BURLINGTON, Vt. — A week ago, Boston University men’s hockey freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera was not sure if he would be playing in the weekend series against the University of Vermont thanks to a wrist injury. But after a chaotic week on BU’s campus in which former defenseman Max Nicastro was booted off the team, the Terriers had little choice but to place Privitera back in the lineup.
Playing through his wrist injury, Privitera proved he was more than someone to fill Nicastro’s spot upon his return to the lineup, as he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give BU the 3-2 win in Vermont Saturday night.
“He’s playing great. We need him to play great. He needs to be that kind of player for us,” said junior forward Wade Megan. “He played physical, played great defensively. Made some good plays and he got rewarded there with the overtime goal.”
The goal was Privitera’s second point of the weekend, following an assist on junior defenseman Sean Escobedo’s power-play goal during Friday night’s 5-0 win. Both the assist as well as the game-winning goal came off a hard, low shot from the point in which Privitera used screens to make it difficult for the goalie to track the puck.
What made the goal even more impressive was the fact that Privitera still appeared to be injured in the second game. At one point during the third period, Privitera was doubled over holding his injured wrist while he was waiting for the faceoff.
“He is [playing through pain],” Megan said. “But, I mean, a lot of guys are at this point in the season. I think he’s doing alright though. As you can see, he didn’t seem like he was hurting too bad out there on the ice.”
One area where Privitera has been successful is the power play, as he has done very well manning the point with the man-advantage. Since the beginning of 2012, he has totaled five points in eight games played, including two goals. While the Terriers only scored one power-play goal in 11 chances over the weekend, Privitera assisted on the conversion.
“I thought he delivered the puck to the net, I thought he played well on the power play when he was out there,” said BU coach Jack Parker.
Since the beginning of 2012 Privitera started getting more ice time on the power play, and it has paid off for the Terriers. The BU power play is working at 31.3 percent efficiency with Privitera in the lineup since the New Year, while it was working at a 21.3 percent efficiency with Privitera in the lineup before the New Year.
While Privitera emerged as the hero on the night with his goal, that didn’t mean he had a perfect game. On Vermont’s second goal, junior Sebastian Stalberg got away from Privitera’s coverage, and slammed in an easy goal with a wide-open net.
“He got caught in the back-door goal that gave them their power-play goal, so I think he’s glad he came back and got the goal for us,” Parker said.
However, the one mistake he made in the game will not be enough to take Privitera out of the lineup next weekend. Earlier in the season, the Old Tappan, N.J., native struggled to keep his spot among the starting six defensemen, as he struggled to adapt to the new pace and physicality of the college game.
With Nicastro gone from the team, Parker doesn’t have much choice but to play his freshman defenseman. Even if Nicastro was still on the team though, Privitera would likely still find a place in the lineup because he has adapted to the level of play, and improved his own performance as of late.
Privitera’s good play came at a time when the Terriers needed it most, with BU looking for the top seed in Hockey East. With only two games remaining and the defensive depth limited, Privitera’s role and health will be even more crucial.