Boston University Looking To Turn Around Inconsistent Start To Season

Boston University Looking To Turn Around Inconsistent Start To SeasonComing into this year's college hockey season, Boston University was a trendy pick to finish at the top of the Hockey East standings.

The Terriers had a ton of offense returning when most schools lost their top forwards to graduation or a professional contract. They had a national championship-caliber goaltender who, in his senior year, would be as hungry as ever to get back to the national stage and they had an experienced defense in front of him that was supposed to be big and physical with opponents in front of the net.

In its first game of the season with New Hampshire, the Terriers delivered as advertised, winning 5-0. Although many said the game was closer than the score dictated, it looked as if BU would be getting off to the start many had expected from them.

But the next week, the Terriers lost to Providence, a team that has been in the cellar of the Hockey East the past few years, by a score of 5-3. After a bounce-back win against Denver, BU lost to Holy Cross at home. That's when the warning signs went up.

On the last weekend in October when BU took three points from UMass, most figured they had righted the ship. But their next game was at UMass-Lowell, and the Terriers got pushed around in a 7-1 loss.

This was not the way this season was supposed to start for BU.

Last weekend, head coach Jack Parker said that playing down to Hockey East teams is inexcusable.

"We didn't feel like a BU hockey team," Parker said. "It was the absolute lack of respect or lack of effort or lack of both that we went out and laid an egg up at UMass-Lowell. How could we not think they were that good?"

Parker partly blamed the loss on his coaching staff, calling it a mistake that they couldn't get the team ready. But this past weekend was a big chance for the Terriers to turn it around as they went up against the top two teams in the Hockey East in Merrimack on Friday and Boston College on Sunday.

Although BU lost to the Warriors on a last-second goal on Friday, the team dominated BC two days later, winning a blowout game 5-0.

After the win, goaltender Kieran Millan said he felt things coming together.

"Although we lost to Merrimack, I think that was a huge step in the right direction for us," Millan said. "I think that was the first time we outshot a team and probably outplayed them. They got a couple fortunate bounces and they got the benefit of the doubt on that one but going into [Sunday] I think we really carried the momentum we brought in from Friday night’s game and it showed and paid off."

Parker agreed that Friday may have been a turning point, calling the team's effort on Sunday its best of the season.

"It was our best effort of the year no question about that," Parker said. "We saw this coming a little bit against Merrimack the other night and [Sunday] we see BU hockey show up."

When a team plays such inconsistent hockey, most people point to a common trait of playing up to better opponents and down to the teams it should beat. Parker acknowledged that his team has done that at some points.

"Well we certainly played up tonight," Parker said after the victory at BC. "I don't know why we would play down to anybody because this league is so tough. You better not play down to Lowell or Providence or anybody in this league and we've already shown the rest of the league that so we'll certainly remember that."

But the good news for the Terriers is that they think they've turned it around. This weekend will test the team's consistency as they play Vermont on Friday night, a team that has yet to win a conference game this season. The game will be televised on NESN, with the puck dropping at 7:00 p.m.

"So far this year we've really played well against the good teams and we've faltered against the weaker teams or teams we're supposed to beat so I think it's a big step for us," Millan said. "I think a lot of the guys on our team showed a lot of maturity about playing hard even when we were up by four or five goals and I thought that the way we played is the way BU hockey was supposed to be played."

It's definitely not too late for BU, who are currently tied for fourth place through seven conference games, but if they want to be on top at the end of the season, earning themselves a trip to the NCAA Tournament, they need to be a more consistent team.

Photo via Flickr/National Collegiate Athletic Association