No. 14 Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker will complete his 38th Beanpot tournament Monday night when his Terriers finish taking the ice against cross-river foe Harvard University. But for just the sixth time in Parker’s illustrious career, his squad will be competing in the annual tournament’s consolation game.
When asked what’s different between playing for a forgettable third place at 4:30 p.m. and the historic trophy at 7:30, Parker’s answer was quick and succinct.
“Because of the atmosphere, it’s hard to tell yourself that it means something, but it means a lot. It’s worse than the first game of the Beanpot on the first night. If you were at the Northeastern-Harvard game last Monday, there was hardly anybody there for the first half of the game. It’s like they started an exhibition game, and all of a sudden the crowd shows up. It’ll be even worse than that.”
But the Terriers (14-8-7, 11-5-5 Hockey East) feel they have enough both physically and mentally not to fall to the lowly Crimson (4-18-1, 3-13-1 ECAC) and finish fourth for just the second time under Parker’s reign.
“I think we have enough guys in the locker room and enough heart in the locker room where we know it’s a big game for us,” said junior assistant captain David Warsofsky. “The crowd’s a little bit of a challenge. In the end, it’s another hockey game and I think we can get ourselves ready for that.”
With only seven games left on the schedule and BU squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and home ice in the Hockey East playoffs, the consolation game means more to the Terriers than it perhaps should. Harvard, owners of the NCAA’s worst offense (1.87 goals per game) and 40th-best defense (3.09 goals-allowed per game) may provide the best chance for BU to gain a win during the stretch run, which also includes two-game series against conference opponents Providence College, University of Vermont and Northeastern University.
However, Parker would not as easily dismiss the Crimson, who outshot Northeastern 41-31 in its 4-0 loss in the opening round of the Beanpot last week.
“Puck’s not going in the net for them,” he said. “I think they’re getting chances. They lose 1-0 to Yale. They play well against good teams. . . They’re a much better team than their record. At any moment, the puck could go in the net for them.”
The Terriers’ own offense could take a hit in Monday’s contest as senior captain, starting right winger and leading goal-scorer Joe Pereira will be a game-time decision due to an ankle injury sustained in Friday’s 4-3 win over University of Massachusetts. If he can’t make the start, junior Kevin Gilroy will take his place on the top line with sophomore Ryan Santana moving back to his place on the right wing of the fourth line alongside Justin Courtnall and Ben Rosen. Parker expects to keep the remainder of the lineup the same from Friday’s win with freshman Charlie Coyle, junior Corey Trivino and freshman Sahir Gill centering the other three lines, in that order.
On the defensive end of the lines sheet, Warsofsky will make his return to the top pairing with sophomore Ryan Ruikka after Parker kept him out of the lineup as a healthy scratch due to a lack of intensity and speed, according to Parker. Warsofsky explained that he is ready to put his one-game absence behind him and focus on the remainder of his junior campaign.
“Of course, I was upset like any guy would be, especially when you’re not playing,” he said. “But there were some things the coaches wanted me to work on. They didn’t think I was playing up to my full potential so it’s kind of a learning experience for me. That’s the first time it’s ever happened. So just kind of take it in stride and learn from it.”
When asked about past captains who he’s scratched for similar reasons, Parker brought up an anecdote about benching John Cullen, who went on to become the program leader in career points with 241, when he was a captain during the 1986-87 season. He said Cullen responded to the punishment by scoring a hat trick in the very next game.
Warsofsky couldn’t say with any certainty that his play Monday night would produce similar statistics, but he wouldn’t rule it out either.
“If the hat trick comes out for me, I’ll be happy,” he said. “But we’ll see.”