Sunday, December 9, 2012

Maine Recap: Almost Blacked Out Edition

Is this Terrier screaming or yawning?
Doesn't matter: both are warranted.

TERRIERS AND FRIENDS. Last night was an interesting night. It was, in my 4+ years of watching BU hockey, the worst win ever. Almost everyone who was at Agganis should be ashamed of themselves. Those of you who are exempt from this statement know exactly who you are. If you're ambivalent about your inclusion in that category, shut the fuck up and lower your head in shame. It was one of the worst nights I've ever spent in Agganis arena. Then I left, got stupid drunk and wrote this recap at four in the morning. It's basically unedited since. More of a rant, less of an analysis.

The #7-ranked Terriers faced off against Maine, who has a firm stranglehold on last place in the Hockey East and is one of the worst-performing teams in the nation. Here's the deal with Maine, and this echoes what I said in the preview for tonight's game: Maine is better than they've been playing lately and BU gave them all the reasons they could possibly want to step up and play to their potential. The Black Bears are a team that made the NCAA tournament last year and beat BU three times in a row at the end of last season, eliminating us from tournament play. While they lost a couple of players over the summer, they've always been better than last place in HEA. Tonight was almost my worst case scenario. Between three consecutive #1 match-ups and Parker's recent awesome comments about how much Maine likes to dive, the Cubs had plenty of bulletin board material and motivation to play hard at Agganis tonight.

Because REASONS.

The game started as well as any Terrier fan could have hoped. Maine was laughably impotent in the first four minutes of the game. For three and a half straight minutes, BU held the puck in Maine's defensive zone. They forechecked, pressured the D-men and got plenty of shots on goalie Martin Omelette. The puck LITERALLY did not leave the Maine zone for 210 seconds, during which time BU cycled and forechecked while denying Maine the opportunity to change out their lines. The bear cubs finally cleared the puck for an icing. Seriously, for four shifts the puck was securely inside the Maine zone. Immediately after this embarrassing display, Maine took two consecutive penalties. The first was killed off, but on the second BU powerplay Garrett Noonan notched his third goal of the season, frying Omelette backdoor near-side off a great feed by "Danny Boy" O'Regan. Noons took one touch to settle the puck and fired it past the eggs to put BU on the board 1-0.

And from there, it was ALL downhill. Here comes the rant which may or may not involve binge drinking. Prepare yourselves. After the first goal, almost the entire Terrier team sat back on their heels and fell asleep. Passes were inexplicably sent towards open ice with no scarlet jerseys to accept them. A few times, Terriers passed the puck directly to opposing Black Bears who were forechecking. Starting in the end of the first period, Maine switched to a very effective neutral zone trap which ended up hemming the Terriers in their own zone. BU blueliners attempted to cycle the puck between each other in their own zone, flirting with the near blueline to find the perfect tic-tac-toe breakout pass to organize an offensive rush. Parker called it "ten pass hockey" in the postgame presser, as the boys wanted to breakout in style with passing drills to get Maine out of position. It never really happened. Early in the period, Omelette kept Maine in the game with multiple strong saves.

Later in the game, Terrier speedster and roadrunner-in-training Cason Hohmann found himself all alone with the puck, closing in on Omelette with a breakaway chance. A Black Bear backchecker hooked Texas Toast as he went for the shot, drawing a penalty shot. The call woke up the otherwise comatose Terrier crowd (I'll get to that in a minute). As Hohmann came in with speed, he slowed down in the slot, apparently hoping to draw Omelette into lunging for the poke check. Omelette went for the poke but at the same time, Cason fired a quick-release snapper high glove side. By virtue of great positioning and a solid reaction save, the Maine tendy flashed the glove to stop Hohmann's attempt. It was an impressive save, and one that visibly energized the Maine skaters.

Terrier fans had a brief scare when star Bruins prospect and hometown freshman hero Matt Grzelcyk went down in a heap on the ice after breaking up a Bears rush in the third. Grizz laid himself down to block a shot on net, taking a puck to the inside of his left knee/lower leg in the process. He was helped off the ice on one leg by teammates and, after missing a shift or two talking to the trainer, eventually rejoined his teammates on the bench. S'all good, man.

As if all of this wasn't enough to keep the attention of the Terrier faithful (and it totally wasn't), Ben Rosen decided to make it interesting by taking a 5-minute major for boarding. Honestly, and I'm trying to be objective about this, I don't think this was a 5-minute hit. Rosie was definitely reckless about it and the hit should have drawn a penalty. But if you watch the replay (and I did on DVR, several times), three things are clear: the Maine player saw the hit coming and turned his back towards Rosen; Rosen rode him into the boards and didn't actively check him when they made contact; and after he hit the boards, the Black Bears player sold the hit like it was his job.

I challenge anyone with a high school diploma and more than a year of experience watching hockey to watch the replay of that hit and tell me with a straight face that the Maine player didn't dramatize his fall to the ice after contacting the boards. And I'm not even going into detail on the interference call on Megan, who got a whistle after jockeying for position on the backcheck with a Black Bear who grabbed Megan's stick and flopped on the ice, successfully duping the zebras into a penalty.

BU would eventually hold on to win 1-0 in what was honestly one of the worst victorious performances I've ever had the displeasure to witness at Agganis area. Nothing was clicking. The team wasn't lazy and they weren't making bad decisions. The more I think about it, the more credit I want to give Maine for playing them tough in their own house. This is a lot closer to the Maine team we saw last semester. The student sections were deplorable. It wasn't just because it's coming up on finals week, either. If that had been the case, we would have been few in number but with adequate participation and enthusiasm. Instead, we had poor turnout and seriously pathetic participation.

But let's be real. If BU plays like they did tonight against any team better than, say, Lowell...they will lose. It's that simple. Hopefully the Terriers played the way they did because they were tired from recent matchups and underestimated their opponents. Also hopefully, they'll never do that again in the future.


Sean Maguire - Wow. What a performance by Mags. He posted his second consecutive shutout at Agganis, which also happened to be on his second start at home. He's the first BU tendy to post back to back shutouts since John Curry in 2007. And the first BU goalie ever  to earn two shutouts in his first two home starts. No big deal, but I also called the shutout in this week's Pick 'Em.

Garrett Noonan - Noons earned the second star of tonight's game due to his GWG. Solid game by him.

Hohmann, Nieto, Megan - basically the whole top line performed very well again, despite their lack of scoring. Omelette made a few nasty saves to prevent a larger Terrier lead, but when they weren't shooting on Maine, the top line as well as Nieto looked sharp yet again.

Ben Rosen - I know. Some of you are probably furrowing your brows at this choice. I mean, he took a 5min major penalty with 5:32 left in the game (or so). Why does that warrant special positive recognition? I'll fucking tell you why. Rosie made this bullshit game interesting for the first time since Noons' goal in the first period. The Dog Pound fell fast asleep and was comatose throughout most of the game. It wasn't until BU was faced with a sustained 5-minute penalty kill to end the game that anyone actually seemed to pay fucking attention to what was happening on the ice. In fact, the Maine powerplay was the only time I actually felt like I was watching real hockey. Thanks for keeping it interesting, Rosie.

The PK - Perfect penalty killing on four Maine powerplays, including the long 5min major that ended the game. Huge, huuuge job by the PK squad(s) stepping up to secure the win.

Friendly Cameos - After the game while I was doing my best to make this post live up the the moniker "almost blacked out edition," fellow masterbloggers and best twitter trolls ever Fight Mass showed up to help us party, resulting in the following masterpiece: Jack Marcou.


The Dog Pound - Holy shit, people. That was terrible. I was incredibly embarrassed to have shared a section with many of you. Halfhearted yells, atrociously out-of-sync chants and downright forgotten traditions marred the normally excellent standard of BUDP participation. Most of 108 didn't even know how to approach the introduction of opposing starting players at the start of the game. I've been told 118 was just as bad. Unbelievable. The number of beers I've had tonight means nothing in terms of how I feel about this. When I wake up tomorrow I'll be just as disgusted. Your homework assignments are to read BUDP For Dummies and the Freshman's Guide to Dog Pound Chants, and take your time to rest up over the break so that come January we'll have a respectably loud house to welcome our team.

Powerplay - 1 for 5 is 20% for you English majors out there. That's normally a decent PP rate over the course of a season but against Maine, you need to make them pay more often than that. Especially against a weaker opponent like Maine. We scored once but we let them off the hook four times.

Almost everything - after the first goal of the game, watching the remainder was absolutely awful. Most of us spent the rest of the game shaking our heads for a number of reasons. Give some credit to Maine for stepping up and playing to the potential provided by their inherent skills, but this is a game that should have  been played the entire 60 like the first 5 minutes.

Video Recaps & Highlights:

Postgame Comments: Parker
[for the ladies] Postgame Comments: Noonan and Hohmann 

Next up: The Terriers head to Denver for a game on 12/28. While I won't be able to attend I wish the boys luck and hope the Dog Pound roadies can continue to provide the team with luck and fervent support in enemy territory. See you bastards next semester.

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