BOSTON, Mass. — Three was a magic number for Boston University in its exhibition game against the University of Toronto.
The Terriers scored three goals in each of the three periods, outscoring and outshooting the Varsity Blues by margins of precisely three to one. The game’s star was freshman Charlie Coyle, who scored a hat trick. Coyle’s jersey number? Yep, number three.
By the end of the night, BU wound up with a 9-3 preseason victory, marking the highest number of goals that a Terriers team has scored in an Agganis Arena game. A crowd of 4,402 watched BU overcome an erratic first period before outshooting Toronto by a 41-7 margin over the final 40 minutes.
In addition to his hat trick, Coyle had two assists for a five-point night. Co-captain Chris Connolly also had five points, while co-captain Joe Pereira and freshman defenseman Adam Clendening each added three assists.
“It’s obviously nice to play a hockey game,” said associate coach Mike Bavis, who is filling in behind the bench as coach Jack Parker continues to recover from heart surgery. “We’ve gone now three weeks now with some kind of limited scheduled practicing, so it’s nice for the guys to play against another jersey.
“If we take anything away, there was certainly some excitement, some passion, some energy. Guys were certainly geared up to go, and that’s a positive sign. We’ve seen that in practice; this has been a fun team to coach. They’ve been really engaged.”
The Terriers are a talented but young team, and showed both qualities in the first period, as they scored three goals but surrendered three as well. Their young defensive corps looked jumpy, making some really bad passes and giving up good chances on breakdowns.
BU struck first at 8:14 when Ross Gaudet tapped in the rebound of a Ben Rosen shot. Within minutes though, Toronto scored twice on senior goalie Adam Kraus in 59 seconds, both on power plays. With top goalie Kieran Millan back home in Alberta for a family wedding, Kraus and junior Grant Rollheiser split the netminding duties.
Connolly set up Coyle for a one-timer from tight quarters at 13:40, but the Varsity Blues regained the lead late in the period when Byron Elliot stickhandled out of the corner before beating Rosen and Millan with a low shot. However, Coyle set up Connolly to make it 3-3 with ten seconds left in the period.
After that, it was all Terriers. Halfway through the second period, freshman Matt Nieto set up Ryan Santana for a quick look, shot, and score. Just over two minutes later, Coyle passed to Connolly across the crease for another goal from just a few feet away. In fact, the only Terriers’ goal from any distance was a blistering slap shot from Ben Rosen at 17:18, a blast that hit the left post before going in.
After Connolly’s second goal made it 8-3 at 6:37 of the third period, Coyle buried a rebound while short-handed to notch the hat trick. “He’s a big strong kid,” Connolly said of Coyle. “He reminds me of Colin Wilson when he was here–a big strong kid with a lot of skill. We’re looking for him to contribute a lot this year.”
Kevin Gilroy rounded out the scoring at 16:58 by popping in a shot off of a feed by freshman Matt Ronan. Among the BU freshmen, Coyle obviously jumped out, but Matt Nieto dazzled at times with his skill, and Clendening looks ready to contribute. Sahir Gill seemed speedy and may be a candidate to get a good amount of playing time.
Among the returning players, Connolly certainly was leading by example, but David Warsofsky also had a terrific game despite not recording a point. He did have seven shots. Andrew Glass also appeared to be playing with increased confidence, while Bavis believes that Santana may be ready to pitch in with more scoring.
Bavis also acknowledged that all of the scoring from tight quarters was no accident. The team has been emphasizing a power play with an attitude and a desire to put the opposing goalie “under siege” instead of trying for perfect passes around the perimeter.
BU now prepares for the Ice Breaker Tournament in St. Louis next weekend, where they will play Wisconsin followed by either Holy Cross or Notre Dame.