Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn already got his chance to shake the head coaching cobwebs off with his team’s preseason win, but now the games are for real. Quinn will look for his first Hockey East win Friday night when the No. 19 Terriers take on the University of Massachusetts.
Following his team’s 2-1 win over St. Francis Xavier University, Quinn said the team had a better idea of what it needed to improve on and go over in practice this week. Now that the week is over, Quinn is ready for a game.
“The funny thing about coaching is I get a lot more revved up for practice,” Quinn said. “The week is more intense for me because you feel like you have a lot more of an impact. Right now I feel like my work’s done. They’re prepared, they’re ready to go.”
With the preparation complete, Quinn has some final decisions to make with regards to line combinations. Playing time is based on meritocracy for the Terriers, so the bottom-six forwards and the final two defensive spots were going to be decided on after practice Thursday night.
Quinn noted the upperclassmen have an advantage over the newcomers in terms of playing time in his system of meritocracy though.
“I give the upperclassmen a little bit of rope because I think that’s what you need to do,” Quinn said. “I’ve talked to a few of them and told them, ‘The only reason you might be in the lineup tonight is because you’re an upperclassmen and I think that’s the right thing to do, but you got to perform, got to perform.’”
As far as the top-six forwards for Friday’s game, the lines will look the same as they did in the preseason game. This means freshman forward Robbie Baillargeon, who earned an assist on the night, will remain on the first unit with sophomore center Danny O’Regan and junior wing Evan Rodrigues. Sophomore wings Matt Lane and Sam Kurker will play on either side of junior center Cason Hohmann on the second line.
O’Regan and Rodrigues were part of one of the most productive lines in the country during the second half of last season, and will be looking for Baillargeon and fill the role of Matt Nieto on the left wing. Expectations should be tempered for Baillargeon though, as he is a freshman playing in his first college game while Nieto currently has three points in his first three games with the San Jose Sharks.
The Minutemen will bring an experienced, high-scoring top line of forwards to Agganis Arena Saturday in seniors Brenden Gracel, Conor Sheary and Michael Pereira. Each member of the trio scored more than 25 points last season with Gracel leading the way in both goals (14) and assists (20).
UMass went through several changes in the offseason and lost goaltender Kevin Boyle in the process. Junior Steve Mastalerz will likely get the nod in goal, with freshmen Mac Haight and Alex Wakaluk serving as backups. Mastalerz had a 2.96 goals-against average with an .898 save percentage in 15 games last season.
Preparing for playing UMass is not an easy task though, as it will not have even played a preseason game before its season opener Friday. Quinn said he is not concerned with how his team’s opponent will look though — only how his own team will have done.
“I don’t really spend any time on the other team,” Quinn said. “I really don’t. I couldn’t tell you who their goalies are going to be. I don’t know anyone on their roster. Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this, but I really don’t.”
The day is finally here though, and all of the waiting has finally passed. By 7:30 p.m. Friday, BU hockey will be back.
“For six months I didn’t do anything hockey related,” Quinn said. “You get the job in March, you go back to Colorado then come back here on May 10th my first day on the office and the first time I stepped on the ice is Sept. 7th or 8th. It’s a long time.
“It’s going to be nice to drop the puck for real.”