Notre Dame Whitewashes Struggling BU
by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter
BOSTON The first 35 minutes passed and the only decision made was that neither team deserved the win. Notre Dame potted a pair of goals within nine seconds of each other late in the second period to cinch the victory.
Still, it seemed like Boston University miscues had more to do with the goals than Fighting Irish precision. The shots were executed well – Billy Mayday picked the corner over Kieran Millan’s right shoulder from the high slot, and Ben Ryan dragged the puck around an outstretched Millan before tucking it between his left pad and the post – but it was BU turnovers and missed assignments that left the ND players open in the first place.
Neither team’s season began as it hoped, and neither can take much from Tuesday’s win – even the victorious Irish. Sure, ND will be glad to take the boost to its PairWise ranking come March, but if a successful season is the plan, they’ll soon forget this one.
The remarkable aspect of the game was the difference between those first 35 minutes and the final 25 was that any improvement on either side was negligible, the Irish merely converted on the scoring chances provided by BU’s sloppy play.
“In a lot of ways, I think [Notre Dame] had a lot of the same problems we did,” BU coach Jack parker said. “They looked like they were mishandling the puck at times. They looked like they were a little bit out of synch at times as well.”
Following Friday night’s loss to Massachusetts, BU coach Jack Parker pinned the guilt on his upperclassmen. Tuesday, the struggles were the same. Sure, the group of accomplished vets created chances, but failed to make the easy play even when the Irish handed it to them. Late in the game, and down 3-0 following a Calle Ridderwall tally, the Terriers maintained possession in the ND zone for a full two minutes and couldn’t manage to beat goaltender Brad Phillips, who earned his first victory of the season after suffering two defeats to start the season; Phillips missed all of last year with a knee injury.
So when Parker pulled Millan with a player from each side in the box, the game was decided. The problems weren’t exactly the same this time around; Parker described his team as “too cute” following its first loss. Tuesday night, he thought his team was a little too nervous with the puck, worrying about the wrong play forced them into turnovers and stifled their offense just as it did against UMass.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Parker said of his team’s poor effort,” because our practices weren’t very good after losing a game. You play the way you practice. We weren’t all that jacked up [Monday], and we weren’t all that jacked up the day before.
“We are not as determined as we have to be. We went through a little of this last year.”
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort either, but focused on the positives of the outing, namely Phillips play in goal. Through the first five games of the season, it’s clear that the starting job is his to lose. Before tonight, though, he was the only ND goaltender without a victory to his credit.
With his 34 saves tonight, Phillips has the foundation to build the confidence he needs moving forward. Although there weren’t too many scoring chances from the low slot, he demonstrated the poise necessary to lead a successful Division I program.
However, the Irish are lacking any form of consistency on the offensive side of the puck. In search of some, Jackson reunited wingers Calle Ridderwall and Billy Maday with center Kevin Death and the trio combined for two of the three Irish goals. While Jackson was hesitant to say whether or not to expect the three of them to be together for the foreseeable future, he was pleased with the results.
“We haven’t totally gotten in synch as far as our team chemistry,” Jackson said. “There are some interesting dynamics I’ve seen on film. Going into tonight and playing a team like BU, we had to have some kind of chemistry. I know that line has chemistry. Will they stay together forever? I couldn’t tell you that, but I felt like we need to establish some form of chemistry on our lines.
The Terriers problems are little different than that of the Irish. It isn’t about chemistry, and it isn’t about combinations. After two games, the BU players are yet to play within themselves. One night, they’re too fancy, the next they’re too deliberate. And things don’t get much easier this weekend when Michigan heads to Boston.
“Our problem isn’t who we’re playing,” Parker said. “Our problem is ourselves. I say that, but [after Saturday] we’d like to be 1-2 and not 0-3. I’m not worried about what Michigan is going to do to us. I’m worried about whether or not we can play. We have to have a good week. If we don’t we’re in trouble. It is strictly a matter of whether or not we’re going to step it up.”