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Men’s hockey carries slump through end of 2013 with 4-1 loss to Bentley

When Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn huddled his players around his bench for a timeout in the second period of his team’s contest against Bentley University Saturday night, the scoreboard only told part of the story. The Agganis Arena jumbotron displayed that the Terriers were trailing 3-0 to a team that history said it should be beating, but was not showing in the body language of Quinn’s players.

They looked shell shocked, lifeless and broken.

“We looked like a bunch of guys who had their dogs shot,” Quinn said. “Frustration level set in and you could just see it in their faces.”

The timeout did not improve the team’s energy level though, as the Terriers continued their downward spiral in 4-1 loss to the Falcons.

With the loss, BU (7-8-2, 2-4-1 Hockey East) has only taken one point in its last three games, and will begin the 2014 portion of their schedule below .500. It is the Terriers’ first loss against a team from the Atlantic Hockey Association since Oct. 22, 2011 when BU dropped a contest with the College of the Holy Cross 5-4.

The Terriers possessed the puck well in the first period and totaled 15 shots in the frame, which is their most in a single period since a 16-shot first period against the University of North Dakota on Nov. 22. It was not enough to give them a lead though, as Bentley (8-7-1) scored the only goal of the period when sophomore Derek Bacon made a great deflection from the left hashmarks to put one past sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor.

BU entered the second period on the power play, and had a chance to tie the game at one. But the game made a drastic shift in Bentley’s favor when forward Jared Rickord took a turnover from sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen in alone on O’Connor and potted a shorthanded breakaway goal through his five-hole.

Less than five minutes later, junior forward Brett Switzer followed it up with a goal on a 2-on-1 opportunity, and things began to get out of hand for the Terriers.

Both goals were a result of odd-man breaks for the Falcons, who seemed to have no trouble zipping by BU’s aggressive, pinching defense.

“Either they’re that fast or we’re that slow,” Quinn said. “We were just slow tonight. We were slow last weekend, too. And I don’t know whether we’re tired or what. That’s going to change.”

BU did not have much of a problem getting shots on goal through the first two periods, as its 26 shots through that span were more than it totaled in each of its last three entire games. However, Bentley had more “Grade A” chances than BU during the first two periods and Quinn said he thought his team was shooting from the perimeter too much.

It took almost 55 minutes, but the Terriers finally got on the board when sophomore forward Matt Lane tipped in a shot from Oksanen on the power play for his fourth goal of the season. That was all BU could create against Bentley senior Branden Komm, who made 42 saves in the contest.

Bentley senior Brett Gensler sealed the game with an empty-net goal with 1:58 remaining, and that was it for the Terriers.

Offense has not come easy for BU since the loss of junior forward Cason Hohmann, as it has scored fewer than three goals in four of the five games it has played since he went down with a shoulder injury. According to Quinn though, Hohmann’s loss is not the sole reason for his team’s recent offensive woes.

“[Hohmann’s loss] affects it without question,” Quinn said. “If I’m looking as a coach, you just want to be consumed with the process and how guys are they competing, are they trying to do the right thing, are they purposeful in their play, and I thought we got away from that these last three games.”

Perhaps some time off to get the team healthy and into a new mindset will help BU. It has another three weeks of winter break to get ready for its next game at Harvard University. For Saturday’s game though, it is Quinn who takes the blame.

“We got outworked tonight, and that’s on me,” Quinn said. “That’s not them, that’s my fault, because that’s my No. 1 responsibility as a coach.”

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