2004-05 Hockey East Mid-Season Report
to point to the production of the freshmen as a reason for Boston
University’s resurgence, but the Terriers’
rookies were supposed to be effective. A bigger surprise has been
the development of the sophomores and, especially, the juniors.
Head coach Jack Parker thought a spike in production from those
juniors – like John Laliberte, David Van der Gulik, and Brad
Zancanaro – was going to be key for the Terriers last season.
When they didn’t produce, well, neither did BU, finishing
eighth. Now they are second, fourth and sixth, respectively, in
scoring on a very balanced Terrier attack that’s 8-1-0 in
Hockey East play in the first half.
The best story
of the Hockey East season may be the emergence of goaltender John
Curry, but since we anointed the Terriers as the surprise team,
we’ll spread the wealth here and salute Maine’s
John Ronan. A reliable checking forward for his first three
years in Orono, the senior captain has emerged as a scoring threat
this season – especially important given Maine’s loss
of Todd Jackson, Colin Shields and Dustin Penner. Ronan, a versatile
player who boasts a terrific shot, has six goals already to match
his career high, and his 12 points are just two points shy of his
HAPPENED TO …
Lowell? The River Hawks seemed poised for a monster year,
not just in Hockey East but on a national scale as well. Yet they’re
mired in last place, winless, in the conference standings. That
league record hides some impressive numbers – Lowell’s
8-0-0 non-conference record and six-game unbeaten streak are the
best in the country – but there’s no denying that the
first half hasn’t gone as planned for Blaise MacDonald’s
club. Injuries and simple bad luck have contributed, as well as
bad timing – when they’ve played well, the River Hawks
have either faced a team without “Hockey East” on its
sweater, or they’ve come away with a tie.
MacArthur's seven goals and 13 points in Hockey East games lead
MacArthur came in relatively unheralded among a talented
BU freshman class, in part because he battled injuries last year
with the Waterloo Black Hawks. It even took some convincing from
head coach Jack Parker that he didn’t need another year of
seasoning in juniors. But MacArthur has emerged as a star in the
first half of 2004-05, showing a scorer’s touch and the effort
and hockey sense it takes to be effective in every situation. He’s
also benefited from an immediate connection with linemate and fellow
freshman Chris Bourque – at times it appears that the two
have been skating together since pee wees.
The second game
of the college hockey season produced the biggest upset thus far
involving a Hockey East team: Northeastern’s 4-2 win
over Michigan at the Lefty McFadden Tournament. The Wolverines
have since shown the ability to turn in performances with all the
consistency of Courtney Love, but that game served notice that this
will be a different Husky team from the one that has finished last
in Hockey East each of the past two seasons. Improved goaltending
from Keni Gibson and timely offense from Jason Guerriero were the
keys to that win over Michigan, as they have been in the Huskies’
is the only team outside of the WCHA that has played the
two best teams in the country, Minnesota and Colorado College, and
the Minutemen put up good fights in both games. That’s the
good news. The bad news is that they traveled over 6,000 miles in
those trips, played four games, and won just one (2-1 vs. Canisius).
UMass has also played surprising Vermont and defending national
champion Denver, part of a brutal four-game trip away from the Mullins
Center that took them to Maine, Vermont, Colorado College and Denver.
Not surprisingly, all losses. The schedule is easier in the second
half, with only a game at Niagara coming outside of New England,
but with leading scorer Matt Anderson out for 6-to-8 weeks, the
challenge doesn’t subside.
College faces a second-half slate that’s challenging
both qualitatively and quantitatively. Perhaps as payback for a
first half in which the Eagles played on back-to-back nights only
once, they have 21 games the rest of the way. BC should enjoy the
week of Jan. 16, because between now and President’s Day,
that’s the only time they don’t have a mid-week game.
The pace slows in the last two weeks of the regular season, but
the competition doesn’t – the Eagles play New Hampshire
and Maine in their last two series.
have to wait long for what might be the best series of the second
half: Boston College and Boston University meet
in a home-and-home Jan. 14-15. Each had one Hockey East loss in
the first half and, along with UNH, sits in the best position to
make a run at the regular-season conference title. This series,
which will feature the first-ever meeting of two coaches with 700
career wins, also includes BC’s first visit to Agganis Arena.
But forget the firsts – it’s a must-see series for the
same reason it always is: it’s BC vs. BU.
will New Hampshire cope with the graduation of three defensemen
and goaltender Mike Ayers? A mix of players have stepped
up to ensure that, if anything, the Wildcat defense may be improved
over last season (they are giving up 2.75 goals per game vs. 2.83
last year). Freshman Craig Switzer is the notable addition on defense,
a player Dick Umile already considers a potential great in Durham
who plays with a poise and grace reminiscent of Mike Mottau. In
net, Jeff Pietrasiak has handled the bulk of the duties, posting
a 7-2-2 record, with freshman Kevin Regan (4-1-0) playing a supporting
will the second-half additions impact the Hockey East race? Expect
transfers Jeremy Hall and Scott Drewicki to jump-start UMass Lowell
and Merrimack, respectively. Hall, who had a great first semester
for Niagara last year, will be yet another dangerous ingredient
up front for the River Hawks – giving them a group of top
six forwards that rivals any team in the league. Drewicki, meanwhile,
adds strength to an already talented Warrior blueline. If defense
wins championships, a team with one of the league’s best groups
of defensemen can’t possibly miss the playoffs, as Merrimack
was predicted to do in the preseason.
First Half All-Hockey East Team
hard to argue with the rookie’s numbers in Hockey East
play: unbeaten at 3-0-3 and a league-best GAA (1.58) and save
on the ice for more than half the game for the Warriors and
contributes at both ends.
strong two-way defenseman, he’s followed his impressive
rookie year with even more offense.
Wildcats earn consideration at this point, including Brett Hemingway,
who has been on a scoring spree since joining Collins’
Eaves, Boston College
East’s most dynamic player, he’s cooled slightly
after a fast start. Still our pick to take the league scoring
the conference in scoring at the break. The only rookie to do
that for a full season? Paul Kariya.
this to a friend
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