Hockey East Preview: #3 Boston University

Hockey East Preview: #3 Boston University

2011-12 Storyline: Despite losing two key forwards during the course of the season the Terriers were still able to return to the NCAA tournament

2012-13 Storyline: BU lost some key components to graduation and early departures, but still return four of their top six goalscorers to go with one of the best recruiting classes in the country

Player To Watch: Matt Nieto F (16-26-42)

Player Missed Most: Kieran Millan G (20-14-1, 2.60 GAA)

Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Sam Kurker F

Random Fact: This year’s seniors are hoping to avoid being the first class not to win a Beanpot once during their time on Comm Ave since 1965

Beer The Triangle Favorite Local Brew: Though they’ve brewed their beer in various other places around the state, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based in Somerville, not too far across the Charles from BU.  Tough to pick a favorite brew of theirs, they’re literally all good.

Team Outlook

The Terriers and their fans are probably eager to get the season going so there will be more talk about their power play and goaltending situation than about sex in the penalty box and a culture of entitlement surrounding the program.  On the ice there shouldn’t be too much controversy though as BU returns some key players to go along with arguably the best recruiting class in the conference.

The team returns their top three goalscorers from last year in the form of senior Wade Megan, junior defenseman Garrett Noonan, and junior Matt Nieto, who could end up being on of the top players in Hockey East this coming season.  Also likely to provide a good deal of offense will be Sahir Gill who is coming off a solid sophomore season.  Joining them up front will be a number of talented freshman.  Sam Kurker, a second round draft pick by the Blues, is seen as the most talented incoming player.  However look for Wesley Myron out of the BCHL and prep player Danny O’Regan to make contributions as well.

The Terriers were hurt on defense during the offseason when Adam Clendening and Max Nicastro jumped to the pros.  However Noonan and sophomore Alexx Privitera will key a defensive group that is also seeing an influx of talented freshmen.  Matt Grzelyck is a Boston area player that was picked by the Bruins this past June and is expected to do well at BU.  Joining him as a freshman blueliner is Ahti Oksanen, a highly regarded player out of Finland.

BU will have to find someone to take the place of Kieran Millan who spent the last four years as the regular starter in net.  They’ll have two options; the towering Matt O’Connor who has been playing for Youngstown in the USHL or Penguins draft pick Sean Maguire out of the BCHL.  It could be interesting to watch what transpires in this early goaltending battle.  Between the two of them they should provide decent enough goaltending that the Terriers won’t miss too much of a beat coming off last season.

They’ll Finish Lower Because: The combination of inexperience at defense and goaltending is just too much to overcome

They’ll Finish Higher Because: They score a lot of goals.  A lot.

Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
1. ??
2. ??
3.  Boston University Terriers
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Providence Friars
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview upcoming)
8. Merrimack Warriors
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Vermont Catamounts

Here’s a video of Coach Mick’s remarks last night at the UMass Club function.

College Hockey News previewed Hockey East today.  Here are their team capsules.  Also as part of their coverage is this interesting Q & A with Micheletto.  Micheletto taking over at UMass in included in What To Watch for in the league this year and Steve Guzzo is listed as a Player To Watch.

Up To The Minute 10/3

Tonight was spent at the UMass Club in downtown Boston surrounded by diehard UMass supporters gathered to meet new Massachusetts hockey coach John Micheletto as well as hear from hoops coach Derek Kellogg who is going into a season with some high expectations, deservedly so.  Overall I thought it was an excellent event put on by the UMass Club and Alumni Association (and not only because it featured by far the best beer selection of the many of events I’ve attended there previously).  There were easily over a hundred people there to listen to the two coaches and the hockey-type crowd featured Pond Club leadership, current Section Uers, original Section Uers, parents of current players, and overall a lot of familiar faces.

I was impressed with Coach Mick in the time I had a chance to talk to him.  Juxtaposed with the always boisterous Kellogg, he brought a more moderated approach to his remarks to the crowd.  But overall I thought he had a composed, almost professor-like demeanor that helped showcase his knowledge of the game itself.  What stood out most in my conversation with him was his comments on practices.  In most of the stories about his plans for UMass hockey and approach to the game we’ve read a lot about an “up tempo” style.  Previously I thought that was describing his offensive philosophy, but Coach Mick relayed that it goes beyond that.  It sounds like his whole practices to date have been entirely up tempo.  Not only are the players practicing what could be a more aggressive style, but they’re constantly going during the entire allotted time of practice.  Coach Mick said he’s not going to use practice time to have 15 minute whiteboard sessions.  The players will be on the ice practicing, skating, going through drills, etc..  I found that very interesting.  He said that, after initial surprise, the players have really embraced that approach to practice, something I’ve heard from other sources as well.

Other than that there wasn’t too much to glean from tonight’s remarks.  He did say he is familiar with the reputation of UMass’ student section, with his own memories of such going back to way back when the visitor section was actually where UMass’ home bench now.  I did take the chance to ask him what so many of you readers have asked me.  And no, so far no captains have been named.  I’m guessing he wants to wait until after this weekend’s scrimmage and truly get a read for who are the leaders of the team both in the locker room and on the ice.

Other than it was enjoyable to be able to talk about the upcoming UMass hockey season with others who are as interested as I am.  October has kind of snuck up on me as other aspect of life (read: work) have kept me extremely busy.  But tonight was a good chance to restart the hockey engine before this Saturday’s scrimmage.

The other major news to relay is that I have been able to confirm that former Boston College recruit Frank Vatrano is in fact interested in playing at UMass, something previously posted on USCHO fan forums and I believe also reported on USHR.  It’s probably not a huge surprise that the Longmeadow native would want to play his college hockey close to home.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that given the NCAA clearinghouse issues that prevented him from playing at BC and just the odd circumstances in general, there are a number of major hurdles to clear before he could ever suit up for the Minutemen.  I think it would also be important to vet out exactly what happened that prevented him from playing for BC in the first place.

Make sure to read this excellent story on UMass fan favorite Kevin Moore out of his hometown paper in New Jersey.  Moore has a tryout this month for Danbury of the Federal Hockey League and I’m sure I’m just one of many UMass fans who wish him luck in this next stage of his hockey career.

So the word on the street is that former UMass coach Toot Cahoon will be employed in some way, shape, or form this current season as a color analyst for Merrimack hockey games, though I don’t know exactly in what capacity.  Either way that’s a broadcast I’d love to tune in for.

I’ll leave you tonight with the following picture.  The ice is in.  The lines are down.  Let’s play hockey!  Note the new secondary logo at center ice, the Massachusetts state outlines in the red line, the maroon Hockey East logo, and 20th Anniversary logo for the Mullins Center (damn I feel old).  I also like that this picture, taken by Associate AD Rocko DeLuca, is exactly opposite of my usual seat. Feels like home.  Is it next Friday yet?