Grading the Terriers: 11/14 vs. Merrimack

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

Offense: A-
Coming into Saturday night, the Terriers hadn’t scored an even-strength goal in three-and-a-half games. That changed just 44 seconds in when Kevin Shattenkirk took a pass from Chris Connolly and beat Andrew Braithwaite with a low wrister from the right faceoff circle. BU would go on to add to three more even-strength goals in the first period to take a commanding 4-0 lead. One of the biggest keys to BU’s 5-on-5 turnaround was its ability to get more traffic in front of the net. Ross Gaudet and Max Nicastro each netted their first collegiate goals in large part because of screens at the top of the crease. Also contributing to the improvement was the return of Nick Bonino and the emergence of a true top line. Bonino, Connolly and right wing Joe Pereira were on the ice for four of BU’s six goals and sustained pressure in the offensive zone all game. Jack Parker singled out Pereira as the best player on the ice.

Defense: C+
The defense, like everything else relating to BU, started out great, allowing just six shots and two grade-A chances in the first period. The second period was OK –– nine shots and four grade-A chances. The third period, however, was awful –– 14 shots and eight grade-A chances. Clearing out the front of the net was a problem the Terriers appeared to solve last weekend, but it re-emerged this weekend, especially in Saturday night’s final 20 minutes. The BU blue-liners are also developing a bad habit of taking penalties, lots of them. Eight of the team’s 10 infractions tonight were committed by defensemen, including four by senior Eric Gryba. At one point in the third period, three Terrier defenders were in the box at the same time, one night after four were partying in the box at once on Friday.
Goalie: B
In his first start since last season’s regular-season finale (a 3-0 shutout of Providence), Grant Rollheiser showed no signs of any lingering effects from the high ankle sprain that had sidelined him for the first month of this season. He showed good lateral movement, serviceable rebound control and the ability to stay square on most of Merrimack’s second-chance opportunities. More importantly, Rollie made big saves when they counted most. He saved six shots from the slot or closer in the third period, including a diving robbery on a rebound chance by Jesse Todd that would’ve tied the game. Of the four goals he gave up, none of them were really soft. Two were snipes, one was essentially a 2-on-0 and one was tipped in, albeit rather slowly.
Special teams: B-
The raw numbers aren’t very impressive (1-for-6 on the power play, 3-for-8 on the penalty kill), but those are somewhat misleading. The PP recorded an impressive 14 shots on its six chances, while the PK held the Warriors to one shot per PP. After struggling mightily early in the season, the PP continued its recent trend of good possession and good movement. Bonino’s return certainly helped matters. It was his pass that set up Colby Cohen’s laser-guided missile into the top corner with 2:08 left in the second. As for the PK, Parker mentioned that he was happy with it despite the fact that it gave up three goals. Not that Luke Popko needs to be singled out when talking about the PK, but Parker did it anyway, saying that “there’s not many guys that can do it as well as he does”.
X-Factor: Fast start
If there was ever a game when BU needed to get out to a fast start, it was Saturday night. The Terriers had lost four games in a row, had already matched both their season total and conference total in losses from last season, and were sitting dead last in the conference standings. One win doesn’t turn the season around, but it certainly helps team morale heading into next weekend’s series against New Hampshire. BU was so desperate to find anything positive that, as Connolly mentioned in his postgame comments on, someone had done the research to discover that when the Denver Pioneers repeated as national champions in 2004-05, they started that season 3-6. BU is now 3-6.

Jack Parker and Zach Cohen Postgame Transcripts

Transcriptions by Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Jack Parker

Opening statement

I was very, very disappointed in my team in the second period. We came unraveled. I thought we played a great first period. Then we come out and our goalie makes a fabulous save right off the bat. That should have re-ignited us a little bit. Instead, we just stood around and watched them.

We had a chance to clear the puck on the second goal. We wave at it and leave it right in front of our goalie, 15 feet out front, and one of the best scorers in the league comes in and puts it right by him. There’s no need for that puck to ever be there.

A 2-on-1, the defenseman doesn’t quite widen out and play his guy. The goalie’s got the shooter. They get a tap-in goal to make it 3-1, and then we wilted. I was extremely disappointed in our club after that.

I thought Adam Kraus competed like hell in the third period.

On the first period

I thought we played very well. I thought we played exactly like we wanted to play.

On the struggles on the 5-on-3

We had already gone out the window by that time. We were so bad before that it was just a matter of we had already wilted, I thought. I don’t remember one in the first. We might have had some chances. The second period was the one we really made a mess out of.

On the clock issues, specifically the possibility that BU had to kill an extra 17 seconds

I didn’t notice that, no. The penalty clocks were all done. You couldn’t use them anymore. I think the referee kind of understood. He came over to me and said, ‘I think there was a mess up on the clock here. You’ll find out later on.’ I didn’t see it at the time. Seventeen seconds, we didn’t lose the game. Would have been nice if we didn’t give it up, if it was still 3-1, but the fact is we disintegrated.

On playing Bonino, Chiasson, Warsofsky and/or Rollheiser tomorrow

Nobody gets pushed up unless they’re ready to play. Doesn’t matter if you lose a game or not. I have no idea. We’ll see how they skate tomorrow. I’m pretty sure we won’t see any of them.

On what specifically went wrong in the second

We stopped competing.

On whether or not it feels like his team has hit rock bottom

I don’t know. You have to give them a lot of credit. They’re 6-0 in their home barn right now. They just beat BC last week handily. They’re a very, very good hockey team. Rock bottom for us? We’ve lost four games in a row. That’s rock bottom. But don’t take anything away from Merrimack. They played terrific tonight.

On whether or not he can comment on the chippiness of the game


On Colby Cohen getting frustrated

You’re correct.

On what, if anything, he was impressed with

I was impressed with Gaudet and Santana killing penalties. They did a real good job. I was impressed with the competitive nature of my goaltender Adam Kraus, because we left him out there to dry a few times. That’s about it.

On using Connolly at the point on the power play in the third

We’ve done that before. We’ve been working on that a little bit, but it was out of necessity because 25 wasn’t there.

On the final power-play unit of the game, which included Gaudet, Santana and Gryba

It was about getting fresh guys on the ice. We were exhausted by that time. We didn’t want to get anyone hurt because they were tired. By that time, we weren’t coming back.

On what they have to do to turn things around

Look at the game film and talk to my players tomorrow. We’ll have a pregame skate and see if we can get them recommitted.

Zach Cohen

On the second period

We started playing on our heels at the beginning of the period, and we just couldn’t get back from that. They scored a few quick goals and we had to fight back from that, and that’s pretty tough.

On the team’s performance on 5-on-3s

I thought we were moving it pretty good. We just weren’t getting the right shots on it. We have enough skill to go out there and score some goals. We just haven’t gotten the luck, get some rebounds and put them in. Keep battling, move the puck a little quicker and hopefully those will go in soon.

On whether or not he thought Merrimack got a little chippy

Not really. They’re a physical team, and we’re trying to get back at them, too. It was a tough game, and they had a little more edge than we did, so we just have to come back tomorrow night and do better than them.

On whether or not it feels like the team’s hit rock bottom

It’s tough. It’s always a battle. Every season has some low points. Last year, we lost three in a row or something. Everyone has losses, so we just have to find a way to come back the next day and be better than we were the night before.

On the idea that the team “stopped competing” in the second period

We were a little down on the bench, but we fought back in the third period and we kept doing that in the third, so as long as we keep doing that every shift, we’ll hopefully get some bounces.

On Merrimack letting them back in the game with penalties

It was tough, but you just have to keep chipping away. After a while, things are going to start going in, so once they do, hopefully we can get some more 5-on-5 goals and start dominating down low.

Terriers drop fourth straight in 6-3 loss at Merrimack

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

NORTH ANDOVER –– If Friday night wasn’t rock bottom, it could be a long season for the No. 17 Boston University men’s hockey team. The Terriers dropped their fourth straight contest, this time losing 6-3 to Merrimack College at J. Thom Lawler Arena in embarrassing fashion.

After a solid first period in which BU (2-6-0, 1-5-0 Hockey East) outshot the Warriors (6-3-0, 3-1-0), 12-5, the teams entered the locker room tied at one. But then the Terriers fell apart faster than a sand castle during high tide, as they gave up four straight goals over the next 23 minutes.

“I was very, very disappointed in my team in the second period,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “We came unraveled. I thought we played a great first period. Then we come out [in the second] and our goalie makes a fabulous save right off the bat. That should’ve reignited us a little bit, but instead, we just stood around and watched them.”

Less than a minute into the second stanza, sophomore forward Jeff Velleca gained entry into the BU zone and dropped a pass back to sophomore defenseman Simon Demers. Sophomore goalie Kieran Millan saved the initial shot, but after the defense failed to clear the rebound, freshman forward Stephane Da Costa came charging into the slot and blasted the loose puck into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

“We had a chance to clear the puck,” Parker said. “We wave at it and leave it right in front of our goalie, 15 feet out front. One of the best scorers in the league comes in and puts it right by him. There’s no need for that puck to ever be there.”

A little more than four minutes later, Merrimack made it 3-1 on another defensive breakdown by the Terriers. Junior defenseman Fraser Allan jumped in on the rush on the right wing and carried the puck into the BU zone. Freshman defenseman Sean Escobedo went for the big hit, but left sophomore forward Elliott Sheen all alone to pick up the drop pass. Sheen then centered for junior forward Matt Moulakelis, who beat freshman defenseman Max Nicastro to the front of the net and redirected the puck past a sliding Millan.

“The defenseman doesn’t quite widen out and play his guy, and they get a tap-in goal to make it 3-1,” Parker said. “Then we wilted. I was extremely disappointed with my club after that.”

If that wasn’t enough to finish off the Terriers, two more Warrior goals in a 22-second span early in the third certainly were. Two-and-a-half minutes into the period, junior forward Joe Cucci led Allan into the zone after a tag-up offsides. Allan then crossed a pass to freshman defenseman Kyle Bigos, who stepped around a BU defender and fired a shot into the top left corner.

Before the goal was even done being announced, junior forward John Jamieson led Sheen in on a breakaway with a long outlet pass. The fourth-line forward faked forehand and then roofed a backhander over Millan’s glove. Following the goal, Parker pulled Millan in lieu of junior Adam Kraus.

BU managed to score two power-play goals in the third, their second and third man-advantage goals of the night, but it wasn’t nearly enough to resurrect the already washed-out castle.

Sitting in last place in the Hockey East standings and already having matched both their season total in losses and conference total in losses from last season, the Terriers have a long climb back to level ground, starting tomorrow night when they host the Warriors in Game Two of the weekend set.

“We’ve lost four games in a row,” Parker said. “That’s rock bottom.”

Terriers fail to convert on three 5-on-3s

By Cary Betagole/DFP Staff

NORTH ANDOVER — Near the middle of the second period in Friday night’s game, Merrimack College lost sight of its goal.

Or at the very least it became a little fuzzy.

Like a self-esteem challenged bully playing Phys. Ed. dodgeball, a 3-1 lead couldn’t satisfy the Warriors. Insecurities loomed in the form of a good longterm memory, as Merrimack sought to physically punish BU for four years of perceived disrespect, racking up a slash, hook, board and hold between 10:21 and 8:18.

By trying to leave them for dead, Merrimack gave the Terriers life.

After a hooking call on defenseman Adam Ross, the Terriers had 1:37 of 5-on-3 to turn things around. Two more penalties extended the power play all the way to the 4:21 mark.

But like on all three of its two-man advantages, BU couldn’t convert.

“I was very disappointed with my team in the second period,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “They get a tip-in, tap-in goal and then we wilted.”

Junior defenseman Colby Cohen opened the power play with a wrister from the slot. Freshman forward Wade Megan scrambled to pitch it back on net, but Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata held his ground and covered.

A won faceoff led to multiple slappers from the perimeter, yielding nothing, and Parker called timeout to regroup.

Several one-timers later, BU still hadn’t scored.

“I thought we were moving it pretty good –– we just weren’t getting the right shots on it,” senior forward Zach Cohen said. “We just haven’t gotten the luck getting the rebounds and putting ’em in.”

Perhaps the tone was set on BU’s first period 5-on-3. Just 5:14 into the game, defenseman Kyle Bigos’ slash and forward Ryan Flanigan’s check from behind gave BU a chance to make a statement early.

“I thought the 5-on-3 to start the game set the tempo for us,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “Not that we want to be killing a 5-on-3, but we did such a good job of killing it, I think everybody in the building knew that we were going to play tonight-that we were here to play.

“We got guys who know how to play the game with big bodies who can block shots.”

By the time the Terriers’ third 5-on-3 chance came in the third, they were down 6-1 with little hope.

“It had already got out the window by that time,” Parker said. “We were so bad before that, it was just a matter of, we had already wilted.”

Grading the Terriers: 11/13 @ Merrimack

By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff

Offense – C-

Not that there was much even-strength play to analyze in this game, but overall, the Terrier offense looked much the same as it has in past games. The shots are there. The chances are there. The goals are not, and they made yet another goaltender look like an NHL legend (BU coach Jack Parker has already cited Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante, might be time to go Terry Sawchuk?). Chris Connolly led the squad with six shots on net, followed by Kevin Shattenkirk with five and Vinny Saponari with four. Only three Terriers –– Ryan Santana, Ross Gaudet and Colby Cohen –– didn’t get at least one shot on Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata. It seems like everyone has a different theory on why the Terriers aren’t scoring even strength –– shooting too much at goalies’ chests, poor puck luck, etc. Either way, they’ve now scored just seven 5-on-5 goals in their last eight games. Something needs to change in the way this team is finishing.

Defense – F

Each of Merrimack’s first three goals were the direct result of blatant breakdowns in the BU defense. Poor positioning, over aggressiveness, slow sticks in front of the net and lazy backchecking all plagued the Terriers. Kieran Millan was by no means a world-beater tonight (see below), but the Warriors’ six goals Friday night fall almost exclusively on the defense’s shoulders. None of the starting six had a good night in their own zone. The BU defense has been inconsistent all season, but tonight marks an absolute low-point.

Goaltending – D

While the BU defense struggled mightily tonight, they didn’t exactly get a ton of help from sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan. The first two goals were both scored off juicy rebounds that hit Millan right in the body. The third wasn’t his fault –– a defensive breakdown left a 3-on-1 that resulted in a one-time shot he had little-to-no chance of getting to. The fourth was a simple wrist shot from the right point that beat Millan over his right shoulder, and the fifth was a breakaway capped off with a pretty backhand move by Merrimack’s Elliot Sheen. Adam Kraus replaced Millan in goal after the fifth Merrimack tally, and according to Parker, “competed” very well. Kraus faced a fair amount of pressure and allowed just one goal –– a score which could have very easily been called a frozen puck as Merrimack’s Brandon Brodhag appeared to stuff the puck in after it was stuck under Kraus’ leg pad. Parker declined to say if he’d put Rollheiser or Kraus in net tomorrow night.

Special Teams – C

The BU power play was 3-for-12 on the night, scoring twice in the third period with the game seemingly out of hand. That said, the puck movement 5-on-4 was probably the best it has been all season, and if not for stellar play from Cannata in goal, BU could have scored two or three more goals with the man advantage. Still, BU failed to capitalize on three separate, lengthy 5-on-3 chances, including a two-minute two-man up chance five minutes into the contest that Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said swayed momentum in his team’s favor. The 5-on-3 unit looked sloppy for most of its shifts, although Colby Cohen set Chris Connolly up for a number of doorstep opportunities with pinpoint passes that Cannata turned away. On the PK, BU killed 3-of-5 chances, allowing two power-play goals in the third period.

X-Factor – Composure

Parker said his squad unraveled in the second period after playing a very strong first. BU served 30 penalty minutes Friday night –– although that’s less than the 40 Merrimack served –– including a number of dumb or lazy penalties. Colby Cohen’s win in a fight with Matt Moulakelis was the closest thing to a victory BU’s seen in four games –– no word yet on whether Cohen or Moulakelis will receive suspensions for the brawl. If Cohen is suspended, BU will likely find itself down to five healthy defensemen with David Warsofsky likely out for tomorrow night’s contest at Agganis Arena.

From the FreeP: Hobbled Terriers play weekend set with Merrimack

By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff

Forget about the H1N1 virus. A different type of bug has been ravaging the home locker room at Agganis Arena –– the injury bug.

The No. 17 Boston University men’s hockey team already knew it would travel to Merrimack College Friday night without the services of Hobey Baker-candidate, junior Nick Bonino, and sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky.

Read more at The Daily Free Press.