From the FreeP: Hockey East Preseason Power Rankings

By Scott McLaughlin, Daily Free Press Staff

1) University of Massachusetts-Lowell

After reaching their second Hockey East title game in program history, the River Hawks return 22 letter-winners, including their top seven scorers and two senior goalies (Nevin Hamilton and Carter Hutton). Defenseman Maury Edwards leads the way at both ends of the ice. The junior was named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star and Second-Team All-American a season ago after leading all Hockey East defensemen with 25 points (9 goals, 16 assists) in conference play. The River Hawks ranked in the top three in Hockey East in scoring offense, scoring defense, power-play percentage and penalty-kill percentage last year, and there’s no reason to think they won’t be able to match that production this season.

2) Boston University

Yes, the Terriers are the defending national champions. Yes, they won every other trophy they could possibly win along the way last year. And yes, they placed first in this year’s Hockey East preseason coaches’ poll. But the fact remains that this team lost five-sixths of its top two forward lines and its top defensive pairing. Of course, there’s still a lot of talent coming back –– junior forward Nick Bonino, junior defenseman and captain Kevin Shattenkirk, sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky and sophomore goalie Kieran Millan should all be All-American candidates at the end of the season. The Terriers should still be a very good team, but they have more question marks than the River Hawks at this point.

3) Boston College

Even though they lost two of their top three scorers (Brock Bradford and Benn Ferriero), the Eagles are simply too talented to finish sixth again. Senior forward Ben Smith saw his point total drop from 50 in 2007-08 to 17 last year. Junior forward Joe Whitney saw his plummet from 51 to 15. If they land somewhere in between this year, that would be a huge boost for BC. Also adding to what should be a turnaround season are a strong freshman class and a healthy John Muse in net. Five Eagle rookies were selected in the first four rounds of this year’s NHL Draft, including 19th-overall pick Chris Kreider. Muse battled a hip injury throughout last season, but offseason surgery should have him back to freshman form.

4) University of Vermont

After reaching their second Frozen Four in program history, the Catamounts know exactly what they’re getting on defense. All six starting blue-liners and sophomore goalie Rob Madore return from a unit that tied for fourth in the conference in scoring defense. On the other hand, Vermont loses four of its top seven scorers, including Hobey Baker Award finalist Viktor Stalberg, leaving plenty of questions to be answered up front. If opening weekend was any indication, though, the Catamount offense might be just fine. It put up 10 goals in a weekend split against the then-No. 1/2 University of Denver. Another cause for concern, though, is the penalty kill, which ranked a measly ninth in Hockey East last year.

5) University of New Hampshire

The Wildcats saw last season come to a heartbreaking end at the hands of BU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but they should be a contender again this year. Despite losing leading scorer James van Riemsdyk, UNH is one of only two Hockey East teams (BU’s the other) to return three 30-point scorers –– junior Mike Sislo (31) and seniors Bobby Butler and Peter LeBlanc (30 each). However, depth could be a problem both up front and on defense. Three other 20-point forwards and two starting defensemen departed. If senior goalie Brian Foster can be more than the middle-of-the-pack goalie he was last year and some of the underclassmen can step up, UNH could be in the NCAAs for the ninth straight season.

6) University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Junior James Marcou, whose 1.21 points per game were second only to Colin Wilson, and sophomore Casey Wellman, whose 33 points were best among Hockey East rookies, should form one of the most lethal scoring duos in the league. Senior Justin Braun (23 points) and sophomore Matt Irwin (18) are both defensemen who know how to create offense as well. Junior goalie Paul Dainton was fourth in save percentage in conference play. The Minutemen don’t have a lot of depth on either offense or defense, but those five guys provide a stable core that should help bring along the underclassmen. If the underclassmen do produce, UMass could find itself competing for its second NCAA berth in program history.

7) Northeastern University

Husky fans who are expecting a repeat of last year’s second-place finish are in for a disappointment. Gone is Hobey Baker finalist and Hockey East Player of the Year Brad Thiessen. Gone are starting defensemen Louis Liotti, Denis Chisholm and Daniel Nycholat. Gone are forwards Ryan Ginand (32 points) and Joe Vitale (27). And if that wasn’t enough, sophomore forward Steve Quailer (25 points) is out indefinitely with an ACL injury. On the bright side, leading scorer Wade MacLeod (35 points) is back along with three other 20-point scorers. But if the freshman defensemen and freshman goalie Chris Rawlings can’t adjust to the college game, it might not matter how much the offense scores.

8) Merrimack College

There’s definitely reason to think that this could be the year the Warriors make it to the postseason for the first time since 2004. They return 11 of their top 12 scorers and have a strong defensive corps led by senior Pat Bowen, junior Fraser Allan and Hockey East All-Rookie Team selection Karl Stollery. Merrimack also brings back sophomore backstop Joe Cannata, who ranked fourth among Hockey East goalies with a .918 save percentage last season. As a team, the Warriors tied with Vermont for fourth in Hockey East with a 2.62 goals-against average. Continued improvement from the young forwards plus more stellar defense and goaltending should equal mid-March hockey for the boys from North Andover.

9) University of Maine

After reaching 11 Frozen Fours from 1988 to 2007, the Black Bears could be looking at their third straight season of finishing eighth or worse. Maine has a strong sophomore class, led by Swedish sensation Gustav Nyquist, who was second among Hockey East rookies with 32 points last year. But unless that group shows tremendous progress, it will be another disappointing season in Orono. Maine ranked last in Hockey East in scoring offense during conference play and ninth in scoring defense. Chief among those who need to improve is the goaltending tandem of senior Dave Wilson and sophomore Scott Darling, who ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, among Hockey East goalies in save percentage last year.

10) Providence College

The Friars missed the Hockey East playoffs for the first time in program history last year. They finished ninth in the conference in scoring offense, last in scoring defense, last in power-play percentage and last in penalty-kill percentage. Normally, you’d be tempted to say something like “There’s nowhere to go but up” or “Things can’t get any worse” after a season like that. Unfortunately for Providence, that might not be true. The team loses three of its top five scorers from a season ago and still has a big question mark in net. Alex Beaudry was brought in halfway through last season to try and solve the goaltending enigma. It didn’t work ­­–– he ranked 13th in Hockey East in save percentage and 13th in goals-against average.

From the FreeP: Banner raising marks end of championship journey

By Cary Betagole, Daily Free Press Staff

Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker has stressed it. So has junior captain Kevin Shattenkirk:

This is a new season. It’s time to turn the page.

But history wasn’t feeling submissive Saturday night inside Agganis Arena, wrestling for one last night in its six-month long monopoly of the BU consciousness.

Drunk with nostalgia, the BU hockey family hardly needed a nudge, as the unveiling of BU’s 2008-09 championship banners was met with an energy more commonly found at a religious service than a hockey arena.

“Just sitting on the goal line, you just get chills thinking back to how it happened and the journey we went through with the ups and downs,” junior forward Joe Pereira said, who watched with the rest of his teammates single file on the blue line.

“You think back on the players when you see the parents from last year’s team and you’re like, ‘Wow, we did something special and we’ll be remembered forever together.’ It’s pretty special –– definitely got goosebumps and chills.”

Parents of departed Terriers Brian Strait, Steve Smolinsky, Jason Lawrence, Chris Higgins and Matt Gilroy were on hand to manually unfurl, in order of their capture, canvases representing each of the Terriers’ main triumphs from a year ago: the Beanpot, the Hockey East regular season, the Hockey East Tournament, the Frozen Four and, finally, the NCAA Tournament championship.

“I thought it was nicely done,” Parker said. “It was nice to have all the trophies out there and let the fans see one more time what a great year last year was.”

Sitting at the head of a T-shaped red carpet arrangement, Athletic Director Mike Lynch led the ceremony with his assessment of last season’s run.

“It was one of the most remarkable runs by a team in the history of college athletics,” he said. “This building was built for one reason, and one reason only, to bring the national championship right back here.”

Then the lights were dimmed and a video played reviewing last season’s highlights. Applause grew to a roar as a slow-motion replay of Colby Cohen’s knuckler inched closer and closer to Miami’s net.

When the lights returned, each group of parents had aligned themselves underneath the banner they would drop.

A chant of, “Go BU,” broke out when Peggy and Frank Gilroy approached the coiled NCAA championship banner, and it continued to rise in volume as the canvas cruised closer and closer to the ice.

“I was real happy with the crowd,” Parker said. “I was worried about that because it was only an exhibition game.”

BU’s opponent, the U.S. National Under-18 team, watched the whole thing unfold from the opposing blue-line.

“I know it left an impression on me,” US-18 coach Kurt Kleinendorst said. “I wanted my guys to see that.”

Some of those guys will be at the University of Notre Dame, others at the University of Michigan or University of Denver or Boston College, and two are coming right here to BU.

For Matt Nieto and Adam Clendening, it was a sneak peak of the impossible dream realized — completing the spectrum of affect from old to young, as surely a couple of inner fires were stirred by the ceremony.

“The fact that we’re recruiting a couple kids from this team didn’t hurt,” Parker said about the timing of the ceremony.

On the other end, the banner raising was a symbolic contribution to BU lore, richer with the turnover of each storied roster.

“All our guys think they played on the same team. It doesn’t matter if you played in the ‘70s or the ‘90s, we all think we played on the same team,” Parker said. “They got a lot of calls, and we got a lot of calls from former players saying, ‘We’re really happy for you. We felt like we won it, too.’”

For 14 years, etched in scarlet banners were the years 1971, 1972, 1978 and 1995.

Now, 2009.

From the FreeP: Terriers top US-18s, 3-2, in final exhibition game

By Jake Seiner, Daily Free Press Staff

With less than a week until it officially began its national championship defense, the Boston University men’s hockey team took down the US National Under-18 Team, 3-2, Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

Before the game, the Terriers raised banners commemorating last season’s Beanpot victory, Hockey East regular season and postseason titles, NCAA Frozen Four appearance and NCAA national championship. The banners were dropped by parents of graduated players from the 2008-09 season.

Junior Joe Pereira put home the winner for the Terriers at 19:52 of the second period, when he and Andrew Glass found themselves with a 2-on-1 opportunity following a defensive-zone faceoff win by senior Luke Popko.

Pereira hesitated just inside the left wing circle, leaving US-18 goalie Jack Campbell guessing on whether Pereira would pass to Glass or fire a shot. Campbell, apparently anticipating a pass, floated to the center of the crease, leaving the top left corner of the net open for Pereira to snipe the puck home.

“Popko won the faceoff,” Pereira said, “and right before the faceoff he said, ‘We’re going to go off the wall,’ because they’d been trying to catch us off our defensive zone faceoffs. Popko said, ‘Just go up the middle and we’ll try to find you.’”

“Andy Glass made a great play off the boards and kind of laid it for the defense to commit to me, and I just kind of used it as a screen to put it on net, and I was lucky enough for it to go in.”

Junior Nick Bonino and sophomore Chris Connolly registered BU’s other two goals.

At the 12:07 mark of the first, Bonino beat Campbell to the right post on a forehand wrap around, tying the game at a goal each. Senior Zach Cohen and sophomore Vinny Saponari assisted on the goal.

Connolly gave the Terriers at 2-1 lead 17:55 into the first on a power play goal. From the right point, sophomore David Warsofsky passed the puck to freshman defenseman Max Nicastro at the left point, who one-touched a pass to Connolly waiting at the right dot. Connolly one-timed a laser top shelf past Campbell.

The BU goals came after the US-18 squad punished the Terriers for a pair of early penalties. Freshman Alex Chiasson and Saponari were sent to the sin bin in the game’s first two minutes, giving the US-18s 1:04 of 5-on-3 time.

Twelve seconds into the Saponari minor, Justin Faulk whizzed a one-time shot over sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan’s shoulder and into the top-left corner of the net.

For the second-straight week, the Terriers offensive efforts resulted in few relative goals. In its first game against St. Francis Xavier University, BU registered 53 shots on goal, but beat freshman netminder Joseph Perricone just twice.

Saturday night, the Terriers again blistered their opponents with a multitude of pucks, but Campbell turned away on 39 of BU’s 42 shots on net.

“If you take a look at the shots, you don’t have to be Scotty Bowman to realize that, you know, Jack gave us a chance,” US-18 coach Kurt Kleinendorst said. “The one thing we get every night with Jack between the pipes is he gives us a chance to win, and I think he did that.”

Among the leading shot takers for BU were Warsofsky (6 shots), sophomore Colby Cohen (6 shots) and junior captain Kevin Shattenkirk (5 shots).

Two US-18 players drew particular attention from Terrier fans. Matt Nieto and Adam Clendening, both verbally committed to BU for 2010, were cheered before the game when announced on the US-18’s starting lineup.

Nieto, a Long Beach, Calif., native, tallied an assist on Faulk’s first-period goal.

“Matty’s a nice player –– he’s got very good skills,” Kleinendorst said. “You watch him play, and he’s kind of one of the new breeds. He’s out of California and you’d never know it. He’s from the L.A. area. He’s a strong skater, he’s a good skater, he’s a solid skater, he’s got good skills and thinks the game very well.

“I talk about a good get –– I think that’s a good get for Jack [Parker]. I think he’s going to come in here and he’s going to be a nice player. You guys will appreciate him for four years.”

Kibbles and BitsSophomore Ross Gaudet missed Saturday’s contest with a dislocated left shoulder. Parker expects him to be back in a couple weeks. . .US-18 center and Boston College recruit Bill Arnold was welcomed to the Green-Line Rivalry in fitting fashion. The Needham native was booed and harassed by the BU student sections throughout the game. . .Bonino (2 goals) and Glass (2 assists) finished the exhibition season tied for the team lead in points with two each.

Around Hockey East

We’ll skip the other Hockey East exhibition games this weekend as there were plenty of games that actually counted on the first weekend of the regular season.
Out-of-conference record on the weekend: 5-8-0
Thursday

Multi-point games were a-plenty for the Minutemen. Potential Hobey Baker candidate James Marcou led the way with four assists, but Matthew Irwin (2 goals, 1 assist), Justin Braun (1 goal, 2 assists) and Casey Wellman (1 goal, 2 assists) all had big nights as well.
Friday
Late first-period goals from Justin Bonitatibus and Chris Barton gave the Warriors a 2-2 tie after one, but the Fighting Sioux dominated the final 40 minutes, outshooting Merrimack 30-10 over the final two periods and scoring three unanswered goals.
Two goals in the first six minutes gave the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in this fast-paced game that featured 68 total shots, including 28 in the third period alone. Unfortunately for the Huskies, CC’s Joe Howe bested Chris Rawlings in the battle of the rookie goalies.
Three third-period goals doomed the Black Bears, who actually outshot the Dutchmen 28-18. Senior goalie Dave Wilson saved just 14 of the 17 shots he faced though (Union’s final goal was an empty-netter). A 1-for-8 power-play showing didn’t help Maine, either.
The Catamounts carried a 4-2 lead in the the final stanza against the No. 1/2 team in the nation, but a goal from standout defenseman Patrick Wiercioch and two more from Bruins’ 2008 first-round pick Joe Colborne gave the Pioneers a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Billerica native Kory Falite (1 goal, 2 assists) and second-team All-American Maury Edwards (1 goal, 1 assist) led the way on offense for the River Hawks, while Carter Hutton was a rock in net, saving all 24 shots he faced.
Saturday
The Catamounts rebounded from their tough-to-swallow loss on Friday night with a big win on the road. Brayden Irwin netted two goals as 11 different UVM players found their way onto the stat sheet. Tyler Ruegsegger potted two of his own for the Pioneers.
Bryan Brutlag and Tyler Helfrich set up both of the Engineers’ third-period goals to down the Wildcats. Allen York saved 37 of the 38 shots UNH fired at him.
The Warriors again stayed close in front of a hostile crowd of over 11,000, but Jake Marto’s power-play goal at the 8:53 mark of the third proved to be the decisive tally for the Fighting Sioux. UND outshot Merrimack 35-18.
Daniel New (1 goal, 1 assist) recorded the game-winner with 1:18 left in regulation to get the Friars’ season off on the right foot. Sophomore goalie Alex Beaudry saved 33 of the 34 shots he faced from the Crusaders.
The Huskies scored three first-period goals en route to earning the weekend split with the Tigers. Senior Chris Donovan and freshman Garrett Vermeersch each posted a goal and an assist for Northeastern.
Falling behind 4-0 before the halfway point of the second ensured the Black Bears of starting the season with a sweep at the hands of the Dutchmen. The one positive for Maine was sophomore sensation Gustav Nyquist’s two-goal performance.
The River Hawks failed to make it back-to-back IceBreaker titles for Hockey East as Maverick goalie John Faulkner saved all 11 shots he faced after replacing Jeremie Dupont five minutes into the second. Kory Falite netted his second goal of the young season in the first.

BU vs. US U-18 Team Photos and Quotes

All photos by Sarah Gordon, DFP Staff

Jack Parker

Opening statement

“In general, I was very pleased with our effort in many parts of the game, and for most of the game. I thought we started off a little slow in the first period, in the first six or eight minutes. And then I thought we played really well for the rest of the first period.

“There were times during the course of the game where we looked really, really sharp, and there were other times where I thought we were thinking we’re a little better than we are, thinking we’re better than them. We were taking chances and making foolish passes and turning pucks over that gave them opportunities.

“I thought all three goalies played real well. I thought [USA goalie Jack] Campbell played extremely well, obviously, with the number of saves he had. But they had some great chances, and I thought [Adam] Kraus played real well. He had to make a couple real big saves in the third period.

“I was disappointed in our penalty kill, and I was disappointed in the penalties we took. We didn’t look anywhere near as sharp as we have to be killing penalties, and we certainly took some stupid ones.

“But, it’s the second game of the year, an exhibition game. Not a bad effort. And I got to see some guys that I wanted to see something out of, and see what they were doing. We changed some lines around. We played one group of guys and combinations the first half of the game, and then changed it completely around in the second half of the game. Except for one line, I think every other line had changes.

“I thought the freshmen played pretty well. I thought [Ryan] Santana played very well. It was the first time we’ve seen him as a center. We moved him to center, and he played very well on the fourth line for the second half of the game. I was real pleased with our freshman defensemen. I thought especially [Max] Nicastro played extremely well.”

On the banner-raising ceremony

“I thought it was nicely done. It was nice to have all the trophies out there and let the fans see one more time what a great year last year was. I certainly wanted to do it this night instead of doing it in a real game after we already started the season up at UMass. I wanted to get all that out of the way.

“I don’t mean to take anything away from it, but I just didn’t want our team to be too excited about last year instead of excited about playing a real hockey game. So, it was nice to do it. And the fact that we’re recruiting a couple of the kids on this team didn’t hurt us.

“I was real happy with the crowd. It was a nice crowd here tonight for banner raising. I was worried about that because it was only an exhibition game, but we had a really good crowd tonight. A lot of banners went up, and that’s pretty nice.”

On being the defending national champions

“I don’t think we’re anything except a hockey team trying to find out who we are this year. We were something last year, but that was last year. I hope that’s what we’ll focus on –– where we’re going, not where we’ve been. I think that, in general, we’ve had a pretty good focus so far.

“Somebody writes a book. They gotta read that. Then their rings have to be ordered. And the banners went up and all that stuff. But that was then. This is now. We won a game against a very competitive team. I thought USA Hockey played really well.

“I saw them play last night up at BC for a couple periods. I didn’t see the first period when the coach said they didn’t play real well. I thought they played really well the second and third period last night, and I thought they played really well tonight.

“I liked the guys we have coming here. They played pretty well, too. I thought it was really weird when they introduced the USA team and it was, “Who cares,” and they’re booing everybody. Then all of a sudden, they get to [Matt] Nieto –– “Yay.” And they get to Adam [Clendening], and they give him a cheer, but everyone else gets a boo. Already, they’re Terriers.

“It was a good warmup for us, and it was a good game for them. I certainly was happy with a lot of our guys. I was disappointed in a few guys. I was disappointed with a lot of decision-making at times because we were having our way with them for a while, but then we got careless.

“When you disrespect your opponent, you get beat, or you look foolish. And they made us look foolish a couple times when we turned pucks over at our blue line, thinking we were pretty cool. And all of a sudden, we didn’t realize how good they were. And we didn’t want to give them credit for how good they were.

“If it wasn’t for our goalie, we’d still be playing in overtime or they would’ve won the game. We’re fortunate to get a win, and we’re fortunate to dodge a couple what I would refer to as selfish mistakes.”

On how the players feel about their place in BU history

“I think they have probably felt that way for a while. All our guys think they played on the same team. It doesn’t matter if you played in the 70s or the 90s, we all think we played on the same team.

“That’s been a big part of our program for a long time. That’s something I think was really rewarding last year for them. They got a lot of calls, and we got a lot of calls, from former players saying, ‘We’re really happy for you. We felt like we won it, too.’”

On getting to the net more than last week

“We got around their net a lot. We were making plays in tight. They’ve got four or five defensemen who are going to be NHL defensemen. They may be young, but they’re pretty good and they’re pretty big. So, they did a great job defending, especially in low grade-A. And we were around there a lot.

“So, I was happy with the opportunities we had. When we did get great opportunities, sometimes we fanned on them and sometimes their goalie made great saves. But you have to give them credit for how hard they played in front of the goaltender.

“Time of possession was pretty good for us, and our grade-A compared to their grade-A. But their goalie stood tall and they competed. You talk about bend but don’t break –– we almost got a few goals, but we didn’t.

“But it was different than last week. Last week, we were, ‘Oh, we’ll get the next one.’ But we were trying to get there and we couldn’t tonight.”

On what the lines might be

“I have a little bit of a sense. Actually, before this week, I was concerned about who might be our fourth-line center. I thought Ross Gaudet was gonna be the fourth-line center, but two days before this game, he got hurt.

“I was pretty sure he had won that spot, but now we had [Kevin] Gilroy playing there the first half. He played pretty well. I was really pleased with how Santana played in the second half as the fourth-line center. He gave us a little grit. He played hard down low, and he made a couple nice plays.

“One of those two guys will probably be the fourth-line center. They’ll both be in the lineup, I’m pretty sure, and one will play right wing and one will play center, maybe for each other.”

On what happened to Gaudet

“Gaudet dislocated his left shoulder.”

On whether or not there’s a timetable for his return

“Unfortunately, or fortunately, he’s done it before, and the more it goes out, the easier it goes back in, and the less pain you have and the less swelling you have. But the more it goes out, the easier it goes out the next time, too. He should be back in a couple weeks.”

On whether or not anyone else on the team is a gamebreaker like Bonino

“I don’t think anybody has that capability to the degree that he has. I think Chris Connolly has the ability to create on his own. I think that Vinny Saponari has the ability to create his own. I think that [Corey] Trivino will be able to do that for us.

“The guy that’s been very surprising to me with his offensive opportunities and how he’s been able to create on his own is Andrew Glass. He’s played very well, and he’s made some nice plays.”

On the play of Joe Pereira

“He’s a very feisty guy out there. I think he’s got some offensive capabilities that he’ll get a chance to show some more this year. I think that he’s the type of hockey player we want on our team.

“We’ll take a lot of Joe Pereiras on our team any year, any time, because he plays hard all the time, he plays real smart and he plays for his teammates. If he gets a goal, that’s nice. If somebody else gets a goal, that’s nice. If we win, that’s the best.

“We always talk about how we want guys to be BU hockey players, and you don’t just get to be a BU hockey player by putting the uniform on. We have a certain [idea] in our own minds of what a BU hockey player is, and there’s no question in my mind –– Joe Pereira is a BU hockey player.”

Joe Pereira and Chris Connolly

Pereira on his goal

“Popko won the faceoff, and right before the faceoff he said, ‘We’re going to go off the wall,’ because they’d been trying to catch us off our defensive zone faceoffs. Popko said, ‘Just go up the middle and we’ll try to find you.’ Andy Glass made a great play off the boards and kind of laid it for the defense to commit to me, and I just kind of used it as a screen to put it on net, and I was lucky enough for it to go in.”

Pereira on improvements made since rupturing his spleen last season

“I think confidence. I think sitting and watching the guys play during the Frozen Four –– just kind of sitting back for a little bit watching the game. Sometimes last year, I got a little bit out of control and wasn’t confident with the puck. But now, it doesn’t matter this year if I’m going to play first line or fourth line, I’m just going to try to be more confident, more in control, not run around, trying to take any stupid penalties and get Coach on me.”

Chris Connolly on his goal

“You know, we haven’t had much time to work on our power play. We haven’t had that many practices. We’ve been moving guys in and out trying to see what works and what doesn’t. We were fortunate enough to get it set up pretty well –– started moving the puck around quickly. Dave [Warsofsky] moved it over to Max [Nicastro]. Max almost one-touched it back, which got the goalie out of position, and I just wanted to put it on net. I wasn’t even looking, but just like Joe, I was fortunate enough for it to go in.”

Pereira on the banner raising

“It actually brought back memories. Just sitting on the goal line, you just get chills thinking back to how it happened and the journey we went through with the ups and downs. You think back on the players when you see the parents from last year’s team and you’re like, ‘Wow, we did something special and we’ll be remembered forever together.’ It’s pretty special –– definitely got goosebumps and chills.”

Connolly on the banner raising

“At the same time, we were trying to move on from last year. All we’ve heard all summer is that it’s a new year. What’s happened is in the past, and what we’re trying to do is just do what we did last year, but not talk about last year’s team because that was last year’s team. But you know, it definitely brings back memories when you see the video highlights and things like that.”

Pereira on his comfort with early season line shuffling

“I think it’s still a feeling out thing. I don’t think Coach even knows . . . I’m pretty sure I’m locked in with Luke [Popko] for the rest of my career. I think Mike Bavis loves us together, so I don’t know if we’ll ever go split up.”

Connolly on his comfort with early season line shuffling

“We’ve done a lot of moving guys in and out . . . We’re still feeling it out. There’s still a few guys fighting for spots –– there’s a lot of guys still fighting for spots. We had guys step up and play real well tonight and, you know, it’ll be interesting for the first few games, anyways, to see what Coach is going to do and see if we get any combinations to click.”

Connolly on which freshman is making a strong impression

“Max Nicastro definitely is really standing out. As you can see, he’s getting some power-play time and he’s doing a good job. All the other guys are still working hard to try to make an impact on this team. There’s a lot of open spots from last year, and any night, they can be called upon, so they’re all working very hard . . . Everybody’s still working hard to try to solidify their spot on the team to be in the lineup every night.”

Pereira on which freshman is making a strong impression

“[Sean] Escobedo, too. You know he’s just a mean, stay-at-home defenseman.”

Pereira on killing penalties with Popko

“I just listen to Luke. I go where he tells me to go. He’s the specialist of that. When the puck gets dumped, he’s not going to go, he says. He says, ‘That’s all you,’ so I just go there, chase the puck and, I mean, playing with Luke is easy because he’s so good defensively. He’s good on faceoffs. You know he’s always going to be there to support you, so it’s pretty simple.”

Bruins top Islanders, 4-3, in shootout

By Josh Cain, Daily Free Press Staff

Few probably would have expected that the Boston Bruins’ game against the New York Islanders on Saturday would become an instant classic. But as it turns out, the Bruins’ 4-3, come-from-behind shootout win at the TD Banknorth Garden was just that.

The Bruins (2-2-0) rallied in the final eight minutes in regulation to come back from a three-goal deficit. Blake Wheeler and Mark Savard scored in the shootout to seal the win.

“Hopefully this will give us another boost that we need right now to get us past this tough stage,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the Bruins slow start. On Thursday, the Boston lost to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 6-1.

Savard, Byron Bitz and Matt Hunwick scored the late goals to give the Bruins a chance in overtime.

The Islanders (0-0-3) looked like they had put away what could have been their first win of the season in the second period after scoring three goals in just over 10 minutes. First-round draft pick John Tavares was the key, providing an assist and a goal in his first NHL visit to Boston.

New York had a great opportunity in the middle of the first period when Boston was called on back-to-back penalties, giving the Islanders a two-man advantage for a little over 1:30.

The Bruins defense was not about to let the Islanders take advantage of that opportunity, however. After the penalty timer finally elapsed, the score remained 0-0.

That would not, however, be the story of the second period when the Islanders took advantage of a Bruins team that gave up penalty after penalty.

“The penalties took away a lot of our momentum, but we did a good job killing them,” Julien said.

New York scored its first goal of the night at 4:04 in the second. A hooking penalty on the Bruins’ Lucic gave the Islanders a man-advantage. Center Rob Schremp got the puck in the middle of the left face-off circle and took a shot that bounced off goalkeeper Tuukka Rask’s leg. Winger Jon Sim was there for the rebound, flipping the puck over Rask’s right shoulder for his first goal of the season.

Radek Martinek was next, shooting from the right circle just over Rask’s left shoulder to make the score 2-0. Defenseman Mark Streit and Tavares assisted.

At 15:48, Tavares charged through the right circle and laid a wrister into the top left corner of the net, just past Rask who was expecting him to pass it off to his teammate on the left side.

Things looked desperate for the Bruins in the third, their own crowd booing what looked like another poor effort. But Boston turned it on at just the right time.

In the third period at 8:01, Savard started the heroics with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle that sailed past an off-guard Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

Bitz made it look easy when he sunk a backhanded shot past an Islanders defender and Roloson to make the score 3-2.

However, the most improbable of all was Hunwick’s goal at 2:34. The defenseman shot a wrister from the Islanders’ blueline that sailed just past a crowd in front of the net and landed in the top-right corner for the tying goal.

In the shootout, Wheeler got things started with a goal through the five-hole. Savard’s backhander beat Roloson, and Rask sealed the deal with a save on a shot from Kyle Okposo.

Rask, a 22-year-old rookie from Finland, got a lot of credit from Julien for his performance. Despite letting up three goals, Rask played well in his Boston debut with 35 saves. Julien said that facing 16 shots in the first period kept Rask “from getting nervous” late in the game.

From the Freep: Bruins drop 6-1 decision to Ducks

By Cary Betagole, Daily Free Press Staff

After resigning their young star left winger Milan Lucic, sustaining a weekend blowout of Carolina and taking an authoritative, 1-0, first period lead over Anaheim, the Boston Bruins were riding momentum on all fronts.

But in the span of 82 seconds, Teemu Selanne undid what felt like all of it.

First, defenseman Matt Hunwick was carted off for interference at the 1:14 mark. Fifty-two seconds later, right winger Marco Sturm followed suit, this time for hooking. Selanne took advantage and changed the mood of the short season, sparking a 6-1 win for the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night at the TD Garden

With a 5-3 man-advantage, the leading active career goal scorer netted his signature slap shot off a kick-out from defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who ranked third in assists among NHL defenseman last year. Then with the 5-on-4 advantage, Selanne saw a broken play come back to him for his second goal of the game.

From there, the game snowballed through a series of solo Anaheim breakaways.

“We’re making it way too easy for teams,” Bruins (1-2-0) coach Claude Julienne said. “We lost faces, we lost battles. They got lucky bounces but when you work hard you get those lucky bounces.”

The Ducks, who entered the game 0-1-1, weathered a 30-17 first and second period shot disadvantage to keep themselves in it, but caught their break early in the second. The Bruins controlled most of the first period and a half, keeping the puck in the offensive end for repeated shots on goal.

At the 16:33 mark, left winger Marco Sturm gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead after outracing three Anaheim defenders to an open spot on the right circle. With no one near the net to rebound, Sturm rifled a blistering slap shot that beat goaltender Jonas Hiller fivehole.

“We had good control of the whole first period,” left wing Steve Begin said.

After Selanne’s strikes, that control had vanished, and right wing Corey Perry padded his stats in wake of its absence.

With 6:58 left in the second, Perry moved left to right through the Ducks’ zone. Perry set his sights on positioning himself for a straight shot, deking around Bruins defenders as he went. And when he did, there was nothing but ice in front him—he buried the shot.

“We need to go back basics,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “We didn’t show up and I don’t think our fans deserve this.”

Giving up six goals is uncharacteristic for a Bruins defense that was the only unit in the league to allow less than 200 goals last season. But the late onslaught may have had more to do with an offense that sold out its defense in an attempt to crawl back with a few big offensive rushes.

“When guys do a little too much to make things happen, it’s necessarily the best way to go about it but it shows guys care,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “We were taking some chances, when you’re down by a couple and don’t bury those chances those go the other way.”

Ducks right winger Evgeny Artyukhin also got in on the action. After blowing past the defensive zone, he took a trail of three Bruins to the net to witness Anaheim’s fourth goal.

“That’s not our team,” veteran center Marc Savard said. “Everyone knows our team. When we get down, we keep fighting.”

After right winger Bobby Ryan redirected Niedermayer’s drive for the fifth goal, Corey Perry skated through everyone for the sixth, an attempt that served as a microcosm for the night.

Perry’s first chance was turned away. But the rebound glanced off his helmet and went it.

“We’ve got grit and leaders. Nobody wants to lose, everybody wants to win,” Wheeler said. “But we just didn’t do it today.”