Ice Hockey, Sports

Inconsistent play of first line prevents win streak

There is an old saying that one is a fluke, two is a coincidence, but three is a streak. If that is the case, the No. 19 Boston University men’s hockey team has not won enough games in a row to build a winning streak this season.

The Terriers (16–15–2, 13–10–2 Hockey East) failed to win their third game in a row for the fifth time this season Saturday night against the University of Vermont, falling 5–2 at Agganis Arena.

“We didn’t look like the same team at the start of this game as we started last night,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “So I would say that is mental preparation.”

Part of the reason for the team’s failure Saturday night was the poor play of the first line. Senior captain Wade Megan was a minus-3 on the night with four penalty minutes, while sophomore center Cason Hohmann was also a minus-3.

Megan and Hohmann each had great starts to the season, as Megan totaled eight points in his first seven games while Hohmann recorded a team-high nine points in the same span. However, the duo has slowed its production together as of late, only scoring a single point apiece in the past five games.

“I’m concerned with the way that a couple of guys are playing,” Parker said when asked about the first line. “They look like they are not driving as hard as they should, or pushing themselves as well as they should. I don’t think it’s every game, but we are not getting what we need out of a couple of guys.”

The Terriers have struggled to get all of their key players performing well at the same time this season. With the first line’s production slowing down right now, the second line has seen a jump in its scoring production — especially junior forward Matt Nieto. With another goal Saturday night, Nieto has scored eight goals in his last seven games, but only added seven goals in the 26 games before then.

One reason these ups and downs stand out so much is because the team relies heavily on its top two lines for offense. Senior center Ben Rosen and freshmen wings Matt Lane and Sam Kurker have combined for eight goals and 13 points on the season. The last time any player on the third line scored a point was Feb. 1, when Rosen scored in a 5-1 loss to the University of Massachusetts.

The team’s goaltending has also suffered from the same inconsistency as the top two lines. Freshman goalie Sean Maguire allowed one goal and made 49 saves Friday night before giving up four goals Saturday night. The Powell River, British Columbia, native leads the team with two shutouts, but also has six starts in which he has allowed four goals or more.

This type of inconsistency is not something typical of BU teams. The Terriers had three winning streaks of three games or more last season, the last of which came between Feb. 24, 2012 and Mar. 2, 2012.

The last time a BU team did not have at least one three-game winning streak in a season was the 1961-62 season, when the Terriers only won seven games. That was former BU coach Harry Cleverly’s last season with the team as Jack Kelley began his 10-year coaching tenure the following year.

If there is a time BU needs to heat up, it is right now. With two crucial games against Northeastern University coming up this weekend, BU is fighting for home ice in the Hockey East quarterfinals. With six teams all within four points of each other, BU will have a bigger hill to climb thanks to its loss Saturday night.

“This is a tough league,” Parker said. “We have not had the mental toughness or the maturity to put three really good games together.”

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