First-year Boston University coach David Quinn has had quite a bit of adversity to deal with between defections, roster cuts, and injuries that have resulted in the Terriers (8-14-3) being seriously undermanned. But Quinn believes in the players he has and offers no excuses as BU prepares to face No. 2 Boston College (19-4-3) in the 62d Beanpot semifinals Monday night at TD Garden.
When asked about transitioning through this season, Quinn said it hasn’t been as difficult as people on the outside may think.
“It’s a great group of kids and we’ve got great leadership,’’ said Quinn. “It’s fun to go to the rink every day even under these circumstances, which is difficult. The reality is, we made some decisions over the summer which I knew short term would hurt us, letting some guys go for a variety of reasons. But I thought long term, they were the best decisions for the program.
“Injuries obviously haven’t helped us lately. We have nine freshmen in the lineup every night. That’s not an excuse, that’s fact. And they’re young freshmen, they’re not nine 20-year-olds. So, we can be overwhelmed physically because we’re not a big, strong team.’’
Entering Monday night’s game, BU has one victory in its last 11 outings (1-8-2), but the freshmen are gaining valuable experience in crucial roles, which will benefit them.
“This kind of reminds me of 1987-88 and 1988-89 when BU [won just 14 games each season and] went through that stretch and struggled and were regrouping and then went on that great run,’’ said Quinn. “I am hoping that is certainly the case moving forward.
“If you talk to any coach at any college who takes over a program, there’s a lot to the job that you don’t realize. Especially when you take over after someone has been there for 40 years [as Jack Parker was]. Thank God Jack and I have the relationship we have and we talk as much as we do because it certainly has made it easier for me. But losing Matt Nieto [who turned pro] and letting the guys go we let go has made it difficult. That being said, I love going to work every day. I know how lucky I am.’’
Quinn said despite the struggles, morale has remained high and he attributes that to the leadership in the locker room.
“I give the guys a lot of credit,’’ said Quinn. “It’s not easy to stay upbeat during a time like that and they’ve managed to do it.’’
Quinn said he knows his team has a challenge ahead against archrival BC.
“I think we got rid of the awe factor,’’ said Quinn. “When we first played them [during a 5-1 loss Nov. 8], we were a little bit wide-eyed and said, ‘Oh my God, there’s Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes and Billy Arnold.’ And then [coach Jerry York] ruined it for everyone by putting those three together. We got over that and that’s why we had a competitive game with them last time we played them [Jan. 17 in a 6-4 loss].’’
On a roll
BC is going after its fifth straight Beanpot crown. The team is unbeaten in its last 12 contests (11-0-1). The streak is tied for the fourth longest in the York era. York’s 2011-12 season ended with a 19-game winning run, which culminated in an NCAA championship . . . Gaudreau goes into the Beanpot on a tear, averaging nearly 2 points per game (1.96), and became the first player in the nation to reach the 50-point plateau . . . Gaudreau carries a 21-game point streak into Monday with 43 points, 20 of them goals, in that span with 12 multiple-point performances and a plus-31 rating . . . Since being put together on Dec. 6, Gaudreau, Arnold, and Hayes have amassed 68 points and a plus-56 rating.
Junior goaltender Clay Witt, who is expected to get the start for No. 10 Northeastern’s game against Harvard, leads the nation with a .943 save percentage and is one of nine netminders in the country with 13 or more victories (13-6-2) . . . Harvard has killed off 22 of its last 23 penalties, including a five-minute major against BU Jan. 4 and a lengthy five-on-three Jan. 24 at Union. The Crimson penalty kill is ranked No. 4 in the nation behind Vermont, BC, and Quinnipiac.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.