Ice Hockey, Sports

The Next Generation

It’s been 13 years since the Boston University men’s hockey team claimed the trifecta ‘-‘- winning the Beanpot Tournament, Hockey East Tournament and NCAA Tournament all in the same year.
With 10 Beanpot titles and just one Frozen Four appearance since the 1995 national championship banner was lifted to the rafters of Walter Brown Arena, coach Jack Parker and the Terriers are eager to bury the last decade of postseason futility.
Last year, the Terriers were a team defined by the ‘self,’ with every player looking to his own stick to shake the team’s mediocrity.
This preseason, the ‘self’ from the past has transitioned to the ‘one’ of the here and now ‘-‘- one group playing under a 36-year veteran behind the Terrier bench.
‘One of the problems we’ve had in the past couple years is we haven’t had enough ‘BU hockey players,” Parker said. ‘A BU hockey player is a guy that cares about his teammates, who’s prepared every game, who gives you a little extra effort all the time.’
With the youngest rookie class ever to shave Agganis Arena’s three-year-old sheet, Parker has instilled in his team that the functionless, selfish approach that hindered the Terriers before the Hockey East portion of their schedule even began last season will not be part of this year’s campaign.
On the ice and in the locker room, senior co-captains John McCarthy and Matt Gilroy have echoed Parker’s sentiments.
The strength of this year’s Terriers will be, in conjunction with McCarthy and Gilroy’s experience, the talent of BU’s underclassmen.
With a 10-member freshman class, two of whom are goalies, BU has arguably the strongest recruiting class in Hockey East.
Leading the first-year Terriers offensively so far this season has been forwards Corey Trivino and Vinny Saponari.
Trivino, who was drafted 36th overall by the New York Islanders in this summer’s National Hockey League Entry Draft, brings an explosive, left-handed attack.
Saponari, who had been with the USA Hockey National Team Developmental Program for the last two seasons, was taken 94th overall in the draft by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Behind Trivino and Saponari, defenseman David Warsofsky has had an immediate impact on the defensive end.
‘The guys I have noticed the most here are the freshmen,’ Parker said. ‘I’ve noticed [forward Andrew Glass]. I’ve noticed Trivino. I’ve noticed Warsofsky. Those guys, [including Vinny Saponari], we knew they were talented but they’ve showed us a little more than we thought they would with their poise and puck-handling abilities right off the bat.’
What makes this year’s freshman class all the more lethal is the return of sophomore Colin Wilson and Gilroy, both of whom flirted with the option of signing NHL contracts during the offseason.
Wilson, who was taken seventh overall by the Nashville Predators in this year’s draft, brings back the explosive first step, demonstrative forechecking and aggressive attack that garnered him Hockey East Rookie of the Year honors last season.
‘Wilson is working really hard,’ Parker said of the 6-foot-2 forward. ‘He looks like a man playing with boys sometimes. He might be the second or third youngest player on the team, but he’s a pretty physical guy out here and you notice him quite a bit.’
So far this season, the group that has had the biggest impact on the Terriers’ turnaround from last year’s demoralizing start has been the sophomore class, which has registered eight points and five of BU’s seven goals so far this season.
Forward Nick Bonino leads the second-year group in scoring, as he opened the year with two goals and an assist in the Terriers’ opening night win over the University of North Dakota.
Wilson, who buried the Fighting Sioux with his first goal of the season midway through the second period last Friday night, is projected to surpass his Rookie of the Year totals in his second year in the Terriers’ system.
‘Wilson has jumped up a little better than he was early last year,’ Parker said.
The biggest question mark entering the season is who will earn the No. 1 position in goal.’ ‘
With Brett Bennett released from the program after last year’s less-than-stellar effort, BU has three netminders on its roster ‘-‘- all of whom have the ability to secure the starting role.
Two of the three, however, are freshmen, as Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser both come to BU with stellar pre-collegiate resumes.
Millan, who got the start for BU in the opener against North Dakota, was ranked 17th among all North American goaltenders prior to the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Bringing a more modernized, stand-up and aggressive style to the Terriers, Millan registered 22 saves on 23 shots, giving up the lone tally to North Dakota’s Brad Miller.
‘Millan is a little bit more of an economy, stand-up, hit me type of goalie,’ Parker said. ‘Get to the right spot, and you’re going to hit me. Millan will have to be out a little bit more, but he’s real good at being out and making sure he’s got his angles covered. He’s a pretty good pillow, too. [The puck] hits him and falls at his feet.’
Rollheiser, who positions himself in the butterfly style, matched Millan’s effort by stopping 12 of the 13 shots he faced against Michigan State University last Saturday night.
‘Rollheiser is more of a butterfly, take away the floor, hand on his glove with everything else,’ Parker said. ‘Rollheiser is more of a current pro-style goalie, where he can play back in the net more. They both look pretty poised, but they are different in their styles.’
Sophomore Adam Kraus brings with him the only experience out of Parker’s three goaltenders, but with two games under his belt from last year, Kraus’s career 4.04 goals-per-game average has him at the bottom of the depth chart.
Across the board, the Terriers have the pieces to make a run at their first national title since forwards Chris Drury and Mike Grier helped BU knock off the University of Maine at the Providence Civic Center over a decade ago.
Parker has the Terriers working together, as the balance between youth and experience has BU off to a 2-0-0 start for the first time since 2001-02.
Coming into a new season following consecutive unsuccessful campaigns, this year, for Parker, will be a chance to get the team back on the same track that defined the Terriers’ success in the mid-1990s.
‘That’s our only goal this year,’ Parker said. ‘We’re looking to have a team full of BU hockey players. You can put the uniform on, but that doesn’t make you the typical BU hockey player. We’re trying to get the guy we’ve been proud of in the past to wear that uniform.’

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