Sunday, October 09, 2011

UNH Drops Season Opener to Millan & BU

BOSTON, Ma. - The Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University was filled with all the ingredients necessary for a successful home opener. The huge, four-sided video scoreboard, suspended over center ice like the one in the old Boston Garden, played highlight footage of BU heros past and present. The students in their favorite red and whites filled both ends of the arena. The BU Terrier team who took to the ice of the Jack Parker Rink was brimming with veterans and NHL draft picks. Preseason polls had them ranked as high as 6th in the nation. BU succeeded in their opening game of the 2011-12 season by beating the University of New Hampshire 5-0. Although the game was not the type of blowout suggested by the final score, either in the flow of the game or shots on goal, it was a convincing victory by BU.

Over the first two periods, UNH outshot BU 29-23. Senior goaltender Kieran Millan, who earned the game's #1 star, was the difference maker, particularly in the first period. Video highlights of several glittering saves by Millan are available on A comprehensive description of the BU goals can be found in the article written by Gavin Faretra in the Concord Monitor. The article includes Coach Umile's assessment of the game in the post-game press conference:
"It was a pretty hockey game for a while, at least for a couple periods. I thought we had our chances early ... but we got beat in our own end - not covering people. It just wasn't very good coverage on our part in our own end...Even when it was 2-0, I thought we had quite a few chances to bounce back, come back. We had some real good scoring opportunities; we let the game get away from us in our own end."
~ Moses-Borisenok-Goumas - As they had in the exhibition victory over New Brunswick last weekend, UNH's top line generated plenty of offense with 11 shots on goal. Stevie Moses shows every sign of having a memorable senior season like Paul Thompson and Bobby Butler before him. In a preseason interview produced by UNH Athletics, Moses talked about how he generated plenty of shots last season but worked over the summer on improving his accuracy. Last night, Moses had 6 SOG. So far this season, many of Moses shots are self-generated - that is, he carries the puck into and around the offensive zone, creates space with speed and quick changes in direction, and rips off a shot that the goalie must save. A couple examples of these "unassisted shots on goal" came in the 1st period. In one sequence, Moses skated to the top of the left faceoff circle and shot to Millan's glove side. In another instance, he streaked to the top of the slot and forced Millan to make a blocker save on a quick wrister. Moses and his linemates Borisenok and Goumas are showing great chemistry in their ability to advance the puck with quick passes. They seem to have a good sense of where each other is headed and connect on their passes most of the time.
~ Sorkin-Block-Burke - I was a bit surprised that the gamesheet showed the 3rd line only generated 3 SOG - one by each player. I saw them do an outstanding job forcing the play in BU's end during most of their shifts. The primary strategy for this line is to have the big wingers - Nick Sorkin and Greg Burke - forecheck down low on the boards and in the corners to force turnovers and for center Austin Block to hang back between the faceoff circles. As an effective two-way player, Block was positioned to intercept any BU breakout should Sorkin or Burke not gain possession of the puck. Burke is relentless using his body in close-quarters to create space and maneuver the puck and Sorkin is showing a similar style in the corners.
~ Trevor van Riemsdyk - To say that TvR did not seem out of place in the first regular season game of his college career would be an understatement. Paired with junior Connor Hardowa, TvR played a steady 1st period. He seemed to get more comfortable in the last two periods and asserted himself in all three zones. During one sequence, TvR went after a BU forward in the corner of UNH's defensive zone, and used his size and reach to come away with the puck. He then carried the puck out of the zone and made a tape-to-tape pass to Greg Burke resulting in a shot on goal. Although TvR was not on the first unit of the powerplay, he got some solid minutes on the second unit and showed poise handling the puck on the blueline. With UNH going 0 for 6 on power play opportunities, TvR may be destined to see his powerplay minutes increase as the season progresses.

~ Power Play - The exact number of shots on goal UNH generated on the power play is not readily available but there was not an abundance of them. BU, who was ranked 4th in the nation last season in penalty killing, was effective in keeping the puck out on the perimeter and UNH's passing was not effective. One bright spot was a booming slap shot by sophomore defenseman Eric Knodel on a power play in the second period. It was labelled for the top corner and Millan made a nice save. Overall, Knodel had 4 SOG's on the night.
~ Defensive Coverage in Their Zone - BU was effective in controlling the puck down low behind the goal line and Matt DiGirolamo. On a couple of the goals, a UNH defenseman either failed to cover the BU forward trying to make a play behind the net or did not successfully cover a forward open in front of DiGi. As Coach Umile said in the Concord Monitor article:
"I think the inexperienced defensemen were fine; it's called team defense and we just didn't do a very good job in our own end."
New Associate Coach Jim Tortorella and the defensemen will have plenty to work on in practice this week. UNH plays Northeastern University, who lost several key players and recruits over the summer, next Friday at the refurbished Matthews Arena. The home opener at the Whittemore Center is on Saturday against Boston College.


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