January 13, 2005
Twin Peaks
With both teams rolling, the BC-BU rivalry intensifies

By Nate Ewell

 Hockey East Notebook

Peter MacArthur has been a big part of BU's resurgence.

National TV Schedule
This week's schedule

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook

Just 11 months ago, the prospect of a home-and-home series between archrivals Boston University and Boston College like the one this weekend had the appeal of a game on ESPN Classic – a bit nostalgic, perhaps, but the result’s not really in doubt.

The Eagles had just dismantled their archrivals in the Beanpot final, 2-1 in overtime, a score that was much closer than the game itself. BC dominated even though it may have never generated an odd-man rush; it couldn’t, since the puck never seemed to leave BU’s zone. The shots on goal at the end were 52-13 in BC’s favor, and extending the game to overtime was no consolation for BU.

A cloud hung over the Terrier program, which was suffering through a woeful season. As much as fans and players insisted that you could throw out the records in games against BC, something was missing when both teams weren’t at the top of their games.

“There was such a disparity in play in that game, the difference between the two teams became glaring,” said Bernie Corbett, who has been the Terrier radio voice for 20 years and has been close to the program for even longer. “People around the program, from the past and present, wondered, ‘What’s going on?’ This was just unacceptable.”

Fast forward to this season, and the two teams could finish 1-2 in the Hockey East standings for the first time since 1997-98. That year also marked a turning point in the constant ebb and flow of the rivalry: BU, which had been to seven of the previous eight Frozen Fours, was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the quarterfinals. BC began its stretch of five Frozen Four appearances in the last seven years.

Corbett knows something about rivalries – he recently published The Only Game that Matters, about the Harvard-Yale football game – and he thinks this weekend’s games could usher in a new era between BC and BU.

“I think we’re seeing a renaissance in the rivalry in terms of the talent on both sides,” said Corbett. “We may look back on the years to come as some of the greatest years in this rivalry.”

Even the team with the upper hand will admit that a rivalry loses something when one team is down. In 1993-94 BU beat BC six times – three in the regular season, once in the Beanpot and twice in the Hockey East playoffs.

“I remember guys who played in those games, by the end of the season they were all saying, ‘I wish they were better,’” Corbett said. “You can look at the color of the other jerseys, see that maroon and gold and be ready to play, but it gets tough when you just beat them like a drum each time. That was the threat for us last year.”

BU’s resurgence in the rivalry could be considered a two-step process, and it began with three games against the Eagles at the end of the year. Goaltender Sean Fields led the Terriers to a Hockey East quarterfinal series upset of BC after sneaking into the playoffs on the regular season’s final night.

As this season began, however, Fields was gone and the Terriers faced BC Dec. 3 having lost the previous six non-tournament meetings – plus that humbling Beanpot game. Their win in that game illustrated a number of their reasons for success this season: strong goaltending from sophomore John Curry, impact play from the freshman class and a junior class that has enjoyed its best season yet.

BC keeps rolling along with a fantastic defensive corps, two talented goalies and an offense that features Patrick Eaves and Ryan Shannon. The Eagles continue to attract top talent, like freshman Dan Bertram and incoming freshman Brock Bradford; recruiting has been similarly strong for BU, which should lead to continued talent and balance in the rivalry for years to come.

With the opening of Agganis Arena two weeks ago, this weekend’s series is another stop in an exciting stretch for the Terriers – in not too long they’ll be preparing for that February tournament that means so much on Comm. Ave. That excitement is one reason for hope that this rivalry will produce some very memorable games over the next several years.

“When you look at the whole perspective – where the program is, where it’s going, the new building – there’s a big sense of momentum,” Corbett said. “It’s tangible, you can feel it.”


Instant Replay – Here were the quotes:

Northeastern’s Bruce Crowder: “I thought it was our game the whole way. Their kid played great. What are you going to do?"

Opposing coach: “They really took it to us the first half of the game. Our goaltending kept us in it."

And here’s your quiz: were those words spoken Friday night or Saturday?

It could have been either, after an excruciating weekend for the Huskies. Both nights they came out flying, but BU’s John Curry, then Lowell’s Peter Vetri, only allowed Northeastern to build 1-0 leads. In both cases it was all the offense they’d get, and it wasn’t enough, as the Terriers and River Hawks stormed back to claim 3-1 and 2-1 wins, respectively.

It’s been a frustrating stretch for the Huskies, who were 5-3-1 in mid-November but are just 2-8-1 since. Two themes stick out in that time: they haven’t played all that poorly, and goals have been hard to come by. They’ve scored five goals in each of their two wins in that time, and scored twice in the tie, but in their last six losses they’ve been shutout or held to one goal.

It’s reminiscent of the first half of last season, when the Huskies played well but got little to nothing to show for it. Like last season, they need to snap out of it, starting this weekend against another struggling team in Providence.

(Note: if you're still curious, the quotes came after Saturday's game.)


Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Boston College vs. Boston University (at BC Fri., at BU Sat.)
Cory Schneider, fresh off an 11-save shutout of Yale Tuesday night, could get his first taste of the rivalry in goal for Boston College if his partner, Matti Kaltiainen, isn’t over an injury suffered Monday in practice. At the other end, one-time third-stringer John Curry has sparkled in the Terrier nets. He’s ranked in the nation’s top six in goals-against average (1.81), save percentage (.927) and winning percentage (.733).

While You're There: Find a great spot to enjoy Sunday’s Pats-Colts game, but you better get there early for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff. Like an early brunch.

Stick Salute

Don’t watch too many replays of a UMass Lowell goal – they just might score again while you’re turned away. In the River Hawks’ last three games they have scored two goals within 45 seconds, 17 seconds and 103 seconds.

Bench Minor

It’s one thing to lose a lead. It’s another to lose an 8-5 lead, with 10 minutes remaining, to a team that’s struggled to score for most of the season. In another era we’d call it downright Red Sox-ian, but now, as one witness to New Hampshire’s 9-8 loss to Dartmouth Wednesday night said, all you can call it is a gong show.

• What’s all the more remarkable about Bryan Schmidt (24 points) and Jeff Caron (22) ranking 1-2 among the nation’s defensemen in scoring is that they are doing it on a Merrimack team that doesn’t generate a lot of offense without them. Among the nation’s top 10 defensemen in scoring, only Michigan Tech’s Lars Helminen plays for a team that averages fewer goals than the Warriors (2.75, ranked 36th in the country).

• UMass, 9-2-0 at home this season, plays its next four games at the Mullins Center, beginning this weekend with two games against Maine. The series is a rematch of last year’s Hockey East championship game, although neither team has enjoyed the same level of success this year.

• Providence is 0-7-2 in its last nine Hockey East games. The Friars last league victory was before Halloween, a 6-2 win against Massachusetts. Their only victories since then have come against Wayne State, Holy Cross and Bowling Green.

• UMass Lowell left wing Brad King makes his living using his 6-foot-2 size to screen goalies and clear space for the likes of Ben Walter. He’s got four goals this season, mostly of the hard-fought variety, but he was the beneficiary of an easy one Friday when Massachusetts was victimized by the quick faceoff rule. That left King alone in front for Lowell’s second goal.

• The River Hawks will have an opportunity to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0-0 non-conference record when they visit Brown on Tuesday night.

• New Hampshire’s top line of Preston Callander, Sean Collins and Brett Hemingway accounted for 10 of the team’s 12 points in Saturday night’s win over Providence. They are the league’s top three scorers overall, and only BU’s Peter MacArthur keeps them from standing 1-2-3 in scoring in conference games.

• If you are a fan of the two-game series, enjoy this weekend. It’s the last Friday-Saturday combo of the year in which every Hockey East game is a two-game set.

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

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