Sunday, October 21, 2012

UNH Week 2 Recap

In their first road test of the 2012-13 season and the first game against ranked team, the #11 Terriers fell last night 4-1 to the #15 Wildcats at UNH. There were a lot of issues with BU's play during the game. Instead of laying them out in a more organized manner, I'm going to be lazy and base this recap off of my chronological notes taken during the game.

That way, I don't have to spend as much time thinking about how unpleasant last night was.


BU got off to a great start, and had me very optimistic. Wade Megan's one-timer through the legs of Casey DeSmith had the BU fans riled up and the UNH hicks quiet right off the bat. Just seconds into the game, sophomore Evan Rodrigues carried the puck strong into the low circle to the left of DeSmith, fending off a backchecking Wildcat before patiently dishing a nice pass to Megan for the goal.

Unfortunately, that was the final BU goal of the game in what turned out to be a UNH-dominated contest for the majority of the remaining minutes. I think the big story out of this game is the Terriers' inability to handle the UNH forecheck. Multiple bad turnovers at our own blue line and elsewhere in the defensive zone left freshman goaltender Sean Maguire hung out to dry in his first collegiate start. He bailed out Ryan Ruikka's blue line turnover with a good save on an uncontested shot early in the first period, but another similar chance off another bad BU turnover trickled past him to tie the game. The low wrister found its way though Mags' pads and slowly slid into the net behind him. The shot came off a bad turnover, but it was also saveable. At this point I gave Maguire the benefit of the doubt, being shaky in the first few minutes of his college hockey career. The lamp lights, the hicks cheer, throw a fish on the ice, make out with their sisters/aunts (same thing, up there).

Just seconds later UNH would take the lead thanks to greasy mucking and grinding by their forecheckers. The puck went down to the low corner to the left of Maguire, and UNH outskated BU to the puck and outworked them in the corners. A Wildcat came away with possession and fed the puck out to the low slot in front of the BU net. Maguire repositioned well and made a save, but in the ensuing scramble the Terriers couldn't clear the puck or the UNH bodies out of the crease, and the loose puck was poked through Mags' pads as he tried to cover up and freeze the puck. At this point BU looked well on their heels and it felt like we were in for a long game.

For the rest of the period (when they managed to make it into the neutral zone) the Terriers gained the offensive zone with speed, burning the UNH players down the boards and passing wing to wing through the slot for quality shots. Lots of chances on the left wing especially, in the first two periods. Time after time, however, our shooters missed the net. I'm surprised the glass over DeSmith's shoulder didn't shatter early on, they hit it so many times. Against a competent goalie like him, you have to force him to make saves and hit the net with shots. Even from tough angles, you can't get rebound chances unless you first put the puck on goal. The UNH forecheck had the Terriers hemmed in the defensive zone way too often throughout the game. Breaking out of the defensive zone can't be a gradual process against this team. Tick-tack cutesy passing plays didn't hold up against UNH and it certainly won't fly against teams that are much better than UNH on the forecheck. I'd hate to be Sean Maguire watching his teammates fool around with the puck in the d-zone. Must have been stressful.

Defense was poor as well. It was as if everyone forgot their roles after entering the defensive zone, whether with or without puck possession. In the middle of the first period, UNH gained the zone during a line change with one player carrying the puck over the blue line. Four Terriers are back on D, and no one pressures him in the slightest. The Wildcat had plenty of time for a clean pass to a crashing teammate for a one time slapshot. Maguire made the save to bail out the defense there. Unacceptable lack of aggression in our own zone. Similarly, UNH's Dalton Speelman carried the puck into the high slot and threw a wrister on net that Maguire either didn't see or thought was going wide. He may have been screened by a UNH player crashing for a backdoor rebound chance. The shot his the post and Maguire fell on it in the crease. Scary. Seconds later, another post as the puck bounces off the boards into the slot for an uncontested shot on goal. Possibly passed back blind by a forechecking UNH player, there were no red sweaters to challenge the shot.

As good as BU looked in the offensive zone, they were just as bad at the other end of the ice. Forechecking was effective but not as good as UNH. Good shot totals (up 12-9 after one), and they weren't wasting time with the puck. The forechecking by UNH caused Terriers to chase the puck and overload the boards, leaving Wildcats wide open for shots.

On the BU powerplay early in the second, Nieto hits the crossbar on a wide open net. Megan then promptly takes a penalty and UNH scores right off the face off, five seconds into the PP. Maguire looks shaken and rattled now. The shot was good shot but with no screens and no deflections, it should have been stopped.

The second period was the worst for the Terriers. UNH was stronger on the puck and much stronger on 50/50 chances early in the 2nd. The BU offense stopped clicking on the breakout during this period. Several offsides calls and fancy drop passes missing their targets caused the BU players to lose their rhythm. Pinching at the blue line looked impotent and while it didn't spring many odd-man rushes, it's tough to forecheck if you can't seal off the point. Once BU gained the offensive zone they look good. Lots of chances backdoor or for tips in front, trying to get traffic in front of DeSmith.

Adding to the deficity, UNH tallies its third goal of the night as Willows takes it low near the corner and no one gets a stick on his pass out to the circle. The one-timer beats Maguire far-side off of or under the pads. Another fairly soft goal. If you're not going to pressure the puck carrier you have to tie up sticks and block passing lanes. Maguire was not entirely at fault. Look: nobody expected a fresh tendy to stand on his head and make 60 saves in a shutout on his first collegiate start, but after a certain point he has to get settled in and comfortable. It never happened for Maguire last night.

As the period went on, BU looked more and more tentative in all areas of the game. On an odd-man rush, Megan holds the puck for a toe drag to a wrister that was blocked, when he had a shooting lane in the slot. You're down 3 goals. Take the shot, don't be fancy. Meanwhile Augusta from UNH steals the puck in the UNH zone and dangles three Terrier forecheckers at once. Terrible.

Another defensive zone turnover from tough forechecking by UNH, another post hit on a slot wrister. What a joke. We completely forgot how to move the puck around in our zone. UNH hit four posts total during the game. BU put one or two shots off the heavy metal as well.

With 7:41 left in the second period, Parker pulls Maguire and sends in Matt O'Connor. Great confidence by OC late in the second, coming wayyy out of his net to play the loose puck and prevent a shorthanded breakaway chance. He was otherwise untested in the second. O'Connor didn't allow any goals for the rest of the game but also didn't face the caliber of shots and grade-A's that Maguire did. Overall, OC looked more comfortable.
Pretty ugly second period all around. It seemed as if every time BU touched the puck in their zone, they were playing with untaped stick blades on week-old ice. There was a lack of urgency on the forecheck late in the second. Skating standing up, looking tired.

Good chances and good saves on bad angles by DeSmith. Chance on a wraparound from Megan behind the net results in a mad scramble and one or two Terriers celebrating. As refs blow (the whistles, not the game), Alexx Privitera (I originally thought it was Grzelcyk) skates in all the way from the blue line and literally just dives into the pile. Funny to watch. No goal call on the ice. After all is said and done, BU goes on the PP, most likely from when Burke from UNH went over the back of Megan and mugged him before the scrum really got going. Nieto with a stick between DeSmith's legs made me cringe as a fellow male human being, but no goals came of it.

UNH killing the BU powerplay with lots of stick checking to prevent clean shots on net. Also putting a lot of pressure on BU puck carriers. It's a PK strategy that reminds me of BC in 2010 and later, but with this much ice Terriers should be able to let the puck do the work and tire the UNH penalty killers out with crisp passing. They aren't and the BU powerplay is now 0 for 4. Meanwhile, an absolutely fabulous dive leads to a UNH PP with a Wildcat sprawling dramatically through the open ice. Fans at Whittemore initially laughed instead of booing or "ohh"-ing because it looked like he tripped over the blue line. On the PK, O'Connor stops a nice backdoor attempt and blocks an attempted cross-crease pass. He robs a rebound chance with the right pad as well.

With 8:30 to go, OC robs Jeff Silengo all alone on a point blank opportunity off the 2on1 rush. At the other end of the ice, Wade Megan got tripped up going to the net for a rebound opportunity. UNH thinks he charged someone and mugs him. A ref applies the reverse chokehold on the UNH player to get him off Megan. That's the last time I cheer for and/or envy a zebra. No penalties on the play.

Side note: UNH's broadcasters are fucking intolerable. They sound like the UNH players' moms they way they describe plays by those dirty meanies from BU.

Multiple dirty saves by OC in the final minutes of the game. Terriers getting visibly frustrated, getting even sloppier and getting chippy after the whistle. 5 on 3 now in the last half of the third period. The Wildcats don't seem satisfied with the 5-on-3 though, and are diving blatantly on any contact within 6ft of the boards. UNH broadcasters sound like they're being forced to witness war crimes anytime a Wildcat takes a dive. With 2:15 or so left in regulation, Parker pulls OC for a 5-on-4 man advantage, including a 6 on 4 with 1:00 to go. Through good offensive pressure by BU, DeSmith holds fast, makes some good saves. Game over, 4-1.



  1. Long winded are we? Def a different breed from the rest of bloggers

  2. Then again, some say you can't have too much of a good thing. And BU hockey is a very, very good thing. Even when it's painful to watch.