It was the first game of the David Quinn Era – before the injuries, before the winless streak and before the frustrations came to the surface.
Back on Oct. 11, the Boston University men’s hockey team took the ice for the first time in the regular season and faced off against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst at Agganis Arena. By the end of the game, the Terriers, and Quinn, had their first win behind them.
Just over three months later, that game means little as the Terriers continue to look for a way to right a ship that has been tilting ever since December.
“I don’t think there’s any correlation of what happens in October and what you’re going to see at the game tomorrow night,” Quinn said. “Both teams have grown. I know they have, and obviously we’ve had our struggles.”
While the Terriers are winless in nine of their last 10, BU (8-14-2, 3-8-1 Hockey East) picked up its first victory since Nov. 30 Friday in the opening half of its two-game series with the University of Vermont. BU could not complete the weekend sweep, though, and, according to Quinn, Friday’s game had an impact on Saturday’s outcome.
“I think part of our problem Saturday night is our best players played so many minutes on Friday night, they just basically did not have a lot left in the tank,” Quinn said. “It cost them. One of the things we’ve talked about as a staff is maybe managing our players’ minutes a little bit better.
“Obviously that won’t be a problem this weekend since we don’t play back-to-back so maybe we can use them a lot tomorrow night, but on back-to-back nights, we probably go to… maybe pull back the minutes on players on Friday night.”
The team’s fatigue was most noticeable on the power play as the Terriers struggled to maintain puck possession and gave up their Hockey East leading eighth shorthanded goal of the season. Quinn said the team worked on the power play during practice Wednesday, but that the one-game weekend should also help the Terriers with the man advantage.
BU will also benefit from two of its players seeing more ice time as they recover from knee injuries. Junior center Evan Rodrigues and sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen both saw more playing time last week than was initially expected and should continue to see more regular shifts as they make their ways toward becoming 100 percent healthy.
Although Rodrigues and Oksanen will see increased playing time Friday, senior forward Jake Moscatel and sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire will not make appearances in the Terrier lineup. While Moscatel continues to recover from a lower body injury, Maguire will stay back in Boston has he gets back on his feet after battling the flu this past week.
Maguire, who gave up six goals during Saturday’s loss, picked up just his second win of the season Friday evening. Maguire was pulled during the last four minutes of Saturday’s game for senior netminder Anthony Moccia.
With Maguire sick, his classmate Matt O’Connor will make his first start since giving up four goals in just under 16 minutes during the Terriers 7-3 loss to the University of Maine at Frozen Fenway.
“We’ve got to come out with the same type of purpose we had Friday night against Vermont,” Quinn said.
Much like the Terriers, the Minutemen (7-16-3, 3-8-2 Hockey East) have gone through tough spells so far this season, including an eight-game winless streak. Although they snapped that streak with three straight wins, including one against the University of Notre Dame, they have lost three of their last four games.
UMass also split its two-game series last weekend, as it picked up a win over Merrimack College Friday before dropping the following game while on the road.
During Saturday’s loss, Minutemen senior Mike Pereira, who is third on the team in goals with nine, notched two power-play goals, registering his 50th career goal and 100th career point. Pereira is one of just five UMass players to ever reach the 50-100 milestone.
Quinn said he hopes the Terriers will continue part of its current pattern when it takes the ice at the Mullins Center.
“I thought last week we had really good practices, and I thought we had a good game Friday night,” Quinn said. “Hopefully we can follow that type of pattern this week.”
Sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Jan. 9, had surgery earlier this week. Grzelcyk suffered a torn labrum and a dislocated shoulder during practice.
“Everything went well,” Quinn said. “He’s feeling good.”
According to Quinn, Grzelcyk will probably begin rehabbing in the next week, but the total recovery time is three to six months.