Prior to the Boston University men’s hockey team’s game against Providence College last week, coach Jack Parker said he did not know how his team could fail to get up for a game so early in the season. The Terriers came out flat against a team that has been regarded in Hockey East for the past few seasons as a cellar-dweller, and multiple players acknowledged that they did not give the game their best effort.
One week the wiser, BU (2-1-0, 1-1-0 HE) will face off against another team that some may consider a lesser opponent, as College of the Holy Cross (1-1-0, 1-1-0 AHA) visits Agganis Arena Saturday for its first game against BU since 2008.
The Crusaders play in the Atlantic Hockey Association, a conference that many in college hockey consider below the level of Hockey East. But after the Crusaders’ visit to Agganis three years ago, Parker again warned that his team had no right to take their opponent lightly.
“I know their league has knocked off people in our league almost every year,” Parker said. “I know the last time they came into this building, they gave us more than what we ever wanted. I think we had to score two goals late to get the 3-2 win and they dominated the game. Without goaltending, we would have easily gotten beaten.”
Holy Cross has played two games this season with mixed results. The Crusaders lost their season opener, 5-3, at Quinnipiac University then won their first home game, 2-1, against American International University. Freshman goaltender Matt Ginn has started in net for each of Holy Cross’s games. He made 39 saves in Holy Cross’ season-opening loss then had an easier outing with 14 saves on 15 shots against American International.
Junior assistant captain Justin Courtnall acknowledged that the team does not know much about Holy Cross, but he said the team plans to apply the lessons they learned from the Providence game to prevent a similar outcome against the Crusaders.
“Personally, I don’t think we were overlooking them,” Courtnall said. “We just unfortunately had an off night. But [Providence is] doing really well in Hockey East so far and they’re definitely a strong team.
“I think we knew that they were going to come out hard, we just unfortunately didn’t match what they played like. When it comes to this weekend, we just need to basically focus on the little things and focus on the defensive side of the puck, and I think we’ll have a good game.”
The Terriers will have extra time to prepare for the Crusaders, since BU’s only game this weekend is Saturday’s tilt against Holy Cross. According to Parker, the Terriers need the extra preparation. He was not completely satisfied by the team’s practices throughout the week and said the team was not as “jacked up” as he would like.
Courtnall attributed the sluggish practices to the typical early-week fatigue, but he acknowledged that the team needs to get going a little harder in practice.
“I think they’ve been alright,” Courtnall said. “We need to start getting going here. I think [Thursday] was a strong practice. Guys were working hard and coach made sure we were working hard, and I think [Friday] is going to be the same way.”
One boost the Terriers will not have this week is the addition of injured forward Yasin Cisse and injured defenseman Ryan Ruikka back in the line-up. Cisse is healed from a concussion, but is not quite comfortable with the puck enough for game action. Ruikka continues to make progress healing from a hairline fracture in his foot, but doctors still are not comfortable letting Ruikka play.
Parker is also trying to find a way to work senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser into a game sometime soon, but he is not sure whether Rollheiser will get the start against Holy Cross.
“He’s going to play soon,” Parker said of Rollheiser. “The problem is that if Kieran [Millan] doesn’t play, he’s got two weeks off since there’s only one game this week. Kieran has earned this number one spot here with his play so far before this year and this year. Rollheiser’s in a tough spot.”
Since Ruikka will not be able to play this weekend, Parker will be able to postpone deciding who to play on defense, but Parker did mention that when Ruikka does return, sophomore defenseman Patrick MacGregor will continue to play.
“He has been our most consistent defensive defenseman,” Parker said of MacGregor. “He’s been playing within himself and he’s not trying to do too much. It takes a good man to know his limitations.
“It takes a good man to know what position he plays. He’s called a defenseman; he’s playing defense first, then he’s worried about the offense.”