The Boston University men’s hockey team showcased its resiliency last week in come-from-behind efforts against Harvard University, 6-5, and No. 7 Cornell University, 3-3.
The Terriers (4-7-2, 2-6-1 Hockey East) look to translate out-of-conference heroics into Hockey East building blocks this weekend at home against two familiar foes, the No. 19 University of Vermont and No. 15 Boston College.
“[Rennselaer Polytech Institute] could be eight years away as far as I’m concerned –– we’ve got Vermont (6-5-1, 4-4-1) and BC (6-3-2, 4-3-2) right now and those two home games are huge,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “We have to get points in our league, we have to make a statement that we can beat good teams and we have to continue to defend home ice.”
By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
1) No. 9 University of Massachusetts-Amherst (9-3-0, 5-2-0)
The Minutemen are simply the best team in the conference. In addition to having the best overall winning percentage and best in-conference winning percentage, UMass is the only team to rank in the top three in Hockey East in scoring offense (T-1st), scoring defense (3rd), power-play percentage (1st) and penalty-kill percentage (3rd). That potent offense is led by junior winger James Marcou and sophomore center Casey Wellman, who currently rank first and second in the nation with 1.92 and 1.67 points per game, respectively.
2) No. 14/15 Boston College (6-3-2, 4-3-2)
After starting the season with a .500 record through their first five games, the Eagles have gone 4-1-1 in their last six and have climbed into a second-place tie in the Hockey East standings. Highlighting that stretch were back-to-back blowouts of Northeastern (5-1) and Vermont (7-1). The Eagles boast the conference’s third-best offense and fifth-best defense. Arguably their biggest strength, though, is their 86.4-percent penalty kill, which is three points better than any other Hockey East team.
3) No. 8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell (8-4-1, 4-3-1)
The River Hawks stormed out of the gates, winning eight of their first 11 games. But after losing their last two contests against Providence and Maine, they now find themselves among a clutter of teams in the two-through-six spots in the standings, where five teams are within one point of each other. Led by junior forward Scott Campbell (5 goals-8 assists-13 points), Lowell is one of just two teams in Hockey East to tout seven 10-point scorers. The Hawks also own the league’s best defense, allowing just 2.46 goals per game.
4) Merrimack College (6-6-0, 3-4-0)
No, this isn’t a joke. The average fan may think the Warriors aren’t as good as their record indicates, especially given the fact that they’ve lost three in a row. A closer look at the statistics, however, reveals that Merrimack might actually be better than its record implies. The Warriors are tied for first in the conference in scoring (3.92 goals per game) and place second on both the power play (27.0 percent) and penalty kill (83.3 percent). Their only notable weakness has been defense, which is surprising since it’s a veteran group that was strong defensively last season.
5) University of Maine (6-7-1, 4-4-1)
After losing five of their first six games, the Black Bears have gone 5-2-1 in their last eight, culminating in wins over UMass-Lowell and St. Lawrence University this weekend in which they outscored the pair, 13-2. Maine is paced by its fourth-ranked offense and third-ranked power play, both of which owe their success in large part to sophomore forward Gustav Nyquist. The Swedish sensation is tied for second in the country with 21 points (8 G, 13 A). The team’s turnaround has coincided with sophomore goalie Scott Darling’s rise to prominence.
6) Providence College (7-5-1, 2-3-1)
The Friars started the season 4-2-0, but have been the definition of mediocre since. They’ve gone 3-4-1 since that torrid start and have neither won two games in a row nor lost two in a row in that stretch. Providence has struggled to put the puck in the net this season –– they rank ninth in Hockey East in scoring –– but their defense has been superb, aided greatly by the play of sophomore netminder Alex Beaudry, who is first in the conference in save percentage (.927) and is tied for first in goals-against average (2.29).
7) No. 19 University of Vermont (6-5-1, 4-4-1)
Don’t let the national ranking fool you. The Catamounts are no better than anyone else in the jumble known as the middle of the Hockey East standings. They’re eighth in the conference in offense, sixth in defense and seventh on the penalty kill, but that’s not the worst of it. UVM’s last-ranked power play is operating at an absolutely atrocious 9.6-percent success rate. That’s a full seven points worse than anyone else. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Catamounts have a minus-10 special teams net, which is also seven worse than anyone else.
8) University of New Hampshire (5-6-3, 5-2-2)
Ever seen the first-place team in the standings ranked eighth in the power rankings? You have now. The Wildcats have clawed their way to the top by winning three of their last four games, but that doesn’t erase the fact that they started the season 2-6-2, including a hideous 0-4-1 out-of-conference record. It also doesn’t erase the fact that UNH has the worst defense (3.79 goals per game) in the conference and arguably the worst goaltending. Senior Brian Foster is last among qualifying goaltenders in goals-against average and 11th in save percentage.
9) Northeastern University (5-6-1, 3-5-1)
The Huskies may be turning a corner, as they’ve gone 2-1-1 in their last four games. However, they still have the worst offense (2.50 goals per game) and penalty kill (75.4 percent) in Hockey East. Northeastern is the only team in Hockey East without a 10-point scorer yet. The team’s defense and goaltending, both expected to be weaknesses entering the season, have actually been pretty good so far. The Huskies are fourth in scoring defense, and freshman Chris Rawlings ranks sixth with a .913 save percentage.
10) Boston University (4-7-2, 2-6-1)
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Terriers have the worst overall record and worst in-conference record in Hockey East. They place seventh in offense and eighth in defense. Sophomore goalie Kieran Millan is 10th in goals-against average (3.42), last in save percentage (.866) and last in winning percentage (.300) –– fellow sophomore Grant Rollheiser hasn’t played enough games to qualify yet. The good news is that BU hasn’t lost in its last three games and is finally starting to get healthy. The bad news is that it’s only won two of its last nine games.
NEW YORK –– Trailing 3-1 at the start of the third period, the Boston University men’s hockey team dominated No. 7/8 Cornell University in the final 20 minutes and forced a 3-3 tie in the second Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden. Sophomore forward Chris Connolly scored the equalizer with 51 seconds remaining.
Entering the game, the Big Red (6-2-1) had outscored their opponents, 16-6, in the third period. On Saturday night, though, the Terriers (4-7-2) recorded 34 shot attempts and 13 shots on goal in the final stanza compared to just seven attempts and three on net for Cornell. Even more impressive was the fact that BU tallied 10 chances from the slot or closer while holding the Big Red to zero.
Instead, he just made one up.
“I thought the best part about the game was our ‘stick-to-itiveness,’” Parker said.
The words “determination” or “resolve” might have worked as well, but suffice to say, as the Terriers attempted to dig themselves out of two separate two-goal deficits Saturday, their “stick-to-it-ness” was undoubtedly tested.
By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
Head coach Mike Schafer
It was a great event. We got off to a good start. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the fact that it ended up being a tie. But I’m proud of our guys. They battled tonight and we got the lead, but we couldn’t hold on. BU made it 3-3 and really kept at it in the third period. We hit a couple posts and crossbars in overtime, but like I said, BU did a good job of keeping their game and scoring on the 6-on-4 to tie it up.
On coming out strong in overtime after giving up the tying goal in the final minute of regulation
When they made it 3-2, we stopped making plays. Then they make it 3-3. I think we had to kill of three penalties in the third period. Once we got back to even strength, we got back to making some plays. We had a couple good offensive opportunities, and we had a couple other odd-man rushes where we just didn’t get it to the open guy. Sometimes that happens. You’re right where you want, but I think we started protecting the lead and sitting back a little bit too much. You tell your guys that they have to start risking, start making plays. We just didn’t take care of the puck. A turnover led right to one of their goals. I thought we came out in overtime and had a couple real good offensive opportunities to win the game.
On what he told his guys before BU’s 6-on-3
We’ve seen their 5-on-3 [on film], and we knew that they like to get it to 25, who can really shoot the one-timer. We tried to take that away and force him to kind of pack it, and force them to go through a lot of guys . . . Our guys did a great job of that, but it’s unfortunate that they wound up tying the game up.
On how you go about defending a 6-on-3
I think you have to take away the middle of the ice surface. And we talked to our goaltender about how he has to stay deep in his net and not come out too much and give them the opportunity to go back door. It’s very similar to the 5-on-3, except they had one extra guy, Chiasson, who they put high in the slot. They did a tremendous job. They made some huge blocks on their one-timers. Like I said, it’s just unfortunate that one ended up squeaking through.
On whether he can remember anyone being on a run like Blake Gallagher (9 goals in 9 games)
It’s been a while. Matt Moulson, who plays for the Islanders, was probably the last guy to go on this kind of run. He scored a lot of goals. It’s good to see Blake going. He’s playing on the power play, he’s finding open spots, and guys are getting pucks to him. He continues to stay hot, and I hope he does this for the rest of the year.
On what the refs told him after BU’s tying goal
Well, we didn’t even know there were TV timeouts when we entered the game. I don’t know how that came about. I didn’t know we were doing TV. But when there’s a TV game, there’s supposed to be instant replay. So, I don’t know why there wasn’t visual replay of the goal. I saw it on video [after the game]. Ben had it. Who knows what showed in behind him, but I do know that Ben had it for a second. He was a little disappointed. He thought he had control of the puck, and then it squirted loose.
On whether or not rumors of a possible shootout had any credibility
Wouldn’t surprise me. I didn’t know we had TV. I didn’t know we didn’t have replay. It wouldn’t have surprised me if we had a shootout.
On whether the tie was a point won, a point lost or a point earned
A point lost. Our guys are pretty disappointed. They had the lead. When the score was 3-3, I was really happy with how we played, but we wanted to win the game. That’s a good characteristic for a hockey team to have –– wanting to win. It’s great to see how they came out after BU tied it, but it’s still disappointing.
On how big it was for his team to answer right after BU’s shorthanded goal
Yeah, it was. Ben would probably like to have that one back. It was a good shot. The kid, Warsofsky, can really shoot the puck, but it squeaked through him. But then we come right back down to make it a two-goal lead again. Our power play has done that for us this year.
On the crowd and atmosphere
It’s a great environment. Our university has great support from our alumni in the metropolitan area. It’s a great experience for the kids, something they’ll never forget. Even as a coach, you don’t get this opportunity very often, with this many Cornell alumni supporting the game. It’s a tremendous event for college hockey. As a Cornell alum, I’m very, very proud to see the way our alumni come out and support us down here in New York City. It’s very exciting, and I’m very grateful that they support us the way they do.
Senior goalie Ben Scrivens
On BU’s tying goal
It’s one of those ones where he kind of just feathered it in on net. I thought I had it there, but obviously it came loose behind me between my legs. The ref had a better view of it than I did, so he made the decision on the ice. It’s one of those things you have to live with whether you like it or not.
On Cornell’s 27 blocked shots
Obviously, our team prides itself on blocking shots. I can personally attest to how many bruises and stuff our d-men and our forwards have after games just from the sheer number of shots they block. It’s definitely something we pride ourselves on as a team. It makes my job a lot easier when guys are sacrificing their bodies to block those shots.
On BU’s second goal
The second goal was a 2-on-1. The guy made a move to his backhand or his forehand, I can’t remember which, and tried to feather it through. Brendon Nash did what we do in practice, what we do in games, where you just try to get your stick back around and block the pass. It’s one of those bang-bang plays. If we do that 100 times in practice, that doesn’t happen, but it happened one time in the game. Those things are part of hockey.
Senior forward Colin Greening
On how this game differed from the first Red Hot Hockey
First off, to play any game at MSG is an honor in itself. Two years ago, we didn’t have the greatest start, and we couldn’t really get back in the game from there. Obviously, tonight’s game was a nailbiter from start to finish. In the third period, they came back. That overtime period was pretty exciting. There were a couple posts, a couple crossbars. It’s really exciting to play in those games because you never know which way it’s gonna go.
On Cornell’s power play
BU did a really good job of stopping us from entering the zone. When we were able to set up in the BU zone, we were very successful. Not to say that we weren’t successful tonight, but we struggled to get pucks in. But I guess that’s why on the power play, you get two minutes, right? All it takes is one time to get it down and get a chance to execute. For example, Blake Gallagher’s goal, we were tired and we were kind of broken down, and we may not have set up for a minute-fifty, but those last 10 seconds can sometimes bring a power play back to life.
By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
Connolly on his tying goal:
“We had actually worked on a 6-on-3 earlier this week. It’s funny that we actually got it the first game we tried it. I think the first one had expired, not sure if we were still on the power play or not [Parker: ‘It was 6-on-4’]. We just tried to put bodies in front of the net when shots come. I think myself and the ref were the only ones who saw that the puck was free between the goalie’s legs, so he was in great position to see that. I was fortunate enough to just pull it out and touch it in.”
Connolly on whether Vinny Saponari knocked the puck loose before the goal:
“You know what I think had happened, Nick got the pass over from Colby on the side. He actually just threw kind of a saucer pass to the net just to cause some rebounds or something. I think Vinny tipped it, which threw Scrivens off a little bit. He thought he had it in his butterfly, and it just sat between his legs, and I was in a good position to see it.
Shattenkirk on whether the team is starting to find its identity:
“Definitely. You know, sometimes I think it’s better to win or tie games like we have in the past two games just because it shows our character and gives us confidence. Being down a goal with a minute left or being down two goals right off the bat, we’re starting to get past the giving-up stage, you know, when things weren’t going our way in the beginning of the season. I think now we’re just trying to work through it and work hard and obviously you get good results when you do it.”
Shattenkirk on the final five minutes of regulation:
“I think, with Gryba’s penalty, that’s obviously a little bit of a back-breaker, but we had killed their penalties –– killed off their power play –– pretty well for most of the game. We had a couple bad breaks on their goals. I think we knew we had to pressure them and not give them as much time as we were. Right after it was done, we went right back to work, which led to the two penalties that they took, and from there, well, the rest is history.”
Shattenkirk on playing at the Garden a second time:
“My freshman year, it was a little different. I was kind of a little shocked coming into it . . . I would skate around in warm ups and see someone I know up in the stands, and it’s just good to know I had a lot of people here supporting me and supporting the team.”
Connolly on the performance of the BU power play:
“We’ve been pretty good on it as of late, and we just wanted to stick to what we know best –– just moving the puck around quick. I think, at times, we got caught holding onto it, you know, not getting possession of it. It’s such a small rink, you know pucks are going to wrap around the boards, and so, first and foremost, we need to make sure we get possession of it so we can set it up. Once we got to do that, we started to move it around and get some good looks on it.”
Shattenkirk on Cornell’s breakaway goal:
“I think I had jumped on the rush pretty early to try to make it a 3-on-2, and for whatever reason, Colby just didn’t recognize that I was there and thought I was back and tried to force the pass, which he did, and he thought I was there to cover for him. So a little bit of a miscommunication there.”
BU coach Jack Parker’s opening statement:
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that was an exciting college hockey game. I thought after we played in a box for the first 10 or 12 minutes of the first period, I thought from then on, we really played really well. We played real hard and most of the stuff we wanted to do, we did pretty well. When you can outshoot a Cornell team like we did tonight after being down like we did, it’s pretty rare for our guys not to stay down. I thought the best part about the game was our stick-to-it-ness, our perseverance. We certainly had some legs –– we were too excited, I think. We were really pulled out of position on the breakaway goal. I’m sure Rollie would like to have the power-play goal back. Did Whitney get the first goal? [Yes] At least a former Terrier’s brother got the goal against us, you know? . . . We really started taking it to them in the second half of the first period. That’s a good sign for us, I think, to get ourselves going. Getting the shorthanded goal by Warsofsky was a great play, and we give one up again right as the power play’s going –– we almost had it killed off. That could’ve been a back-breaker, but once again, we kept working. So in general, I’d say character, what we wanted to do, we certainly deserve a tie. From that point of view, I was extremely pleased with my guys. From a speed and smarts point of view, after the first half of the first period, we gathered a little bit more smarts and still kept our speed.”
“The 12th. The 12th of never.”
On why they practiced it this week:
“Because we wanted to do it. Why did I decide to do it after 30-some-odd years of coaching? Because my former assistant coach, Ben Smith, has been hawking me to do it. He says, ‘You gotta try this.’ He took a team, he was coaching a team over in Europe, in one of those USA hockey games over in Europe, and in those games, in the second period they did it. The other team was 5-on-3, they brought the other guy out, and Ben told me his three guys never touched the puck, and both times, they scored easily. I don’t know if that was a good idea. I thought it was a very good practice, and I was talking to guys –– we’d practiced it once this week, and we practiced it from behind the net, and we put it behind the net once and we got a great chance, and then the next five times we had it we never put it behind the net again, which, there’s no sense of doing a 6-on-3 if you’re just getting an umbrella like you do 5-on-3, because the same people would be covering the same areas.”
On his penalty kill going 2-for-5, but only allowing four shots on goal:
“I thought the first one was a bad breakdown by the two forwards not recognizing who should play the point man, and the second one was, oh excuse me, that was the second one. They bumped into each other, and all of a sudden we had two forwards on the same side of the ice. Gryba was caught between a rock and a hard place and he didn’t know whether to play the guy at the top of the far circle or at our net, and they found the guy at our net just as the penalty was expiring. I thought the first power play they had, we were pathetic on, we were running all over the place. Then we settled down, and then they got a bad goal –– I’m sure Rollie would like to have that one back. It was a way off the angle wrist shot, and Rollie was way in his cage. In general, we had problems with them on their initial rush, they were getting in the zone too easily and then they’d move it around. They’ve got a 31 percent power play going right now, so we just added to that percentage tonight, that’s all.”
On the challenges of facing the Cornell power play, especially Gallagher and Greening:
“I don’t think it’s the guys –– everybody has their power-play guys. They play the exact same power play that Harvard plays, what I call the umbrella, where each side can pop up and be backdoor. When your forwards are fine, you can stop it fairly easily. Once your forwards get out of position, then you got problems. We got forwards out of position both times. One of them was not the power play . . . we blocked the shot, it went back to him, he took the puck and took the shot from below the hash mark. The other one, we moved the puck pretty well and we got caught with our forwards bumping into each other.”
On whether the recent comebacks are reminiscent of last year’s team down the stretch:
“No, not at all. The end of last year, we won something like 18 of the last 20 games. We’re under .500 if I recall our record right now. This doesn’t feel like last year at all. This week was a real good, competitive week. We talk all the time about, ‘Attitude is everything,’ and we had great attitude this week against Harvard and in this one. We still have a long way to go to prove who we’re supposed to be. Although we’re going to be who we’re supposed to be, we got a long way to show that.”
On Bonino getting his second goal of the season:
“He’s making plays for us that people are scoring goals on. I think in our last three goals against Harvard, he figured in on the other night. He figured on a pretty big one tonight. He’s the guy we depend on. We’ve got to get Trivino’s line going a little bit more –– they had some great chances tonight. I thought on the power play especially, [Zach] Cohen made a couple of fabulous passes across the crease wide open to Saponari, who just didn’t quite get a stick on it, but we gotta get that line going. But I thought, in general, Bonino’s playing like Bonino.
On bumping Chiasson to the top line in the second period:
“I was fooling with lines the entire second period because of penalties and power plays. I wasn’t sure who I had available to us, I had so many combinations going on. As it turned out, if Chiasson was playing well, I would like him to play with Bonino an Connolly. But if he’s struggling –– you know he’s just coming off the injury and he’s not in great shape yet –– but I thought he played great tonight. I thought it was one of his best games. So it was easy for me to move him back up, and Joey is a little bit better defensively playing with our third line and giving those guys a little more help defensively.”
By Scott McLaughlin and Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
Offense – B+
The Terriers were the dominant offense in every way other than goals. They more than doubled the Big Red in shots on goal (35-17), including a 13-3 differential in the third period. Shots attempted were even more lopsided –– 87-38 for BU in the game, 34-7 in the third. And grade-A chances? BU owned that category, too –– 20-7 for the game, 10-0 in the final stanza. Given those numbers, it should come as no surprise that the Terriers were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the third. What is surprising, though, is that they had only mustered one goal until that point. A combination of guys not finishing at the net, Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens making some great saves and Big Red defenders blocking an astounding 27 shots in the game were the biggest reasons for that.
Defense – B+
This grade would almost certainly be an ‘A’ if it weren’t for Cornell’s second goal. On that play, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen both got caught up ice on the rush, leaving Locke Jillson with a breakaway from his own blue line. Other than that goal, though, the Terrier D was stellar. Holding the third-ranked offense in the nation to 17 shots is nothing short of impressive. Even more impressive was that instead of getting worn down as the game went on like most of the Big Red’s opponents (16 of Cornell’s 33 goals coming into tonight had come in the third period), BU’s blue-liners only got stronger. Cornell put just three shots on net in the final 20 minutes, and none of them were from any closer than the faceoff dots.
Goaltending – C+
Grant Rollheiser had a game of up and downs. One of the first things BU coach Jack Parker said after the game was he was sure Rollheiser would want to have Cornell’s first goal back. After defenseman Sean Whitney’s initial shot was blocked at the point by Chris Connolly, Whitney collected the deflection and moved below the right faceoff dot, where he let rip a wrister that beat Rollheiser gloveside, against the right post. Rollheiser was, by his coach’s account, too deep in his own net, and as a result was poorly positioned to defend the shot, which came at an angle that a D-I netminder should be able to handle with relative ease. Still, Rollheiser rebounded after the shaky start, and neither of Cornell’s final two goals can be pinned on the sophomore –– one came on a breakaway and the other a one-timer from a lane that never should have been open.
Special Teams – C+
BU’s penalty kill allowed two goals on five chances. It also allowed only four shots on those chances, including none on Cornell’s final power-play chance with just over five minutes to go. Whitney’s initial goal falls on the shoulders of Rollheiser, but the second, according to Parker, was the result of a miscommunication between his forwards. Both players got themselves caught high in the zone on the right side of the ice, so when Whitney took the puck at the right point, he had a wide open lane to Gallagher, who was camped at the left post and had only to worry about burying his one-time shot. Meanwhile, the BU power play struggled to get shots past Cornell’s defense. The Terriers moved the puck quickly, but not effectively, as the Big Red left them with few shooting lanes and all but eliminated the threat of Colby Cohen’s dangerous slapper.
X-Factor – “Stick to it-ness”
Parker couldn’t come up with a word to describe the way his team responded after falling behind 2-0 early in the first. Instead, he simply made one up. BU’s “stick to it-ness” helped urge the Terriers to control the pace of play through the last half of the first period, and on through the rest of the game.
Rollheiser from the first, soft goal to make a series of superb saves on Cornell sophomore Collin Greening. The penalty kill bounced back and held strong when it absolutely needed to –– down a man and a goal on the scoreboard with under five minutes to go. The power play finally broke through, 6-on-4, to force overtime with less than a minute left.
When BU needed to break through in any facet of the game, it managed to find a way just in time. It wasn’t a 60-minute effort on the Terriers’ part, but BU was the better team for the final 50 minutes, and as Shattenkirk said during postgame interviews, the attitude on the team has shifted away from its previous “roll over and die” mentality. Warsofsky said after the last UNH game he thought a shift was coming. Two last-minute, game-tying goals against Harvard and Cornell, later, Warsofsky might just end up being the psychic who predicted a BU turnaround.