Dogged Determination

BU looks to bounce back

By Elliot Olshansky

CSTV.com

 



ELLIOT OLSHANSKY

Elliot is CSTV.com's hockey editor and runs his Rink Rat hockey blog on CSTV.com.
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On March 25, 2005, Pete MacArthur's freshman season at Boston University ended, courtesy of a 4-0 loss to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the aftermath of the end of a season that had shown so much promise, the freshman from Clifton Park, N.Y., made a promise of his own, bolder than one might have expected from a freshman who had just gone scoreless in the most important game of his season.

 

"We're not gonna let this happen again," Macarthur said, speaking words that would be printed in The Daily Free Press, BU's student paper. "By the time I'm out of here, we got a championship. I guarantee you that."

 


 

 

As ill-advised as MacArthur's words seemed at the time, the star forward seemed almost prophetic as the 2006 NCAA tournament began. The Terriers had won the Beanpot (on a goal that MacArthur had personally guaranteed, then delivered), the Hockey East regular season title, and the Lou Lamoriello Trophy as Hockey East champions, and entered the NCAA tournament at No. 1 in the USCHO.com/CSTV rankings.

 

It was not to be, however, as a Boston College team that had dropped four straight decisions to its Commonwealth Avenue rival - including an overtime loss for the aforementioned Hockey East title - steamrolled the Terriers in Worcester, won the Northeast Regional, and came within one goal of that national championship that MacArthur had promised for his own team.

 

Still, there would be more opportunities. MacArthur was coming back after leading the Terriers in scoring, as were his linemates, Kenny Roche and Bryan "Boomer" Ewing. Brandon Yip was Hockey East's Rookie of the Year, and goaltender John Curry had gone from walk-on to All-American. Yes, seniors like Brad Zancanaro and David Van der Gulik would be missed, but that was college hockey. The Terriers would be fine.

 

But the Terriers weren't fine. Curry was fine, bordering on brilliant, for much of the season, earning First Team All-American honors and Hobey Baker consideration. The defense was fine, giving Curry the help he needed and producing an All-American in the form of former walk-on Matt Gilroy.

 

"Everything's kind of come quick," Gilroy said. "It wasn't an easy road, but playing under Coach Parker, you only get better. I got to play with [former Terriers] Danny Spang, Sean Sullivan, you just get better playing with guys like that."

 

However, despite solid goaltending and defense, the Terriers' offense was lacking, to say the least. After averaging 3.50 goals per game in 2005-06 - good for sixth in the nation that year - the Terriers were 44th in the nation in scoring offense last season with 2.44 goals per game. When Curry suffered a torn labrum late in the year, he could no longer make up for the Terriers' offensive deficiencies, and BU went out in the first round of the NCAA tournament, falling to eventual national champion Michigan State.

 

Obviously, it was a different team in 2006-07. An all-senior top line had graduated. Yip played only 18 games - less than half the season - due to injuries. However, it wasn't all about who was out on the ice. It was something much simpler, and much less likely, especially for MacArthur.

 

"We just lost our confidence," MacArthur said. "We played way too passively in the offensive zone, like we were just waiting for something bad to happen. It seemed like most of us completely lost our belief in ourselves, that we could put numbers on the board. A lot of it has to do with confidence, and we just lost that last year."

 

MacArthur and company will look to get that confidence back in 2007-08, with help on the way in the form of a recruiting class that includes highly-touted forward Nick Bonino and a potent pair of defensemen in Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen.

 

Those defensemen will be playing in front of a new Terrier goaltender, with Curry having graduated. Karson Gillespie and Brett Bennett were both highly recruited, and are expected to make a smooth transition into their expanded roles with Curry gone.

 

"We're pretty confident that we've got talent at that position," Parker said. "They're both talented guys. They're both highly-recruited guys. They just don't have a lot of experience because they played behind an All-American goalie the last two years, but I think both of them are very capable."

 

"Karson's an unbelievable goalie," Gilroy said. "Bennie's an unbelievable goalie. I can't wait to see what they can do."

 

Gillespie, for his part, isn't letting last season's offensive struggles affect his mindset as he prepares to see much more time between the pipes.

 

"It's a different team this year," Gillespie said.

 

Parker, for his part, believes that the offensive woes are a thing of the past.

 

"I think our problem will be solved this year," Parker said. "I think we'll have a much better power play, which was a big part of it. Also, Yip will be available for us the entire season, he's really good on the power play and as a five-on-five guy, and we'll have [Bryan] Ewing completely healthy. Having those guys available for the entire season, it's almost like we've got two new forwards. We'll be better all-around from the blueline and the forward perspective as far as offense is concerned."

 

As good as the personnel will be, though, MacArthur - now the team's leading scorer two years running - still believes that a change in attitude will be key.

 

"This year, we just have to come out, right from the get-go, and believe that we're a good offensive team. You have to believe in yourself, that's the biggest thing. You're here for a reason, and if you keep a positive mindset, things will be fine."

 

Fine is...well, fine, but once upon a time, MacArthur promised a national championship. Now a senior, he speaks with confidence, but not brashly, deflecting conversation away from his boast of two and a half years ago.

 

"We'll see what happens," MacArthur said. "We're going to try our hardest. We're going to take it one game at a time, and if the bounces go our way, we'll see what happens."

 

This MacArthur seems just as happy to be starting the journey as he is concerned with its destination.

 

"I'm just excited to get started," MacArthur said. "I'm excited to get another year here, another chance to make some noise."

 

For MacArthur, making noise isn't exactly a problem, but how much noise his team makes is something that remains to be seen.

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