The most important game is the next one.
It’s a boring philosophy, one that every team seems to preach, but few actually practice. But for the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team, a group that has grown to embody the workmanlike attitudes of senior co-captains Matt Gilroy and John McCarthy, the mindset has worked wonders this season.
In a league such as the Hockey East Association, where any team can defeat any other on a given night, a tunnel-vision approach toward each game is all but required to achieve long-term success.
‘There’s so many good teams in our league that if you’re looking ahead to anybody else, or think it’s going to be an easy night, you’re not going to be in good stead at the end of the 60 minutes,’ BU coach Jack Parker said.
Led by Gilroy and McCarthy, whom Parker has lauded several times as two of the best captains he has ever coached in 36 years behind the BU bench, the Terriers have learned to understand and appreciate the importance of giving a maximum effort each and every time they take the ice.’ ‘
‘They’ve got a pretty good attitude and philosophy about how to prepare for each game,’ Parker said of Gilroy and McCarthy. ‘And they’ve played it out day to day. If you watch practice and you watch how focused they are and how they push the rest of the players, I think it’s been the biggest part of the success of this team.’
Four nights ago, the Terriers were crowned Beanpot Tournament champions for the 29th time, subduing No. 3 Northeastern University in impressive fashion. One week from tonight, they will renew acquaintances with those same Huskies at Agganis Arena with first place in Hockey East on the line. What happened in the past and what will occur in the future, however, don’t concern BU at the moment.
This weekend in Orono, Me., the Terriers (22-5-1, 13-5-1 HE) will hit the ice with a single, unwavering focus: taking four points from the University of Maine (12-13-3, 7-10-2).
For Maine, tonight and tomorrow night’s 7 p.m. bouts represent opportunities to legitimize its standing as a Hockey East playoff team. The Black Bears’ 16-point total would currently pair them with the Terriers in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament, giving Maine plenty of incentive heading into the weekend.
Throw in the fact that the upset-minded Black Bears will be playing host to the No. 1 team in the country, a squad fresh off a victory in college hockey’s most prestigious in-season tournament, and there’s no reason to think Maine won’t be a formidable foe in front of its raucous crowds at Alfond Arena.’
Following his team’s stirring 5-2 victory over Northeastern at TD Banknorth Garden Monday night, sophomore forward and tournament Most Valuable Player Nick Bonino was asked how BU would react to the emotional high of winning an in-season championship during the home stretch of the conference schedule.
His response was a clear indication that while the Terriers are undoubtedly focused on the task at hand, their sights are ultimately set on a bigger picture ‘-‘- one with a frame extending into early April.
‘It’s been that way all year,’ Bonino said of BU’s ability to quickly shift its attention to the next game. ‘Every championship we’ve played for, we win it and we get right back on track. We’re going to focus on the now. [Monday] was a great win, and we’re going to celebrate, but we’re going to come back to practice and get ready for Maine.’
News & notes: Freshman goaltender Kieran Millan will make his ninth consecutive start tonight. Parker was non-committal about his starter for Saturday, leaving open the possibility of freshman Grant Rollheiser’s first appearance since Jan. 13. ‘hellip; Freshman forward Corey Trivino will return to action this weekend after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. ‘hellip; Freshman forward Kevin Gilroy will make his first appearance since Jan. 13 tonight, replacing sophomore forward Joe Pereira on the fourth line.