A year older, Boston University seeks to shake inconsistencies

Last year’s Boston University squad — the youngest ever in coach Jack Parker’s 38 years — displayed an inconsistency that befitted its youth as much as it frustrated its fans. The Terriers started and finished strong (at least until the playoffs) but struggled in the middle.

“The best thing that could possibly happen to our team has already happened to us,” Parker says. “We’ve gotten a year older. We’ve gotten our sophomores to be juniors, the freshmen to be sophomores and the 18-year-olds to be 19. That, in itself, is going to make us a better team.”

In goal, Kieran Millan returns to finish off a stellar four-year career. That position is about as solid as you could get. The key will be whether the defensemen can progress from a season in which BU was outshot an uncharacteristically high number of times.

“We need [Max] Nicastro to step up and play up to his capabilities,” Parker says. “We need [Adam] Clendening and [Garrett] Noonan to make big jumps from their freshman to sophomore years. We need guys that had limited ice time last year to step up and get more ice time and play better.”

The step-it-up theme carries over as well to the forwards, who were collectively good-but-not-great last year. With an extra year under their belts, this group will be expected to produce at a higher level.

“From the senior class, we have to have [Chris] Connolly and [Corey] Trivino put up numbers in the 15-to-20-goal range and get in the 30-to-35-point range,” Parker says. “We have to have the same thing from guys like [Matt] Nieto, [Charlie] Coyle, and [Sahir] Gill, who all had really solid freshmen years. They all had 25 to 30 points; we have to get them up to the 35-to-40-point level.”

About the Terriers

2010-11 overall record: 19-12-8

2010-11 HEA record: 15-6-6 (third)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): Second

Key losses: Defensemen David Warsofsky and forward Joe Pereira

Players to watch: Goaltender Kieran Millan; forwards Alex Chiasson, Chris Connolly, Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle; defensemen Max Nicastro, Adam Clendening and Garrett Noonan

Impact rookie: Forward Evan Rodrigues

Why the Terriers will finish higher than the coaches poll: They bring back almost all of last year’s team and have an extra year of maturity and experience.

Why the Terriers will finish lower than the coaches poll: Getting older doesn’t automatically translate into playing better or more consistently.