BU rookies making an impact on hockey team

When veteran Boston University coach Jack Parker assessed his roster at the start of the season, only one word was needed to describe it: young.

The Terriers have nine freshmen — nearly half of their 22 players.

And so far, they are having an impact. Heading into Friday’s game at Merrimack, 11th-ranked BU is 4-2-0 overall, 3-1-0 in Hockey East play.

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Rookies account for two of the top five scorers. Freshman forward Danny O’Regan, formerly of St. Sebastian’s (and whose father Tom played for BU from 1979-83) is second with 7 points, four of which are goals.

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, a Bruins draft pick who hails from Charlestown, is tied for third with 5 points, all assists.

Two of the top four scorers are sophomores. Forward Casey Hohmann is the top point-getter with 8 points, three of them goals, in six games. Forward Evan Rodrigues is tied for third with five assists.

Team captain Wade Megan rounds out the top five with four goals and one assist, tied for third with 5 points.

“We have a pretty big freshman class this year and they’ve stepped in and been able to adapt to the Division 1 game pretty quickly,’’ said Megan, one of only five seniors on the squad. “They’ve been able to contribute early, which has been a big part of our success so far this year.’’

Megan said everyone knew the young players would be crucial to how far the Terriers go.

“We knew we would need those guys to step in and play well,’’ said Megan. “They’ve been able to do that so far. They are going to be a big part of our success.

“Sometimes, freshman year, I think some guys can pick it up real quick. [For others], it’s tough. It’s a little harder to get adapted to not only the hockey but the whole college lifestyle in general.

“I think [the sophomores] did a very good job their freshman year but just having that year under your belt, and coming in your sophomore year and knowing what to expect, I think that helps out a lot.’’

Megan has been very impressed with O’Regan’s early progress.

“He’s a terrific player,’’ said Megan. “He’s been playing really well. He’s a hard worker. He has a nose around the net and he’s able to put himself in good position to score.’’

One of the biggest question marks over the summer was filling the substantial shoes of departed goaltender Kieran Millan.

Parker platooned two freshmen in the early going, Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire. Statistically, O’Connor has emerged as the front-runner with a record of 4-0-0, a save percentage of .942, and a goals-against average of 1.81.

“They’re both very capable,’’ said Megan. “It’s no longer an issue for us, it’s not something we worry about. They’ve both played real well for us and they both need to continue to play well as the season goes on here.’’

The weekend will provide a couple of stern tests. After the game against the Warriors, the Terriers take on arch-rival Boston College, ranked No. 1 in the country, Sunday afternoon at Agganis Arena.

“This weekend is going to be huge for us,’’ said Megan. “This Merrimack team is a good team. We’re not looking ahead, we’re worried about them, and the guys are more than ready for it.

“And any time you have BC on the schedule, the whole dynamic of the week is a little bit different. Everyone seems to be a little more fired up to get our first look at them.’’

Time change

For those who have tickets to the BU-New Hampshire game Nov. 18 at Agganis, the starting time has been moved to 1 p.m. The reason for the change is because the NFL moved the Patriots-Colts game to 4:35 p.m. . . . Northeastern welcomes Alabama-Huntsville Saturday night for the first of a two-game set at Matthews Arena. It will mark the first time the programs meet. The last time the Huskies faced a first-time opponent was Niagara on Nov. 5, 2010. NU (2-4-1) is looking to end its five-game winless streak (0-4-1) against its first nonconference foe . . . Merrimack junior forward Mike Collins had a big weekend during a two-game sweep of NU. Collins had a goal and four assists, picking up helpers on both game-winners . . . BC (6-1-0) received a strong performance from senior goaltender Parker Milner in last weekend’s sweep of Maine and UMass. Milner stopped 57 of 61 shots (.934 save percentage). The Eagles host rival Notre Dame at Conte Forum Friday night . . . It was also a fine weekend for UNH sophomore goaltender Casey DeSmith, who stopped 76 of 78 shots, including a season-high 42 Sunday in a 4-0 shutout at Maine. UMass dropped UNH (5-1-1) in overtime on Friday, 2-1.