Ice Hockey, Sports

A clean sweep

There are impressive starts to a season. Then there was this weekend for the Boston University men’s hockey team.
Kicking off their 2008-09 campaign Friday and Saturday at Agganis Arena with the 12th annual Ice Breaker Invitational, the No. 9 Terriers were anything but gracious hosts, sweeping the No. 5 University of North Dakota and No. 11 Michigan State University to ring in the new season with some hardware.
Led by the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, sophomore forward Colin Wilson, and steady debut performances from freshmen goaltenders Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser, BU took a major first step toward erasing memories of last season’s disappointment, blasting the Fighting Sioux (0-2-0) by a 5-1 count Friday before outlasting standout goaltender Jeff Lerg and the Spartans (1-1-0), 2-1, in Saturday’s championship game.’
‘[Coming into the weekend], I wouldn’t have been surprised if we won two games,’ BU coach Jack Parker said Saturday. ‘I’m surprised that after only five or six days of practice that we were as emotionally sharp as we were. We really look like we’re excited for each other to go out and play. We certainly defended home ice pretty nice this weekend against two pretty good teams.’
Sophomores Nick Bonino and Kevin Shattenkirk were named to the 2008 All-Ice Breaker Team for the Terriers, who are 2-0-0 to start a season for the first time since 2001-02.
‘It was a great weekend,’ senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said Saturday. ‘We had a long, long summer. We had a long offseason. Most of the guys came in Aug. 30 and we’ve been together. From the day we walked in, we said we’re going to be a team this year and we showed it tonight and this whole weekend. It was great how we played together.’
Shattenkirk, whose weekend performance was every bit as impressive as that of Wilson’s, potted the would-be game-winner Saturday 14:57 into the second period. Stationed at the point, the defenseman wound up and faked a slap shot before moving in a few strides toward the slot and lining a wrist shot to the left of a bewildered Lerg (27 saves).
‘I think we were just a little shell-shocked coming into BU,’ Lerg said. ‘We kind of sat back for a little bit. They’re a big, strong team and they had some momentum going.’
‘Our team got overmatched terribly,’ Michigan State coach Rick Comley said. ‘When [BU] smelled blood, boy they really cranked it up on us.’
A short-handed goal from senior winger Chris Higgins 6:44 into the second stanza provided the Terriers an early cushion they would need later in the contest.
Fourteen seconds into a third-period interference penalty on Terrier sophomore defenseman Colby Cohen, Michigan State sophomore defenseman Jeff Petry halved BU’s lead. At 13:25, Petry ripped a slap shot from the point past Rollheiser (12 saves), who was relatively untested in his first collegiate start.
The Terriers’ performance in Saturday’s title game drew raves from Comley, whose Spartans ended BU’s season in the opening round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament en route to a national championship.
‘They’re really good. They’re a really, really good team,’ Comley said of the Terriers. ‘I thought they were a good team last year when the goaltending was very erratic, but they played two different kids this weekend who are both pretty good targets. I like their team a lot. There aren’t going to be very many teams who are better than they are, you just never know how the season is going to unfold.’
Friday’s turbulent affair between two Top-10 teams featured a flurry of goals in the opening minute of the second period that ultimately decided the outcome.’
Taking a 1-0 lead into the middle stanza, BU surrendered its first goal of the season 21 seconds into the period when North Dakota senior forward Brad Miller slid a rebound past Millan (22 saves) from the left circle.
As the goal was being announced over the public-address system, Wilson slung a cross-ice feed from the left circle to the right post, where streaking senior winger Jason Lawrence slipped the puck past slow-to-react UND freshman netminder Brad Eidsness (28 saves) at 0:38.
The frenetic sequence concluded 21 ticks later with the first of two goals from Bonino, who collected three points in the opener.
Wilson wasn’t done, striking again at 8:10 on a spin-and-shoot tally from the right circle that eluded Eidsness to the stick side. Like Millan, the North Dakota goalie also made his collegiate debut Friday.
The save of the night came from Millan midway through the third period, when he elevated his glove to rob UND senior forward Matt Watkins on a shot from the right circle.

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