From the FreeP: Notebook: UMass, UML struggling since hot starts

By Cary Betagole/DFP Staff

A tie for first place in Hockey East would have been on the line had Saturday night’s game in Lowell been played two weeks ago.

Instead, the No. 9 University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s 5-3 victory over the No. 15 University of Massachusetts-Amherst lifted the Riverhawks into fourth and dropped UMass to fifth.

What’s happened to the pair of reeling Baystaters?

The Minutemen, top-ranked in last week’s Daily Free Press power rankings, have lost three in a row, beginning with an out-of-conference loss to Quinnipiac University on Nov. 28, 5-4 in overtime. Dating back to a Halloween loss to Providence College, they have fallen in four of their last six Hockey East contests.


From the FreeP: Shea it ain’t so: BC’s Edwin Shea nets winner early in third, BU falls 4-1

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team hung tough with No. 14/15 Boston College for two periods Saturday night, but the Eagles overpowered the Terriers in the third, scoring three unanswered goals to earn a 4-1 victory at Agganis Arena.

BC (8-3-2, 6-3-2 Hockey East) sophomore defenseman Edwin Shea broke the 1-1 deadlock just 38 seconds into the final stanza with his first career goal.

Shea picked up the winner after BC sophomore forward Cam Atkinson stormed down the right wing and nailed the right post with a snap shot. He then tracked down the rebound and worked it back to Shea at the right point. The Shrewsbury native threw the puck toward the front of the net and it deflected off the skate of BU (4-8-3, 2-7-2) junior defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (minus-3) and into the net.


From the FreeP: BU’s defensive lapses aide BC in three-goal third

By Cary Betagole/DFP Staff
Trailing 2-1 with 14:22 remaining in the third period, Boston College junior forward Joe Whitney was so wide open from the left slot, he invoked the name of New York City’s most famous street to describe the look that led to BC’s third goal.

“I had a walk down Broadway,” the five-foot-six-inch marksman from Reading said.

BU coach Jack Parker echoed Whitney’s sentiment in recounting his first defensive unit’s third failure out of four, a breakdown in which poor bench miscommunication and on-ice decision-making each played a role. The tandem of junior defensemen Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk each finished at minus-three on the night.

“The third goal was a real bad read by our defenseman,” Parker said. “It was a 3-on-2 and our defenseman just played the wrong guy and let Whitney walk down Broadway and rip one. And [sophomore goalie Kieran Millan] couldn’t come running out on him because he had to worry about the other guys, too.”


Nick Bonino and Eric Gryba Postgame Transcripts

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Gryba on motivating the team tonight

First thing we did was make sure that guys’ confidence wasn’t completely depleted after last night. We did some good things last night, and we needed to build on it. It was a little easier because we were playing BC tonight, to get guys fired up and to get guys focused and what not. They know what’s on the line, so it was easier for guys to come ready to the rink to play.

Bonino on BU’s struggles in the third period

It’s tough. It was a good game back and forth, a good hockey game. The third period, the puck just jumped into the net for them. That goal they got to break the tie, Shatty’s fronting and it just hits the stick and goes slow into the net. It’s just one of those games where we have our chances and they have theirs, and they end up scoring. I thought we played hard and battled to the end, but the puck just wasn’t going in.

Gryba on Parker calling BC a better team

Obviously, BC is always going to be a good team. I don’t think we’re playing at our best just yet. We’re excited for when January comes around and we’re playing at Fenway. I think hopefully everything is straightened out by then. But we have a good night, they have a good night, it can go either way, but I like our team.

Gryba on what went wrong on the third goal

There was some miscommunication on the bench in terms of who was going out next. For a bit, maybe for five seconds, we had three guys on the ice. Then finally a fourth guy jumped out, and then finally a fifth guy jumped out. So, there was some miscommunication. I’m not sure what happened up on the forwards’ end of the bench there. It’s just one of those things, maybe coach forgot to say something or the line that was up forgot to, something could’ve happened up there, but I think it was just a miscommunication.

Bonino on the power play

We talked about it after the game, a few of us. We were happy with the way we were moving the puck. We were getting pucks to the net. The 5-on-3 was pretty much a 5-on-2 because the kid broke his stick, and I was just laying them out to Colby for one-timers and he just couldn’t get the puck on net. They were blocking the lanes pretty well all night. It’s tough to go 0-for-5, but that’s not a game where we go 0-for-5 and we can’t get set up or we can’t get control of the puck. That was a game where we’re getting the pucks to the net and we’re moving our feet and moving the puck, and the puck just wouldn’t go in.

Bonino on why that seems to be happening a lot

Good goalies, I guess?

Bonino on the success of his line

Whatever line Joe plays on, he’s going to give them a little jump. I think on the goal, Chiasson was actually out there, and he was the one who battled on the wall and tied the puck up, and I was able to grab it out of there. But playing with Joe and playing with Chris, they’re two speedy guys who, Chris is real creative, and Joe, they’ll underestimate him and he’ll get the puck to the net and he goes hard to the net, so every point is covered on that line.

Gryba on what he meant by getting excited for January

I didn’t mean it like that we’re forgetting everything until then. We have RPI this weekend coming up and we need two points out of that. To get two points out of that and then take a break, everyone take a step back, and really come back prepared for the second half. But first we need to get two points against RPI.

Bonino on whether the break will help the team

I think it usually does. I know last year, we were just rolling the whole year, but I know my freshman year, we got off to a similar start. I think we’re more talented this year, and I think we’ve found what kind of team we are quicker this year. I think we know we can work hard, and when we work hard, we’re getting pucks to the net and we’re just not getting wins. I think the break will be good. Everyone can take a step back and look at how this half has gone. The freshmen can look back on their first taste of college hockey and see what they have to improve on. Same with us. I have to look and see what have I done differently this year from last year. Am I not getting my feet moving or something? It’s just a good time to reflect and look forward.

Bonino on the end of his 39-game streak of scoring a point and not losing

I guess so. I’m ready to start another streak with Gryba scoring.

Jack Parker Postgame Transcript

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Opening statement

Let’s start by saying that I thought we got beat by a really good college hockey team tonight. I thought they played extremely well. They’re very quick, they’re tenacious and they did a great job in front of their net defending. I thought we played hard tonight. I was happy with my team’s effort. We got a point last night in a game and outshot the team badly, and I don’t think we played very well because of our lack of tenacity. I thought we played pretty hard tonight. We made a couple of real bad reads to give them a couple of goals, but in general, we got good goaltending, we did a good job of killing penalties, and I thought we moved the puck real well. We got 10 shots on the power play and got some real opportunities, but the better team won tonight. I was real impressed with Boston College, very impressed with BC.

On getting outplayed on the first shift of the third period

And for a few shifts after that, too. It was just banging it into the zone. We got it out once and then they come right back and hit the pipe, and then wound up getting the rebound and it ends up just squiggling past our goaltender. They come out ready to play and we didn’t. The guys that were on for that goal were on for three out of their four goals, all five of them for the most part. So, it was not a good night defensively for those five guys because they got caught for three out of the four goals.

I thought that Bonino came back and played a real good game tonight. I thought Connolly had a real good game tonight. I thought Pereira gave us his typical great effort. I thought Gryba and Warsofsky had a real solid game. They weren’t on for any goals, they were pretty good offensively, and they were real good defensively. A couple of guys had bad nights, but in general, we were more ready to play, we were more into the game and we were more vested in the outcome, not playing as if it didn’t matter. We have a long way to go from where we are in the standings and a long way to go from where we are scoring-wise, but at least for me, this game gave me a little bit of a lift as far as our focus and our effort.

On the play of Kieran Millan

I think the third goal was a real bad read by our defenseman. It was a 3-on-2 and our defenseman just played the wrong guy and let that guy walk down Broadway and rip one, and he couldn’t come running out on him because he still had to worry about the other guys too. It’s still a 3-on-2 and that kid can really shoot the puck. That’s point blank, 25 feet, coming into it and driving it.

And the fourth goal, Gibbons made a great play. The puck was bouncing by and he just picked it up in midair almost. Shatty was trying to play the puck off, it was bouncing to Shatty, and he picked it off his stick and Shatty tried to recover, but he didn’t quite get him and then there was confusion as he got into the net.

But I still think he made some big saves. I thought he played really well the whole game. A game where he gives up four goals, you’re not really happy with, but I thought he played pretty well. He looked like Kieran tonight. Another reason why I feel really good.

On the play of the top line and the Shattenkirk-Cohen pairing

Well, when you’re minus-3, you’re not very happy, and they were minus-3. Like I said, guy beats me out wide for the 3-on-2, and then completely cover the wrong guy. Not good nights for those guys.

On whether there’s still enough time to turn things around in Hockey East

We can turn some things around for sure. Can we catch BC? Probably not. Can we catch UNH? Probably not. In order for us to get back in this, we have to win five league games in a row and start looking like we’re a hockey team again, and that can be done, maybe. But there’s no reason to think it’s going to be automatic, because we haven’t been putting the puck in the net the way we should. We haven’t been as sharp on the power play as we have to be.

I think we went 0-for-5 tonight. The 5-on-3, we kept bombing it, we had five or six times where we had it point blank and someone shot it high and wide. And then we had a couple of other ones when we weren’t on the power plays that were defensemen who shot high and wide. So, the puck’s not going into the net for us and we’re not concentrating that way.

Like I said, I liked our effort. I liked that we kept playing right until the end. That team can outshoot a lot of teams, and they didn’t do that to us tonight. That team has one of the best power plays in the nation, and they went 0-for-6 themselves. There were some good signs, but we’re a long way from being as good as they are, that’s for sure. And we’re a long way from being where they are in the standings. I’m just trying to get a W. I’m not worried about home ice.

On the penalty kill

I thought we got confused a couple of times and Kieran bailed us out, but in general, we did a good job on the penalty kill. When they go 0-for-6, like I said, I think they’re going with a 28-percent rate, so that’s pretty good.

On Colby Cohen not converting on offensive opportunities

As I say, he was on for some goals and it wasn’t his best night. He had some good opportunities. He made some nice plays on the power play. He drilled a couple that were just high and wide. They’re not going in for him. Those will go in for him. He’s not going to forget how to hit the net. Sooner or later, they will. Hopefully sooner.

On whether C. Cohen is being hampered by his hip

He’s much better off than he was last year at this time. Last year, he was really, he’s better off now. Physically, there’s nothing wrong.

Jerry York and Joe Whitney Postgame Transcripts

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

York

Opening statement

Terrific weekend for our club. We’ve been on a little run here for the last three weeks where I’ve seen some improvement in a lot of different areas, but this weekend I thought we were very solid defensively. Both goaltenders played well. Our young defensive corps, I thought, made some good decisions with the puck. They managed the puck very well. I think that was the key to last night’s game, but also tonight’s game. We got exceptional goaltending and we really managed the puck well and were on breakouts. BU’s got some strong forwards and they won some 1-on-1 battles low and came out, but Johnny was right there for them. But for the most part, I thought we played pretty well defensively in front of John. The 5-on-3 certainly was key. Philip Samuelsson broke his stick and became a passenger and Johnny made some great saves. We got some fortunate bounces there, too.

The 1-0 game for a while, it looked like we were going to have a lot of trouble notching one, but then we got the first on and felt a lot better about it. That first shift of the third period, Edwin Shea got his first career goal. I thought Cam [Atkinson] had the goal. It hit the far pipe and came back out. Joey [Whitney] got a big goal and played a very good game for us. That was kind of a key goal for us, that third goal, because BU was still in reach. He got a lot of mustard on that shot, a cannon on the short side I think. But again, we always feel fortunate to come out of Agganis with a couple points, and I feel very proud of the effort we had tonight from our club.

On BC’s success on the penalty kill

Like all power plays, I think if the penalty kill can get some good saves from the goaltender, that’s the first step. Second, is eliminate second-chance opportunities and we did that. I thought we blocked some shots, and if we didn’t block them, then we maybe encouraged a shot just wide of the net because our shin pads and our bodies were in the lane for the puck. We got lucky on the 5-on-3. Like I said, that was like a shooting gallery out there, and we came up with some incredible saves and some shots that were just wide there.

On the play of Carl Sneep

He’s playing his best hockey of his career with us. He’s the elder statesman back there on that blue line corps and we really lean on him a lot, and his offensive production has been terrific for us, but his leadership and just his improvement defensively has helped also.

On why Sneep is playing better this year

I think he probably thought, “Hey, I got to step up here and play better than I did my previous three years here at BC.” And he’s done that. My hat’s off to him. Had a good start to his senior year.

On whether Sneep has helped develop the younger guys

I think he’s worked and helped them in a lot of different areas, but they’re pretty good players themselves. They’re young, but they’re pretty good.


Whitney

On whether BU’s three goals in the third period in last year’s Hockey East semis came up in the locker room

No. It didn’t come up in the locker room. Last year was last year. We still remember it in the back of our heads, but last year is over with and we have a different team this year. I thought we came out very confident in the third period. There was no panic. We played well and had three goals.

On whether anything was said before the third period in the locker room

Nothing particularly. We were just motivating the guys and getting guys going, just anxious to get the third period underway. We knew we were going to come out strong, and we showed that.

On having so much room for his goal

I think it was the 3-on-2. Steve, my brother, came down on the right wing and drove to the net, and Jimmy made a good drop pass, and the defenseman, I don’t know who it was, went with Jim, so I had a walk down Broadway and tucked it upstairs.

Grading the Terriers: 12/5 vs. Boston College

By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff

Offense – B-
BC netminder John Muse was the game’s No. 1 star, and the junior earned it by turning away 30 of BU’s 31 shots. While the Terriers committed more than a handful of turnovers in the offensive zone, they also created 20 grade-A chances in front of the net and forced Muse to play at his highest level for 60 minutes. Junior Nick Bonino was the unquestionable catalyst for the BU offense, registering eight shots and contributing BU’s lone goal on a self-created chance from the left corner of the BC zone. After turning over the puck far too often Friday against Vermont, Bonino picked up his game and played like a legitimate first-line center and playmaker against BC.

Defense – C-
Juniors Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk were each minus-3 Saturday night, and for the most part, the pairing earned the rating with poor positioning and decision making. The Terriers suffered with positioning throughout the third period, and if sophomore Kieran Millan hadn’t played at or near the top of his game throughout the night, BC could have won this game by an even wider margin. Parker did offer rave reviews for the pairing of senior Eric Gryba and sophomore David Warsofsky after the game.

Goaltending – B+
The last time Kieran Millan took the ice, he allowed five goals to Harvard University in a very poor outing. Despite allowing four goals tonight against BC, the improvement in Millan’s positioning and technique were very noticeable. The Edmonton, Alberta native exhibited strong rebound control throughout the game, and was beaten more by bad breaks and BU’s defensive breakdowns –– not by his own game.

Special Teams – B
The good news is the BU power play took 10 shots on five opportunities generated by tape-to-tape passing to set up bombers C. Cohen and Warsofsky with a number of chances from the point. BU seemingly fired at will, especially on a 5-on-3 in the second period, but –– and this brings us to the bad news –– the power-play unit was a lousy 0-for-5 on the night. A lot of that can be credited to Muse’s play in net and a strong shot-blocking performance by the BC penalty kill, but the Terriers are struggling to turn a swift and creative passing game into a power-play unit that creates scoring chances down low. BU did kill off all six of BC’s power plays.

X-Factor – John Muse
Muse’s play has been lauded plenty in the previous paragraphs, but the BC goalie had what could be a breakout game after struggling with an .873 save percentage and a 3.07 goals-against average in his first nine starts.