December 30, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Blame the Kicker?

Costly Penalties Haunt BU Again

by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer

DENVER — A year after averaging 19.1 penalty minutes per game (second most in the nation), Boston University entered Saturday night’s U.S. Hall of Fame Game against Denver averaging 13.3 penalty minutes per game – a sign, perhaps, that the Terriers have changed for the better.

But Saturday, at Denver’s Magness Arena, in the final game for each team in 2012, Boston University players took 56 of the game’s combined 91 penalty minutes, with sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera on the hook for 19 of those minutes – including a roughing major that canceled out part of a BU five-minute major power play in the first period and later an ill-advised kicking penalty that led to an ejection and at least a one game automatic suspension.

After Privitera’s first infraction, with the Pioneers leading 1-0 at the time, Denver struck again – twice in nine seconds, in fact. So by the time the Terriers returned to the power play – an area in which they have struggled of late, converting just three of their last 39 opportunities – BU trailed 3-0 instead of 1-0, and Denver went on to win handily, 6-0.

The win snapped Denver’s eight game winless streak, while also snapping a stretch of 125 games in which the Terriers hadn’t been shut out.

But more importantly, a young BU team that has dressed all nine of its freshmen for games three times this season already was left with the question of why, once again, its players were costing the team with unnecessary penalties.

Immaturity? Lack of discipline?

“Both,” said a disappointed but candid Terriers head coach Jack Parker of Privitera.

Of the ultimately decisive stretch in the first period after Privitera’s first penalty, when Denver quickly put the game out of reach, Parker continued, “That took away a five minute major for us, but we were still four-on-four. That should not be a problem, but we made it a problem.

“We didn’t have our legs, and we didn’t play very well. When we gave up those two goals in the first period, we had guys just standing around and watching people. We were in a daze out there. No intensity at all in our own zone. No intensity, no focus.”

In an emotional contest between two of the top teams in the nation, penalties were abundant – with three five-minute majors in all and physical scrums around both goaltenders on almost every rush to the net. But with 2:27 left in the second period, during a scuffle in front of Denver netminder Juho Olkinuora, Privitera kicked Pioneers left-winger Ty Loney while he lay defenseless on the ice. Privitera received a five-minute major and with the accompanying game disqualification will be suspended for the Terriers' next game against Rensselaer.

This is, in fact, not the first time this season that Privitera has been involved in some degree of penalty controversy. On Nov. 3 at North Dakota, the Old Tappan, N.J., native was involved in an altercation with a UND fan while sitting in the penalty box, and as a result, Parker held his young defenseman out of the lineup for the Terriers’ next game.

And on Dec. 1, at Boston College, Privitera took a holding penalty 18 seconds into an Eagles’ power play chance, giving BC a 5-on-3 advantage on which the Eagles ultimately converted twice, stretching a 2-1 lead to 4-1.

Against Denver on Saturday, three of the Pioneers’ six goals came on the man-advantage, and BU’s young netminder, Matt O’Connor, was in goal for all six. Thus far, O’Connor has split time between the pipes with fellow rookie Sean Maguire, who earlier this season became the first goaltender in Boston University history to record a shutout in each of his first two home starts. This is the first time in 43 years that BU has entered a season in which none of its goaltenders have played in an NCAA game

“He wasn’t the reason why we gave up six goals,” said Parker of O’Connor, who ranks second in Hockey East in save percentage and fourth in goal-against average. “We were inept in a lot of the part of the games. You can’t give a period away like we did that first period and expect to come back. We left him out to dry a lot.”

Again, it comes back to the time spent in the penalty box – an area that Parker stressed he will address in the coming weeks.

“We took some stupid penalties,” said the veteran coach.

“And we’re going to pay for it.”

Note: BU played without freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. He was the last cut from Team USA for the World Juniors, but that cut was made at the last minute, and Grzelcyk couldn't make it back in time for the Denver game, a situation Parker wasn't too pleased with.

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