Following up with BU hockey's Chiasson
Editor's note: ESPN.com first got to know highly touted hockey player Alex Chiasson back in September, when he was transitioning into his freshman year at Boston University. Patrick Carney follows up with the freshman forward and 2009 Dallas Stars draft pick from Quebec.
Carney: As a first-year player at BU, how is the season going?
Chiasson: Well, obviously from what they did last year and what we started doing last year, we started really different. [As defending champions, the Terriers started this season 4-9-3.] From a freshman's perspective, it was really hard coming here and starting the season with hard games, and it was pretty hard as a team to find ourselves and where we belong in the league and what we needed to do to win games. Everything that happened before Christmas was hard for us. For our freshman class, it was our first year. It was hard to expect what would happen.
Overall, it was a good learning experience, but I guess everyone came after Christmas with a different mindset, and we won Saturday [Jan. 2] against UMass 7-3, and it was a really good team effort. Everyone played well, and I think we need to keep playing that way and we'll be fine until the end of the year.
Q: What was said in the team meeting after Christmas?
A: First of all, Coach was really honest with us. We screwed up before Christmas and we weren't playing as well as we should be playing. Coach asked every single player what they were going to do after Christmas break to help the team out.
Lastly, our captain [Kevin Shattenkirk] took over and they [Shattenkirk and assistant captains Eric Gryba and Nick Bonino] said they were going to be better leaders than they were so far. Shattenkirk, Gryba and Bonino have been doing pretty well with what happened so far this year.
Q: What has the day-to-day been like in practices and preparing for games as the team has struggled?
A: Obviously, with school here, it's a lot different than just showing up for practice. Guys were getting nervous, anxious, and it's also with school when hockey isn't going well. You don't really want to show up to class in the morning, and you don't know if you want to do your work at night for school the next day. We're old enough and we understand what happened to us. It's a long process and ultimately we went over that and so far it's been great after Christmas break.
Q: Beyond your captain and assistant captains, has there been anyone in particular that has stepped up and tried to lead the team and get people focused again on winning?
A: Probably [it's] mostly Coach Parker who's been doing that. Every guy on the team is kind of a leader, but other than our captains, I would say it's mainly Coach who wants us to win and play hard.
Q: What is the team's goal for the rest of the year?
A: If we keep playing well like we did last weekend [against UMass], I think we'll make the playoffs, and then we're hoping to get home ice for after the season. That's what we said in our meeting. I think that's realistic. It's a possibility.
It's a long process and we have to take it game by game, but we can't see what's going to happen at the end of the season right now. We need to go through every game and every night and hope we make it.
Q: How would you rate your personal play this year? Are you happy with the way you've played?
A: I think I started the season pretty well. I played the first six or seven games pretty well, and then I got injured. I missed three or four games with a head injury [concussion, suffered in practice on Nov. 11]. It was pretty hard coming back from it. It was my first one. I got hit pretty hard and then afterwards the last six or seven games I've been on and off. I've had some good games and some bad games.
I went home for Christmas and spent some time with my parents, and it was good being away from hockey. I think if we want to make it far this year in the playoffs, I need to be one of those offensive players on the team that can make a difference. I know I'm a freshman, but at the same time I've got to take some leadership.
Q: Have you given any more thought to how long you will stay in college before you move into the Dallas Stars' system?
A: To be honest, I think I'm just going through this season and each season at a time, and we'll see what happens. I definitely enjoy my time here. It's a great experience for myself. Even for school, I'm having good grades. So far, it's been going really well.
Obviously, my dream would be to play in Dallas, but it's not something I think I'm personally ready for right now. We'll just see what happens in the near future.
Q: Do you have any regular level of contact with the Dallas organization?
A: Not really on a regular basis. I think their head scout came and saw me play a couple times this year, but they're just letting me play hockey and I'm pretty sure we'll have some meeting after this season. They're not really on me all the time, and I like that. They're just letting me play hockey and trusting our coaches here to make me a better hockey player.
Patrick Carney is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
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