Jack Parker’s Boston University Squad Regaining Its Swagger After Unanticipated Roster Changes

Jack Parker's Boston University Squad Regaining Its Swagger After Unanticipated Roster ChangesJack Parker's been coaching hockey at Boston University for 39 years.  You don't coach the sport for that long if you don't love going to the rink.

That said, Parker was happy his team had some time away over the past few weeks. The Terriers, ranked sixth in the latest national polls, are trying to move on after losing two of their top players. 

Leading scorer Corey Trivino, a second-round draft pick of the New YorkIslanders, was kicked off the team Dec. 12. Later that week Charlie Coyle, a first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, left the team to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

"People ask me how was your Christmas break," says Parker with a laugh.  "I say, 'Not very good.'"

Things seemed pretty good in Terrier Nation after a 5-1 win over the UMaine Black Bears in Orono Dec. 10, the final game before the break.

"On the bus ride back from Maine I remember thinking we might be one of the best teams in the nation," said Parker.

The next night, Trivino was arrested and charged with breaking and entering and attempted rape as well as three counts of indecent assault and battery. Parker moved quickly, kicking him off the team.  Four days later Coyle, in Canada to represent the USA in the World Junior Championships, announced he was leaving BU to play major junior hockey in Canada.

Trivino and Coyle were the Terriers' top two centers. Now they were gone. When the team got back to work after the break, there was a sudden lack of confidence. How do you replace two of the top five scorers on a team in middle of the season? 

On Dec. 31, the Terriers were beaten at Notre Dame 5-2. The swagger of a top 10 team was in critical condition.

"I was thinking, 'Oh, no, my team thinks it’s not very good anymore," Parker said.

That's why last Friday's 4-2 win over nationally ranked Merrimack was the most important victory of the year.

"That was a game we had to have," said Parker. "For our psyche."

Senior captain Chris Connolly and sophomore Sahir Gill have moved into the center spots vacated by Trivino and Coyle, and freshmen Evan Rodrigues and Yasin Cisse are being asked to do more. Spirits are back up on campus after the win over Merrimack. The Terriers are on the road this weekend, but it’s a road trip that will take them about two miles. BU will face Northeastern at Matthews Arena tomorrow night and go across the Charles River to the Bright Center to play Harvard on Saturday.

"We'll have our hands full with these two teams," said Parker. "Northeastern is the hottest team in the nation right now, and Harvard probably has the best power play in the country.  We've had a good week of practice, and our players believe in themselves again."

The game against Northeastern will air on NESN Friday night. The Huskies are on an eight-game unbeaten streak under first-year coach Jim Madigan. They have wins over five nationally ranked teams in that stretch. A win over BU would make it six, but Madigan believes the Terriers are no less a team now than they were when their top two centers were still on the roster.

"Jack's been coaching for 39 years," said Madigan, a three-time Beanpot champion. "He's dealt with more adversity than just this. I'm sure he’ll use this to focus his players. There still a very good, highly skilled team."

With the heart of the Hockey East schedule upon us, that skill will be put to the test. But regardless of how the season plays out, the Terriers believe in themselves once again. And that alone is a major victory for the players still wearing the uniform.

Yardbarker

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