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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Lowell at Massachusetts (Fri.)
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.
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.
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.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this