Ice Hockey, Sports

Stiff road test awaits red-hot Icedogs

The Boston University men’s hockey team has risen to the occasion against a brutal early season schedule, winning three games against ranked opponents before the calendar turns to November.
Another tough test is in store tomorrow for the No. 3 Terriers (4-1-0, 1-1-0 Hockey East) against the No. 14 University of Vermont (2-1-1, 0-1-0) at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The Terriers’ hot start is a welcome sight after last year’s slow beginning left the team scrambling in the second half of the season. But playing in the deep Hockey East leaves BU no room for error, as there is always another challenge looming. This weekend’s contest comes against a Vermont team that could establish itself as a conference contender with an upset tomorrow night.
‘They’re a team that battles hard and they’re a very quick team,’ BU coach Jack Parker said. ‘They can be very explosive because they’re emotional, and the crowd really gets them going.’
While youth has not yet been an issue for the Terriers this season, the luxury of playing four of five games at Agganis Arena means they are still untested on the road.
Traveling to Vermont and a sold-out Gutterson Fieldhouse presents a different set of challenges for BU, which lost to the University of New Hampshire in its only road contest this year. The Terriers will not play at home again until a Nov. 16 matchup with Northeastern University.
BU and Vermont split a pair of games at Gutterson last November, with the Terriers winning a 9-1 rout behind two goals apiece from sophomore Colin Wilson and senior Chris Higgins before dropping a 5-4 decision the next night. Gutterson’s 4,003 seating capacity will be filled tomorrow with fans eager to send a Top-5 team home with a bad taste in its mouth.
‘[The crowd] impacts Vermont positively. Therefore, it impacts the visiting team negatively. I don’t think it’s so much that the visiting team gets rattled, but the home team gets jacked up,’ Parker said. ‘I think it’s one of the harder buildings in college hockey and always has been.’
The Terrier most likely to be affected by the roar of the Catamount fans will be freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser, who will be making his third start of the season. Rollheiser has performed well in his role as a member of BU’s rookie goalie tandem, posting a 1.51 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage while exhibiting poise and composure in net.
As he and classmate Kieran Millan continue to rotate between the pipes, both are beginning to show they are capable of being a No. 1 goalie. BU’s stifling defense and strong play in goal has limited opponents to two goals or less in each game so far this season.
Tomorrow’s game will provide the Terriers an opportunity to wash away memories from their final disappointment last year. BU fell to the Catamounts, 3-1, in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals at TD Banknorth Garden, closing the book on its 2007-08 campaign.

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