By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
The tortoise and the hare
DURHAM, N.H. –– Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker has been quick to blame a lot of his team’s struggles this season on a lack of attitude and a lack of focus. After Friday night’s 4-2 loss at the University of New Hampshire, however, Parker didn’t pin the loss on any of those factors.
“I think we were ready to play tonight. We just looked slow,” Parker said. “I don’t know what that’s all about . . . I don’t think we looked slow because we weren’t physically or mentally ready to play, though.
“We looked like we ran out of gas, like we were skating in sand. The difference in the speed of the game between UNH and BU in the third period was like night and day.”
The only possible explanation Parker could come up with for his team’s sluggishness was a flu bug that has hit the Terriers over the last couple days.
“[Junior forward Nick] Bonino was sick all day. He looked it,” Parker said. “[Freshman forward Wade Megan] was sick for the last two days . . . Maybe the flu bug is attacking a few more guys. We’ve had a few guys who’ve had it, and a few guys just getting over it. So, that’s a problem.”
A few fine faceoffs
After struggling mightily on faceoffs earlier this season, the Terriers have shown significant improvement over the last couple games, including a 38-for-62 advantage over the Wildcats on Friday night. But despite BU winning the war, UNH was able to win two key battles in the circle that led directly to goals.
The Wildcats opened the scoring late in the first when junior forward Phil DeSimone won a faceoff that junior forward Paul Thompson was able to move back to sophomore defenseman Damon Kipp. Kipp quickly fired a wrist shot through a screen in front and right by sophomore goalie Kieran Millan.
UNH’s third goal, which proved to be the game-winner, also came immediately off a faceoff. Junior center Greg Manz won the draw straight to freshman winger John Henrion in the slot, and Henrion ripped a shot that deflected off Millan’s shoulder and into the net.
“We’ve been very good on faceoffs lately,” Parker said. “But we lost a couple of them that were absolutely brutal. The one that [sophomore Corey] Trivino lost [on the Henrion goal] was the only one he lost in his own zone.”
Not feeling too special
BU’s power play had been improving in recent weeks. BU’s penalty kill had been looking pretty good all season. Neither of those trends continued on Friday night. The Terriers went 0-for-5 on the power play and allowed two goals on six penalty kills.
One trend that did continue in regards to special teams, though, was BU’s recent habit of giving up extended 5-on-3s. Midway through the second period, freshman defenseman Sean Escobedo took a boarding penalty just 39 seconds after sophomore forward Vinny Saponari was called for hooking.
UNH capitalized 50 seconds later when senior forward Bobby Butler blasted a one-timer from the left dot past a helpless Millan.
“It’s a pathetic problem,” Parker said of the 5-on-3s. “They don’t get the message. It’s not that important to them to fight hard and be tenacious without being stupid.”
As for the power play, which mustered just four shots in its five attempts, Parker said that his forwards need to step it up and create more chances down low.
“We can’t seem to recognize that when people are taking away [junior defensemen Kevin] Shattenkirk and [Colby] Cohen at the point on the power play, we have to get the puck down low,” Parker said. “We keep forcing it up top. We’re playing 3-on-3 up top instead of 3-on-1 down low.”