By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
BURLINGTON, Vt. – After two periods of Sunday night’s 4-2 win over the University of Vermont, the No. 14/15 Boston University men’s hockey team had just eight shots on net.
Although the Terriers were leading the Catamounts 2-1, it was plain to see that they were getting almost nothing done on offense. Sophomore defenseman Max Nicastro’s goal on a bomb from the point was one of the only shots taken from the point, never mind one of the only ones to get through to the net, and sophomore forward Alex Chiasson’s goal on a 2-on-1 was one of just a few real quality scoring chances.
It was perhaps the best example of a problem that has been plaguing BU for the last two months- getting too cute and not shooting enough. Instead of getting bodies to the front and throwing shots on net for a tip, screen or rebound, the Terriers wait for the perfect shot that rarely comes.
“We refuse to shoot the puck,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We come over and want to make the pretty play, the pretty play. [Vermont is] shooting it from everywhere. We just can’t seem to learn that lesson.”
Parker said his players should have learned that lesson after the first period, during which they had just five shots, but they did not.
“What should’ve happened was that should’ve gave us a big jump coming out for the second period,” Parker said, referring to the fact his team was outplayed but still had the lead. “I thought the second period was our worst period. We’re getting outshot badly in the first. Kieran’s standing on his head. We make a couple pretty nice plays, get a couple goals. It’s 2-1. It should be, ‘OK, we’ve got control of this thing.’ And then we start dipsy-doodling around like we’re winning 6-1.”
Not only should the Terriers have had momentum to start the second, but they should have had momentum to start the game after earning a hard-fought tie against No. 11/12 University of Notre Dame last Sunday without forwards Alex Chiasson and Charlie Coyle in the lineup.
“We were really under-manned and our effort and focus was really terrific against Notre Dame,” Parker said. “But we couldn’t parlay that into something better to step up from that. We took a step back from that.”
Parker’s press conference after Sunday’s game harkened back to many of his press conferences from last year, as he expressed surprise at his team’s lackadaisical play.
“It’s amazing that we can’t seem to get ready for games or care that much to give us an effort for 60 minutes,” he said. “As a team, we have nowhere near the intensity or the determination you need to win in this league. We just stole two points tonight.”
Chiasson, who netted two goals in the win, echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“We’ve got to step it up,” Chiasson said. “We’re not playing hard enough. I agree with Coach. I think guys think everything’s going to come easy. We came here and Kieran saved us the game. They outshot us by 15 shots and that’s not right at all. We’ve got to play harder and come ready to play every night. It’s after Christmas now and every game’s a playoff game. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Chiasson said it is not so much an issue of strategy or ability, but rather a problem with the team’s mindset.
“I think it’s just mental,” he said. “I don’t think all the guys are ready to play. But we’ve got to stay positive. We can’t just be negative about it. Coach is hard on us, but at the same time, all the guys, we’ve got to stay together and do it as a team.”
The Terriers will have just two days to figure it out before they travel to No. 17 Merrimack College on Wednesday to play a Warrior team that just spanked No. 9/11 University of Maine 7-1 on Saturday. Stealing two points from ninth-place Vermont is one thing, but that likely will not happen against Merrimack.