No. 13 Boston University men’s hockey sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera was slow to get up after taking a big hit in his own defensive zone from Harvard University forward Alex Fallstrom. With the Terriers (13–12–1, 10–7–1 Hockey East) down 5–3 to the Crimson (6–15–2) late in the second period, the hit was enough to push Privitera’s temper over the edge.
The sophomore flew down the ice and tried to lay a big hit on Fallstrom in retaliation for the previous check. When Fallstrom almost dodged the hit, Privitera stuck out his knee, creating knee-on-knee contact. Fallstrom fell to the ice writhing in pain, and Privitera was charged with a game misconduct and was told to hit the showers.
The retaliation penalty was just one example of the Terriers showing signs of frustration in Monday night’s 7–4 loss to Harvard in the Beanpot consolation game. BU has won just one of its last seven contests.
“I’d say the team’s definitely a little frustrated,” said senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka. “You want to win, but when you keep losing it just kills the morale of the team.”
While there have been a number of things that have gone wrong in the Terriers’ recent cold streak, one of the most notable problems Monday was the team’s discipline. BU took nine penalties in the game, including six penalties after it fell behind.
“We don’t have anywhere near the discipline and the focus and the attention to detail — especially on defense — that we need,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We had all those things first semester. But it’s almost like we threw a switch when we came back second semester.”
Privitera in particular has been one of the least disciplined players for BU since the beginning of the second semester. Privitera earned a game disqualification and an automatic one-game suspension for kicking a player at the University of Denver and then was benched for an additional game by Parker.
The benching did not seem to have an effect though, as Privitera earned his second game misconduct of the season Monday night. Privitera will earn another suspension if he gets another game misconduct this season, but Parker hinted the sophomore may find himself watching a game from the stands yet again regardless.
“We have to just remove guys from ice time,” Parker said. “That is the only thing you can do … If you don’t get on the ice, it is hard to take a penalty.”
It would be difficult to bench Privitera considering he is not an issue for the Terriers in terms of his defense. Privitera and senior defenseman Sean Escobedo, who combine to make up BU’s top defensive pairing, were the only two Terriers to finish Monday’s game as a plus in the plus-minus category. However, the duo also combined for 19 minutes worth of penalties in the loss.
The penalties did not appear to hurt the Terriers much according to the score sheet, as Harvard only scored once on its seven power-play attempts. However, two of the Crimson’s goals came within seconds after BU penalties.
Now, with only nine games remaining in the season, the Terriers do not have time to make frustrated mistakes like they did Monday night. The loss to Harvard will bump BU down in the PairWise rankings, and put it at risk of missing out on the NCAA tournament.
For now, Parker said he is just looking for a way to get his team out of its recent “grand funk.”
“The major problem is the lack of compete and the lack of coming to the game and putting it on the line,” Parker said. “They are almost waiting for something bad to happen.”