Boston University freshman forward Brendan Collier has a big following at the men’s hockey team’s home games. The Charlestown native said he has between 10 and 30 family members and friends at Agganis Arena for any given home game.
While the Terriers fans did not have much to cheer about during Monday evening’s 3-1 loss to the University of New Hampshire, Collier’s crew got a nice moment when their guy scored his first collegiate goal in the first period.
Collier scooped up a loose puck after sophomore center Mike Moran forced it loose on the forecheck and snapped it between UNH goalie Casey DeSmith to give the Terriers the 1-0 lead in the first period. For Collier, it was the accomplishment of a dream.
“It’s a great feeling,” Collier said. “It’s a feeling you only get to experience once. I’ve been wishing for this day to come since I was a little kid so it’s nice for it to finally happen.”
While Collier struggled to crack the lineup earlier in the season, sitting as a healthy scratch for six of the first 14 games of the season, he has rewarded BU coach David Quinn with some strong play with his recent regular playing time. Collier has not been flashy, but he has played well in the corners and on the forecheck despite his smaller stature (5-foot-9, 184 pounds).
“Coach always says when you move your feet you play with confidence, so the more I do that the more I feel adjusted to the pace and the more shifts I play it is coming natural to me,” Collier said.
Even before he scored his first goal Monday night, Collier had been a strong performer on the third line with Moran and fellow freshman winger Kevin Duane. That unit combined for five shots on goal in the game, which is more than the first line (two shots) or the second line (four shots) produced. According to Quinn, that third line was the best forward unit for BU Monday night.
“Without question [they were the best forward line for BU],” Quinn said. “I’m kicking myself for not having them out there on the power play … I wanted to give the power play guys another opportunity, and I probably should not have.”
It is tough to prove how well the third line has been playing as of late through stats, as Collier’s goal is the first goal anyone on that line has scored since Jan. 31 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The productivity and puck possession is there, though, and it has helped Quinn keep the minutes of the top-six forwards down.
Those six did not have to play as much Friday night against UNH because of the third line’s productivity, and it even had the extra couple days of rest thanks to the second game against UNH being postponed to Monday. However, that rest was not enough to help the top two lines be productive this time around.
“They looked just a half a step behind in all three zones,” Quinn said of the top-six forwards. “I think our puck movement was awful tonight. We were slow moving it. We were slow getting to people. We just didn’t look very engaged tonight. We weren’t alert. We weren’t engaged.”
The Terriers are going to need those first two lines to be engaged as the regular season approaches its two weekends. With only four games remaining, the team still does not have a single player with double-digit goals.
“I know our guys were disappointed and maybe sitting with the loss [Friday] affected them more than I thought it would. That’s no excuse – You’re a Division I athlete, you’ve got to find a way to play hard and play well under difficult circumstances,” Quinn said. “When you have the record we have and go through the stretch we have, how we come out and how certain guys came out and have the performance we had tonight is very concerning.”