Friday, October 22, 2010

Third and fourth line changes pay off in BU victory

By Sam Dykstra/DFP Staff

Following last Saturday’s disappointing 2-2 tie with the University of Massachusetts at home, Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker decided it was time for a change heading into Friday’s rematch with the Minutemen. But this change did not start at the top of the forwards depth chart – the top two lines had in fact accounted for both goals and all four assists in the tie – but instead was a wholesale alteration of the team’s bottom two lines.

Parker moved sophomore Ryan Santana from his position as the center of the fourth line to the right wing of the third line. He then replaced Santana on the bottom line with sophomore Ross Gaudet, who moved back to his normall position after playing at left wing the game prior. Sophomore Andrew Glass and freshman Sahir Gill – left-handed shots both – moved back to their natural positions on the fourth and third lines respectively. Finally, sophomore Justin Courtnall was removed entirely from the lines sheet as junior Kevin Gilroy took his spot and moved over to the fourth-line right wing spot.

The only Terrier from the latter two lines to maintain his position was sophomore Wade Megan, who stayed in as the third-line center.

“Last week because of the way I had the lines set up, I had Santana playing center, I had Glass playing off-wing, which he hasn’t played here before,” Parker said. “Santana’s played more wing than he has center for us, and I had Gaudet playing wing when he’s usually been playing center. So I decided to rearrange it all.”

The moves – if you can keep track of every last one – paid off as the Terriers defeated the Minutemen, 4-3, on the road in the teams’ second meeting in six days.

The fourth line – the more cohesive of the bottom two lines Friday – was the first to display that its coach had made the correct pregame decision.

After a Charlie Coyle tip-in knotted the game at one apiece in the second period, the trio of Glass, Gaudet and Gilroy – which by all intents and purposes may be known as the G Unit – made its presence known halfway through the frame. Gilroy began the play by applying aggressive pressure in the right corner of the UMass zone and, after collecting the puck there, kicked it underneath to Gaudet. Glass, who had been behind Gilroy on the right boards, saw an opening in the slot and cut to the open space, banging his stick to demand a pass along the way. Gaudet found the impatient forward, who one-timed the pass high into the top right corner past UMass goalie Jeff Teglia to give BU its first lead of the game at 2-1 halfway through the second frame.

“[BU’s] goals were goal-scorer’s goals,” said UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon. “Their second goal was a shelf. . .He just wrung him up.”

The fourth line ended the game with a point each after the goal and was a combined plus-4 between the three players. However despite the goal, Parker seemed pleased more with the line’s defensive abilities following the win.

“I just felt that with the change of putting Gaudet back at center at that line, I had more confidence in them defensively,” Parker said. “They could play against any line because he’s a real solid defensive forward and a real good center iceman as far as taking faceoffs.”

The third line got a goal of its own with just 1:37 left in the third. In the middle of a change, freshman first-liner Charlie Coyle put on a lot of pressure on the forecheck in the UMass zone, causing a flustered Minuteman defenseman to turn the puck over in the neutral zone. Gill swooped in off the bench to make the steal and went in uninhibited on Teglia. The freshman went to a highlight-worthy forehand-backhand deke that had Teglia sliding on his side in the crease, allowing Gill to easily slide the puck to the netting.

Although he did not score like his linemate, Megan also led the team with eight shots, double the amount of the closest player for either side.

However, it was still the fourth line that left the bigger of the impact of the two, and the biggest beneficiary of that might have been Gilroy, who may have found himself a permanent spot back in the BU lineup.

“I thought Kevin Gilroy really practiced hard last week, all week long,” Parker said. “He deserved to get back in the lineup. He was getting back in the lineup, whether I switched the lines or not.”

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