Columnists, Sports

The Empty Net: Growing Pains

Remember your first semester of college?

More importantly, do you remember what you were like during your first semester of college?

Remember the decisions you made?

Ice cream after every meal. Double-digit shots of rubbing alcohol you bought from “that frat guy, Steve.”

My first semester of college, I had a girlfriend who loved the movie “Gamer.”

I missed my first class because I misread my schedule.

There was a kid in my philosophy class who got stoned on the day of our midterm, forgot about it, then asked “do we have any homework?” when I ran into him later that day.

A kid who lived on my floor once scolded me for eating dinner on a Friday night because it meant I wouldn’t get “as drunk” at the party later.

Remember all those times one of your friends got a D on a quiz and ended up switching their major from engineering to art history?

Do you remember all those people who said goodbye to you for winter break then never came back?

When evaluating this year’s Terriers, don’t overlook the fact that there are nine players on the Boston University hockey team who are in their first semester of college. One of them will be our starting goaltender.

What does that mean?

Buckle up.

The past two weekends — a resilient, feel-good win against Providence College at home and an uninspiring shellacking on the road against the University of New Hampshire.

The Terriers scored in the game’s first minute, but then were held scoreless for 59 straight minutes.

Sean Maguire looked … ehh … like a freshmen goalie in his first start — allowing some soft goals.

There were a bunch of mal-timed turnovers.

You can expect to see more of this in the near future — moments of brilliance coupled with entire periods of head-scratching ineptitude.

Road trips like the one this past weekend will only magnify the youth of BU’s squad.

Think about a road game from the perspective of a player — keeping in mind that athletes are creatures of habit.

You’re on a bus all afternoon. You arrive in a foreign environment. Your regular routine is disrupted. Everyone is yelling at you. People cheer when bad things happen to you.

Oh by the way, you’re 18 years old and have a calculus exam on Monday.

Consistently beating good teams on the road requires a certain discipline and coolness that’s hard for an 18- or 19-year-old to just show up and possess right away.

Being on the road also increases the need for teammates to remain a strong, cohesive unit. A lot of these guys haven’t had a chance to develop that chemistry with each other in strange, hostile environments.

But, they will. Give them a chance.

How do I know?

Look at you now. You made it through that crazy first semester.

You met a lot of interesting people. You expanded the way you think about things – the way you see the world.

You’ve grown so much.

You have a salad sometimes. You don’t vomit in taxis anymore. You date girls who think “Gamer” sucks.

You can expect the same from the Terriers.

Yes, the early season will be a roller coaster, with nearly half the team still finding its bearings.

But, you will see exponential growth — players growing up before your eyes.

Look no further than the end of the B Line.

Boston College came into the 2009–10 season with 10 wide-eyed freshmen.

They got trounced in their first road contest at the University of Vermont. They had a roller coaster season, dropping a few early road games, then going on a seven-game unbeaten streak from late November through December.

Then, they came back from the holidays and dropped three straight one-goal games.

They won the Beanpot, then dropped road games at Lowell and Northeastern.

You saw these flashes of brilliance, but there were odd lapses in continuity along the way — too much ice cream and Popov vodka.

However, by season’s end, they started ignoring that ice cream machine and it all came together, as they seemingly scored 10 goals a game en route to the national title.

Who knows if this year’s Terrier team is as talented as that team was? But it certainly isn’t unreasonable to look at what BC did under similar circumstances.

That’s the beauty of youth — the ceilings are so high. There’s so much room to develop.

Sure, it’s possible that the Terriers will get stoned and fail philosophy this season, but isn’t it just as possible that something will click and they’ll make the Dean’s List?

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