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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hockey Log

Great to BU
Near-seamless Terriers await tonight

The rife, trendy motif amongst several of the Hub’s high-profile athletic entities consists fundamentally of flattening all verbal skepticism and circumstantial roadblocks with a poised, resolute, muscular swipe.

That principle topped the storylines with the Celtics in the not-too-distant past. It served to salvage the dignity of the Patriots’ run to within tasting distance of the NFL playoffs even without a quarterback who’s bigger than their franchise. It continues to pace the Bruins along an authoritative push through their now half-finished regular season slate.

And, as it happens, the Boston University men’s hockey team –primed to host the Friars tonight up at Agganis Arena- has been all for coolly repressing any logically, superficially adverse situations in their living hot streak of 7-0-1 and season record of 14-4-1.

With the ever-hallowed Beanpot still on the horizon, the #2-ranked Terriers finished their broader travels at 7-0-0 against nonconference competition when they usurped the Denver Cup championship, clipping the host Pioneers, 4-1, in the title game ten days ago. All the while, slick sophomores Colin Wilson and Kevin Shattenkirk were piloting Team USA to another medal round crash-landing at the World Junior Championships.

In the top gun Wilson’s absence, Chris Connolly plugged the void centerpiece on the starting line and combined with partners Chris Higgins and Jason Lawrence for six points on the tournament. Steve Smolinsky filled in on the blue line opposite Shattenkirk’s partner and fellow Colorado Avalanche draftee Colby Cohen, drawing no complaints in the process.

No subsequent complaints out of Connolly, either, when Wilson’s inevitable return nudged him back to the third line. He just slugged home two goals to anchor a 4-1 pasting of Maine Saturday.

And given that it was the most gaping area of question in the offseason, BU’s goaltending has arguably been the least worrying position. Apart from a choppy, unfavorable 5-1 upshot at UMass-Amherst in mid-November, the Terriers have yet to lose by a multi-goal margin. And their established starter, Kieran Millan, has claimed responsibility for merely one of the program’s four losses, meantime stamping 10 wins and a tie in his other start-to-finish swirls.

On this pace, the freshman is just the full-blooded substitute for John Curry arriving a year later than head coach Jack Parker would have desired.

Millan’s heaviest sweat up to this point was a 34-shot, 33-save conquest of Denver, a testament to the reliability of his laser-beamed defensive corps that has tied Northeastern for the league lead of a minute two goals allowed per game.

Couple that with a runaway offensive instruction clinic that has seen tangible contributions from 20 out of 22 active skaters, a whopping twelve of them brandishing NHL property tags.

Boding well for Beaudry
Still hardly a week into his official team membership, goaltender Alex Beaudry has already claimed a bite-sized bit of hardware, garnering Hockey East’s Rookie of the Week label for his cathartic debut win over UMass-Lowell on Saturday. As best can be told, he should be scraping the visitors’ blue patch in Beantown tonight.

Elsewhere in the weekly honors’ society, the PC athletic office deemed junior captain John Cavanagh the school’s athlete of the week for his double-lighter in Saturday’s 4-2 decision.

Quick Feeds: Senior defenseman Matt Taormina was retroactively credited with an assist on Kyle MacKinnon’s empty netter, coupling that with his helper on Pierce Norton’s goal to give the playmaking puckslinger his second consecutive multi-point game…Only one Terrier –rookie forward Kevin Gilroy, who has dressed for merely seven games- is in the red under the plus/minus heading. All of their regulars, save for Higgins, are a +2 or better…After tonight, PC will still have two unopened season series before them: Boston College and Merrimack, each of whom is slated to visit Schneider Arena for a night two weekends from now.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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