BU’s turnaround coming together
Terriers prep for Beanpot with win over Minutemen
For the first three months of the season, victories were sparse for defending NCAA champion Boston University.
The Terriers struggled to find an identity and compiled just four victories from Oct. 16, their season opener, through Dec. 11, their final game before the holiday break.
Last night, the Terriers (9-11-3) closed out January with their fifth win of the month, soundly beating No. 15 University of Massachusetts, 6-2, in front of 5,361 at Agganis Arena. BU’s record in 2010 is 5-2.
Next up for BU: Monday night in the second Beanpot semifinal against Northeastern at TD Garden. BU coach Jack Parker said he expected a strong performance because of how well the team practiced Thursday and because a series of meetings have gone a long way toward getting everyone pulling in the right direction.
“It seemed like they all exhaled and they were ready to play,’’ said Parker. “I was pleased with our overall effort. Hopefully we’ll feel good about our effort and continue that. I’ve got a feeling this team can go on a run here now, because after what happened to us last week with a great game against BC and a not-so-great effort against UNH, to come back tonight and play, you can almost feel attitude. Attitude is everything, we tell our team, and it sure was great this week.’’
Sophomore left wing Ross Gaudet gave BU a 1-0 lead at 17:22 of the opening period. Junior center Nick Bonino, on his knees in the right circle, dished a pass to senior defenseman Eric Gryba at the right point. Gryba’s one-timer was stopped by Paul Dainton (31 saves), but Gaudet was there for the rebound.
At 15:27 of the second, Bonino (three assists) set up Gaudet for his second of the night. Bonino beat sophomore center Casey Wellman on a faceoff in the left circle and won it back to Gaudet, whose shot from the left point eluded Dainton.
One minute and 12 seconds later, defenseman Colby Cohen made it 3-0 when his ferocious one-timer from the right point scorched past Dainton.
The Minutemen (15-10-0) got on the board at 17:15 when senior defenseman Justin Braun fired a shot from the right point that sophomore netminder Kieran Millan (39 saves) stopped. But junior left wing Brian Keane was there for the rebound in the slot and it was 3-1.
BU regained its three-goal lead during a power play at 18:21. Cohen, positioned at the left point, saw sophomore right wing Vinny Saponari alone at the right post. He relayed the puck to Saponari, who redirected it past Dainton, giving BU three goals in a span of 2:54.
UMass closed to within a pair when senior defenseman Martin Nolet scored during a power play at 9:34 of the third.
However, freshman blue liner Max Nicastro boosted the lead to 5-2 at 15:07 when he took a pass from sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky and beat Dainton with a shot from the middle of the point, then senior center Luke Popko potted his first goal of the season with a shorthanded strike with 37.2 seconds remaining. Bonino set up the tally, which gave him his 100th collegiate point.
“We had 41 shots and they had 37 shots and that speaks to the effort of both teams, trying to attack and trying to take the game over,’’ said UMass coach Don Cahoon, whose team will try to rebound at Providence tonight.
“I thought Millan was exceptional. Fundamentally, we broke down in two or three situations and that created the separation in score. I’m not unhappy with our guys’ effort. Obviously, we need to shore up some execution in a couple of areas. That was the difference in the game.’’