Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grzelcyk, Noonan make statements in nationally televised win

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

The two most important goals of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 4–2 win over Boston College on Friday came from defensemen: junior Garrett Noonan broke a scoreless tie halfway through the second period, and freshman Matt Grzelcyk put away the eventual game-winner to give the Terriers a crucial boost at the start of the third.

“Obviously Grzelcyk’s, that was the biggest goal of the game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They make it 2–1 and come out and start grinding away at us, and we immediately get the lead right back.”

In a game televised nationally on NBC Sports, Grzelcyk made an impression. His only point was that goal, on which senior forward Wade Megan sprung him with a pass through the neutral zone. Grzelcyk carried the puck all the way down below the goal line, then tucked it behind BC goalie Parker Milner on the wraparound.

But Grzelcyk also spent the night setting up plays with spot-on breakout passes, most memorably hitting junior wing Sahir Gill with a no-look pass that sent him off on a breakaway in the first.

Had Gill not tried and failed to go five-hole, Grzelcyk would now have 12 points, which would tie him with University of New Hampshire sophomore Trevor van Riemsdyk as the highest-scoring defenseman in Hockey East. As it is, his nine assists tie him for fourth in the conference among both forwards and defensemen.

Parker said it was no surprise to see Grzelcyk perform in front of 6,150 fans at Agganis Arena against BU’s biggest rival. After all, the freshman did score his first collegiate goal in the Terriers’ 4–2 loss to the Eagles on Nov. 11.

“He’s been pretty poised since he arrived,” Parker said. “He’s a pretty confident kid.”

Meanwhile, after his goal, Noonan spent most of his night mixing it up with BC forwards. If there was a crowd of players shoving and throwing punches, whether in the neutral zone or in the crease, chances are Noonan was there. Eight of the Terriers’ 32 penalty minutes were his — and that 32 is inflated by the 14 belonging to sophomore Alexx Privitera, who received a 10-minute misconduct.

“It’s good, seeing stuff like that,” Noonan said, grinning, of the various scuffles he took part in.

Temperaments aside, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Noonan to look at Grzelcyk and see a younger version of himself in some ways. Not physically, of course: Grzelcyk, at 18, is just 5-foot-9, compared to Noonan’s more imposing 6-foot-1, and accordingly, Noonan is fonder of throwing his weight around.

But both have an offensive sense that’s rare in a defenseman. Both went beyond firing big slap shots from the point on Friday – they wove through opposing defenders, Noonan cutting his trademark path down the backdoor and Grzelcyk using his speed to overpower the Eagles.

Last year, Noonan scored 16 goals, far and away the most of any Hockey East defenseman. Grzelcyk’s points thus far have mostly been assists, but he continued to show on Friday that he has as much of a finishing touch as any BU blueliner.

“He’s been awesome all year,” Noonan said of Grzelcyk. “He’s pretty special. He played great tonight again, and he’s been doing that all year. He’s one of our best players and we expect that out of him every night. He’s just a great kid and everyone’s happy to see him do that.”

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