It wasn’t easy for the No. 14 Boston University men’s hockey team to get over its 3-2 overtime loss to No. 1 Boston College on Monday night. But according to coach Jack Parker, the Terriers look like they’ve moved on.
“I think practices have been really good,” Parker said Thursday afternoon. “We were absolutely devastated Monday night — down, pissed off, whatever terms you want to use. Some guys more pissed off, some guys more down. They had the day off to lick their wounds on Tuesday and they were back ready to go to work on Wednesday. I thought they did a real good job Wednesday and today.”
Junior co-captain Chris Connolly said the key to getting over the loss was to let it sink in first before turning the page.
“We expected that,” Connolly said of the anger and disappointment in the locker room Monday night. “We said, ‘Let it hurt tonight.’ Obviously that’s a big game we look forward to every year and that’s something we really want to win every single year, so it’s going to hurt for the rest of the night for sure.
“But you can’t change it and there’s nothing you can do about it now. … That’s over and done with, so we’re just focusing on Friday now.”
And with Friday comes a trip to Amherst and a 7:30 p.m. faceoff against the University of Massachusetts. The Terriers (13-8-7, 10-5-5 Hockey East) and Minutemen (6-15-4, 5-10-4 HE) played a pair of close games back in October.
UMass overcame a two-goal third-period deficit to force a 2-2 tie at Agganis Arena in the teams’ first meeting on Oct. 16. The following weekend, freshman forward Sahir Gill sealed a 4-3 win for BU at Mullins Center by scoring with 1:37 left in the game.
The Minutemen, who started the season 0-6-3, appeared to be turning a corner when they won three straight from Nov. 23 to Dec. 4. But they’ve gone just 3-9-1 since and are coming off their worst weekend of the season.
UMass lost 5-0 to BC last Friday and the Eagles outshot them 43-16 in the game. Saturday night was even worse for the Minutemen. They lost 11-2 at No. 11 Merrimack College, putting them on the wrong side of the biggest blowout in Hockey East this season.
Don’t expect the Terriers to take them lightly, though.
“They’re a very fast team, a very good skating team,” Connolly said. “It’s always tough to play there, so we’re expecting their best. They’re coming off a tough loss at Merrimack, so I know they’re going to be ready to play. They’re a team fighting for the playoffs, so we’re going to get their best and we have to be ready for it.”
UMass sits in seventh in the conference with 14 points, two ahead of eighth-place University of Vermont and three ahead of ninth-place Providence College.
BU, meanwhile, is tied for third with Merrimack at 25 points, although the Warriors have a game in hand. The Terriers are five points ahead of the University of Maine in the battle for the final home-ice spot. With seven league games left in the season, Parker knows his team needs to finish strong.
“We’ve got to put together a winning streak here and get a good number of these games to put ourselves in position for home-ice advantage and for the selection of the NCAA tournament,” Parker said.
“If we go 4-4, we’re not in good shape. We’ll have to do much better than that to get ourselves in a situation where we can get selected without having to win Hockey East, which I think we can do. You don’t want [winning Hockey East] to be your only route to the national tournament.”
-Parker said he changed up all four forward lines this week to try and create a spark on offense. The top two lines have combined for just four goals in BU’s last six games. Parker is keeping the wing pairings the same on the top three lines while juggling the centers.
He also said junior Kevin Gilroy will replace sophomore Ryan Santana as the fourth-line right wing Friday night. Parker said Gilroy has been working hard and playing well in practice, and that he deserved to get into a game. See the bottom of the article for the complete new lines.
-Parker said sophomore right wing Alex Chiasson is dealing with a foot injury and might not be 100 percent Friday night, but that he is expected to play. He said another upside to putting Gilroy in the lineup is that he brings a little more skill in case Chiasson’s injury worsens and Gilroy has to fill in for him for part of the game.
-Parker said junior goalie Kieran Millan will start in net. Millan is 5-3-2 with a .939 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average since Jan. 2.
Chris Connolly – Charlie Coyle – Joe Pereira
Matt Nieto – Corey Trivino – Alex Chiasson
Ross Gaudet – Sahir Gill – Wade Megan
Justin Courtnall – Ben Rosen – Kevin Gilroy