Warsofsky nets goal in return from WJC

By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff

There isn’t much Boston University men’s hockey sophomore David Warsofsky hasn’t done in the last eight months.

Pick up an assist to help boost his team to a national championship? Check.

Tally two assists and register a plus-5 rating in seven games as an assistant captain of a gold medal squad representing his country? Check.

Score a goal in one of the most unique hockey venues ever created –– one where his favorite baseball team has played since 1912?

You get the idea.

How unique has Warsofsky’s run been?

“In a span of 13 months, Bill Russell won a second NCAA basketball championship, won a gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics and won the NBA championship in 13 months as a 21-year-old,” BU coach Jack Parker said when asked if he knew of any comparable runs to Warsofsky’s. “David’s was pretty good, but it wasn’t that good.”

Tuesday night, Warsofsky celebrated with teammates as the US U20 Juniors squad knocked off the Canadians in overtime to take the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, BU held their first of two practice sessions at Fenway Park while Warsofsky was still in Canada. Warsofsky finally arrived back in Boston Thursday morning, and managed to wake himself up for the Terriers practice this morning at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

Seven minutes into the first period, Warsofsky put the Terriers on the board. Working from the left wall, the defenseman skated to center point, where he launched a rocket into a screen set by senior Zach Cohen. Somewhere between Cohen’s 6-foot-3 frame and the dusty cloud of snow floating around the ice, Boston College goalie John Muse lost sight of the puck, which squirted behind him into the net.

“Before the game, we just wanted to get pucks to the net,” Warsofsky said. “From the point, it’s tough to see the puck in the snow. I kind of just walked the blue line and let it go and luckily it went in.”

To celebrate, Warsofsky lobbed himself an imaginary baseball and, with his best Jim Rice impersonation, knocked the invisible soft toss over the boards and towards Pesky Pole.

“We were coming up with stuff before the game,” Warsofsky said. “I actually have to give [junior goaltender Adam] Kraus some credit for that –– he came up with that one. Decided to give it a shot.

“I don’t know if the coaches were too happy about it.”

Parker said he did not see the celebration, but laughed when junior Nick Bonino re-enacted the swing in the post-game press conference.

“Hopefully they don’t see that on film either,” Warsofsky said when he found our Parker had missed the celebration.

Playing at Fenway Park was especially rewarding for Warsofsky, a Marshfield native who has cheered for the Red Sox and Bruins since he was young.

“It’s definitely special,” he said. “You grow up watching the Red Sox playing and then you see the Bruins playing, to have the opportunity to play in that venue is definitely a special opportunity.”

The eight-month run has been an amazing experience, Warsofsky said, but the chance to win in his country’s colors earlier this week might was almost certainly the highlight.

“It was an experience I’ve never had before,” Warsofsky said. “Going to the national championship, that’s all colleges, but to go to that stage with the rest of the world is definitely something I’ve never experienced and hopefully I’ll experience that again someday.”

Rewarding as the experience has been, Warsofsky is grateful to get a few days to stop and reflect.

“It was definitely a whirlwind of a couple weeks,” Warsofsky said. “Starting back all the way to April and winning the national championship –– everybody remembers that game –– and then going to Saskatoon to play for Team USA was definitely a special opportunity for me again. It was definitely an unbelievable feeling raising that gold.

“Then back here doing what we did tonight, hopefully I’ll take a couple days off if Coach lets me. Just kind of soak everything in. I haven’t even celebrated Christmas yet with my family, so I’ll go back and do that for a couple days. I’m going to go home and do that and just kind of reflect on everything that’s happened in the last couple months and soak it all in.”

Terriers take on archrival BC at Fenway Park

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

With all the hoopla surrounding Friday night’s showdown between Boston University and No. 7/8 Boston College at Fenway Park, it might be difficult to remember that there is something more important than bragging rights on the line –– two points in the Hockey East standings.

All it takes is one look at those standings to realize how important every point is to the Terriers (5-9-3, 3-7-2 HE) right now. They’re currently tied for eighth place with eight points, 10 behind first-place University of New Hampshire and eight behind the second-place Eagles (10-5-2, 7-3-2).

Read more at www.dailyfreepress.com

Bruins lose 5-2 to Blackhawks; Savard leaves with knee injury

By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff

After Blake Wheeler and Miroslav Satan scored to give the Boston Bruins a first-period lead, the Chicago Blackhawks ran off five straight goals and chased B’s netminder Tim Thomas in a 5-2 win Thursday night.

“I thought against a team like this, probably the best team in the league right now, you have to manage the puck very well, and we didn’t do that well enough tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Many of the Bruins players were less kind in their personal assessment.

“It’s a broken record, you know?” Wheeler said, referring to what he deemed a lackluster Bruins effort. “It’s getting to the point of just –– talk is getting so cheap right now. Rah rah speeches, hitting the boards on the bench –– that only goes so far. You just gotta do it.

“We gotta quit treating this like it’s a privilege, like it’s a right of ours to come play in front of 18,000 people every night and start playing like it’s the most important thing to us.”

B’s centerman Marc Savard left the game with a knee injury less than a minute into the game and did not return. Savard will take an MRI exam Friday, and that will determine his diagnosis going forward, according to Julien.

“You lose Savy early, you’re down to three centermens off the bad,” Julien said. “It made it a bit of a struggle and you have to juggle your lines a little bit and that doesn’t help either.”

The offensive outburst marked the eighth straight game the Blackhawks have scored at least four goals. Chicago was led by 2 goals and 1 assists from defenseman Duncan Keith, and also received goals from Tomas Kopecky, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Kane.

Perhaps the lone bright spot for the Bruins was the two-point effort put forth by Wheeler. The forward got his night going early on the power play, which threatened Chicago netminder Antti Niemi with scoring chances often after Jonathan Toews went off for slashing 3:47 in. Finally, defenseman Dennis Wideman whipped a shot in front from the right point, which Wheeler tipped around Niemi and inside the left post to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Just over two minutes later, Wheeler set up Satan for Satan’s first goal as a Boston Bruin. Wheeler chased down Troy Brouwer behind the Chicago cage and pulled the puck away in the right corner. Wheeler slid the pass to a waiting Satan inside the left circle, who paused to freeze Niemi then ripped a shot top-shelf glove side to put the B’s up 2-0.

The points give Wheeler seven in his last three games, and 27 (12 goals, 15 assists) on the season.

Boston could not make the lead last, however, as Keith and Kopecky tallied back-to-back goals to close out the first period.

The ‘Hawks took the lead just 1:42 into the second, capitalizing on a roughing minor called on Zdeno Chara near the end of the first. With Andrew Ladd camped in front of Thomas, Brent Seabrook throw a shot on net from the right point. The shot hit Ladd and bounced to the top of the crease. Ladd poked a stick through Johnny Boychuck’s legs and tapped the puck on goal, and Tim Thomas couldn’t find it before it slid into the cage.

Keith picked up the second assist on Ladd’s goal, and then tallied another goal for himself at the mid-point of the second. Keith, working from the blue line at the left point, fired a shot on net that Thomas was unable to stop.

The goal was Keith’s second of the game, and his three points leave him with 40 on the season (8 goals, 32 assists).

“Zdeno just happened to be cutting across the same exact time the guy let go of the shot,” Thomas said. “I never found the puck. I heard it hit the post and that was it . . . It was the perfect screen.”

Julien pulled the recently elected USA netminder after Keith’s second goal, replacing him with Tuukka Rask. The move was met by a notable applause by the Garden faithful.

“Obviously, it wasn’t aimed at Timmy,” Julien said of the decision. “It was probably to stop the hemorrhaging – you can put it that way. And in a way, it did. It stopped the goal scoring anyway.”

Rask stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced, allowing a goal to Kane at 17:49 of the third.

Frozen Fenway Update

A few notes from media at Fenway Park:

-BU took the ice at 3:45, and after a few minutes of warmups, scrimmaged for 10 minutes or so. After the scrimmage, Parker ran them through 2-3 drills and worked them until around 4:20, then were joined on the ice by coach Mike Bavis’ son and Scott Lachance’s kids/Parker’s grandchildren. The team spent the rest of the practice session goofing around on the ice. Certainly seemed like a good time was had by all.

-Joe Pereira practiced in full, and indications are that, barring something unforeseen, he’ll be good to go for Friday’s game.

-David Warsofsky was not back from Saskatoon, where he helped the US capture gold at the World Junior Championships last night. The Marshfield native is expected to fly back to Boston tonight.

-BU coach Jack Parker said after practice that the ice was “fair,” adding that there were some soft spots he believed were caused by the sun. There were other activities on the ice before BU practiced today (there was a men’s league game going on when I arrived at 3), and Parker said he thinks the ice will be pampered a bit more between the women’s game and the men’s game Friday night than it was before practice today, when they just ran the zamboni once around.

-Kieran Millan will get the nod in net. Parker cited his solid performance against UMass last weekend as a reason why. Millan is actually very familiar with the outdoor game, and said he was a member at an outdoor rink in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Millan mentioned he thought the conditions for Friday would be relatively warm, to which I told him he should expect to be playing in the low teens, to which he reminded me that it gets to 30º-below pretty regularly in Edmonton. The lesson learned here, of course, is that you should just not bother talking winter weather with a Canadian…

-Talked to Millan about the sightlines, and he said that he actually feels more comfortable outdoors than he does in Agganis or other indoor rinks. Parker said he thought it felt weird because there was space behind the boards –– not seats –– but Millan said that wouldn’t be a problem for him at all.

-Neither Parker or Millan seemed to think the lights would give them much trouble, but I stepped outside and took a look around once the sun was down, and there is a light pole located perfectly at each end of the ice, meaning pucks dumped into the air could be tough to pick up. For those who have played baseball, picture trying to track a flyball in centerfield with a light right behind home plate –– then factor in that it’ll be dark and the puck is black. Of course, this shouldn’t cause too many problems with shots or passes, but when teams dump a puck into the zone, things could get dicey. Considering the rink is NHL-sized (smaller than a college rink, especially behind the cage), there’s potential for some bloopers as goalies play dumps into the zone.

Wraps up everything important I have to say. Scott will have a preview up for you guys in the next day or so, so keep an eye out for that.

UMass @ BU postgame audio

Still figuring out the best way to post this stuff, but for now, it looks like you’re going to have to download the audio to your computer. A mild pain, but it’s the best I can do for now:

UMass senior Brett Watson and coach Don Cahoon

BU coach Jack Parker

BU senior Zach Cohen and junior Colby Cohen

Enjoy, and if anybody out there is a Blogger expert and thinks they can walk me through getting this audio feeds posted straight to the blog, feel free to email me at [email protected] A little help would be more than welcome.

Terriers’ new-look power play goes 3-for-6

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

Just about every change Boston University coach Jack Parker made over the winter break paid off in Saturday’s 7-3 win over the No. 15 University of Massachusetts. Giving the players more time off than usual seemed to rejuvenate and refocus everyone. The new forward lines and defense pairings worked like a well-oiled machine. One of the biggest changes, though, was a new power play that went 3-for-6 in the game.

Normally, the Terriers’ top power-play unit features juniors Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen at the point with one forward on each wing and another in the slot. The goal is to set up shots from the point and get traffic in front for deflections and rebounds.

On Saturday, though, Parker employed what he referred to as a “reverse umbrella,” a formation the Terriers began practicing earlier in the week. In this setup, Shattenkirk was stationed in the center of the blue line with Cohen on the left wing, sophomore Chris Connolly on the right wing, junior Nick Bonino behind the net and sophomore Vinny Saponari in the slot.

The move paid dividends on its first chance. Just over 12 minutes into the game, Shattenkirk fed Cohen for a one-timer from the lower left circle. Cohen’s shot got through Saponari’s screen and hit the left post, and Bonino, who had left his spot behind the net in search of a rebound out front, was right there to bang home the loose puck.

Creating shots like that for Cohen and his NHL-caliber howitzer was one of the reasons for the switch. In the first half, teams made it a goal to have guys right up on Cohen and Shattenkirk at the point in order to take away their one-time chances. Cornell University coach Mike Schafer went so far as to say that the key to stopping BU’s power play was stopping Cohen.

“I’m hanging out down low, and that frees me up to shoot,” Cohen said. “Before, teams were really sitting up top on me and Shatty, but now I’m down low . . . I definitely like the new formation.”

Another reason for the switch was the Minutemen’s penalty kill.

“They give you two different looks, but for the most part, they play back and dare you to shoot it, and they get lined up and try to block the shot,” Parker said. “And when they’re facing out, it’s easy to do it. We made them face in by putting a guy behind the net . . . So, they had to play a different look now. That helped us out.”

Although UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon admitted that the new formation caught his team off-guard that first time, he attributed the Terriers’ 50-percent power play to something much simpler –– his goalie, junior Paul Dainton, not being able to see the puck through BU’s screens.

“The first time they used that alignment, we struggled a little bit,” Cahoon said. “But then as the period went on, we were fine. We let them take our goalie’s eyes away, didn’t step up to knock down pucks and didn’t pressure the puck enough, and those are the things that really hurt us on the PK.”

He’s right, too. The Terriers’ next two power-play goals actually came from the second unit, which featured senior Eric Gryba and freshman Max Nicastro up top and senior Zach Cohen, sophomore Corey Trivino and freshman Alex Chiasson down low.

With under a minute remaining in the first period, Chiasson collected the puck on the left half wall after a Nicastro keep-in, wheeled toward the slot and ripped a slap shot through Zach Cohen’s screen and into the left side of the net. Cohen asserted himself on the power play again early in the third. Trivino fired a slapper from the right circle that the 6-foot-3 forward was able to tip past Dainton from the top of the crease.

“We always talk about getting a couple dirty goals a game,” Cohen said. “That’s gonna happen if we get pucks to the net and go hard to the net. I’m a big body, so I just want to get in front of the net and cause some havoc.”

Although the prospect of Colby Cohen launching missiles from the faceoff dot or Zach Cohen planting himself inches in front of the goalie’s face are enough to strike fear into anyone, perhaps the scariest thing for BU’s next opponent, archrival Boston College, is that the Terriers will be adding sophomore David Warsofsky to one of those power-play units when he returns from the World Junior Championships this week.