Just three days ago the Boston University hockey team left the Walter Brown Arena ice frustrated, disappointed and losers of two straight games to the University of New Hampshire.
But luckily for the Terriers, the schedule is forgiving, and Hockey East doormat Merrimack College is next on the slate for BU. The two teams face off tonight in Andover, with the Icedogs (14-7-2, 8-5-2 Hockey East) in somewhat of a must-win situation against a Warriors team (8-14-2, 3-9-2) that they should beat.
The Terriers need a solid game to stop the bleeding from the wounds inflicted by the Wildcats, and they’ll get their chance after only a few days.
“It’s good to get right back,” said sophomore forward Mark Mullen. “We’re all anxious to get back to it right away. If we had had a long week of practice, it would have been just that – a long week.”
BU beat Merrimack, 4-0, at Walter Brown on Oct. 28, propelled by senior co-captain Chris Dyment’s two goals and an assist. The Terriers pulled away in the third period of that game, scoring three goals in the final frame to support sophomore goalie Sean Fields’ 21 saves. Both of Fields’ collegiate shutouts have come against the Warriors.
Merrimack is at or near the bottom of Hockey East in every major statistical category, including goals scored, goals allowed, power play efficiency and penalty kill. They score less than three goals per game while allowing nearly four.
The Warriors also allow opponents to capitalize on 24 percent of power play chances, which could be the perfect remedy for a Terriers’ power play that has struggled of late and converted only 17 percent of opportunities this year.
Merrimack’s offense is top-heavy, with five 20-point scorers despite netting the league’s second-least number of goals per game. Junior forward Anthony Aquino topped 100 career points recently and leads the team with 30 points on 17 goals and 13 assists.
Other threats the Terriers need to be wary of are senior forward Nick Parillo, who has five goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, and junior forward Ryan Cordeiro, who has 14 goals and 12 assists on the season.
Unlike last week, however, Mullen said the Terriers are preparing by focusing on their own game, not necessarily changing their gameplan to counter a superstar like New Hampshire’s Darren Haydar.
“This week, we’re focusing on ourselves more than the other team,” Mullen said.
Mullen said coach Jack Parker will shuffle the lines tomorrow night but wouldn’t comment further. No matter who is alongside whom, however, Mullen said the coaching staff has been reminding the players in practice this week to stay relaxed and keep their poise.
Parker said Sunday that his team became “jumpy” before they blew a third-period lead to the Wildcats, though Mullen said the Icedogs have put it behind them and have turned their attention to the Warriors.
“It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” he said. “Every game in the league means something, and we just need to win league games right now.”
The two teams square off again Friday Night at the S. Peter Volpe Center. Merrimack remains under the direction of Associate Head Coach Mike Doneghey while head coach Chris Serino recovers from a bout with cancer.
After the Merrimack set, BU plays Boston College Monday night at the FleetCenter in the opening round of the 50th annual Beanpot tournament. To get on a roll by that point, Mullen said the team just needs to be more thorough.
“When our team is playing good, we’re thorough at all the little things that win hockey games: playing well in the defensive zone, neutral zone and not turning the puck over,” he said.