With its first hiccup of 2009 in the books ‘-‘- a 4-2 dropped contest to Providence College Tuesday night ‘-‘- the No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team will look to get back on track tonight against Merrimack College in North Andover before welcoming No. 12 Boston College back to Agganis Arena Saturday night.
Despite outshooting the Friars 41-24, BU’s eight-game winning streak fell victim to a faulty forecheck as players struggled to get the puck through the neutral zone.
With Merrimack lingering on the horizon, bolstering its transition play was a point of emphasis at practice for BU (14-5-1, 7-5-1 Hockey East) throughout the week.
‘It was easy for us to get [the puck] out,’ BU coach Jack Parker said of the Terriers’ breakout scheme Tuesday night. ‘All we needed to do was get it to the left wing and let him skate it out. Once the pressure was on we didn’t execute. We didn’t execute it as well as we should have. Our problem was getting the puck from blue line to blue line.’
Losing control and chasing loose passes through center ice, the energetic rhythm BU generated over winter break sputtered along with its clearing attempts.
While translating their energy from practice to gametime had been little of an issue for the Terriers’ unbeaten run over winter break, the Terriers have now put forth a pair of less-than-full throttle efforts over the last week and a half.
‘We had half of our team play very well. We didn’t get great goaltending, we had a couple defensemen have real bad nights and we had a couple of forwards not show up,’ Parker said.
What has remained constant for BU has been Parker’s first forward line of sophomore Colin Wilson and seniors Chris Higgins and Jason Lawrence.
Wilson, Higgins and Lawrence racked up 12 shots in just under a period of ice time Tuesday night, while Wilson and Higgins lead all Terriers in points with 23 and 21, respectively.
Despite starting the year with a 3-1 record, freshman goalie Grant Rollheiser’s troubles in net have not gone away.
Yielding four goals Tuesday night, Rollheiser will concede his spot in the rotation as fellow freshman Kieran Millan is slated to anchor himself between the pipes for both weekend contests.
‘Kieran will play the next two games,’ Parker said. ‘We’ll see how [Rollheiser] does in practice and we’ll go from there.’
Millan, whose 1.89 goals-against average remains third in Hockey East, is 10-1-1 on the year and was the winning netminder in each of his last four starts dating back to a 3-1 victory at Chestnut Hill.
After dropping a pair of points to Providence earlier this week, putting together a strong effort against Merrimack (5-11-3, 2-9-2) is atop Parker’s master list.
While the BC (9-6-3, 5-5-3) matchup looms large, Merrimack remains the top priority for Parker and senior co-captains John McCarthy and Matt Gilroy.’
‘Winning at Merrimack is a very tough thing to do,’ Parker said. ‘Do you want to win two points? If you guarantee me two points on the weekend most people would say they’d rather us beat BC than Merrimack, but there’s no guarantee you’re going to get any points.
‘The fact of the matter is we just lost two points, and you don’t want to lose four in a row so we want to get on the winning track and get back to winning on the road. But most importantly, we want to get back to looking like a BU hockey team.’