Charlie Coyle happy to be back at BU for Comm Ave Charity Classic

It’s been three-and-a-half years since Charlie Coyle left the Boston University men’s hockey team midseason to pursue his professional career, but it doesn’t change how much his time at BU meant to him.

“Everyone has their own path, the way they want to go,” he said. “That’s the path I chose, and I enjoyed my time here. It was awesome, it was my dream school to come here, and the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do was to leave here.”

Growing up in Weymouth, Coyle watched a few games at Walter Brown Arena and dreamed of suiting up for the Terriers. He never hit the ice in the historic rink for a game during his collegiate career, but he got the chance to in the first annual Comm Ave Charity Classic to benefit Compassionate Care ALS on Friday night.

Coyle, along with 17 other BU alums, 18 Boston College alums and a few special guests, took part in a game that pitted old rivals against each other to help raise awareness and over $55,000 for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“You want to help out as much as you can, so I think when every guy got the text, they wanted to play today, kind of jumped at the opportunity and they’re happy to do it,” Coyle said.

The Minnesota Wild forward netted a hat trick in the process and guided BU to a 7-5 win over the Eagles. And though the game was just for fun, Coyle said the intensity of the BC-BU rivalry never wanes.

“I think it goes as long as you live,” Coyle said. “You see those guys wherever you go in life, and you always come back to BC-BU … Everyone kind of knows each other, but once you’re on the ice and you’re playing, BC-BU, it’s a whole different story and it’s just a huge rivalry. It’s competitive, and that’s what makes it such a cool tradition, so I was fortunate to be a part of it and be part of it again tonight.”

He also reiterated just how much being a member of the Terriers contributed to him becoming the player and professional he is today.

“Coming to BU helped me tremendously,” Coyle said. “Like I said, it’s where I wanted to go, where I wanted to come my whole life and being here, being coached by Jack Parker and playing with some of these guys behind me, it was awesome. I made a lot of friends, became a better player and it’s helped me at the professional level. Work outs … everything, everything, the school, just everything.”

Scott Young feels not so young

For BU, roster spots on Friday night weren’t as readily filled with current NHL talent as those of its BC counterparts. Some had a prior commitment, as former Terrier Brandon Yip’s wedding is this weekend.

But what the scarlet and white lacked in that area, they made up for with veteran talent, including the likes of former BU standout and ex-NHLer Scott Young.

Currently the Director of Hockey Operations for the Terriers, Young won the Stanley Cup on two occasions — once with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and again with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. He also donned the red, white and blue for Team USA in three Olympic Games and served as the head coach of St. Marks School in Southborough from 2010 until he returned to BU in 2014. The forward has collected various other accolades in his hockey career, including Hockey East Rookie of the Year in 1986, and racked up 756 career points in 1,186 NHL games.

It seems even after all this time, Young’s still got it.

“Young was the best guy on the ice,” said former BU goaltender Anthony Moccia after his team’s win. “He was talking before, about all, ‘oh, I’m out of shape’ — yeah, right, Coach!”

At one point in the game Friday, Young was exiting the defensive zone and a teammate tried to get the puck up to him to start a rush.

“He tried to lob it over my shoulder, and I ducked so it could land in front of me and I could skate into it,” Young said. “It landed on my shoulder, and kind of hung there for a little bit. It was kind of awkward.”

2015-16 captains announced, team awards presented at Friends of Hockey Banquet

Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn announced junior captain Matt Grzelcyk will serve as the Boston University men’s hockey captain for 2015-16, while freshman forward Jack Eichel, junior forward Danny O’Regan and junior forward Matt Lane were named 2015-16 assistant captains at the 52nd annual Friends of BU Hockey Banquet on Friday evening at the Metcalf Hall in BU’s George Sherman Union.

Grzelcyk also confirmed at the ceremony that he will return for his senior season.

Additionally, eight awards were presented at the ceremony. Grzelcyk was awarded the Clifford P. Fitzgerald Scholarship, presented annually to an “outstanding rising junior or senior defenseman.” In his first season as captain of the Terriers, Grzelcyk collected CCM First Team All-American, Hockey East First Team All-Star and Hockey East All-Tournament Team accolades.

Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor earned the Regina Eilberg Scholarship — dedicated to a player that “combines the highest standards of Terrier athletics and academic performance.”

Freshman center Jack Eichel was named the Ed Carpenter Award recipient, given to the BU skater that leads the team in scoring. In an impressive freshman campaign, Eichel led the Terriers — and the nation — with 71 points in 40 games.

Graduate student goaltender Anthony Moccia and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann received the Bennett McInnis Award for Spirit, given to players that best represent “the spirit of a Boston University hockey player both on and off the ice.”

In its third year of circulation, the Iron Terrier Award — awarded to the Terrier player who best displays “character, strength, dedication and discipline in the weight room and off-ice training” — was handed to Hohmann.

Flying under the radar as an unheralded recruit out of Buckingham Browne and Nichols, freshman defenseman Brien Diffley became a relied upon member of the BU blueline and was subsequently given the Most Improved Player Award.

Hohmann added to his already impressive haul of trophies on the night when he was awarded The Friends Albert Sidd Unsung Hero Award, handed out to the player “who contributes much during his four years and does not garner proper recognition.”

After capturing the third BU player to capture the Hobey Baker Award, Eichel was bestowed with the George V. Brown Most Valuable Player Award.

With the scarlet and white captains already in place for the 2015-16 season, the ceremony ended on a look ahead, as the Terriers will open the new year in Schenectady, New York, taking on Union College on Oct. 10.

Conor Ryan contributed to the reporting of this article.

Pluses and Minuses: BU’s goaltending highlights Hockey East quarterfinal sweep of Merrimack

The No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team handily advanced to the Hockey East Tournament semifinals with a 5-0 win over Merrimack College on Saturday, sealing the quarterfinal series sweep and a trip to TD Garden next weekend.

Matt O'Connor. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
Matt O’Connor. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO

There was plenty to like from BU this weekend, but since we’re us, we found some things to complain about, too. Here are some of both:

Pluses

OC shines
Junior goaltender Matt O’Connor has been solid in net all season for BU, and had yet another stellar performance on Saturday. He turned away 26 Merrimack shots, including 15 saves in the second period, playing 58:58 of shutout hockey.

He even recorded an assist in the game, passing the puck up to freshman forward Jack Eichel during a penalty kill on senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann’s shorthanded goal at 4:11 in the second period.

“It’s usually off of Eichel,” O’Connor joked. “If I can just get it back the forecheckers, maybe I‘ll get lucky. … I’ve really been working on playing the puck, moving it quicker this game, because they have more of a dump style and it really helped us.”

O’Connor was pulled with 1:02 remaining in the game on the brink of the second shutout of his career, however, because there were more important matters to tend to.

Moccia sighting
When BU held a 4-0 advantage with a little more than a minute remaining, it was clear that it would be the last game of the season at Agganis Arena. A third game to determine the series winner between BU and Merrimack wouldn’t be necessary, so all games would be played at a neutral site from there on out.

For several Terriers, it would be their last time ever touching the Agganis Arena ice for a game — including graduate student goaltender Anthony Moccia. BU head coach David Quinn acknowledged that and gave Moccia some time in net for his final game at Agganis.

“At the end of the day, Moccia’s going to remember that for the rest of his life,” Quinn said. “OC I’m sure would’ve loved to have the shutout, but that moment’s going to mean a lot to Moccia than O’Connor finishing the last minute and a half of that game.

“I talked to OC about it, I’m sure initially he was a little bit frustrated, but by the end of it, by the time we were in the locker room, he was beaming and happy as heck for Moccia.”

Was O’Connor fine with the decision?

“Absolutely,” O’Connor said. “It’s not for the stats, it’s playoff hockey and it’s a full-team sport.”

Moccia entered the game when Merrimack had a 6-on-4 man advantage, but stood on his head, even recording a save — the third of his career in just more than 10 total career minutes — to hold Merrimack scoreless in the game.

Defense
Like Friday night, BU played shorthanded on defense, with just five players available due to upper-body injuries to freshman John MacLeod and sophomore T.J. Ryan. But that posed no trouble for BU’s blue liners.

Sophomore Doyle Somerby and freshman Brandon Hickey each had five blocked shots. The team had 16 total in the game.

In addition to holding Merrimack to just two shots on goal during the second period, BU got some work in on offense during the game. Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk scored an empty-netter with 4:21 remaining in the game, and freshmen Brandon Fortunato and Brien Diffley each had an assist apiece.

“I thought all of our D played all weekend,” Quinn said. “All five of them had real good weekends.”

Second period
For the second straight night, the Terriers were able to swarm the Warriors in the second period, recording three in the second frame on Saturday. Conor has more about the team’s second-period play in his sidebar.

Minuses

Chippy play
At the end of the second period, with BU holding a 3-0 lead over Merrimack, tempers began to fly and a post-whistle scrum broke out.

For Merrimack, defenseman Jonathan Lashyn received a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct, and forward Brett Seney received penalties for roughing and cross-checking in addition to a 10-minute misconduct.

Hohmann also received a cross-checking penalty and 10-minute misconduct. Sophomore forward Nick Roberto had a roughing call against him in addition to a 10-minute misconduct of his own.

In all, each team received 38 penalty minutes in the game – a season-high for BU. The Terriers played a very good game, but it’s a major concern when things start to get so chippy — a suspension or injury caused by fighting or a temper tantrum would be the last thing BU needed entering the Hockey East semifinals.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers crush Northeastern, clinch conference regular-season title

Jack Eichel. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Jack Eichel. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

What a week it’s been for the No. 4 Boston University men’s hockey team.

From no titles in almost five years, to two titles in one week. The latter, the Hockey East regular-season championship, came Saturday night during BU’s 6-1 win over Northeastern University at Matthews Arena.

In one of the best first periods the team has played all year, BU (21-7-5, 14-5-3 Hockey East) scored four times in the first 16-plus minutes. The Terriers poured it on, yes, but they could’ve technically stopped after the first period. No. 9/10 Boston College had lost, and the conference title was all theirs.

But alas, BU scored twice more in the final 40 minutes in a memorable end to the regular season.

“Tonight, I just thought from the get go, we certainly did a much better job taking away time and space, being more physical with them, trusting each other and obviously we were opportunistic too,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “That’s a hell of a team we just played.”

Here’s a look into what went right and wrong tonight in this edition of Pluses and Minuses:

Pluses

Eichel continues on the Hobey campaign trail

At this point, what hasn’t freshman forward Jack Eichel accomplished? Just about every night he does something special, and Saturday was no different.

He finished the game with three points (two goals and one assist). His first goal was most impressive, skating almost end-to-end and finishing with a shorthanded goal. It was reminiscent of a goal BU scored up at the University of Maine on Nov. 14, though Eichel finished tonight’s play with a goal rather than an assist.

All night he was faster than pretty much everyone out on the ice. Even better than two of his goals was a chance he didn’t score on in the second period. He took the puck from the defensive zone, blew by two NU (16-14-4, 12-8-2 Hockey East) skaters in the neutral zone and then toe-dragged around a third in the offensive end. Eichel backhanded a shot on goal, but it was snuffed out by goaltender Clay Witt.

Quinn noted it wasn’t just a one-man show, and Eichel’s linemates, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and junior forward Danny O’Regan, have played a huge role in BU’s success.

“It’s a great line. They all have a work ethic too them,” Quinn. “They all have the ingredient you’re going to need to have a great line. Number one, they’ve all got great skills. Number two, they’ve got hockey intelligence. And number three, they’ve got a great competitiveness to them — all three of them.

“And when you add that up, you get a line that’s dangerous every time they’re on the ice.”

Eichel now has 55 points this season, tying Colin Wilson’s mark from 2008-09. Wilson did it in 43 games. Eichel accomplished it in 32.

More points from Ahti

Junior winger Ahti Oksanen made the transition from the blue line to the forwards corps this season look almost seamless. He arguably has the best one-timer on the team, and just always seems to be in the right spot with just enough space to create a chance.

After tonight’s performance, Oksanen added four more points (two goals and two assists) to his season total. And as much as his shot has been his best asset, the highlight on Saturday came on an incredible pass he made.

It took just a little over 10 seconds for BU to score on its first power-play chance of the night because of the Oksanen feed. Holding the puck near the crease, Oksanen made a no-look, through-the-legs pass to a wide-openO’Regan, who potted his 19th goal of the season.

By the end of the night, Oksanen had 32 points, just adding to his career-high year.

Love Moccia 

Graduate student goaltender Anthony Moccia had played in only six minutes of regular-season game action in his college career. With 3:19 to go in the game and the Terriers up five goals, Quinn pulled junior netminder Matt O’Connor for Moccia. For more on this, read Conor’s sidebar.

Power play excels

They’re the N0. 1 power-play unit in the conference for a reason. They’re fast, they move the puck well and they generally find the open man. With the man advantage tonight, the Terriers went 3-for-6, while looking good in the process.

The real impressive shift came during BU’s 5-on-3 chance late in the second period. There were plenty of good opportunities and crisp passes made on the attack, eventually leading to Oksanen’s goal off an Eichel missed shot. Eichel, would get his chance, though, and he added a power-play goal with less than two minutes to play in the third.

BU’s man advantage percentage now sits at 27.1 percent, almost six percentage points better than the second-highest spot in the conference.

Minuses 

Roy strikes again

When in doubt, if BU plays Northeastern, just assume junior Kevin Roy will have at least a point. He had 10 points in eight career games against BU coming into Saturday, including a hat trick in the 2013 Beanpot semifinal. He added one more tonight in the first period.

It was Northeastern’s only goal, but he beat O’Connor clean with a nice wrist shot from the left circle. Every time he plays BU, he seems to do something that kills the Terriers.

Playing the puck behind the net

Northeastern’s game-winning goal against BU in that 2013 Beanpot semis, of course from Roy, came courtesy of a bad turnover from O’Connor behind the net. A similar play happened in the second period tonight.

O’Connor had trouble connecting on a pass with his defenseman behind the net, and then tried to make an outlet pass from the goal line. The Huskies recovered. O’Connor, however, covered up a weak shot attempt. Any better look, and it probably would’ve went into the open goal.

It didn’t hurt the Terriers, but that’s a mistake that should be cleaned up heading into playoff season.