October 21, 2004
Hockey Sox

By Nate Ewell

 Hockey East Notebook

Is that Patrick Eaves, or Manny Ramirez?
(Photo by Michael Silverwood)

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook
WCHA Notebook

They’ve captured our imaginations over the past two weeks, six months, or 80 years. Whatever it’s been, you’ve probably noticed that talk around New England hasn’t been about blue lines, but Red Sox.

Even the hardiest of Hockey East fans has to admit these Sox are an addictive bunch – the 7,663 empty seats at UMass Lowell and Northeastern Tuesday night showed that pretty clearly.

So now, as we turn our attention to Hockey East but keep our hearts devoted to the Sox, we decided to take a look around the conference and see who might fit where in the Red Sox lineup.

Johnny Damon – Elias Godoy, UMass Lowell
Like Damon, this comparison can start with the hair, although Godoy’s is lighter than Damon’s Nazareth-inspired ’do. But like Damon, substance truly triumphs over style for Godoy, who is a table-setter for the River Hawks. Like Damon Wednesday night, Godoy has some pop in his bat, scoring 18 goals in 2003-04.

Mark Bellhorn – Keni Gibson, Northeastern
Bellhorn made a reputation as an all-or-nothing No. 2 hitter, leading the Sox in walks and strikeouts. Gibson has had a similar either-or career for the Huskies. Last year he posted a Northeastern-record five shutouts, but in his 27 other games had a save percentage of just .883. Will we see Gibson as Bellhorn in Games 1-5 of the Yankee series, or Games 6-7 in 2004-05? The answer could dictate Northeastern’s success.

Manny Ramirez – Patrick Eaves, Boston College
The talent is simply undeniable, and liable to leave you picking up your jaw several times a game. But there are strange lapses. Eaves isn’t the defensive liability Ramirez can be – perhaps nobody north of the midget level is – but his penchant for untimely penalties can be as maddening as Manny’s quirkiness. Nevertheless, Manny had an MVP-caliber year, and penalties or not, Eaves could do the same.

David Ortiz – Jimmy Howard, Maine
Maine’s Papi is unquestionably Howard, who solidified his reputation as a clutch performer through the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments last March and April. Ortiz was best described by Bill Simmons as a combination of Dave Henderson, Roy Hobbs and Ghandi, and he’s probably the Sox’ best clutch hitter in a generation. Yes, he may strike out in the early innings – see Howard’s performance against Harvard last March – but he’s the guy you want up late.

Kevin Millar – Robbie Barker, New Hampshire
The Wildcats aren’t idiots. But Barker is definitely their lighthearted leader, in the spirit of Millar. He’s a good balance for the intensity of his fellow blueliner, Brian Yandle. For a good read on Barker’s sense of humor, check out this interview he did with Al Pike of the Foster’s Daily Democrat. A bonus here – he’s a diehard Sox fan who plans to be at the World Series. Naked.

Trot Nixon – Matt Anderson, Massachusetts
They’re back from injury and expected to provide offense. Trot wasn’t terrific in the ALCS, but he didn’t have to be the offensive answer. Similarly, Anderson has linemate Stephen Werner to be the heart of the order for the Minutemen, but he’ll have his impact, like he did with 3-2—5 in the season opener.

Jason Varitek – Steve Crusco, Merrimack
Of all these guys, wouldn’t Varitek fit right in on the rink? He’s a grinder, a leader, and a heart-and-soul player. I can’t believe he played his college ball at Georgia Tech and not Ferris State. Crusco, a captain for the Warriors, fits that bill, and like Varitek, can chip in offensively as well. He scored 10 goals 16 points last season and is playing first-line center for the Warriors this year.

Bill Mueller – Dylan Cox, Providence
The most remarkable thing about Mueller is that he’s a batting champion hitting eighth or ninth in the order. With that in mind, we give the nod to Cox, center of the fourth line – or, fittingly, the “Green Line” – for the Friars. Providence doesn’t have the elite talent of Ramirez and Ortiz, with the possible exception of Chris Chaput, but depth has helped the 2-0-0 Friars. Cox had a goal and led a line that posted 10 shots on goal in the Hockey East opener against Merrimack.

Orlando Cabrera – Chris Bourque, Boston University
He’s a new guy, he’s a sparkplug, and he’s following one of the most popular players in New England history. You might say Bourque isn’t following his father – he certainly isn’t in the same way Cabrera followed Nomar – but Ray is the first thing most BU fans will think of when Chris takes the ice. The next thing they’ll think is probably along the lines of: “Man, this guy’s good. I’m glad he’s on our team.” Just like Cabrera.

Pedro Martinez – Andrew Alberts, Boston College
Alberts is banged up right now, as we’ve been accustomed to expect from Pedro, who always seems a pitch away from the DL. He’s an even better comparison when he’s healthy, though, since Alberts is never afraid to throw inside, as it were, with a big hit.

Bronson Arroyo – Cleve Kinley, UMass Lowell
No, he doesn’t have cornrows (but you might want to think about it, Cleve). As the River Hawk defenseman turned heads as a freshman last year, coaches around the league sounded like Sox fans watching Arroyo – “where’d this guy come from?”

Curt Schilling
Can anybody compare to what No. 38 did Tuesday night? Not really. But it’s early yet, at least in Hockey East. There’s plenty of time for heroes to emerge. Meanwhile, those of us in Hockey East country will enjoy where the Sox take us over these next 10 days. And we'll have some good hockey to watch, to boot.


Coaching for Calls – With the increased emphasis on calling the rulebook, much has been made of the importance of special teams this season. That’s something every coach works on, every day. But less attention has been paid to some less-noticeable coaching methods making the rounds: teaching your players to avoid penalties.

“We’ve been doing drills without sticks to emphasize that you can’t grab guys, especially in your defensive zone,” said Providence head coach Paul Pooley, whose team had “only” nine penalties Friday against Merrimack. “You have to keep your feet moving, and you have to be cognizant that you can’t impede the other player. It’s our responsibility as players and coaches to adjust.”

Can the players adjust? That’s the question as we watch whistle-filled games right now. The theory has been that they will, but clearly they’ll need some help.

“We use different terminology,” Northeastern head coach Bruce Crowder explained. “Instead of talking about making a stand, maybe we’ll say you need to absorb the guy. We try to continually talk about keeping your feet moving.”

Clearly McCreary – Sophomore have accounted for seven of Providence's nine goals in the Friars' 2-0-0 start, and Bill McCreary – who had just five goals all of last season – has four of them.

“He’s a competitive kid who is playing with a lot of energy,” head coach Paul Pooley said. “He gets the other team off their game and he’s scoring on tip-ins, rebounds, and being feisty. He played a lot for us last year, but this year he got a chance on the power play right away, and it’s paying off.”

The Friars head to Walter Brown Arena Friday night to try to keep their early-season run going.


Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

UMass Lowell at Massachusetts (Fri.)
It's a long way back from Anchorage, and UMass, which was shut out for the first five periods of its trip, hopes to have rediscovered its offense on the return. Lowell proved that it could hang with the big boys Tuesday against BC, but the River Hawks will need wins in games like this to separate themselves from the middle of the pack in Hockey East.

Stick Salutes

Dan Parkhurst and the folks who bring you HockeyEastOnline.com deserve accolades for their new Video Replay feature. It’s a great sampling of the best highlights from the previous weekend, brought SportsCenter-style to your desktop. Without Stuart Scott.

Bench Minor

When it comes down to it, A-Rod’s swat of the ball from Bronson Arroyo in Game 6 was a lot like Maine tipping the net in overtime against North Dakota. Problem with baseball is, A-Rod’s action came with no significant penalty. Yes, Derek Jeter couldn’t advance to second on the play, but that’s nothing as significant as the penalty shot that North Dakota beat the Black Bears with, which certainly fit the crime more appropriately.

• Boston College shared the national lead (with Maine) in short-handed goals last season, scoring 12. With all the penalties this season, it's not surprising that the Eagles are already ahead of that pace – they scored two SHGs against Denver.

• New Hampshire, despite rolling over on Sunday at Michigan State, deserves credit for battling to a 4-4 tie at Michigan on Friday. The game could have easily been 5-2 Wolverines, but UNH kept fighting back, a good sign for a young team.

• Sophomore Josh Ciocco provided a lot of energy for the Wildcats Friday night, and looks like he's ready for a breakthrough season. After only playing 17 games last year and scoring no goals, he has three goals in the early going this season.

• Maine plays their sixth and seventh non-conference games of the season this weekend, against St. Lawrence, before the Black Bears enter the Hockey East fray. By early January, Maine will have played a member of every conference in the nation except the CCHA.

• Andrew Alberts' injury caused concern for BC, and it intensified when Peter Harrold had to leave Tuesday night's game against UMass Lowell. Do-it-all forward Patrick Eaves, who has already played the point while short-handed or in four-on-four situations, jumped back to the blueline to help out in their absence.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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