needs no reminders of its status entering Monday's Beanpot.
The Huskies know they are the only unranked team in the
field, and they're well aware of the school's woeful Beanpot
history that includes only four titles in 52 years.
all that, a little positive reinforcement can work wonders.
Especially entering a tournament where, as everyone in the
617 knows, you should expect the unexpected.
to the team (this week)," said head coach Bruce Crowder,
"we know we've had a tough schedule, but we've come
out and competed well in really every game but two to this
result the Huskies – last-place finishers in Hockey
East last year – stand at 9-13-4 overall (5-8-3 in
the league) entering Thursday's game against Massachusetts.
It's not a sparkling record, but not one riddled with bad
Northeastern hasn't lost a game to a team outside of this
week's top 15 since October 19. Essentially, the Huskies
are beating who they should beat. If they can take that
a step further the next two Mondays, Northeastern hopes
it can serve as a springboard for future success. Boston
University has followed that formula for years.
no doubt that having success in the Beanpot is going to
keep your confidence up heading into the rest of the league
schedule," said Crowder.
likes his team's chances not only because of the way they've
competed over the course of the season, but also their experience.
the most part we're an older team, we've been through it,"
he said. "We've had some challenges and the guys have
stuck through it."
important is the experience of the Huskies' leaders. Crowder
cites forward Jason Guerriero, goaltender Keni Gibson and
defenseman Tim Judy as his top three players, and each is
Guerriero is having a career year," he said. "he's
a guy who is really unsung in Hockey East, even though he's
up there with the league scoring leaders. In this day and
age, he's found a way to be a point a game guy really since
he was a freshman, and that's remarkable."
the course of the next two Mondays, Guerriero and the Huskies
could shed that unsung tag. But even if things go their
best, people won't forget that they were the underdogs.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
Progress? – Entering the season, it appeared
that Massachusetts’ run to the FleetCenter last March
might have been a case of two steps forward before one step
back. The departures of leading scorers Thomas Pöck
and Greg Mauldin left the Minutemen staring at a setback
in the ongoing building process under head coach Don Cahoon.
four losses in a row, a winless January, and the news that
injured forward Matt Anderson will miss the rest of the
season, it would be easy to forget that despite a step back,
the UMass program is still on the upswing.
of that positive momentum, of course, depends on the next
wave of Minutemen to arrive in Amherst. Coaches aren't eager
to look beyond the current season, but players like forwards
Alex Berry and Sam D'Agostino and goaltender Jonathan Quick
have confidence high for the future.
close to where we need to be," said Cahoon. "We've
got one major need at center for someone who can skate and
make plays and stir the drink, so to speak. But I think
our team looks good at the moment."
recruits that are in place show that last year's trip to
the Hockey East title game is still paying dividends for
kids took a leap of faith as a result of us making the progress
that we have as a program," Cahoon said. "I'm
sure it's a little unsettling for them to watch what's happening
now, but they know where we are headed."
to next year's freshmen, the Minutemen have made inroads
with 16- and 17-year-old verbal commitments – recruiting
ground usually reserved for the BCs and BUs of the world.
It's a strategy that's fraught with risk, but once again
shows the program's progress.
it offers further hope that there won't be any steps back
in the future like the one UMass is suffering now.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Maine at New Hampshire (Fri.-Sat.) For
the fifth year in a row, Hockey East's two northern
rivals meet on the weekend preceding the first Beanpot
games. It doesn't get the ink or the air time –
at least not south of the Dover tolls – but
this rivalry shares the same intensity as the happenings
on Causeway Street Monday.
You're There: If you have time to venture north on
Saturday morning, head to Meredith, N.H., and check
out the ice fishing derby on Lake Winnipesaukee (yes,
literally on Winnipesaukee).
The early reviews on Inside Hockey East,
airing on NESN before and after Friday Night Hockey
games, are very positive, earning a Season Pass on
my Tivo. The feature on Merrimack's Bryan Schmidt
last week was especially good.
More teams should have game-worn
jersey sales like the one going on at Northeastern.
My only qualm, given that the Huskies seem to change
jersey styles more than I change my oil, is that there
are no pictures of what you're buying.
Much is being made of Boston's good sports fortune, what
with New England shooting for its third Super Bowl title
in four years on the heels of the Red Sox win. But forget
about pro sports at the moment; consider the schools atop
the Hockey East standings. Boston College had
a fantastic football season, just missing a BCS bowl, and
is unbeaten in basketball. New Hampshire,
meanwhile, enjoyed a great football season of its own and
the hockey players even had a chance to boast about it.
When they played at Michigan State they watched a Big Ten
football game, where the Wildcats could say, "Yeah,
well you lost to Rutgers and our I-AA team beat them ..."
For Beanpot history and more, venture over to ECACHL land
and visit Harvard's Beanpot
How much Boston University's loss of John
Curry, who was injured against Merrimack last
week, hurts the Terriers remains to be seen. He's expected
to return for the second round of the Beanpot. In his place,
junior Stephan Siwiec has a 3.60 goals-against average and
a .863 save percentage on the year, but he allowed only
two goals in four periods of relief work last weekend (.941
Maine's Jimmy Howard, who was cleared to
resume full training at Christmastime, finished January
at 4-0-3 and earned Hockey East Goaltender of the Month
honors. His Black Bears are unbeaten in 11 straight Hockey
Don Cahoon's UMass team allowed 11 goalsin
two losses to Boston College last weekend,
but to hear him talk, it doesn't sound as if the Eagles
have hit their offensive stride.
certainly know how to generate quality chances," said
Cahoon. "They've sort of struggled to score goals,
but once they start going in, they'll score a lot."
Merrimack's last two losses have come by
one goal. The Warriors are 1-4 in one-goal games this season.
UMass Lowell's loss at New Hampshire
ended the River Hawks' 14-game unbeaten streak,
and if it didn't end hopes of a home playoff series at Tsongas,
it at least put them in jeopardy. Lowell is now eight points
behind Maine and UNH, who are tied for third, with 10 games
Hope for the Friars: Providence is 10-2-3
in February the last two seasons.
We have to think the college hockey sweaters on the wall
helped The Fours earn the No. 1 spot in Sports Illustrated's
ranking of the top sports bars in America. Raise a
glass to that on Monday.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this