Boston University seemingly suffered through a season-long national championship hangover last year, finishing just a game over .500 with a postseason that lasted through only the Hockey East semifinals.
“It was like pulling teeth,” BU coach Jack Parker says. “There wasn’t the attitude you wanted. They were satisfied with the year before and the national championship. This is a fresh start for us.”
A fresh start indeed, but it’s a roster filled with 17 freshmen and sophomores with only one senior, likely Parker’s youngest team ever.
Goaltender Kieran Millan will anchor the otherwise inexperienced Terriers. Last year, Millan didn’t duplicate his astounding freshman season (28-2-3, 1.92 goals-against average, .921 save percentage), but he did finish strong.
“I’ll take him back the way he was last year in the second half,” Parker says. “He’s had three great semesters for us. He certainly was great his freshman year. He struggled his sophomore year the first semester but I thought he played real well after that.
“He’s the No. 1 guy coming into the season, but I don’t want him to be the only guy. I’m hoping that either Adam [Kraus] or Rollie [Grant Rollheiser] can step up so if it’s not [rotating] every other game then it’s two-thirds, one-third.”
The lack of experience on defense provides the biggest question mark. David Warsofsky brings back his exceptional offensive skills to go along with sophomores Max Nicastro and Sean Escobedo. After that, there likely will be growing pains.
“We’ll be young back there, but we have talent back there,” Parker says. “Nobody has more talent than David Warsofsky.
“Boston College won the national championship last year and everybody was wondering how their freshmen and sophomore defensemen were going to be. Kids come on pretty quickly in this league.”
There’s more of a returning cast up front but still plenty of holes to fill. Chris Connolly’s 31 points tops the list of veteran scoring. Incoming freshmen Charlie Coyle, Sahir Gill, Matt Nieto, and Yasin Cisse are all projected to compete for the top three lines.
“There will be more competition for the important ice time, like power-play ice time and stuff like that,” Parker says. “Some of that was pretty well settled last year and we didn’t perform up to our capabilities. This year it’s up for grabs.
“Sophomores Alex Chiasson and Wade Megan are important to us, but Chris Connolly, Joe Pereira and Corey Trivino are the most important forwards on our team. Those guys have got to play big. [Trivino] was playing extremely well last year until he got hurt. He was our first-line center and playing very well. We’ll see if he can continue that progress.”