BOSTON — Last year, Boston University was 10-8-0 at home and 11-4-1 on the road.
Last year, Cason Hohmann had two goals and eight points all season and the Terriers didn’t get a whole lot of offense out of their freshman in general.
Just three games into the 2012-2013 season, everything has changed for BU.
The Terriers have won both of their home games and lost their one road game. Hohmann has already surpassed last year’s goal total and freshmen Danny O’Regan and Matt Grzelcyk put up a total of four points tonight.
O’Regan’s first two collegiate goals, along with Hohmann’s second three-point game of the season, led No. 13 BU to a 5-2 win over Massachusetts in front of 5,062 at Agganis Arena.
Freshman Matt O’Connor picked up his second win in two starts, making 28 saves. Brandel Gracel and Joel Hanley scored for UMass, which outshot BU 30-25, but fell victim to some costly mistakes.
On a night when dozens of his former players came out to show their support for him on the ice between periods, BU coach Jack Parker watched the game from the concourse level due to back problems that have plagued him all week. Associate coach Mike Bavis took the reins behind the bench.
“One of things we’ve tried to do this year is make it a priority for our team to play hard at home,” Bavis said. “Last year, we made it to the national tournament and I think we were 10-8 at home. It’s hard to get that far with a record like that. We feel that in two games at home, we’ve played hard and competed hard. We’ve certainly had more energy over these first two games at home. That’s something we hope to continue.
“UMass certainly presented numerous problems with their speed, forced us into a number of turnovers that Matt O’Connor had to bail us out on. It was a hard game, but our guys certainly rose when they needed to make a big play.”
For first-year UMass coach John Micheletto, the game shed some light on some needed improvements.
“I thought it was a good hockey game,” Micheletto said. “I thought our guys were good for 90 to 95 percent of the time. That’s real good as a student, but that’s not good enough in this league. We made critical mistakes at critical times, and they wound up in the back of the net. We certainly had a lot of positives, but we’ve got to realize that individual decision making has got to be better if we’re going to win a lot of games in this league.”
After an uneventful first period, BU captain Wade Megan scored 51 seconds into period two. After a slick behind-the-back pass from Hohmann, Megan powered in on the left-wing side while Evan Rodrigues screened Minutemen goalie Steve Mastalerz. Megan put the puck on his backhand and had the whole far half of the net to hit.
Four minutes later, BU made it 2-0 when Grzelcyk made a nice pass from the left wing to O’Regan crashing the net for a tip that sent the puck in high. Ten minutes after that, UMass got that one back when BU defenseman Sean Escobedo turned the puck over, allowing Gracel to go in alone to beat O’Connor.
BU capitalized on a five-on-three early in the third period, as Grzelcyk again set up O’Regan for a goal. This one was a pass from the right point to the far side of the crease, where the freshman roofed it.
UMass had a great chance with a five-on-three for almost a two full minutes, only to have Michael Pereira called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The BU goalie had dropped his stick and Pereira swept it farther away from the net. Micheletto was none too pleased.
“You see it happen all the time that players are able to clear debris from in front of them,” said Micheletto. “I understand that it’s a goaltender’s stick, but I also know that we were in full possession on a power play and that the goalie was not going to be leaving the crease to retrieve his stick that was 15 feet away from him. I thought our player had every right to move the stick away.”
UMass still made it 3-2 with a Joel Hanley goal on the ensuring four-on-three advantage, only to have Hohmann score on a rush up the left wing to make it 4-2 BU. Hohmann’s shot was right at the goalie, but the puck ended up trickling through for the goal. Hohmann then sealed it with an empty-net goal in the final minute, knocking the puck out of the BU zone and then racing ahead to flip it in.
BU now has a 2-1-0 record, while UMass is 1-2-0. The two teams play again on Saturday night at UMass.