March 17, 2004
Committee Chariman
Van der Gulik leads upstart BU into semifinals

By Nate Ewell

 Hockey East

David Van der Gulik's overtime goal in the regular season finale at UNH elevated BU into the playoffs.

(Photo by John Quackenbos)

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Boston University entered this season knowing its offense would rely on scoring by committee. It took a bit longer than Terrier fans might have liked, but by the end of the regular season, that committee had found its chairman: David Van der Gulik.

Van der Gulik scored three goals in the final weekend of the regular season against UNH, including the overtime winner that vaulted the Terriers into the playoffs. The sophomore from Abbottsford, British Columbia, leads the team with 13 goals heading into Friday night’s Hockey East semifinals.

Van der Gulik took some time this week to talk to Inside College Hockey about the upstart Terriers and how they’ve turned a disastrous season around.

Inside College Hockey: You guys had the big upset of the weekend, and against BC no less. Can you describe the mood in the locker room right now?

David Van der Gulik: It’s great, especially after the year we’ve had. It’s a new season in the playoffs, and going in that’s what we emphasized. Every game against BC is a big one, and it’s not hard to get up for them. The feeling in the dressing room was that we had nothing to lose, and that’s how we played.

INCH: Do you guys feel like you’ve turned around a disappointing season at this point?

DVG: I know personally it was a tough year for me, as it was for our whole team. I feel like we were really close to being a good team all year. We had a lot of ties, and if we could have put away some more chances, we could have finished much higher in the league than we did.

Going into the playoffs we knew we had a better team than our record, and we wanted to show that. Our goal is definitely to win the Hockey East championship.

 Semifinal Team Previews

No. 2 Maine
28-7-3 (17-5-2)
Black Bear Fact:
For a team defined by its nation-leading defense and goaltending, the Black Bears have two players averaging a point per game (Colin Shields and Michel Leveille) and a third with 20 goals (Todd Jackson).
How Maine Wins:
If the Black Bears have a flaw, it’s their power play, which is 26th in the nation and went 0-for-10 last weekend. Get a power play goal or two and continue doing everything else they are doing – great goaltending, physical play, and timely scoring – and they will be very, very tough to beat.

No. 3 Massachusetts
18-11-6 (12-9-3)
Minuteman Fact: UMass and UNH split the season series evenly, 1-1-1. The Minutemen’s win over the Wildcats on Feb. 6 is their only victory in the series’ last 11 meetings, including last year’s Hockey East semifinals.
How UMass Wins: Talk about getting contributions from throughout your lineup: UMass’s hero last week was backup goaltender Tim Warner, and its first two goal scorers in the series clincher were Josh Hanson and Dusty Demianiuk. They’ll need to keep getting support for the likes of Greg Mauldin, Stephen Werner and Thomas Pöck to take two games this weekend.

No. 4 New Hampshire
20-13-6 (10-8-6)
Wildcat Fact: UNH didn’t win a Hockey East title in their first 17 years in the league, but the Wildcats are two-time defending champions in the tournament entering this weekend.
How UNH Wins: Consistency has plagued the Wildcats, who haven’t won back-to-back games since mid-January (and haven’t won on back-to-back nights since November). The key is defensive intensity, starting from senior leaders Mike Lubesnick and Mick Mounsey. If the Wildcats are blocking shots and pursuing the puck all over the ice, they could capture their third straight playoff title.

No. 8 Boston University
12-16-9 (6-13-5)
Terrier Fact: If BU wins two games this weekend, the Terriers would enter the NCAA Tournament with the fewest victories of any team since the 1982 Harvard Crimson, who went into that tourney with a 13-13-2 mark.
How BU Wins: Maintain the emotional high from last week. That may be easier said than done, since they aren’t facing their archrival, but the Terriers truly can play like there is no tomorrow – and they've put forth their best efforts in that situation. They can also follow the lead of goaltender Sean Fields, who has been the MVP of the last three tournaments he’s played at the FleetCenter, although two of those have been in losing causes.

INCH: It seems like you guys had a lot of confidence going into Saturday’s game, even though they beat you 4-0 on Friday. What’s been the difference?

DVG: We played a pretty solid game in the first game, then had a letdown. They played well in all three games, but they were really good in the second game. Going into the third game, it was just one game, do or die. When we have had our backs against the wall, there’s been a real good feeling in the locker room that we were going to win. A lot of times this year we’ve had problems with our confidence, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. It wasn’t the case when we were playing New Hampshire and we knew we had to win to make the playoffs, either.

INCH: You got banged up Friday – was there any chance you’d sit Saturday?

DVG: I hit a guy with about 10 minutes left in the game Friday and got a pretty bad charley horse. I missed the rest of the game, and I guess after the game coach told the media that I wasn’t going to be able to play Saturday. I hadn't even talked to him yet. But I got some treatment and the next day I skated a little and felt all right.

INCH: Feeling better now?

DVG: My legs are still a little beat up, but I’m feeling better. Once the adrenaline gets going you’re fine. It’s the playoffs, you have to play.

INCH: Looking back a couple of weeks, it was really your three goals against New Hampshire that got you guys into this situation. What memories stick with you from that weekend?

DVG: We knew we had to win because we couldn’t put it in the hands of Northeastern and UMass. I scored that first goal – our first against Ayers in a long, long time – and it was really a load off our backs.

At New Hampshire, going into overtime, we knew we had to win. Coach was telling us that he was going to pull the goalie, which would have been wild. I just put the puck to the net and got a chance to get to my rebound. Everybody was jumping around in the locker room. It was the best feeling we had this year – until we beat BC.

INCH: Do you guys have a feeling at all that you guys are finally getting some good karma in the last few games after the season you’ve had?

DVG: Definitely the bounces are going our way. We’ve had some good luck, plus [Sean] Fields behind us has been making big saves. But we’ve been playing real well and making some of that good luck happen.

INCH: Tell us about your first impressions of the city of Boston.

DVG: I came for my visit in the summer after my junior year of high school, so I didn’t see a game. The first time I saw a BU game, I was playing in it.

INCH: What were your first impressions of playing in the FleetCenter?

DVG: That was the Beanpot last year, so I have great memories of it. It was the biggest crowd I’d ever played in front of, so I was pretty nervous. That’s a great tournament, the best one in college hockey, I think.

INCH: You’re heading back to the Fleet this weekend. Do you still get nervous for those games?

DVG: Sometimes I almost over-psych myself out. You try to take it as just another game, but every time we play there, there’s a lot on the line. BU teams always seem to play well in games like that, and hopefully that’s something we can keep going.

INCH: Do you have guys on this team who have helped you along the way, guys you have looked up to?

DVG: All the seniors last year really helped me make the adjustment from juniors to college hockey. Our captain, Freddy Meyer, and the two seniors I played with last year, John Sabo and Brian Collins, definitely helped with that transition.

This year, it’s not so much that I look up to guys, but I work to get better. Going up against guys like Ryan Whitney in practice is amazing. I try to set an example and hopefully I can be a leader.

INCH: Who’s the entertainer in the dressing room for you guys?

DVG: We have our share of guys like that, but definitely the storyteller who stands out is Steve Greeley. Through all the frustration, you need guys to help ease the tension.

INCH: Coach Parker can be a character himself. How’s he been this year?

DVG: The way things have gone, he could have been really down on us this year. He’s let us know how he’s felt sometimes, but for such a tough year, he’s done an excellent job keeping things relaxed. He’s kept practices loose and changed things up when they haven’t gone well.

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