Flying with New Wingmen
every time that Sean Collins and Steve Saviano have been
described as inseparable, you’d think Collins would
be pretty distraught about turning to his right on the ice
and not finding his longtime linemate.
not the case at all, says Collins, who is averaging a point
per game headed into New Hampshire’s game against
Providence Friday night.
the first couple of weeks I noticed that he wasn’t
there,” he said. “But [his current linemates]
Justin Aikins and Preston Callander are two quality players,
and we had a chance to skate together during captain’s
practices. They’re just as good.”
that last sentence again. They’re just as good.
impressive company, given that Saviano was the best player
in Hockey East last year. But perhaps more importantly –
and probably more accurately – is that Collins is
proving that he’s just as good as his old
has shown the same skills and versatility he’s always
had, skating in all situations and devouring ice time –
especially in today’s special teams-driven game. Always
a great goal scorer, Collins has shown a willingness and
an ability to carry the puck and awful lot in Saviano’s
absence. He’s slippery, and his size (5-foot-9, 178
pounds) and skill combination make it tough for defensemen
to take the puck away from him, especially with the new
shrugs off the suggestion that he’s possessing the
puck more these days, and seems to think that people are
making too much of who he’s not playing with, rather
than looking at his current line.
hockey you have to be accustomed to playing with different
people,” he said. “All three guys have to work
together. When all three players are in synch as a line,
the puck’s going to move a lot between everybody.
I’m just as comfortable with these guys as I was last
Aikins and Callander continue to develop chemistry, expect
even better results from the trio. Aikins is off to a bit
of a slow start, with just three assists, but head coach
Dick Umile knows that it’s a line that has the chance
to be among the best in the country.
now, BC’s trio of Patrick Eaves, Ryan Shannon and
Dan Bertram can safely lay claim to that title. But as Sean
Collins has proven so far this season, he’s much less
concerned about who he’s playing with than he is about
the end results.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
for the Weary – With only five games in four
weeks under their belts, last weekend might not seem like
a great time for the UMass Lowell River Hawks to take a
break. But it couldn’t have worked out better for
head coach Blaise MacDonald.
said that at least six players might have missed time with
various injuries had Lowell been scheduled to play last
weekend, including goaltender John Yaros and star forwards
Andrew Martin and Mark Pandolfo. Some – but perhaps
not all – of the half-dozen walking wounded will be
back in action this weekend as the River Hawks host Colgate
any extra bodies in practice, MacDonald had to improvise
a bit, while trying to keep his players sharp with contests.
tried to create a lot of competitive games, where we have
rewards for the winners and create duties for the losers,”
MacDonald said. “We had faceoff competitions, special-teams
competitions, pull-the-goalie competitions.”
in some semblance of health, the River Hawks are ready to
get back on the ice. And the break couldn’t have come
at a better time.
Bears – Injuries are also plaguing Maine,
although the Black Bears escaped unscathed from an injury
to their most important player, Jimmy Howard.
Howard went down midway through Sunday’s game against
New Hampshire, Matt Lundin stepped in during a UNH power
play and – with no warmup – kept the Wildcats
off the board in a 3-0 shutout win.
wasn't surprised by his performance,” head coach Tim
Whitehead told the Bangor Daily News. “He
keeps getting better. He's very eager to learn. [Assistant
coach] Grant [Standbrook] was in town and does an excellent
job with our goalies. Like Jimmy, Matt is very focused and
strong on the puck. He competes hard and he's real natural
playing the puck because he played the puck a lot in high
school. He's like a third defenseman."
performance isn’t a complete surprise. He was the
most highly regarded goaltender coming out of Minnesota
high school hockey last year, and after the success his
brother Mike had as a freshman on defense for Maine, Whitehead
knew he was getting someone from good stock.
need more solid performances from Lundin if Howard can’t
come back. He’s questionable this weekend, although
the Black Bears are hopeful that forwards Michel Leveille
and Rob Bellamy may be able to return against Northeastern
and UMass Lowell.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Northeastern (Friday)
Northeastern gets its Hockey East schedule underway,
and the Huskies do it against – what else? –
a ranked opponent. Six of the seven teams Northeastern
has faced this year have been in the INCH Power Rankings
at some point this year, with the exception of last
Friday’s victim, Connecticut.
You’re There: I subscribe to Globe columnist
Bob Ryan’s theory: my car and I have an adversarial
relationship, at best. But if you like autos, or want
to dislike your own car even more, check out the New
England Auto Show at the Bayside Expo Center, running
through this weekend.
Ever wonder what went on during that mysterious time
in September before coaches were allowed on the ice
with their teams? The current issue of USA Hockey
Magazine includes a nice feature by Roger
Brown on captains’ practice at New
Regular INCH readers know that we’ve been beating
the Steve Saviano drum for years, so it’s no
surprise that we were taken aback by his demotion
to the ECHL. Last year’s Hockey East
Player of the Year is yet another victim of the NHL
lockout, since so many NHLers are taking AHL roster
spots, but it’s not just Saviano’s loss
– it’s that of the Lowell Lock Monsters
and their fans as well.
The Boston University-Merrimack home-and-home should feature
a goaltending matchup that no one would have predicted before
the season – or even a week ago. John Curry’s
rise to the top of the Terrier goaltending depth chart has
spanned the first month of the season, while Frank McLaughlin’s
jump with the Warriors was much more sudden.
a junior from Drexel Hill, Pa., hadn’t made a start
in two-plus years at Merrimack. When he showed up for Saturday’s
morning skate, he learned that he’d be starting against
Massachusetts that night. He made 41 saves in Merrimack’s
first Hockey East win of the year.
butterflies) weren't too bad until I got on the ice,”
McLaughlin told Matt Kalman of hockeyjournal.com. “Then
I was like, 'I think I'm going to puke.’ After the
first or second shot, I got comfortable, got back in the
groove. So I was fine."
kid's been here for three years and he's worked his butt
off," said Merrimack head coach Chris Serino. "I'd
like to say it was some calculated thing, but he just deserved
a chance to play. And I make decisions on my goaltenders
based on one thing: Who gives us the best chance to win?
And Frank gave us the best chance to win."
Massachusetts has enjoyed some success splitting its top
offensive weapons, Stephen Werner and Matt Anderson, on
two different lines. The Minutemen, who face Boston College
and Mercyhurst this weekend, scored eight goals Friday against
Merrimack. They only managed two goals the next day –
one for each of the top two lines – but had 43 shots
Werner and Anderson have received solid
support from freshman P.J. Fenton, who currently leads all
Hockey East rookies with nine points in nine games.
It’s still early, but UMass Lowell’s 3-0-0 non-conference
record and 0-2-0 league mark is conjuring up memories of
two years ago, when the River Hawks were great outside the
league but woeful in Hockey East. Perhaps that’s one
reason why Blaise MacDonald says that Friday’s game
against Colgate is important, but Saturday’s meeting
with Maine “is a big game, a special game. We really
focus on our league games and want to do well there. If
we can get one or two wins in our next three games –
against Maine, BU and BU – we’ll be doing all
Boston College has played just five games in the first month
of the season, spanning 42 days since the start of practice.
The top-ranked Eagles will pick up the pace now, beginning
with Friday’s home game against Massachusetts. They’ll
play eight games in the next 30 days.
Former Maine defenseman Chris Imes was in the news a lot
this week. John Connolly of the Boston Herald compared
the Black Bears diminutive but incredibly smooth Bret Tyler
to Imes, a flattering comparison for a freshman. As for
Imes himself, the former Olympian is behind the bench of
the Elk River (Minn.) high school girls team, which is defending
the state’s Class 2A championship.
Watching Boston University and New Hampshire play without
longtime counterparts Sean Fields and Mike Ayers in goal
was a little disconcerting – the kind of thing that
makes you feel old.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this