Boston University season preview

By DJ Powers

The Terriers will open their 85th regular season on October 15th when they host conference rival UMass-Lowell at Agganis Arena.

Boston University lost five players over the offseason, many of whom were key contributors to the success of the team. Chris Bourque opted to forego his final three years of eligibility to sign with the Washington Capitals. Pat Percella, who saw action in just four games last season, has transferred to Bentley College. Defenseman Bryan Miller and forwards Brian McConnell (CGY) and Matt Radoslovich have all graduated. Of the five players, the loss of Miller is perhaps the most significant. Miller provided a stabilizing presence on the Terriers blue line and his versatility also proved to be beneficial in offensive production as well.

The Terriers will return most of their top players from last season, but the most pressing question coming into this season is when, if at all, will senior-to-be David Van der Gulik (CGY) be available. The Abbotsford, BC native is suffering from a condition called Osteitis Pubis, which is an inflammation of the pubic bone. He has not skated since the end of last season and has spent the entire summer rehabbing from the ailment. Van der Gulik led the Terriers in scoring last season with 31 points (18 games, 13 assists). His absence would be a tremendous blow to both the BU offense and leadership.

With the possibility of being without the services of Van der Gulik, seniors John Laliberte (VAN) and Brad Zancanaro and sophomore sensation Peter MacArthurB> will be the three players counted on to lead the BU offense this season. They finished second, third and sixth in scoring last season, respectively. Laliberte had arguably the most improved season of any non-freshman on last season’s roster. He displayed a knack for capitalizing on his opportunities and scoring the clutch goals, particularly on the power play. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Beanpot opening game versus archrival Boston College and the final game in the Hockey East quarterfinals versus Providence. In both instances, Laliberte was able to rise to the occasion to help propel BU to important victories. His seven power play goals led the team, while his three game-winners was tied for second on the team.

The feisty Zancanaro, who will serve as team captain this season, continues to earn the ire of the opposition and the adoration of the Boston University fans alike. He finished the 2004-05 season with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) and led the Terriers in plus/minus (+12). MacArthur brought a combination of intensity, energy and tremendous offensive ability to BU last season. His successful rookie campaign earned him a unanimous selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie team after leading the Terriers freshmen in scoring with 27 points (13 goals, 12 assists).

Another forward that BU will be looking at to help provide some offense as well as leadership is junior Kenny Roche (NYR). After suffering through a bit of a slump last season, Roche will look to bounce back to form this season. He finished last season with 11 points (five goals, six assists). While Roche did have his moments, overall consistency was a problem that plagued him throughout the season.

Aside from Bourque and MacArthur, two other freshmen forwards that were quite impressive last season were Ryan Weston and Bryan “Boomer” Ewing. Weston finished with his rookie campaign with four points (three goals, one assists) in 40 appearances. While his numbers were not great, his overall season performance was. His superb use of his enormous 6’2/208 lbs. frame was quite effective in helping to both stifle the opposition and create space for his for teammates. He could see an expanded role on the team this season and the Terriers are counting on some more offensive production from him as well.

The energetic Ewing saw action in just 29 games last season due to injury. The latter half of the season saw Ewing as his best and nowhere was that more evident than in the regular season finale versus New Hampshire, where he posted three points (one goal, two assists). He finished the season with14 points (six goals, eight assists). Beginning this season healthy, Ewing is poised to be a significant contributor to the Terriers offense.

In addition to the many returning players, BU will also welcome six outstanding additions (all forwards) to their lineup this season that include the Colorado Avalanche’s 2004 draft selection Brandon Yip, former USNTDP standout Jason Lawrence and the immensely talented former New England Prep school standout Steve Smolinsky. Yip, is an offensively gifted player who comes to BU from Coquitlam (BCHL), where he finished the season tied for first in scoring with 69 points. Lawrence, a forward who is blessed with great hands helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the U-18 WJC in the Czech Republic earlier this year. The speedy Smolinsky comes to BU from the Salisbury School where he finished sixth on the team with 34 points. Rounding out the Terriers incoming class is a trio out of the EJHL in Matt Gilroy, Chris Higgins and John McCarthy.

One of the most pressing issues for BU going into last season was goaltending. But it became the Terriers greatest strength, thanks to the spectacular performance by John Curry. Curry, who will be a junior this season, backstopped the team to a berth in the NCAA Tournament as well as propelling the team to capture its 26th Beanpot Championship. BU is hoping that Curry will be able to match and hopefully surpass last year’s performance. Curry will get some competition from the other two returning goaltenders in senior Stephan Siwiec and sophomore Karson Gillespie.

Despite the loss of Miller, the BU defense looks to be very solid. Junior Sean Sullivan (PHX), who split much of the year playing alongside towering junior Thomas Morrow (BUF) and sophomore Kevin Kielt, provided a strong physical presence on the BU blue line and became arguably the most effective defenseman on the BU roster last season. He finished the season with the second highest plus/minus on the team (+8) and finishing with four points (one goal, three assists). The tandem of senior Dan Spang (SJ) and junior Kevin Schaeffer (NSH) provided BU with a very solid defensive duo last season. The pair logged a tremendous amount of ice time and successfully defended against some of the best forwards in the league. Spang finished second among Terriers defensemen in scoring with 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists). Schaeffer’s number took a dip from the previous season, finishing with 14 points (2 goals, 14 assists). Nevertheless, he continues to make great strides in his overall game.

(Number of NHL prospects on 2005-06 roster: 10)

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