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BU survives rough season, program's culture under review

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • March 21, 2012 - 3:30 PM

Boston University coach Jack Parker said Tuesday the Terriers' season has been very rewarding on the ice, but there were off-ice problems with injuries and departures.

But the veteran coach, in his 39th year at BU, said he was proud his team played so hard and "kept it together."

Parker, who turned 67 on March 11,  was on a Hockey East teleconference call with Boston-area and national media.

"We tied for second in one of the best leagues in college hockey," he said. "There is not anybody on the team that has not had a good year."

Parker said he was excited to be taking his team to Minnesota for the West Regional. "A few fans in green and white might be rooting for us," he said, in an obvious reference to North Dakota fans.

North Dakota plays Western Michigan in the first semifinal of the West Regional.

"Minnesota is a terrific college team," he said. "We are disappointed in the game we played Friday night, they are probably more disappointed [in their game that night]. ... They have a bad taste in their mouth and will want to take it out on us."

The Gophers, of course, lost to North Dakota 6-3 on Friday in their Final Five semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center. They had a 3-0 lead halfway through that game.

The Terriers lost to Maine 5-3 on Friday in the Hockey East semifinals. The Black Bears scored four power-play goals in the game, although one was an empty-netter.

LONG RIVALRY

The Gophers and Boston University have met 25 times. BU leads the series 12-11-2. They met for the first time in 1963 and most recently in 2005.

"We have had a great rivalry. The game that stands out the most is the 1976 national semifinals in which we lost [4-2]," Parker said. "There was a huge brawl in the middle of the game which went on for about 20 minutes. In reality, everybody should have been kicked out of the game."

He said if the other semifinal had not already been played, the winner of that game might have been named the national champion.

As it turned out the Gophers beat Michigan Tech 6-4 for the national title that year.

He said the WCHA and Hockey East later went to interlocking schedules -- one series against the other each season -- and Doug Woog became the Gophers coach.  Parker called Woog a good friend and a good guy.

"The animosity disappeared," Parker said. "We were both in the '94 semifinals of the Frozen Four. We had a pretty good games against them."

BU won 4-1.

In 2005, BU played the Gophers in their last game in the Walter Brown Arena on Jan. 2 and in their first game in the Agganis Arena. The Gophers were No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine ratings at the time, BU No. 13.

Don Lucia's Gophers won the first night 2-1, but lost the second night by the same score.

As for facing the Gophers again, Parker said, "My entire team is jacked up to play a team like Minnesota. We have two of the top winning programs in history. It will almost be like a Frozen Four game in that building with that crowd."

* The Gophers' all-time record in 91 seasons is 1656-941-171. This is their 33rd NCAA trip. They are 50-33 for a .602 winning percentage.

Minnesota has played in 19 Frozen Fours, winning five national titles in 1974, '76, '79, 2002 and '03. The Gophers have been runners-up six times, third six times and fourth twice.

* BU is making its 32nd NCAA tournament appearance. The Terriers are 38-32-0 in those previous trips for a .543 winning percentage.

They have reached 21 Frozen Fours, winning five national titles in 1971, '72, '78, '95 and 2009. BU also has been the national runner-up five times, third eight times and fourth three times.

TURMOIL AT BU

Boston University has had two players get in serious legal trouble this season. Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro.

Trivino was the center on BU's first line and leading Hockey East in scoring -- 13 goals, 17 points in 15 games --- when he was arrested on Dec. 11. The senior, who has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, was quickly dismissed from the team.

Max Nicastro, a junior defenseman, was arrested Feb. 19. Nicastro, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape,  was suspended indefinitely and dropped out of school. He had three goals and nine points in 27 games.

Trivino was a second round pick of the New York Islanders in 2008, Nicastro a third round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.

The same week Trivino left, the Terriers also lost sophomore forward Charlie Coyle. He signed with the St. John SeaDogs of the Quebec Major Junior League. Coyle was Hockey East's rookie of the year as a freshman and was off to a good start his second season at BU. He had three goals and 14 points in 16 games.

He was a first round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2010 but his rights were acquired by the Wild in the Brent Burns trade. The Wild signed Coyle on March 1. 

Parker said all those incidents were "a huge distraction."

He said players lost good friends, teammates who they had a stall next to in the locker room, shared a dorm room with or ate with all the time.

"I really believe the best they felt was coming to the rink for practice and getting ready to play. Other guys were happy to till in:  'We lost him, now I get more ice time. I get some power play.'

"We had some guys switch positions. Overall, it is a difficult thing. But it gets easier as guys get more adjusted to it."

Parker said the seniors and captain made sure the players "focused on hockey and the present and not who we lost."

The BU administration also took notice. School president Robert Brown formed a 16-member task force to assess the culture and climate of the hockey team. It has been asked to decide if Parker's program is consistent with the values and mission of Boston University. Its report is due this summer.

ETC.

* Parker called goalie Kent Patterson the backbone of the Gophers' team. "I have only seen one [Gophers] game on film so far," he said. "I have a few more to watch [Tuesday] night. But you can see by the statistics, he is a terrific goaltender."

* On BU's loss to Maine last Friday: "I liked the way the team came out. I didn't like how we were killing penalties. We seem to have went into a coma against their power play. One was an empty-netter, but the other three we handed to them."

* On senior captain Chris Connolly, a Duluth native and the older brother of UMD's Jack Connolly: "He is all excited to be back. And he is excited we are not playing his brother in the first round, which was a real possibility."

 

 

 

 

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