NCAA 2002: How Will The Terriers Fare?

Dave D’Onofrio, DFP When the Black Bears came into Walter Brown Arena and took 3-of-4 points from the Terriers earlier this month, there was cause for concern among Terrier Nation. The Black Bears’ offense was absolutely dominant in pounding BU’s goalies for nine – count ’em, nine – goals on March 1, but the Icedogs showed some resiliency in battling back to earn a 4-4 tie the next night. Maine retained the upper hand with a 4-3 win at the FleetCenter last weekend, but, for the first time since November, it was clear throughout that the teams were evenly matched. By the time the puck is dropped, BU should be very well rested, having played just once in 15 days. Maine, on the other hand, could be susceptible to fatigue, coming back to challenge the No. 2 seed less than 24 hours after disposing of a gritty Harvard team. It will be minor factors like fatigue that make the difference in this game, mainly because the two teams are so similarly impressive. Maine has the scoring edge, but BU has a steadier defense, especially with the expected return of senior Pat Aufiero, who has missed the last three games against Maine. Look for BU’s “Green Line” – Gregg Johnson, Frantisek Skladany and Kenny Magowan — to step it up in Sunday’s game and contribute at least a total of five points. Another big factor for BU could be freshman center Brian McConnell, who has made it his role to levy heavy open-ice hits on anyone daring to skate through the neutral zone with his head down. If McConnell and the defense can set the tone early with a few vicious hits, Maine’s good transition offense might not be as quick to counterattack through the middle of the ice. If Maine gets by BU, it is in no way a stretch to say that Maine could win the national championship. But this Terrier squad doesn’t miss golden opportunities, such as the one they were given by getting a first-round bye. Skladany gives BU a 3-2 lead in the third and Mark Mullen’s empty-netter provides the insurance. BU 4, Maine 2

Nick Cardamone, DFP This is a game BU has had a week to think about. Make no mistake about it, while they know anything can happen, the Icedogs are thinking they’ll take on the Black Bears, and they are right. Take away the 9-6 disaster, and these two teams played three great games this season, each team winning one. This will likely be another classic. BU has the defense, especially with the likely return of Pat Aufiero, to handle Maine’s good forwards. While the Black Bears are talented on offense, they are no UNH, and their four lines, while good, can’t compare to the lines that even BU throws at people. While the Icedogs don’t appear as deep stats-wise, any player from top to bottom can fill the net, and it has shown this year. The one constant this year has been Mike Pandolfo. The senior has taken huge steps this year and improved not only his playmaking and goal scoring, but also his defense. Maine cannot match the defensive prowess of BU’s forwards, and this plays a huge part. If the Terriers can straighten out the problems they’ve had on the penalty kill against Maine, they will have a decided advantage. Goaltender Sean Fields was shaky at times in the semifinal game, but he eventually settled down and was superb later in the game, despite picking up the loss. Yeats, meanwhile, didn’t face many hard chances, and when he did, he didn’t seem to fare all that well against BU, though he played great the next night against UNH. There’s no way Maine should go with Morrison, who was horrid in the 9-6 game. The stability Fields has provided in net could pose an advantage for BU, although Yeats has seemed comfortable returning to the starting role he lost at the beginning of the season. Look for a physical game from BU, with the second line of Brian McConnell, Jack Baker and John Sabo setting the tone with their hitting, and then the third line of Gregg Johnson, Frantisek Skladany and Kenny Magowan following that up with speed, playmaking and scoring. Also be wary of the fourth line. Freshmen David Klema and Justin Maiser showed no nerves at all in the Beanpot final, which, up to this point, was BU’s biggest game of the year. The Icedogs’ poise under pressure from such a tough tournament like the Beanpot is an intangible that can’t be overlooked. Look for the Terriers to triumph in yet another great game. BU 4, Maine 3

Noah Coslov, WTBU Hockey Analyst The best game of the East Regional is a battle between two teams that know each other well. BU came out on top in overtime the first time these two teams met back in November, but the Terriers haven’t since earned a win over the Black Bears. After allowing nine goals in a 9-6 loss on March 1 at Walter Brown, the Terriers needed a late goal from Captain Mike Pandolfo to salvage a tie the following day to earn a point. After ten minutes of Terrier-capable hockey to open up the Hockey East semifinals, Maine used its superior team speed to ruin BU’s title hopes, 4-3. Only using five defensemen for the majority of the game, BU’s legs gave out on the FleetCenter ice. This however, will not be the case on Sunday. With Pat Aufiero’s (2-10-12, 25 GP) return likely, not only does this boost the team’s confidence, having a senior leader back on the blue line, but it improves its scoring punch as well. Aufiero is rarely careless with the puck in his own end and leads the offensive breakout with poise and precision. Now in their fourth match-up of the season, both BU and Maine know the keys to success. The Black Bears will look for the odd-man rush as much as possible, trying to catch the Terrier defensemen pinching in the offensive zone. The Terriers will keep this game close until the third frame where they have been strong all season, out scoring opponents 57-35. It will not be easy for Maine to bounce back after Saturday’s game and face the fifth-ranked Terriers a day later, as fatigue will certainly be a factor. Down 2-1 entering the third period, the captains lead by example. Pandolfo scores to tie the game early, then a Dyment slapper from the point finds its way to the back of the net, and the families of Ryan Priem, Eric Johnson, David Klema and Justin Maiser all start preparations for pre-game meals in Minnesota. BU 3, Maine 2

Scott Brandwein, WTBU Play-by-Play Boston University is very lucky to be the No. 2 seed in the East. BU did defeat Maine back in November, but the Black Bears responded by taking 5-of-6 points from the Terriers in the last three meetings, including a 4-3 victory in the Hockey East semifinals. Boston University now gets a bye and does not have to play until Sunday. The Terriers stroll in with a 25-9-3 record and bring tremendous depth to the table. Coach Jack Parker has played all four lines this season, keeping his players fresh late in the game. Captain Mike Pandolfo has been BU’s offensive leader with 21 goals and 18 assists. Watch out for the sophomore line of Frantisek Skladany, Gregg Johnson and Kenny Magowan, who were recently reunited and have played well in the playoffs. Injuries to defensemen Pat Aufiero and Bryan Miller have hurt BU, and both players are questionable for this weekend. The rest of the defense has been stellar all season, with captain Chris Dyment and freshman Ryan Whitney a combined +42. Goaltender Sean Fields scratched off 22 wins this year but was very shaky early on against Maine in the semifinals of Hockey East. Look for Fields to be at the top of his game in the rematch. BU has been here before, playing in its record 26th NCAA Tournament and 11th in the last 13 years. The Black Bears are playing Saturday, and it will be very difficult for them to come back one day later and take out the number five team in the country. Maine will be tired, and BU’s fresh legs should be the difference in this one. Forward Niko Dimitrakos has killed the Terriers this season with six goals and three assists in the four games and BU has had trouble working around defenseman Peter Metcalf. But, the Icedogs will be the fresher and more prepared team. The game will be hard fought and action-packed and overtime could be in the cards. The Terriers will be the stronger team late in the game to pull out the win and move on to the Frozen Four. BU 5, Maine 4 (OT)

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