I’d do it with Colorado.”

And why not? Cohen left BU to join the Avalanche organization, which drafted Cohen in the second round (45th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft. Cohen played in three NHL games during the 2010-11 season with Colorado before he was traded to the Bruins on Nov. 29 for defenseman Matt Hunwick.

Cohen was immediately assigned to the Providence Bruins, where he played in 46 games and earned 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) and a plus-5 rating while impressing the Boston brass enough to earn himself a call-up for Boston’s playoff run.

Cohen’s experience in the postseason was atypical for what people would expect from a Stanley Cup champion. As a member of a playoff practice squad called the Black Aces, Cohen did not play in any games for the Bruins and dressed only to take the ice with the team for the Stanley Cup presentation ceremony. His name will not be inscribed on the Cup, but despite his minimal role with the team, Cohen said the Bruins veterans made him feel every bit included in the celebration.

“The team just won the Cup and I got to be a part of it and stand on the ice,” Cohen said. “I’m standing there [after Game 7] and Shawn Thornton hands me the cup and [Thornton] says ‘Put that thing over your head, you’re just as much a part of this team.’ It was obviously quite the experience.”

Thornton was not the only player to show his appreciation for Cohen and the Black Aces. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara thanked the Black Aces for their contributions earlier in the playoffs.

“He pulled some of us aside and told us how much he appreciated the hard work we put in behind the scenes, whether it’s on the bike or on the ice, and our commitment to the greater goal as a team,” Cohen said. “Those guys – him and Recchi and Shawn Thornton, guys like that who have been around for a while were just so appreciative and made it so much easier for us to do what we did and be a part of it.”

While the Bruins’ Stanley Cup win was Cohen’s second championship in three years, his experience winning a championship with the Bruins was markedly different from when he won with the Terriers.

Cohen scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Terriers, but watched Game 7 from a suite high in Rogers Arena with the other scratches, Bruins ownership and management personnel. He said it was harder to watch Game 7 than it was to play in overtime of the 2009 Frozen Four final.

“In ‘09, I knew we were going to win the game once we tied it,” Cohen said. “But I was more nervous when I was watching Game 7 than I was playing overtime just because I knew in ‘09 that I could influence the game for good or for worse. For me personally, that takes the nerves right away because I like those kinds of situations.”

Following the Stanley Cup win, Cohen took part in celebrations similar to those he experienced after winning the NCAA championship with BU. The biggest difference between the BU and Stanley Cup celebrations, Cohen said, was how involved the players’ and organization’s families were.

“It was really cool how involved they got to be in that,” Cohen said. “Looking back on the ‘09 championship, it would have been cool to have the families a bit more involved in the duck boats and the locker room celebration and stuff like that.”

Cohen described the locker room celebration in Vancouver as a madhouse, but it paled in comparison to the rioting going on outside. Cohen said he first became aware of the rioting when the team’s staff cut the celebration short in order to get the Bruins to the airport safely. Cohen did not sleep on the red-eye back to Boston, and he did not have time to rest when he returned to Boston as he had to prepare for his second duck boat parade in three years.

“Our [BU] team parade was definitely something special and I’ll never forget it,” Cohen said. “The time I played at BU, those were some of the best years of my life, but this is definitely the next step up. The duck boats, there was over a million people there and I saw quite a few BU jerseys, which was awesome.”

A day after the parade through the streets, Cohen and the Bruins boarded the duck boats yet again to make the rounds through Fenway Park. The Bruins and Red Sox players socialized before the game, and then each player on the Bruins playoff roster threw out a first pitch.

“[The Red Sox] thought it was cool that we were there with the Cup and we thought it was so cool that we just got to be around those guys,” Cohen said. “I took a picture with Big Papi which was awesome.”

Although the day at Fenway was the last time the Bruins were all officially together with the Stanley Cup, the celebrations do not end there. Each player on the roster gets a day with the Cup, and Cohen said he expects to have a turn with it this summer. His hope was to split a day between Philadelphia, where his family is from, and Boston, where he wanted to bring it to BU to enjoy with his former coaches and teammates.

And although Cohen now has an NCAA title and a Stanley Cup on his resume, he is still hungry for more championships.

“It doesn’t get old, I promise you that,” Cohen said. “Coach Parker taught me when I was a freshman that you play to get better but you play to win championships. Winning a national championship was amazing but every kid really dreams of winning a Stanley Cup. It was every bit as exciting as I thought.”

Flyers beat Bruins 2-1 on last-second OT goal

By Josh Mellits/DFP Staff

The last time the Philadelphia Flyers were in town, the Boston Bruins gave up a 3-0 lead and were eliminated from the postseason. And on Saturday night, the Bruins suffered another heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Flyers, losing in overtime, 2-1.

Captain Michael Richards gave the Flyers (19-7-5) a win with only three seconds left in the extra session. The Bruins (16-8-4) had entered the game six points behind Philadelphia and lost an opportunity to make up ground in the conference standings.

“I think we had an opportunity here tonight to get that extra point,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It was there for us for the taking, and it was unfortunate for us that it ended the way it did.”

The first period saw tight play on both sides as possession and momentum switched between both teams. But the game shifted five minutes into the second period when Flyers winger Jody Shelley pushed Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in a race for the puck for an icing call. McQuaid flew off his skates and slammed into the boards, nearly hitting headfirst and stayed down for several minutes.

“It was for icing, it would be different if I was even reaching for the puck,” McQuaid said. “My back was to the puck. I’m not really sure what happened to be honest with you…I’m not sure how hard it was. I guess I wasn’t ready to get hit in that situation.”

Even though McQuaid said he “just [had] knocked the wind out of me a little bit” and that it was not as bad as it could have been, Julien still believes the play was unnecessary.

“Personally, I didn’t think there was any need for it,” Julien said. “I don’t know what the intention was but certainly there was no need for that at all. That’s one of the things we’re trying to get out of our game… It’s uncalled for. Hopefully, the league deals with it in a proper way and we’ll go from there.”

Shelley was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Instead of galvanizing the Bruins, they only attempted five shots with the man advantage, wasting the opportunity to get on the board first.

Instead, with less than 2 minutes left in the period, Flyers winger and former University of New Hampshire star James van Riemsdyk scored on a three-on-two with winger Claude Giroux and center Jeff Carter.

“I saw it and knew it was going glove,” said Boston goaltender Tim Thomas. “But then I never got to see it again. It hit off my glove and went in.”

The physical play continued as almost 10 minutes into the third period, Bruins winger Nathan Horton collected a loose puck in front of the net and notched the equalizer to put the Bruins right back in the game.

“Nice pitch by [Bruins captain Zdeno Chara] to get the puck on the line to keep the puck alive, tried to make the pass to me and it got deflected,” Horton said. “[Bruins center David Krejci] got it to me and I just put it in the net.”

Despite giving up the lead and being outshot 25-16 in the second and third period, the visitors hung around, thanks to the strong play by backup goaltender Brian Boucher, who finished the game with 35 saves.

“We responded pretty well, we kept playing hard, we didn’t let it get out of control from there,” van Riemsdyk said. “We really buckled down and we were able to get a point out of it.”

In the extra session, it was all Philadelphia. The Flyers peppered Thomas with seven shots, including one moment where the puck lingered on the goal line before Thomas knocked it away. Yet the Bruins held on and the game seemed destined for a shootout.

But with seconds remaining, Richards beat Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg one-on-one before zipping the puck past Thomas on a wrist shot with three ticks left on the clock.

“When the game’s on the line, he’s definitely the guy you want to have the puck on his stick,” van Riemsdyk said.

The Bruins had been 4-0-1 in December and now hit the road at Buffalo and Montreal before coming back home December 18 against the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals. But they still know that this was one game that they let slip away.

“This was a game of inches and the smallest mistake would end up costing you,” Julien said. “And we made that mistake in the second period in the odd man rush a couple times…and then right at the end, another ill-advised play that ended up in our net.”

Before the game, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that Boston has traded forward Marco Sturm to Los Angeles for future considerations, pending a physical. Sturm was in his sixth season with the Bruins but has been on injured reserve all season stemming from a knee injury sustained in May against the Flyers in the postseason. The move helps clear cap space for Boston.

“It’s another player that’s given us some great service here over the years,” Julien said. “It’s unfortunate that he’s run into so many serious injuries that’s kind of knocked him out of the game for long stretches of time. And again, I think we could have used a player like him had it not been for the salary cap…He was a real good team player. He was respected by his teammates, respected by the coaching staff.”

Bruins’ losing streak reaches 10 games with 3-2 shootout loss to Canucks

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

The Bruins’ losing streak reached double digits Saturday afternoon when the struggling B’s lost 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout.

In the first two periods, all systems were go for the Bruins. They scored two power-play goals off the sticks of Zdeno Chara and Michael Ryder, and they limited the Canucks to just 12 shots on goal.

In the third, however, the Bruins wilted, allowing 18 shots on goal while surrendering the tying goal. By the end of overtime, Bruins fans knew what to expect: another shootout and a 10th straight loss.

“You’re all speechless like I am, right?” Bruins coach Claude Julien said as he opened his postgame press conference. “With that mistake, it turned into a goal, and that’s the end of it with the way things are going.”

Throughout the Bruins’ 10-game losing streak, it has been the opportunities – or missed opportunities – that are the difference between a win and a loss. The Canucks took advantage of that edge and seized on a missed opportunity to tie the game late in the third period.

After Vancouver’s Sami Salo snapped his stick on a slap shot, the Bruins pounced to clear the puck. Perhaps it was a case of being overeager, or perhaps it was simply a fluke chance, but Milan Lucic skated past the puck, leaving room for Tanner Glass to fire a shot toward the net that Pavol Demitra tipped in.

“When [Lucic] overskated the puck and [Glass] turned it around and just threw it at the net, those are little things where you’re saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Give us a break here,’” Julien said.

After the goal, netminder Tuukka Rask threw his arm up in frustration. The tone was much of the same in the locker room.

“We don’t have answers for it,” center Marc Savard said. “We don’t have excuses. We haven’t made any excuses. We’re just trying our best.”

“There was a bad break there on the second goal,” Rask said. “But you just have to battle through the hard times.”

That ability to battle has been completely missing from the Bruins’ shootout shooters of late. This was the second shootout loss in as many games for the Bruins. Boston is scoreless in the shootout in the new year.

“I guess at this point you dread seeing the shootout,” Julien said. “We keep talking about the same issue. For me, [the shootout] is the only issue right now, and it’s a real important one.”

For forward Blake Wheeler, there are no excuses. The Bruins just need to start getting the job done.

“It’s tough to stay positive because you know what the coaches are asking you to do, you’re working hard for your teammates, kind of everything you’re supposed to be doing out there,” Wheeler said. “The end result, the funnest part of the game, is not really coming for us. You just have to stick with it. Pretty soon, pucks are going to start going in off of shin pads. Hopefully, that day is coming sooner rather than later.”


Welcome to The Boston Hockey Blog, the official hockey blog of The Daily Free Press. We’ll be covering everything related to the Boston University men’s hockey team, every Boston Bruins home game and a lot of BU women’s hockey. We’ll drop the puck on our coverage this Wednesday with Hockey East media day and follow up with a live blog from the Bruins’ season opener on Thursday.