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Terriers continue push for first in Hockey East

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 12:00 PM / On Campus

By Michael Blinn - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Terriers continue push for first in Hockey East
The Boston University Terriers continue their push for first in Hockey East when they meet Vermont on Friday.
Boston University (18-11-1) at Vermont (6-23-1)
Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

MODERN HISTORY:

Boston University: Coming down the home stretch in Hockey East, the Terriers are looking to climb atop the league standings. They sit in third, two points out of first place with four games to go -- including two at Vermont. Coming into this weekend, BU has swept the season series with New Hampshire, and has taken wins from Maine, Denver, Northeastern, and Merrimack. While the Terriers won two of three against Boston College in Hockey East play, losing the Beanpot championship game in OT to their rivals has obviously stung, as did a split with upstart Lowell last weekend. This is a team that has thrived in the face of distractions -- see Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle early in the season -- and they'll have to do so again with Max NiCastro's arrest and subsequent suspension earlier this week.

NCAA Hockey on NBC Sports Network

Vermont: The Catamounts have been resigned to "spoiler" territory in Hockey East, and it seems a role they're ready to embrace. Mired in a seven-game losing streak -- their third winless stretch of six or more games on the season -- they dealt a big blow to New Hampshire's climb up the league ranks with a weekend split. Friday's win was just Vermont's sixth of the 2011-12 schedule, though three of those wins have come against ranked opponents in Minnesota, Ferris State, and Lowell, and with two games apiece against Boston University and Boston College, the Catamounts can wreak some serious havoc atop the league standings and the national polls. They lose six seniors at the end of the season, and can come together to set up some good feelings heading into next season.

INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS:

There are no overtly gaudy numbers on the Terriers roster, which suits them just fine. Junior Alex Chiasson (12 goals, 35 points) leads a roster that scores consistently and runs four lines deep. All told, four BU players are among Hockey East's top 18 goal scorers. Junior Wade Megan's breakout season (15 goals, 21 points) has seen him score a number of clutch goals. Matt Nieto has established career highs (12 goals, 33 points) in all major categories, and his goal total ties him with Chiasson for 16th in the league. Garrett Noonan (11 goals, 17 points) has put on a shooting clinic from the blue line, teaming with fellow sophomore Adam Clendening (3 goals, 26 points) to form a big-time tandem for BU. Sahir Gill (10 goals, 24 points) has developed into a top-flight contributor sine the departures of Coyle and Trivino, while senior captain Chris Connolly has led by example, setting up his teammates a Terrier-high 24 times. Kieran Millan (16-11-1, 2.54 goals-against average) remains Jack Parker's bread-and-butter in net. Having started every game since mid-November, he ranks among Hockey East's top five in wins, GAA and save percentage.

It's difficult to mention consistency without bringing up Catamounts forward Sebastien Stalberg (11 goals, 20 points). As the team's leading scorer, the junior's totals are his best yet and he hasn't gone pointless in more than two straight games this season. Sophomore Connor Brickley (8 goals, 11 points) has returned to the ice after an injury at the World Juniors, and appears to have shaken off the rust in last weekend's split with New Hampshire. Freshmen Colin Markison (6 goals, 13 points) and Kyle Reynolds (10 goals, 23 points) have put exclamation points on their first go-round with big second halves -- Markison has 4 goals and 7 points since the calendar flipped to 2012, while Reynold has contributed 4 goals and 12 points in that same span. Defensively, Drew MacKenzie (7 goals, 22 points) has saved his best for last, putting up career bests across the board in his senior season. His campaign has been aided by sophomore Nick Bruneteau (2 goals, 17 points), who is tied for the team lead with 15 helpers. Rob Madore's senior season (5-17-1, 3.79 GAA) hasn't seen him find the same consistency that earmarked his first three seasons, but he's proven that he can carry the team when he's on his game.

Boston University Terriers Vermont Catamounts
Alex Chiasson - 29GP-12G-23A-35Pts Sebastian Stalberg - 30GP-11G-19A-30Pts
Matt Nieto - 28GP-12G-21A-33Pts Kyle Reynolds - 30GP-10G-13A-23Pts
Chris Connolly - 29GP-6G-24A-30Pts Drew MacKenzie - 28GP-7G-15A-22Pts
Adam Clendening - 29GP-3G-Pts23A-26Pts Nick Bruneteau - 30GP-2G-15A-17Pts
Sahir Gill - 30GP-10G-14A-24 Colin Markison - 29GP-6G-7A-13Pts
Kieran Millan - 16-11-1, 2.54 GAA, .923 SV% Rob Madore - 5-17-1, 3.79 GAA, .874 SV%

RESEARCH LIBRARY:

Boston University Terriers Vermont Catamounts
Coach: Jack Parker (880-453-113) Coach: Kevin Sneddon (186-250-65)
Record: 18-11-1 (14-8-1 HEA) Record: 6-23-1 (3-19-1 HEA)
25.8% PP (3rd)  / 83.3% PK (19th) 17.2% PP (42nd) / 67.6% PK (58th)
Drafted: Adam Clendening (CHI), Garrett Noonan (NSH), Alex Chiasson (DAL), Yasin Cisse (WPG), Justin Courtnall (TBL), Wade Megan (FLA), Matt Nieto (SJS), Kieran Millan (COL), Grant Rollheiser (TOR) Drafted: Nick Luukko (PHI), Drew MacKenzie (BUF), Michael Paliotta (CHI), Connor Brickley (FLA), Matt Marshall (TBL), Brett Bruneteau (WSH)

LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT:

"I think it is going to be a little strange in the fact that my dad works for the team. But at the same time it has always been a dream of mine to play for the Flyers one day. Obviously growing up I was a huge Flyers fan. In terms of the organization I think it will be easier for me to fit in and easier for me to get more comfortable quicker because I know all the people so well." -- Catamounts freshman defenseman Nick Luukko on being drafted by the Flyers, of whom his father, Peter, is President and C.O.O.

"More and more kids from California are getting this opportunity. I think it's good for kids to look at us as examples and think, 'If they can do it, so can I.'" -- Terriers sophomore defenseman Matt Nieto on being drafted by a team in his home state, the San Jose Sharks.

TAKING NOTES:

NHL connections: Vermont's Sebastian Stalberg is the younger brother of current Blackhawks forward Viktor, while Connor Brickley's cousin is former Bruin and current analyst Andy Brickley. The Brunteau brothers, sophomore defenseman Nick and junior forward Brett, have a grandfather Ed and great uncle Modere who are former Detroit Red Wings. BU junior Justin Courtnall is the son of former NHLer Geoff Courtnall, and the nephew of Russ Courtnall, while senior Kevin Gilroy is the younger brother of Lightning defenseman Matt Gilroy. ... Home Economics: BU has lost four straight at home for the first time since Agganis Arena opened in 2005, something they haven't done as a team since 1987. ... Civil Procedure: BU averages 20.1 PIMs per game, the most in the nation -- but they also rank third with 8 shorthanded goals. Vermont is the NCAA's most gentlemanly team, spending just 12.3 minutes in the penalty box. ... Quantitative Reasoning: The Terriers have been on a power-play tear in the new year, picking up man-advantage goals in 13 straight games at a 35.8 percent success rate -- including a 6-for-9 effort in an 8-0 win over Providence on Jan. 21. The Catamounts have scored at least one power-play goal in 12 of their last 15 games. ... Learning Curve: Underclassmen have scored 14 of Vermont's last 18 goals and account for six of the team's top eight overall scorers this season.

Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions