Dave Wilson turns 25 today and would love to give himself a birthday present: A win over Boston University in the University of Maine’s Hockey East semifinal at the TD Garden in Boston.
It won’t be easy because the Terriers are 14-7 over their last 21 games and have averaged 3.7 goals per game.
“I like to play against offensive teams and skilled teams,” said Wilson. “It gives me a good challenge. I really get up for those games.”
He said BU is the type of team that shoots from everywhere.
“So you’ve got to be ready for a lot of shots,” said Wilson. “They’re a very offensive-minded team and their defensemen get involved in the rush a lot. They’ll work it down low a lot and then get it up to the points. You’ve got to be ready all 60 minutes.”
Wilson is playing in place of the suspended Scott Darling and BU coach Jack Parker doesn’t expect a drop-off.
“Darling has played some great games this season but he didn’t play well against us at Agganis [Arena],” said Parker referring to BU’s 7-4 and 5-2 victories Feb. 12 and 13 in which Darling allowed nine goals on 58 shots.
He speculated there might have been even more pressure on Wilson last weekend to win the UMass Lowell series.
Parker said he anticipates a better performance by the Black Bears than they exhibited that weekend.
“They didn’t have their ‘A’ game. It was more like a ‘B-minus’ or ‘C-plus,’” said Parker. “They’re very quick. After their top line, their next three lines are like three No. 2 lines [instead of a second, third and fourth line].”
Terriers anticipate skating game
BU captain Kevin Shattenkirk and assistant captain Eric Gryba, both defensemen, anticipate a fast-paced game against the Bears.
“Both teams like to play fast and create offense off turnovers. We transition the puck as quickly as possible,” said Shattenkirk. “They have a very good offensive team with a lot of weapons up front. They’re great on transition.”
“They also do a great job in the offensive zone. They find open space. They seem to have a great chemistry with each other,” added Shattenkirk. “It should be a great game to watch.”
Both said they can’t afford to take penalties because Maine has the nation’s best power play.
When they do take penalties, Gryba said, “We’re going to have to block shots and outwork them.”
Shattenkirk said they will have the advantage of having played at the TD Garden for the Beanpot Tournament and previous Hockey East tournaments. None of Maine’s players have played at the Garden since they’ve been in college.
“We’re used to playing on the big stage,” said Shattenkirk.
BU won the national championship a year ago so the Terriers have a ton of big-game experience.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge advantage,” said Gryba.
Nyquist used to close checking
Maine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist, the nation’s leading scorer, has been receiving a lot of attention from opponents and that is expected to continue tonight. But he isn’t worried about it.
“I’ve noticed that quite a few games this year,” said Nyquist. “I don’t think it will be any different than any other game. A lot of guys have stepped up for us recently and have played really well. It’s going to be a team effort so I’m not worrying about it.”