BU hockey struggling as it gets ready to take on UMass

By Cameron McDonough

Teka England/Flickr
Teka England/Flickr

When you think about the most storied programs in college hockey history, you probably think about schools like Minnesota, Boston College and Boston University. These three programs have each won multiple national championships and are all in the national spotlight every season.

And while the Golden Gophers and the Eagles sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in the latest polls, the Terriers are nowhere to be seen.

As always, BU started off the season with high expectations, but these expectations were tempered somewhat due to a new head coach for the first time in 40 years. Legendary coach Jack Parker decided to call it a career from the bench after last season, and one of his former players, David Quinn, was called upon to keep the Terriers’ winning tradition alive.

The season got off on a good start with a top-20 ranking and a victory over the Massachusetts hockey team to start off the new era. But things have mostly gone downhill for BU ever since.

The Terriers have an overall record of 8-14-2 and have only managed to win three games in Hockey East while losing eight and tying in one. The worst stretch of the season has come in their last 10 games as they have gone 1-8-1. This means that BU is in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation of trying to stay out of the conference cellar. Right now there is only one point separating the Terriers from last place team Merrimack.

That means that a program that has won five national championships and 29 Beanpots, and has produced 52 First-Team All-Americans looks like it won’t even host a first round game in the Hockey East Tournament.

But whether it is the Terriers this year or the Minutemen last year, the first year under a new coach can be a challenge.

“I know from our standing that we changed a lot of things,” said UMass co-captain Troy Power. “So there is an adjustment period. Some teams, they pick it up quickly, and some teams might take a while. And when you’re struggling sometimes, confidence can mix its way into the equation.”

There are some other reasons other than the transition for BU’s struggles. BU, like many teams, has had to fight off the injury bug. One of its best defenders, Matt Grzelcyk, is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Boston sports fans may know him as a Bruins prospect.

“I think they’re playing with a short deck, numbers-wise,” said Minutemen coach John Micheletto. “And I think that’s part of it, and it probably led to some volatility in their lineup, just trying to find some stability.”

Another contributing factor could be the overall strength of Hockey East every season. There are those teams that are expected to do well(like BC and BU, but teams like UMass Lowell and Providence have become forces to be reckoned within the conference over the past few seasons.

“I think Hockey East in general, I think every team’s so deep and every team is so good, so every year there’s that one team at the lower end of the pack and one team that jumps up,” Power said. “I think that’s just a testament to how good the league is, not per se BU not having the year that they expected.”

But no matter what the reason is, the Terriers are struggling to score as they sit in ninth place in the conference with 2.46 goals per game. Couple that with the worst defense in the league statistically, 3.42 goals per game, and it’s tough to find a winning formula on most nights.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.