Ice Hockey, Sports

BU to visit Maine, host UConn in battle of Hockey East foes present and future

This weekend, when it comes to coaches in the first year of new gigs, David Quinn will have company — plenty of it.

All three teams involved in the Boston University men’s hockey team’s weekend feature bench bosses about a month and a half into their inaugural season in their new positions: Quinn, Red Gendron (University of Maine) and Mike Cavanaugh (University of Connecticut).

“I have known Red a long time and he has done a great job and he has moved around an awful lot,” Quinn said. “Mike Cavanaugh and I have been good friends for a long time back to his days at Dartmouth and my days back at Nebraska-Omaha. So it will be fun. It will be fun to see those guys and shoot the breeze with them a little bit before the game. Hopefully they both go 0-1 on the weekend.”

The Terriers (4-5, 2-2 Hockey East) will visit the Black Bears (4-4-1, 1-2-1 Hockey East) for a matchup Friday evening at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine, before hosting the Huskies (3-2-1) at Agganis Arena at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The BU team Maine and UConn sees, however, will look quite different than the one that lost to Boston College — and even made the Eagles “look like the Harlem Globetrotters,” as Quinn put it — last week.

The changes start with sophomore Sean Maguire in goal and extend through the forward units. The top three lines will look like this:

Matt Lane – Danny O’Regan – Cason Hohmann

Evan Rodrigues – Robbie Baillargeon – Nick Roberto

Tommy Kelley – Sam Kurker – T.J. Ryan

“I have been thinking about making moves like this ever since I got the job,” Quinn said, noting a lack of productivity spurred the change. “Again, I’m still learning these guys. What this does is it gives us some size down the middle — because we really looked small against BC.

“In my mind it has been in the works. This is just the time to do it. … I think guys are excited.”

If they are not excited yet, they had a four-hour drive to Maine Thursday afternoon to get to pump themselves up and prepare for a Maine team that has won once in four tries this month.

The Black Bears take the fewest penalties of all Hockey East teams (9.8 minutes per game) while being middle-of-the-way on special teams and putting up offensive numbers nearly identical to those of the Terriers.

Unlike BU, Maine is led offensively by its forwards. Senior Mark Anthoine (five goals, two assists) and freshman Cam Brown (one goal, six assists) lead the way with seven points apiece, while underclassmen serve as five of the top seven scorers overall.

Senior goaltender Martin Ouellette has played all nine games to the tune of a .921 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average.

The Huskies, who are set to join Hockey East for the 2014-15 season, are run by an unlikely trio: Cavanaugh, a longtime member of the BC coaching staff, Mike Souza, a University of New Hampshire alumnus, and Joe Pereira, who captained the 2010-11 BU squad.

“[Pereira] is going to be a great coach,” said Quinn, who coached the Connecticut native when he was BU’s associate head coach last decade. “I really believe that. He has got a great personality, he knows the game, he works hard.”

A pair of senior forwards, Billy Latta and Jordan Sims, lead UConn with six points each. Senior Matt Grogan is the regular between the pipes with a .918 save percentage and 2.97 GAA.

Former Northeastern defenseman Ben Oskroba is also a Husky now.

For the Terriers, coming out on top on these games might come down to a seemingly simple trend: Do they hit the three-goal mark? They have found the back of the net once in each of their five losses. They average 4.25 tallies in each win.

Quinn said that starts with winning the battles the team’s defensive zone, something BU has not exactly done well at times of late. As a result, the team focused this week on toughening up in that end, engaging in one-on-one battles with each other and “just [going] mano-a-mano, blocking and tackling,” Quinn said.

“You have to have the want and desire to defend,” Quinn said. “You have to have a want and desire to win your battles. Everything else is irrelevant unless you can win a one-on-one battle.”

“This isn’t a beauty contest,” Quinn later continued. “People aren’t up there with scorecards after you score a goal judging the beauty of it. Just get a goal. Go beat a guy off the wall, beat a guy at the net front, win your battles.”

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