Terriers Make Case for Turnaround
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Reporter
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. Complete efforts have been few and far between this season for Boston University.
There have been games the Terriers have started well before letting up in the third, like when they hung on for a 4-3 win over Denver or when they blew a late lead and lost to Merrimack in overtime Friday night. There have been games that they've started poorly before finally waking up, like their come-from-behind tie and win against Massachusetts two weeks ago. And of course, there have been games in which they haven't played well at any point, like their losses to Providence, Holy Cross and Massachusetts-Lowell.
Really, the only game before Sunday's 5-0 win at Boston College that could've been considered a complete effort for the Terriers was their season-opener against New Hampshire, a 5-0 beatdown that BU dominated from start to finish.
On Sunday, the Terriers needed a complete effort, and they finally got one. They needed it because they were playing their archrival, which happens to be one of the best teams in the country. They needed it because a loss would've been their third in a row and would've landed them in eighth place in Hockey East. And they needed it to prove to themselves that they can play as a team and not just a group of talented individuals.
That team play started with defense. The Terriers held BC to 21 shots and nine grade-A chances in the game. Much like they did for most of the game against Merrimack on Friday, they won the majority of battles down low and didn't allow the Eagles many extended possessions.
"I thought our entire team played really smart defensively, battled defensively," said BU coach Jack Parker. "It would be a shame to single any one guy out, because they all played so hard and they all played really smart. It was our best effort of the year, no question about that. We saw this coming a little bit against Merrimack the other night, and tonight we see BU hockey show up."
Special teams have also been an issue for the Terriers, but it was just one more piece that they appeared to favorably turn around Sunday. BU entered the game ranked 47th in the country on the power play at 11.1 percent, and 36th on the penalty kill at 80.4 percent. BC, meanwhile, sat in the top six nationally in both categories. Mismatch, right?
Yes, but not in favor of the Eagles. BU went 2-for-5 on the power play while killing all seven BC man advantages and adding a shorthanded goal. Again, there were signs of this turnaround Friday. The Terriers registered 18 shots on nine power plays in that game, but managed to score just once. They held Merrimack to four shots on its five man-up chances, but allowed a late goal to send the game to overtime.
"Like I said (Friday night), the difference in a game could be a power-play goal here or there," said senior captain Chris Connolly. "The guys had a huge sense of urgency on the PK tonight. ... I think guys just really wanted to shut it down for (goalie) Kieran (Millan) and get in front of some pucks and make sure they don't get golden opportunities, box some guys out."
Connolly also said on Friday that, despite the loss, the game was a stride in the right direction and that if the team continued to play physical, it would lead to success. It did on Sunday.
The issue of course, for a team that a lot was expected of prior to the season, will be keeping this going in the positive direction for more than just one game.
"One of the things that the coaches tried to stress was that we have the talent, and that it's not out of the realm of possibility for us to (play a complete game)," Megan said. "It's good to get a game like this, to put it all together, and to know how hard we have to work to get wins in this league. It's huge."