Four games into the young 2011-12 season, there’s one clear trend about the No. 7/8 Boston University men’s hockey team: It is consistently inconsistent.
There are the bad Terriers (2-2, 1-1 Hockey East) that got roughed up by lowly Providence College one night, and the good Terriers that scored five goals against No. 3 University of Denver the next.
There is the team that comes into games quick, ready and fired up, and the team that looks like it is waiting for the win to come without effort. There is the version that plays selfless, defense-first hockey, and the version that tries to make pretty plays too often.
And when goaltender Matt Ginn pumped his fist and his College of the Holy Cross teammates mobbed each other as the final buzzer went off Saturday night, it was clear which BU team showed up in the 5-4 loss.
Especially to BU coach Jack Parker.
“One of our philosophies is don’t beat ourselves and we beat ourselves tonight,” Parker said. “We beat ourselves on turnovers, we beat ourselves with being unaware and we beat ourselves with stupid penalties. Bad night for the Terriers.”
The Crusaders (2-1) put BU in an early hole with a goal from forward Erik Vos at 6:46 in the first period, raising immediate speculation that the Terriers started the game by not taking Holy Cross seriously, something that has plagued them before.
Last weekend, sophomore forward Matt Nieto admitted the team could have been mentally unprepared for the team’s eventual 5-3 loss to PC – “We might have overlooked that game,” Nieto said – but both junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson and Parker deflected the idea that BU had a hard time getting fired up for Holy Cross.
“Coach made sure this week that we got ready to play,” Chiasson said, later adding that he did not notice a difference in the pre-game atmosphere in the locker room.
Parker expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “We thought we covered everything we needed to cover as far as the psychological aspect of the game.”
And he could have very well been right. Just 1:58 later, BU held a 2-1 lead thanks to goals from sophomore forward Sahir Gill and Chiasson 40 seconds apart. It was then, though, that the bad BU team showed itself, and that version stayed for the remainder of the game.
“We got two pretty goals and we’re ‘Oh, we’re going to be all set now,’” Parker said. “That’s when we stopped playing. That’s when we started getting real selfish . . . We didn’t play well in our own zone without the puck and we didn’t play well in our own zone with the puck.
“There’s no question on my mind that everybody thought ‘Oh, this is going to be easy. I’m going to go take care of me now.’”
Chiasson definitively disagreed. He thought BU never had a rhythm – that the sluggish Terriers were out there all along – and that the Crusaders outworked him and his teammates.
“I thought [Holy Cross] still had the momentum,” Chiasson said. “They came out pretty hard, they were skating faster than us, [and] they were outbumping us. In the end it’s hard to describe how this game went.”
The Terriers’ laid-back mindset cost them the lead before the period ended and they never recovered. BU showed flashes of their good side, bits and pieces of the team that it could be – and has been – but not for enough of the 60 minutes.
The Crusaders scored in the second and early in the third before Chiasson found the net again to narrow the deficit to 5-3, but it was too little too late for BU, despite a late tally from Nieto to make it 5-4.
When it was all said and done, no one had much of an answer for the team’s poor play, or the disappearance of the strong and thorough team that beat Denver the week before.
Speaking in generalities and without knowing exactly why the team played the way it did besides simply not putting in the effort, Chiasson offered a seemingly ominous assessment of the team’s unity.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t come out as a team, and we have some stuff to figure out,” Chiasson said. “It’s all about being together and the process of if we want to win or go far in the tournament or do something special this year we’re going to have to do it with 26 guys.
“It’s ride together or die together.”