Opportunity not lost on Trivino

BU freshman knows it can be historic trip

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / April 9, 2009
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WASHINGTON - When the seniors on the Boston University hockey team were freshmen, they were one victory away from the Frozen Four but fell to archrival Boston College in the regional final. The next year, the Terriers were dispatched by eventual champion Michigan State in the regional semifinals, and last year they didn't make it to the NCAA Tournament at all.

So the message the Class of 2009 passed on to their younger teammates was, "Enjoy it, because you can't assume you'll get there again."

Tonight, BU (33-6-4) takes on Hockey East rival Vermont (22-11-5) at the Verizon Center in the Frozen Four semifinals, and freshman center Corey Trivino has tried to heed the words of the Terriers' leaders. Trivino, a native of Toronto, has played the role of sponge since arriving in the US capital. Yesterday morning, he joined the squad on a walking tour of the historic monuments and was awed.

"You see them all the time in the movies and stuff," said Trivino, 19. "It's just amazing. The Lincoln Memorial is huge! I thought it was way smaller than it is. There are all these quotes around it. It was amazing."

Trivino and his freshman linemates - Chris Connolly and Vinny Saponari - bring a wealth of enthusiasm to the veteran lineup. But it wasn't easy for Trivino to get his legs under him. After playing four games, he missed five because of a knee injury. After returning, he was slowed intermittently by a banged-up shoulder, which contributed to his inconsistency. Coach Jack Parker, sensing Trivino was struggling, benched him a couple of times in an effort to show the young player what was expected of him. In the last 11 games, he has proven to be a solid contributor with 6 points, including four goals. He scored one goal in each of BU's Northeast Regional victories over Ohio State and New Hampshire.

Trivino said he took the difficulties in stride.

"You're obviously not happy when you're watching a game, it's the most painful thing you could ever do," he said. "It's more mental. You have to stay focused."

He said he couldn't pinpoint the moment when he felt he belonged as a full-time player because it was more of a gradual process, but he's just pleased he got there.

"It's just more of a comfort level on the ice," said Trivino. "As soon as your confidence is raised, you feel you can do what you normally would do instead of feeling like, 'I don't want to make a mistake.' "

Parker said it took a little extra time for Trivino to adapt to the college game, unlike Connolly and Saponari.

"[Connolly and Saponari] have played very well all year long," said Parker. "They've gotten a lot of ice time, they've played on the power play, they kill penalties. [For Trivino], mostly it was just the pace of the game. Freshmen seem to individually get it at different stages. Some guys pick it up right off the bat. Other players take a little bit longer.

"I thought [Connolly] got it right away, I thought Saponari got it a little bit later but got it pretty early, and it took Corey a little bit longer to get it. But now that he gets it, he's playing very well and he's very confident and he's got a lot of skill."

Growing up, Trivino had a lot of skill in two sports, and it was a dilemma for him to decide which one to pursue. He was raised loving both hockey and soccer because the latter was a passion of his father, Hugo, who is from Argentina.

"I enjoyed both sports equally," said Trivino, who was selected by the New York Islanders in the second round (No. 36 overall) in the 2008 NHL draft. "It was more of a decision which one I wanted to pursue once I got older. I thought it was best for me to put all my effort into one sport instead of trying to juggle two because I was missing practices. When I was 15, I decided to let go of soccer, which was hard for me and my dad because he's a huge soccer fan."

Trivino grew up admiring Diego Maradona and next year will switch his number from No. 9 to 10 (currently worn by senior Chris Higgins) in an homage to Maradona.

Trivino said the skills he learned in soccer have helped his hockey.

"When you play soccer, you have to pass the ball in an area where the person is going to, you can't really do it directly," he said. "So it has helped me with my vision, trying to find players and where they are going to be instead of where they are."

And in turn, his teammates know where he is going to be - in the lineup, every night.