and more EJHL veterans are showing up on Hockey East rosters
– and thriving
Hockey East rookies are making a bigger impact in the first
half of 2004-05 than they did a year ago. And more and more
often those impact freshmen are coming from a small but
growing group of 13 teams scattered across the Northeast
called the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
of the nine Hockey East teams have freshmen who played in
the EJHL last season, and some – like Maine’s
Bret Tyler, Massachusetts’ P.J. Fenton and Providence’s
Jon Rheault – have been among the best rookies in
the league. Hockey East isn’t alone in tapping the
EJHL as a resource, either – star freshmen Jon Pelle
at Harvard and Shawn Weller at Clarkson are EJHL alums.
growth of the EJHL may have taken a bit away from prep hockey,
although its demise has certainly gotten a bit of the same
treatment as Mark Twain’s death. Chris Bourque, Cory
Schneider and Billy Ryan are great examples of the continued
strength of the prep game. And the EJHL may not have overtaken
other sources of talent, like the USHL (Peter MacArthur,
Kevin Regan) or Canada (Craig Switzer, Peter Vetri).
it is presenting another option, an especially good one
if players from New England want to stay close to home.
great for us, since we have a chance to watch it more because
it’s right in our backyard,” said Boston College
head coach Jerry York, who has two EJHL alums in his freshman
class. “The strongest junior league is still the USHL,
but I think it’s great that the EJHL is producing
more and more quality players.”
most telling is that EJHL veterans are coming in and exceeding
expectations. Ryan Weston was almost an afterthought in
a talented Boston University class, but has come in and
contributed in every game. P.J. Fenton got nary a mention
when Inside College Hockey compiled our rankings of the
top 20 incoming forwards, but you’d be hard-pressed
to find 10 freshmen forwards across the country who have
made a bigger impact than the Longmeadow, Mass., native,
who ranks tied for fifth among Hockey East players with
love that league,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead,
whose freshman class includes defenseman Tyler as well as
forward Rob Bellamy from the EJHL. “It’s really
emerging as an elite junior league and a great alternative
for Eastern kids who know they want to stay in this area
biggest reason it’s done so well, you look at the
coaches in the league,” added Whitehead. “Jim
Salfi (Capital District), Peter Masters (Junior Bruins),
Gary Dineen (New England), Lincoln Flagg (New England) –
right on down the line it’s a very impressive group
of coaches. Every single team has a quality coaching staff,
and that’s a big reason why players can come in and
have such a big impact.”
schools have benefited from EJHL recruits for years –
Maine’s captain, John Ronan, and leading scorer, Derek
Damon, are both EJHL veterans, for example. And their growing
impact could be seen last year in freshmen like Colin McDonald
at Providence and Kevin Schaeffer at BU.
the EJHL’s contributions to Hockey East have undeniably
picked up, and it’s a trend that should continue.
A number of future stars have already committed from the
league, like forward Joseph Cucci (Merrimack) and 1988 birthdate
Mike Borisenok (UNH).
results are any indication, some other EJHL recruits will
play an even larger role than expected as well.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
– Are 61 shots on goal a good sign when you
only score once? It’s certainly a good news-bad news
situation at Boston College as the Eagles head into Friday’s
game against Northeastern. They tied Providence, 1-1, last
weekend with Friar senior David Cacciola making 60 saves,
the third time this year that BC has had 50-plus shots on
goal and not come away with a win.
did everything right but light the light,” head coach
Jerry York said. “Give Cacciola credit. He was so
good at stopping the first shot.''
credit as Cacciola deserves, it is cause for some concern
in Chestnut Hill. For all the Eagles’ talent, they
do lack a pure goal scorer, a la Tony Voce, who graduated
last spring, that specializes in burying chances.
players have that knack for scoring goals, and Tony certainly
is one,” York said. “But I think you can get
better at it, and I think we’ve got a lot of real
good goal scorers on our club. We’ve just got to bear
down a little bit more.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Lowell at Northeastern (Sat.)
teams face challenges Friday – the River Hawks
at Dartmouth, the Huskies at BC – which makes
this game all the more interesting. Lowell has dominated
Northeastern recently, almost as much as the rest
of the league has dominated Lowell this year. Can
the River Hawks’ non-conference success begin
to spill over?
A belated salute to my ECACHL colleague, Joe
Gladziszewski, who had the best score in
INCH Pick ’Em
two weeks ago. I’d be doing better, but I keep
picking UMass Lowell in league games and against the
River Hawks in non-conference games.
Merrimack’s Chris Serino had an ambitious plan
to play in two holiday tournaments in 2004-05, but
the timing worked out to give the Warriors eight days
to spend at home in between. That is, until Minnesota
changed the dates of its tournament, moving
it to a midweek affair on Dec. 22-23. The switch came
too late for Merrimack to back out, and leaves Serino’s
team with a game the night before Christmas Eve in
Minneapolis and another seven days later in Storrs,
Boston University fans upset at Pete MacArthur’s
absence from the U.S. National Junior Team may be able to
blame – who else? – a BC guy.
While the rest of the U.S. lineup may be lacking in playmakers
– hence the need for Chris Bourque – there’s
a wealth of goal scorers, which would be the more accurate
characterization of MacArthur. Among those goal scorers?
None other than Adam Pineault, who was among the original
12 selections to the squad, even though he didn’t
truly showcase that ability at the Heights.
Bourque and BC’s Cory Schneider are Hockey East’s
lone selections, at this point, for the
junior team (MacArthur and BC’s Mike Brennan might
be contenders to be added in case of injury). Bourque will
miss BU’s home game against Nebraska-Omaha and its
“rink swap” weekend against Minnesota. Schneider,
meanwhile, will be unavailable for BC’s trip to the
Everblades College Classic and a league game at Merrimack.
Boston College took a classy page from
North Dakota when each one of the Eagles skated over to
shake Jack Parker’s hand after his 700th career victory
Friday night. The Sioux, you may remember, did the same
for Jerry York when he won his 700th on Oct. 29.
a tribute to Jack’s longevity, and to have longevity,
you have to be successful," said York, who now leads
Parker in wins, 703-701. "He’s made a real good
impact giving back to Hockey East and the game of college
hockey. We didn’t want to lose that game, but it’s
a tremendous milestone for Jack.”
Freshman Peter Vetri made back-to-back starts in goal for
UMass Lowell last weekend and seems to
have wrested the starting job from senior Chris Davidson.
Vetri broke a finger in his catching hand three weeks ago,
but since then is 3-1-1, including a three-game winning
Early in the year, New Hampshire thought
it had the makings of one of the nation’s best lines
with Sean Collins, Preston Callander and Justin Aikins.
It took a little tinkering, but Brett Hemingway is helping
the Wildcats fulfill their offensive promise. He’s
taken Aikins’ spot on the right wing of that line
and promptly put together a six-game point-scoring streak,
including goals in five straight games.
whose older brother, Colin, had 148 points in four years
with UNH, had two goals in each game last weekend and heads
into Thursday night’s game against Massachusetts
with a share of the team scoring lead (12-6—18
in 15 GP).
Massachusetts, 6-2-0 at home but 0-6-1
on the road, plays seven of its next nine at home. Unfortunately
only four of those seven home games are Hockey East contests.
It’s not often in college hockey that a player gets
to face off against his former coach, but Providence’s
Jamie Carroll had that opportunity Wednesday. Carroll
had attended Iona before the Gaels dropped their program
two years ago, and Rensselaer assistant coach Frank Bretti
was Iona’s head coach. Carroll, who has found a home
among the Friars’ top two lines, had an assist to
extend his scoring streak to six games, but the Engineers
won the game, 4-3.
The Friars are the first Hockey East team to punch the clock
on the first half of the season. They are now off until
facing Vermont on Dec. 29 in the Ledyard Classic at Dartmouth.
Northeastern has an opportunity to make
up a little ground in the standings, as the Huskies are
the only team with two league games this weekend. At the
very worst, they’ll enter the holiday break three
points out of the conference cellar, which isn’t all
bad considering last season’s last-place finish.
New Hampshire fans get a look at the next
star in college hockey Saturday afternoon when Phil Kessel
and the U.S. Under-18 Team visits the Whit. Last week against
a team of locked-out NHLers, Kessel danced around 13-year
NHL veteran Derian Hatcher and scored on Manny Legace. The
17-year-old Kessel, who will play on Team USA at the World
Junior Championship, will attend college next fall and is
deciding between Boston College, Boston
University, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Tickets for the Hockey East championship weekend at the
FleetCenter are on sale now and available through Ticketmaster.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this