The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team’s starting goaltender competition may have a clear leader, but when the Terriers take the ice Friday against the University of Vermont it will be the “other” goalie in net.
Freshman Sean Maguire will make his third start of the season for the Terriers (5–3, 4–2 Hockey East) against the Catamounts (1–3–2, 1–3–2 Hockey East) at 7 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
“Matt has established himself as one, maybe Sean has established himself as 1A,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “[Maguire] has looked much sharper [of late]. His last outing he looked much sharper and he has looked much sharper in practice. I am very pleased with his progress.”
While O’Connor will start Sunday — a 1 p.m. matchup with No. 5/6 University of New Hampshire at Agganis Arena — Parker said the rookies trading off is not a given anymore.
“We may get very soon into another rotation if Sean picks his game up to where Matt is, or if Matt should drop his game down a little bit,” Parker said. “If they are a little more even we could get into more of an every-other-game type of thing.”
Friday will also feature myriad lineup changes for the Terriers, including senior assistant captain Ryan Ruikka being a healthy scratch in favor of junior defenseman Patrick MacGregor.
Parker said the decision to bench Ruikka was a hard one, but the fifth-year blueliner took it well.
“This is another example of why Ruikka’s such a great guy and a great captain,” Parker said. “He wants to play obviously. He knows he’s going to play Sunday. It’s not like he’s going to sit out long. I had to take somebody out to put Pat in, and I chose you, Ruikks. And Ruikks said no problem.”
Offensively, Parker has again overhauled the team’s lines and put sophomore forward Yasin Cissé back on the first-line right wing, the same spot he opened the season.
Sahir Gill moved to the third-line left wing slot, the latest position change for the struggling junior. Gill started the season as the first-line center, but moved to second-line right wing when Parker shuffled the lines toward the end of October.
With the latest version of the offense, Parker is hoping Gill and his fellow British Columbian, freshman Wes Myron, can generate some chemistry. The pair, who combine for just a single assist all season, played against each other growing up.
“As long as it’s offense not defense, I’m OK with it,” Gill said of the position change. “I like [being versatile]. Jumping everywhere is kind of good for me. I can get more ice time that way.”
As much as some Terriers have struggled to put up points in the early going, the Catamounts have had their fair share of problems.
In six games UVM has scored 10 goals, each of which has come from a different player. The team’s top returning point-getter, sophomore Kyle Reynolds, has put up just two assists in four games.
Still, Parker said Vermont — which features seven freshmen and eight sophomores — is a much-improved team from last year, particularly in terms of speed. The Catamounts play conservatively to slow things down in their defensive zone, but can turn it up going the other way.
UVM has made its biggest jump, though, between the pipes.
With four-year starter Rob Madore off to the ECHL, freshman Brody Hoffman has taken over the starting role and more than held his own. He owns a .918 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average — vast improvements over Madore’s .875 and 3.78 marks last year.
“Madore was a terrific freshman goalie for them and he kind of dipped and dipped and dipped and dipped,” Parker said. “There wasn’t a lot of good goaltending going on there last year.
“This year they have got really solid goaltending, so I think that makes everybody less jumpy and feel better about the team and feel better about their chances.”
Parker’s squad will also get its first look at a player that at one point was scheduled to be a Terrier. Freshman forward Rob Polesello committed to UVM over the summer, shortly after decommitting from BU.
Parker would not elaborate on what spurred the change, but he did speak highly of the 5-foot-7, 170-pound center.
“He is a real clever kid, he is a good goal scorer and he also makes his teammates pretty good too,” Parker said. “So I think he will be an impact freshman in this league.”
Wade Megan – Cason Hohmann – Yasin Cissé
Matt Nieto – Danny O’Regan – Evan Rodrigues
Sahir Gill – Wes Myron – Sam Kurker
Mike Moran – Ben Rosen – Ryan Santana
Sean Escobedo – Alexx Privitera
Garrett Noonan – Ahti Oksanen
Patrick MacGregor – Matt Grzelcyk