As a young assistant coach with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, current BU coach David Quinn and the rest of the team’s coaching staff dressed only 10 forwards and five defensemen in the tail end of a two-game series with Merrimack College.
After seeing Nebraska-Omaha’s lines, the late Chris Serino, who coached Merrimack at the time, came up to the Mavericks’ coaching staff and asked if Omaha had the flu. The team was healthy, the group responded. They just wanted to play the people who deserved ice time.
“Who says I have to dress 18 skaters?” Quinn said after the Boston University men’s hockey team fell to Bentley University 4-1 Saturday evening. “I’m not saying we’re there yet. Maybe we are. Maybe complacency has set in. We were in a position to build on some of the things we were doing well against [the University of] North Dakota and Cornell [University] and we dropped the ball.
“And when I say we, I mean me included, apparently. I’m sick to my stomach that I don’t think I held on to my end of the bargain, and I’m going to make sure I do.”
With his team limping into 2014, Quinn’s post-game press conference, as well as the final game of the first half, aptly described the theme of the Terriers’ season under the first-year head coach — inconsistent.
While BU found success early in the season, going 3-1 in its first two weeks of play, a trip to Michigan that featured blown leads in the third period in both contests derailed the predominantly young Terrier squad. For the next three weeks, the team struggled to score, averaging a mere 1.33 goals per game as it went 1-5 from mid-October to mid-November.
After suffering a 7-0 defeat at the University of Maine on Nov. 15, though, the Terriers began to turn it around, going 3-0-1, including a big win over Cornell (7-4-2) during the fourth installment of Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden. Despite an on-going issue with what Quinn called the team’s shooting mentality, and managing only 11 shots on goal to the Big Red’s 39, BU took the game 3-2.
The next three games gave BU an opportunity to end the 2013 portion of the season four games over .500, and fully recover from its mid-semester slump. When the Terriers came out of the first set of weekend games with only one point though, the onus went to the contest against Bentley (8-7-1) to determine whether the team would finish out the first half above or below the .500 mark.
In one respect, BU managed to overcome one challenge, putting 43 shots on goal and outshot a team for the first time since it defeated the University of Connecticut on Nov. 17. Only one of those shots, however, made its way into the back of the net.
“We get the goal and we have another chance to make it 3-2, which really would have changed the complexion of the game and we couldn’t do it and they get the empty-netter,” Quinn said. “We got more pucks to the net, but I thought we were very perimeter the first two periods.
“To me, it meant more to [Bentley], the first two periods than it did to us. And for what reason I do not know.”
For Quinn, the final three games of 2013 were humiliating.
“We can’t be giving up these chances we’re giving up,” Quinn said. “I’m embarrassed as a coach for what’s happened the last few weeks, and it’s unacceptable.
“I apparently have to be more demanding. That doesn’t mean put them on the goal line and skate them for 45 minutes, but I’m trying to figure out how to push their buttons and how to put them in the mindset to play to the best of their abilities.”