Friday night was special for the Boston University men’s hockey team. It celebrated its seniors, it honored former coach Jack Parker and it won its first game in nearly a month. Sophomore wing Matt Lane sat on the bench as a spectator for all of it.
While he was dressed for the game, a disciplinary action stopped him and three other Terriers (10-20-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) from seeing ice time.
Twenty-four hours later, the sophomore threw his hand up into the air after he scored his second goal of the game en route to the Terriers completing a weekend sweep of Northeastern University.
“The best way to motivate him is to sit him,” said BU coach David Quinn. There is no other way to do it. I benched him toward the end of a game about three or four weeks ago, and he came back and had his best night shortly thereafter. Obviously he sat [Friday] and he comes back and he plays the way he did tonight.”
Lane attempted to look at the positives during his time on the bench.
“There’s definitely motivation,” Lane said. “You never want to sit out, and I just tried to tell myself that maybe I’ll be more fresh tonight. I felt like I was, and I just tried to use that to my advantage.”
Just over five minutes into the game, Lane had his first opportunity to show how ready he was when Northeastern (18-12-4, 10-8-2 Hockey East) freshman John Stevens went to the penalty box for hooking.
A mere six seconds into the power play, freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby took a shot that rang off Northeastern goaltender Clay Witt’s kneepads. Lane picked up the rebound and put it by Witt to give the Terriers and early lead and just the team’s second power-play goal in 10 games.
By halfway through the second frame, BU had fallen behind the Huskies 2-1. Less than three minutes after Northeastern got ahead, though, Lane showed once again that he deserved his time on the ice.
After forcing a turnover near BU’s blue line, the Rochester, N.Y., native broke away from the zone, eventually deking around Witt and backhanding the puck by the netminder, who has the second-best save percentage in the Hockey East conference.
The goal was Lane’s seventh of the season and marked the first multi-goal game of his career.
While Lane did not make the score sheet for any other offensive contributions on the night, he was visibly active during the Terriers’ penalty kill, forcing the puck away from Northeastern in BU’s offensive zone and knocking time off the penalty.
“I was a little rested and I guess I just had my legs,” Lane said. “We went out there and executed a game plan, and got our first sweep and road win of the season.”
Up until the past few games, Lane had remained a mainstay as the second line left wing and had played on the first line eight times during the middle portion of the team’s schedule. Between the Terriers’ Monday tilt with the University of New Hampshire and BU’s Friday night contest against the University of Notre Dame, though, Lane had only registered one shot on goal and was a minus-two.
By the time BU took the ice Saturday against the Fighting Irish (20-12-2, 9-9-2 Hockey East), Lane took a spot on the third line for the first time this season.
For Quinn, Lane’s actions during Saturday’s game against Northeastern showed a new level of development.
“Sometimes it’s just maturity and growing up,” Quinn said. “Sometimes guys grow up during their freshman year. Sometimes guys grow up during their sophomore year. Sometimes it takes them until they’re 45 to grow up.
“He grew up a little bit [Saturday].”