Saturday, January 21, 2012

The good, the bad and the otherwise notable: BU beats Providence, 6-1

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff 

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team topped conference foe Providence College, 6-1, on Friday night at Agganis Arena, evening the season series at one win apiece. Despite the sizable goal differential in Friday’s game, not everything went well for the Terriers (14-6-1, 11-4-1 Hockey East). Here’s a look at what went well and what did not against the Friars (9-10-2, 7-6-1 Hockey East).
The Good
Scoring in bunches: It’s a habit the Terriers had earlier this season, and it came back in full force Friday night. With a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period, BU scored three goals over the course of 3:57 to jump out to a 4-0 lead.

Junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson (10:40 into the first), junior forward Ryan Santana (13:23) and sophomore forward Matt Nieto (14:43) all found the back of the net to give the Terriers their best first period of the season.

Earlier this season, coach Jack Parker mentioned that scoring in bunches can be a mark of a great team.

“Our goal of the game was to score and score again because when you get one quickly, it really demoralizes a team,” Parker said back on Oct. 20. “When you get two [goals quickly]. . . that really demoralizes a team. It’s always in the back of our minds: ‘It would be nice to go get our next one . . . Lets bury this team.’”

After Friday’s game, Parker said it had more to do with luck than anything.

“I thought we were fortunate to get out 4-0, and we would have been fortunate to get out 1-0,” Parker said. “We had the puck going in the net for us tonight.”

Goaltending: Senior goaltender Kieran Millan did what he does best Friday night, limiting the Friars – who averaged 3.10 goals per game entering the contest – to just one goal.

Millan did let up a few ugly rebounds that his teammates managed to cleared for him, but he was pretty spot on most of the game, especially during Providence’s 20-shot second period.

Parker praised his goalie’s performance after Friday’s game. In fact, he was so impressed that he started off his post-game press conference with comments about Millan.

“First of all, Kieran Millan makes 36 saves out of 37 opportunities. That’s a pretty good night for our goaltender,” Parker said.

“He made some unbelievable saves early on, and there was some big saves in the second period,” he continued later. “It’s not just the quantity of saves he was making, it was the quality at times.”

Special teams: The Terrier special-teams units have slowly but surely been creeping up the conference rankings of late, and Friday night’s game certainly helped that cause.

Freshman forward Alexx Privitera and sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan each netted a goal during a five-minute power play in the third period, solidifying the win and giving the Terriers two power-play goals in six chances. BU is now ranked second in Hockey East with the man-advantage, coming in at a 20.4 percent success rate.

On the other end, the penalty kill was also moderately impressive. It was by no means dominant – the Friars were often able to set up in BU’s defensive end for significant amounts of time – but the Terriers were able to keep Providence at bay in all seven of its chances.

The Friars’ lone goal came just one second after a power play ended.

“I’m pleased we killed penalties as well as we did, because that’s a good power-play team,” Parker said.

The Bad
Second-period complacency: Scoring in bunches wasn’t the only early-season habit the Terriers brought back Friday night. After spotting themselves a four-goal lead in the first, BU looked slower, lackadaisical and overall less effective in the second period.

Although BU put 11 shots on Providence backup goaltender Justin Gates, they failed to score, instead taking three penalties and allowing the Friars 20 shots.

Parker did not think the second period was that bad – it was bookended by impressive first and third periods, after all – but did acknowledge the team had some down moments.

“There were times in the second when we took a couple of stupid penalties and we made a couple made reads at the blue line,” he said.

Unnecessary penalties: One of Parker’s – and hockey coaches’ everywhere – least favorite things to see from his team: bad penalties.

Part of the reason for an insignificant second period was a trio of penalties, the last of which – a roughing call on sophomore defenseman Patrick MacGregor – really set the head coach off.

Junior defenseman Sean Escobedo tallied a couple penalties, a tripping call in the first and high-sticking in the third, and when the game started getting a bit more chippy than normal at the end, junior assistant captain Justin Courtnall was charged with a game misconduct after making contact with a Friar’s head.

Noonan, one of the Terriers’ usual suspects to end up in the penalty box, managed to stay penalty-free for all 60 minutes.

The Otherwise Notable
Parker’s 400th: Friday night’s win was BU’s 14th of the semester and, more significantly, the 400th Hockey East victory in Parker’s career.

It is just the most recent in a long line of accomplishments for the man that Providence coach Nate Leaman said is likely the conference coach of the year at this point – but that doesn’t mean Parker can remember them all.

He couldn’t recall the first one – the conference’s first season was 1984-85 – but did seem a bit surprised at the milestone.

“400 wins in Hockey East?” Parker asked. “You know how old that makes me?”

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