Category archive: Boston University Terriers

UMass' ever-improving power: defense

April, 21, 2009
During a game last week against Boston University, Massachusetts junior Sarah Reeves dug in at the plate to lead off the bottom of the second in what was still a scoreless tie. But as she readied herself with her back to her dugout on the first-base side, it became apparent that Minutewomen coach Elaine Sortino was tardy getting out to her turf in the third-base coach's box. A few steps out of the dugout, Sortino tried to call timeout, but the umpire didn't recognize it and Reeves wasn't about to risk missing a pitch by stepping out until he did.

The pitch came in and Reeves sent it back out with more pace, skimming a line drive over the fence in the left-center gap for an opposite-field home run and the game's first run.

Now, pardon a brief digression on the scenic route to a point.

Reeves is as proficient at the craft of hitting as anyone I've seen the past few seasons. That's not to say she has Stacie Chambers' power or Katie Cochran's wrists -- she may not be the most talented hitter on her own team. But while so many players look like assembly line automatons rushing through at-bats, she more often than not approaches her trips like an artisan craftsman. She's the definition of a hitter who can't be defined by batting average.

She led the team in walks a season ago and slugged .535 with a team-high 10 home runs. She's right there again, leading the team with 18 walks and slugging .553 with eight home runs. Samantha Salato may break the program's single-season home run record. Carly Normandin is hitting better than .400 with power. And Whitney Mollica has been a fixture in the heart of the order for four seasons. But if she's not the flashiest, Reeves is always just there.

She understands which pitches she can do something with and drives them. It's "see the ball; hit the ball," but with an understanding of all the possible permutations of the swing.

"You're always just trying to be aggressive up there," Reeves said. "[You're] just trying to find a ball on the plate, and if it's on there, swing as hard as you can and try not to get in the hole. So just trying to look inside or out -- wherever it is, just taking it left side if it's outside; if it's inside, driving it middle or left field."

And yet for all that, the difference between a home run and nothing at all in the game against BU was an umpire's selective hearing. That's what hitting is, no matter how talented you are or how well you understand what it is you're supposed to do up there. Granted, it flows both ways, and sometimes the soft pop-ups drop in for hits while the gap-bound line drives are intercepted by an unmoving infielder's glove. But as the luster of .300 averages and .400 on-base percentages attest, the odds are with the pitcher. The house usually wins.

Which is a really, really circuitous route to suggesting that while Massachusetts has its standard stellar offense -- and still has Brandice Balschmiter in the circle -- the difference for this team come the postseason could be in the area over which it has far more control.

Because if there's a lot that looks familiar about this team, a defense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in fielding percentage is a departure from the recent norm.

Three years ago, the Minutewomen committed 90 errors in 57 games and posted a cringe-worthy .948 fielding percentage. The starting infield alone committed 65 errors and it might have been worse if not for first baseman Amanda Morin, a gifted defensive player who saved plenty of potentially errant throws. To be fair, that team came within a game of the Women's College World Series, but just how many breaks it caught became more apparent in regional losses at home the next two seasons against Oklahoma and Stanford, respectively.

But gradually, even as those seasons unfolded, the defense changed. The fielding percentage improved to .957 two seasons ago and .967 last season. Reeves took over at first and kept it a strength. Mollica turned the errors of eagerness of her freshman year into just 11 errors in her past 88 games at the hot corner, dating back to the beginning of last season. Freshman second baseman Kyllie Magill has committed just four errors and leads the team with 66 assists, including a nifty backhand flip to first after ranging far to her left against the Terriers.

And between Normandin's ability to track down anything in the gap and senior Davina Hernandez showing off an Ichiro-like arm against Boston University, the outfield more than holds its own.

Perhaps it adds up to the final piece of the puzzle to get the team back to the super regionals or beyond.

"Defense wins championships; that's what Jess Merchant, our infield coach, always stresses," Reeves said. "So as long as we keep playing good defense -- I mean, offense in the games, sometimes you're going to struggle against good pitchers and you're only going to get maybe one or two baserunners. But if you keep playing defense, you're going to be in the game always.

"That's definitely a big thing this year -- that we're trying to reduce our errors. I think we've been pretty successful so far."

Late note: Proving there is still plenty of offense in Amherst, Salato claimed USA Softball Player of the Week honors. Tuesday's announcement came after a week in which Salato went 8-for-14 -- impressive enough on it's own but eye-popping considering seven of the eight hits were home runs.

Frozen Four: final notes from championship

April, 12, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Saturday night's amazing overtime national championship game, won 4-3 by Boston University over Miami University, was the first NCAA title game to go into extra time since Minnesota beat Maine in St. Paul, Minn., by the same score back in 2002.

That was also the last time that the Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner, Jordan Leopold, also won the national championship. BU captain Matt Gilroy joins Leopold in that group.

Here are some other notes and nuggets following the 2009 Frozen Four at the Verizon Center:

2009 all-tournament team

• Forward: Tommy Wingels, Miami University

• Forward: Colin Wilson, Boston University

• Forward: Nick Bonino, Boston University

• Defenseman: Kevin Roeder, Miami University

• Defenseman: Colby Cohen, Boston University

• Goaltender: Kieran Millan, Boston University

• Most Outstanding Perfomer: Cohen

Boston University notes

• The five NCAA titles won by Boston University is tied for fourth in NCAA history (the record is nine by Michigan). This is the third title won by BU coach Jack Parker, which places him in a tie for third place in NCAA history (the record is six by Michigan's Vic Heyliger -- 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956).

• BU's Class of 2009 posted a 100-43-21 record during its career.

• The Terriers entered Saturday successfully killing 15 of 18 penalties during the NCAA tournament. The Terriers killed seven of seven penalties against Miami.

• BU posted a 27-2-3 record this year when it scored the first goal of the game (8-4-1 when opponents scored first).

• BU posted a 21-1-13 record since Jan. 16.

• The Terriers posted a 17-0-2 record over their last 19 games played away from home this season.

• BU finished 23-1-1 when it led after the first period and 8-1-3 when it was tied after the second period.

• The Terriers posted a 10-3 record in one-goal games (nine-game winning streak).

• With a goal and an assist Saturday night, Nick Bonino recorded three points (one goal) at the Frozen Four. BU posted a 24-0-3 record this season when Bonino recorded at least one point in a game.

Miami notes

• Miami entered Saturday's game 1-of-15 on the power play during the NCAA tournament. The RedHawks were 0-of-7 on the power play against BU.

• The RedHawks are now 2-12-3 when opponents scored the first goal of the game (21-1-2 when Miami scored first).

• Miami is now 0-11-2 when it trailed after the first period and 0-2-2 when tied after the second period.

Frozen Four final: BU wins in OT

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Colby Cohen scored his eighth goal of the season. It also was the 11th of his career. And undoubtedly the biggest of his life.

A slap shot from the left point hit Miami defenseman Kevin Roeder and then fluttered through the air, over Miami goalie Cody Reichard's left shoulder and into the net at 11:47 of overtime to give Boston University a 4-3 win and its fifth national championship in school history.

Frozen Four final: Heading into OT

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Has your heart started beating again? Mine either.

Boston University scored two goals in the last 59.5 seconds of the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit and send the 2009 Frozen Four title game against Miami University into overtime.

First, it was junior forward Zach Cohen with his 13th goal of the season to make it 3-2 at 19:00. Then, with 17.4 seconds left, sophomore forward Nick Bonino found the back of the net to tie it up, 3-3. Both goals were scored with goalie Kieran Millan pulled and an extra attacker on the ice.

Miami took a 2-1 lead at 12:31 when sophomore forward Tommy Wingels got behind BU sophomore defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and was able to clean up a shot by sophomore forward Carter Camper to beat Millan. It was Wingels' 11th goal of the season and his third of the Frozen Four.

Miami increased its lead to 3-1 at 15:52 when freshman forward Trent Vogelhuber took a pass from senior forward Brian Kaufman just inside the BU zone, skated down the middle and beat Millan low to the glove side. It was Vogelhuber's second goal of the season.

Through 60 minutes, Miami has a 28-23 shot advantage and the RedHawks have a 29-22 faceoff advantage. BU is 0-for-2 on the power play and Miami is 0-for-7 with the man advantage.

Next goal wins the entire season.

Frozen Four final: Second period update

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- There was a several-minute stretch in the second period when all defensive responsibility went out the window. It had to make both BU coach Jack Parker and Miami coach Enrico Blasi cringe. There were several odd-man rushes -- including a 3-on-0 by the RedHawks -- but both goalies were able to withstand that added pressure.

Miami tied it up at 2:01 when junior forward Gary Steffes scored his 11th of the season after a scramble in front of the BU net. Junior forward Jarod Palmer put a shot on net from the deep slot that was saved by Kieran Millan. Then sophomore forward Andy Miele took a whack at it and Millan made another save. But the puck ended up at the top of the crease to the right of Millan. That's when Steffes came in and buried it to make the score 1-1.

BU keeps getting itself in trouble by taking penalties. But Miami has yet to convert -- "yet" being the key word. The RedHawks are 0-for-5 with the man-advantage while the Terriers have yet to convert on either of their power-play chances.

Through 40 minutes, Millan has 18 saves and Miami goalie Cody Reichard has stopped 15 shots.

Twenty minutes (or more?) to a national title.

Frozen Four final: First period update

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Both Boston University and Miami University used early adrenaline to come out flying from the drop of the puck. Play settled down as the first period went on.

BU opened the scoring at 15:15 when freshman forward Chris Connolly was in the right place at the right time. Terrier freshman defenseman David Warsofsky put a shot toward the net from the left point that deflected off Miami freshman forward Adam Hirschfeld and into goalie Cody Reichard. But Reichard couldn't control the puck with his glove and Connolly came down from the right wing to push it over the line for a 1-0 BU lead.

Both goaltenders have been sharp so far, and BU's Kieran Millan looks more settled than he did Thursday against Vermont, when he had some trouble with his glove hand. Reichard registered eight saves in the first and Millan stopped all 10 shots he faced.

BU was buzzing late in the period but couldn't put anything past Reichard. With less than a minute to go in the period, Miami sophomore forward Tommy Wingels was whistled for hooking BU junior defenseman Eric Gryba at 19:47.

The Terriers will start the second period with 1:48 left on their first power play. Miami was 0-for-3 (3 shots) with the man-advantage in the opening 20 minutes.

Frozen Four final: BU-Miami lineups

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Here are the line combinations (subject to change after the pregame skate) for Saturday's national title game (ESPNHD and ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET) at the Verizon Center. No changes from Thursday's games, and that's no surprise.

Miami RedHawks (23-12-5)

22 Justin Vaive -- 13 Trent Vogelhuber -- 28 Bill Loupee
16 Justin Mercier -- 20 Pat Cannone -- 15 Brian Kaufman (C)
12 Gary Steffes -- 17 Andy Miele -- 19 Jarod Palmer
23 Alden Hirschfeld -- 11 Carter Camper -- 9 Tommy Wingels

5 Cameron Schilling -- 24 Kevin Roeder (A)
27 Matt Tomassoni -- 14 Vincent LoVerde
6 Chris Wideman -- 4 Will Weber

30 Cody Reichard
31 Connor Knapp

Boston University Terriers (34-6-4)

15 John McCarthy (C) -- 13 Nick Bonino -- 18 Brandon Yip
10 Chris Higgins -- 33 Colin Wilson -- 21 Jason Lawrence
12 Chris Connolly -- 9 Corey Trivino -- 27 Vinny Saponari
11 Zach Cohen -- 26 Luke Popko -- 8 Steve Smolinsky

7 Brian Strait (A) -- 97 Matt Gilroy (C)
25 Colby Cohen -- 3 Kevin Shattenkirk
5 David Warsofsky -- 2 Eric Gryba

31 Kieran Millan
32 Adam Kraus
35 Grant Rollheiser

Frozen Four: Title game quick hits

April, 11, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Some facts and figures to digest prior to tonight's national championship game between No. 4 West Regional seed Miami and No. 1 overall seed Boston University (ESPNHD and ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET) at the Verizon Center:

Boston University (34-6-4)

• The Terriers have won four national championships (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995).

• BU is 4-5 all time in NCAA championship games.

• BU has outscored its opponents 15-8 in NCAA tournament play.

• The Terriers are 20-1-3 since Jan. 16 and are 16-0-2 in their past 18 games away from Agganis Arena.

• BU is 23-0-3 this season when sophomore Nick Bonino scores at least one point. He had an assist versus Vermont in a Frozen Four semifinal.

Miami University (23-12-5)

• First national championship appearance in any sport.

• Miami has the best winning percentage (.693) in Division I hockey over the past four seasons with a record of 106-43-14.

• The RedHawks have outscored their opponents 10-3 in NCAA tournament play.

• Miami is 1-1 all-time versus BU. The RedHawks lost to the Terriers 4-3 at the Badger Showdown on Dec. 28, 1992, and beat BU 5-1 at the Lefty McFadden Invitational on Oct. 8, 2004.

• The RedHawks are 6-1-1 this season when sophomore Tommy Wingels scores a goal. He had two goals and an assist versus Bemidji State. And they are 11-2-1 when Wingels scores at least one point.

Gilroy wins Hobey as BU rules hockey awards

April, 10, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Boston University continued its dominance of this Frozen Four weekend by hauling away a stockpile of awards Friday night at the Verizon Center.

First and foremost, senior defenseman Matt Gilroy was named the recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He edged out BU sophomore forward Colin Wilson and Northeastern junior goalie Brad Thiessen to become the second player from BU to win the Hobey. Chris Drury won in 1998.

The 2008-09 Reebok All-America teams were also announced Friday night. The Terriers led the way with three players, including two on the first team. Michigan and Notre Dame each had two honorees on the teams.

Some notes from the selections:

• Boston University freshman goaltender Kieran Millan was named the National College Hockey Rookie of the Year, as determined by the Hockey Commissioners' Association.

• Air Force senior forward Mike Phillipich was named the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, also determined by the Hockey Commissioners' Association.

• Fifteen of the All-Americans are from the United States, seven from Canada and two from Sweden.

• All 10 Hobey Baker finalists were named to the All-America teams.

First team

G: Brad Thiessen, Jr., Northeastern
D: Matt Gilroy, Sr., Boston University
D: Zach Miskovic, Sr., St. Lawrence
F: David McIntyre, Jr., Colgate
F: Viktor Stalberg, Jr., Vermont
F: Colin Wilson, Soph., Boston University

G: Alex Stalock, Jr., Minnesota-Duluth
D: Ian Cole, Soph., Notre Dame
D: Jamie McBain, Jr., Wisconsin
F: Louie Caporusso, Soph., Michigan
F: Aaron Palushaj, Soph., Michigan
F: Ryan Stoa, Jr., Minnesota

Second team

G: Zane Kalemba, Jr., Princeton
D: Maury Edwards, Soph., UMass Lowell
D: Kevin Shattenkirk, Soph., Boston University
F: Mark Arcobello, Jr., Yale
F: Jacques Lamoureux, Soph., Air Force
F: James Marcou, Soph., UMass Amherst

G: Chad Johnson, Sr., Alaska
D: Chay Genoway, Jr., North Dakota
D: Erik Gustafsson, Soph., Northern Michigan
F: Carter Camper, Soph., Miami University
F: Erik Condra, Sr., Notre Dame
F: Chad Rau, Sr., Colorado College

Other awards

• Northeastern women's senior forward Missy Elumba was named the recipient of Hockey Humanitarian Award.

• Michigan State senior goalie Jeff Lerg was named the recipient of the Lowe's Senior Class Award.

Frozen Four: BU edges Vermont, 5-4

April, 9, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The chants of "Hobey Baker" rained down on Boston University's Colin Wilson after the sophomore scored the game winner at 14:19 in the Terriers' 5-4 win over Vermont in the second national semifinal game at the Verizon Center. It was Wilson's second goal of the game and his 17th on the season.

The victory moved BU (34-6-4) into Saturday night's national championship game against Miami University (ESPNHD and ESPN360, 7 p.m. ET).

Vermont took a 4-3 lead at 9:40 when Drew MacKenzie scored on the power play -- the freshman's first career goal.

BU tied it up at 13:06 when Chris Higgins took a pass from Jason Lawrence and shot it toward UVM goalie Rob Madore and the puck then deflected off a Catamounts defender into the net. It was Higgins' 14th goal of the season.