The Boston University men’s hockey team lost its second straight game Saturday to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, 4-3, the Terriers’ fourth loss in six games. Although the team’s play was tighter than the night before against Northeastern University, there were still a number of problems that kept them from catching up with the surging River Hawks.
Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU.
Captain continues to battle
In the waning minutes of Saturday’s game, as the Terriers killed a five-minute major penalty, senior captain Wade Megan stood out.
Earlier in the period, Megan had converted a well-placed pass from sophomore center Cason Hohmann to bring the Terriers within a goal of the River Hawks. Then, during the penalty kill, he and Hohmann maintained pressure on UML and kept the puck in the offensive zone for much of the kill. They couldn’t score, but they didn’t let the River Hawks walk away without a fight.
With junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan ejected for a spearing penalty and senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka a healthy scratch, Megan was the only BU player left on the ice with a letter on his jersey. His one-goal, four-shot effort was one of the few clear positives for a team that looked out of control and distracted at times this weekend.
“A few guys really showed a lot of character with how hard they played tonight,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “Certainly, one of them is the captain.”
Despite overall issues, offense intact
Since Christmas break, BU’s defense has been inconsistent enough that its offense hasn’t been a focal point. But the Terriers did score three times against UML on 32 shots, and since their 6-0 loss to the University of Denver on Dec. 29, they have 20 goals in five games.
Parker said Friday that he wasn’t likely to rave about the offense when the defense was essentially losing BU games. It was at least somewhat encouraging, though, to see sophomore wing Evan Rodrigues pick up his third goal of the weekend on Saturday with a clean wrister in the third, and to see Danny O’Regan get back to his playmaking game with two assists and a goal on Friday.
Moscatel earning time
On a positive note for senior forward Jake Moscatel, Parker said he’ll stay in the lineup next Friday against Providence College. Parker said he didn’t know yet whether freshman Wes Myron would remain on the bench or rotate in for someone else, but that Moscatel would definitely play Friday.
Saturday was the second start of Moscatel’s collegiate career. He didn’t record a shot but fit into the fourth line on center Ryan Santana’s wing.
“I thought Jake Moscatel gave us some minutes when he got out there,” Parker said. “I was happy for him. He banged some guys, got the puck out of the zone and made some plays. He wasn’t worried.”
Repeat offenders in the box
Noonan and sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera have been taking turns as the team leader in penalty minutes for most of the year. Noonan moved into the lead on Saturday with 62 minutes on the year, but both led the parade of Terrier defensemen to the box that hurt the team in that game.
Privitera took two stick penalties, a cross-check and a trip, in the second period. While he was in the box for the latter, Noonan and UML captain Riley Wetmore received matching penalties for slashing, and then senior defenseman Sean Escobedo went off for a high-stick. With three BU defensemen in the box, UML scored a 5-on-3 goal to take the lead.
Although it didn’t directly lead to a River Hawk goal, Noonan’s spearing penalty at the end of the third was even worse: as he skated towards UML goalie Doug Carr in search of a rebound that didn’t come, he jabbed Carr and knocked him to the ice when the puck was nowhere nearby. He received a five-minute major and a game disqualification.
“I just told my team, I can’t explain to them how disappointed I am that we could revert back to being selfish and stupid with those type of penalties,” Parker said.
Defensive lapses continue
While they weren’t always as glaring as the ones on Friday, the Terriers still made a number of defensive mistakes. Some cost them on the scoresheet, while others only seemed to rattle them, but all were part of a continuing pattern of issues.
The River Hawks’ third goal, early in the third period, came immediately after a defensive-zone turnover by BU. And their fourth, the eventual winner, was a shorthanded 2-on-1 where freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk defended the pass and UML forward Adam Chapie had ample time to snap a wrist shot over O’Connor.
The problem wasn’t so much Grzelcyk’s decision to let O’Connor take the shooter (although he could have put a bit more pressure on Chapie) as it was the fact that, despite the man advantage, nobody else was back there with Grzelcyk.
O’Connor better, but not enough
Although Parker said freshman goalie Matt O’Connor “took a stride back to where we want him to be” on Saturday, and O’Connor certainly has been the victim of bad defensive plays, he wasn’t at his best against UML either.
O’Connor stopped 28 shots but appeared to struggle with the high ones, going down early and making it harder for himself to be in position. The recent problems of the defensemen in front of him cannot be overstated, but with that in mind, O’Connor still has allowed 15 goals in his last three starts.