When the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team hosts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Agganis Arena Friday night, it may have more on its mind than just another non-conference January matchup. Some Terriers — the upperclassmen — will be thinking about last time.
The Engineers downed the visiting Terriers 4-1 on Dec. 11, 2010 in a game marked by BU getting “jobbed so bad by the referees it was unbelievable,” as BU head coach Jack Parker put it, and a third-period free-for-all that resulted in several ejections.
Parker said his players probably wouldn’t remember specifics from the game.
Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo indicated otherwise.
“It got a little ugly at the end,” Escobedo said. “It got a little chippy, so I know the guys who return definitely remember that game, so it’s a little fire. We actually talked about it [Thursday] because a couple guys got kicked out … It was [former Terrier David] Warsofsky who got into it a little bit, broke his stick, blade went flying into the crowd. [Ben Rosen] got into it a little bit with one of their guys. It was just kind of like a melee.
“Tempers kind of boiled over and everyone went after everybody.”
That was two years ago, though, so there’s been a good amount of turnover on both sides since.
The Engineers (6-7-4) still have Nick Bailen, who tallied two assists and a game-misconduct in that 2010 game, and now the senior defenseman is second on the team with 13 points (four goals, nine assists).
RPI also boasts a trio of sophomore forwards atop its scoring sheet: Jacob Laliberte (7g, 8a), Ryan Haggerty (6g, 6a) and Matt Neal (4g, 8a).
Parker compared the Engineers’ style of play to that of the University of Denver — which the Terriers lost to, 6-0, on Saturday — and implied to was because RPI head coach Seth Appert was a nine-year assistant coach for the Pioneers.
“I expect them to be a real hard-nosed team, a team who moves the puck real well,” Parker said. “They play very, very similar to Denver. They’re just as physical as Denver … and their power play moves the puck pretty well.”
Despite a less-than-impressive record, that physicality has served RPI well at times this season. Three of its six wins have come against ranked opponents, most recently then-No. 16 St. Cloud State on Dec. 27. The Engineers also topped then-No. 15 Yale on Dec. 7 and went 1-0-1 in a two-game series against then-No. 11 Ferris State in mid-October.
Rensselaer’s biggest question mark seems to be in net, where three goalies have split time almost evenly. Freshman Jason Kasdorf’s 1.63 goals-against average and .937 save percentage are far and away the best on the team, but the Winnipeg Jets’ 2011 draft pick has missed the Engineers’ last two games after leaving mid-way through their Dec. 27 contest.
That leaves senior Bryce Merriam (.890 save percentage, 3.23 GAA) and sophomore Scott Diebold (.879, 3.06). Each has started a game in Kasdorf’s absence.
On the other side of the ice, there are lineup changes abound for the Terriers (10-6, 8-4 Hockey East) following their ugly loss to Denver.
Senior captain Wade Megan will likely be out after suffering a shoulder subluxation — a partial dislocation — late in the third period against DU. His probable absence allows freshman Wes Myron to move up to first-line left wing and opens up a spot for senior walk-on Jake Moscatel.
Moscatel, who will be making his scarlet and white debut, joined the Terriers at the halfway point last season after playing with the school’s club hockey team as a junior transfer. The Lexington native previously played 25 games over the course of two seasons at Division III University of New England.
“He’s gotten much better here,” Parker said. “He’s getting smarter and playing harder. He’s in better shape. I told him about a month ago, ‘Jake, you’re one of the most improved players on this team. Maybe you’ll get in the lineup. Keep it up.’”
Without Megan, though, BU will be without its leading goal scorer. A number of Terriers — sophomore forward Cason Hohmann and freshman forward Danny O’Regan among them — are full capable of stepping up. It’s just a matter of someone take advantage of the opportunity.
“Regardless if [Megan is] in or he’s out, everyone knows he’s not our only goal scorer,” Escobedo said. “Everyone has to contribute, whether you’re a defenseman, forward, first line, fourth line, everyone knows they have to chip in and do their part. I think it’s a wake-up call if you can’t considering we’re going to need scoring from some place else and this will give guys an opportunity to do so.”
–On the blue line, freshman Matt Grzelcyk returns from his abbreviated stint with the U.S. U20 team while sophomore Alexx Privitera will serve the first half of his two-game suspension. One game is a NCAA-mandated suspension for his game-disqualification against Denver, the other tacked on by Parker for Privitera’s habit of taking ill-advised penalties, particularly a kicking penalty against the Pioneers.
–Staying true to his intention to start the second half with a goalie rotation, Parker said freshman Sean Maguire will start in net Friday. Freshman Matt O’Connor will get the nod Wednesday vs. Harvard, with Maguire slated to return two days later against Merrimack.
Wes Myron — Cason Hohmann — Sahir Gill
Matt Nieto — Danny O’Regan — Evan Rodrigues
Matt Lane — Ben Rosen — Sam Kurker
Mike Moran — Ryan Santana — Jake Moscatel
Sean Escobedo — Ahti Oksanen
Garrett Noonan — Patrick MacGregor
Matt Grzelcyk — Ryan Ruikka