The No. 8/10 Boston University men’s hockey team faces the University of Minnesota on Saturday, marking the 25th time the two historic programs have met. Both schools feature two of the top men’s hockey programs in NCAA history, as the two are tied for fifth all-time with five national championships apiece.
Along with the programs each having success, the matchup features two of the top 10 winningest college hockey coaches of all time. BU coach Jack Parker is third with 876 wins in 39 seasons, while Minnesota coach Don Lucia is eighth on the all-time list with 581 wins in 25 seasons.
Perhaps the most memorable of the meetings between the two programs was back in the 1976 Frozen Four, in which Minnesota defeated BU and went on to win the national championship over Michigan Technological University. In the semifinal game though, there was a massive brawl between the Terriers and the Golden Gophers.
“In reality, everybody should have been kicked out for fighting according to the rules,” Parker said in a conference call on Tuesday. “If we were the first semifinal they probably would have let the other semifinal be the national championship game. That’s how bad the fight was. That had a bad taste in our mouth with the BU-Minnesota rivalry for a little while.”
Since then though, the animosity between the two programs has died down. The Golden Gophers made the trip to Boston to play the final men’s hockey game at Walter Brown Arena in 2005 and then played the first game at Agganis Arena the following night.
Keep calm and Chiasson
Junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson was the lone Terrier named to the Hockey East All-Tournament team, as he totaled six points in BU’s four games. Chiasson stood out in the Terriers’ double-overtime win over the University of New Hampshire on March 11 when he tallied two assists and scored the series-winning goal.
The Dallas Stars draft pick opened up the scoring in the Terriers’ loss to Maine on March 16 when he carried a long pass from senior captain Chris Connolly through the slot and slid the puck through goaltender Dan Sullivan’s five-hole.
However, his effort could not propel the Terriers into the tournament final.
Chiasson’s point production has steadily increased each year in the postseason as his role on the team has increased. With only one assist his freshman year and three points his sophomore year, the six points represent Chiasson’s improvement as well as the team’s reliance on him.
The only member of the All-Tournament team who did not play in the final, Chiasson is joined on the squad by University of Maine forward Joey Diamond and defenseman Will O’Neill, both of whom scored two goals against BU (23-14-1) in Maine’s semifinal win. Hockey East Champion Boston College led all schools with three players on the All-Tournament team: goaltender Parker Milner, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and tournament-MVP Johnny Gaudreau.
Death by penalties
The Terriers have struggled to keep their opposition off the scoreboard on the power play in recent games as they have allowed a power-play goal in five of the past six games.
In the Hockey East Semifinal, the Black Bears scored four of their five goals on the power play, including two from league-leading goal scorer Diamond.
Parker was unhappy with his team’s effort with a man down.
“We went into a coma against their power play,” Parker said. “We gave up four power-play goals, one of them was an empty-netter and the other three we actually handed to them. That was the difference in the game, obviously.”
Penalty killing has not been a problem for the Terriers all season long, as they ranked second in the conference with an 85.9 kill percentage even while leading the league in penalty minutes.
BU will need to return to its penalty killing form if they want to win against the third-best power play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, as Minnesota converted on 23.3 percent of its chances.