February 9, 2005
Fight for Fourth

By Nate Ewell

 Hockey East Notebook

Elias Godoy's 28 points are tied for ninth in Hockey East.

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That logjam in second place in the Hockey East standings – featuring Boston University, Maine and New Hampshire – is about more than who has a shot to jump up and catch Boston College in the final four weeks of the regular season.

That three-way tie for second, you see, is also a three-way tie for fourth. Which makes it a mad scramble to get into second or third place and avoid playing UMass Lowell in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

True, Lowell isn’t assured of the fifth spot, and even if they get it, third place may be no picnic if you’re facing the Beanpot champion Northeastern Huskies. But there are a number of reasons for BU, Maine and UNH to be clamoring for third or better. Here are two big reasons the River Hawks are dangerous:

Power play

Those leading the officiating crackdown have vowed to maintain its vigilance through the playoffs, which will bode well for the River Hawks. Their 24.6-percent power play is especially lethal with the first unit on the ice, which often happens for the entire two minutes.

What makes them so good are their interchangable parts: they typically set up with Andrew Martin and Cleve Kinley manning the points, but Elias Godoy and Ben Walter will rotate into those positions as well. That movement forces the penalty killing team to adjust, opening up passing and shooting lanes.

Often the beneficiary is the fifth member of the first unit, Danny O'Brien, who stakes his claim to the slot area. Most players who occupy that space on the ice are the size of David Ortiz, but O'Brien's just 5-foot-8, 188 pounds. To Godoy, who set him up for his fifth goal in four games Saturday night, size doesn't matter.

"He's a hunter," said Godoy. "O'B's got very good command of loose pucks and the ability to get to rebounds. Every time he gets a chance he puts it in."

If oversized defensemen are punishing O'Brien for invading their space, he doesn't seem to mind.

"It's an easy job with guys like Marty and Eli and Cleve and Walter getting you the puck," he said. "It's all worth it. Nothing hurts."


The River Hawks’ all-for-one attitude manifests itself in many ways, from how MacDonald says his players hold each other accountable for the systems they play to the way most of them stand excitedly on the bench throughout the game.

Here’s another example: Godoy, arguably one of the five most creative players in the conference, spent Saturday night skating between two players who aren’t among the team’s top seven scorers. That's not to slight Mark Pandolfo or René Gauthier, his linemates against Providence, but it's still surprising to see the team's top returning scorer on what could accurately be described as the third line.

Godoy, of course, doesn't mind.

"If I'm not playing with 23-goal Ben Walter, Andrew Martin, Danny O'Brien, I don't care," said the junior from West Vancouver, B.C. "Whatever it takes to win, I'm on board. I'll play with anyone."

Godoy also has a kinship with classmate Pandolfo, who he played with last season when Pandolfo scored 13 goals. He has just four thus far this year, but Godoy likes the opportunity to help him turn things around. Saturday he sprung Gauthier with a pass that led to Gauthier's first goal of the season.

"I love to make guys who haven't been playing their best better," said Godoy. "Guys like René Gauthier, who has a boatload of skill. I like to talk to him and get him to show what he can do."


Frustrated Friars – The pain from Providence’s seven-win season to this point shows no signs of abating. What could have been a turning-point weekend – featuring a 2-2 tie against Boston College and a comeback to force overtime at UMass Lowell – ended on a bitter note with a controversial River Hawk goal in overtime.

Jason Tejchma led UML on a two-on-one, but Providence’s David Cacciola made the initial save. Bobby Robins, the trailer on the play, lunged for the rebound, pushing Cacciola backwards and the goal off its pegs. Assistant referee Mike Taddeo, stationed on the goal line, signaled goal, and after a brief review with referee Tom Fryer at center ice, a very frustrated Friar team had its 11th Hockey East loss.

“The goal light never went on, and the goal judge never got consulted,” head coach Paul Pooley said afterwards. “That’s what I question I just hope that when the tape comes out, that the goal was in as opposed to not being in and not having consulted the goal judge – with the linesman making the call. If that’s the case, then I’m fine with it. It’s too important to our livelihoods, too important to our kids.”

Robins was certain that the puck crossed the line, and did so before the net came off.

“That’s why I started celebrating,” he said. “I would have kept on poking away at it otherwise. (When the discussion was going on) I was a little concerned, but I wasn’t that worried.”

Regardless of whether the goal should have counted or not, it was a devastating way for Providence to lose – Pooley said his team’s mood was one of “anger, more than anything.”

“That’s the way the year has gone,” he added. “But you have to keep fighting through adversity.”

Learning Process – The Beanpot, for the 12th consecutive year, will reside in Hockey East, with Boston University and Northeastern doing battle for the trophy Monday night. Meanwhile, the Hockey East school that didn’t earn a shot at the title, Boston College, hopes to learn from the experience.

“We got a good look at our team and what we bring to a big venue,” said senior captain Ryan Shannon after Monday’s loss to BU. “We can learn a lot from this. There’s still a lot coming our way with Hockey East and the national tournament.”

The Eagles, for all their success lately, have not been a great tournament team. They are 10-10-0 in Beanpots and postseason action since winning the 2001 national title. While not reason to panic, that record at least is cause for concern in the Heights.

“You have to learn from the experience,” head coach Jerry York said after Monday’s loss. “I thought that time that we got frazzled a little bit.”


Great Weekend Getaway
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Boston University vs. Northeastern (Mon.)
The best of this week’s offerings requires us to peek ahead to next week. The Beanpot’s most storied and most struggling teams meet for the title, and goaltending is likely to take center stage. As Keni Gibson goes, so go the Huskies. Can he lead the team to its first title since his assistant coach, Bruce Racine, did it in 1988? Will John Curry play for BU, and if so, will he be as effective as Stephan Siwiec was Monday night? You might want to arrive early to start debating these points; BC-Harvard should be a good one, too.

While You're There: Just be glad you won’t have to watch the ads on NESN, which Monday night included a Russian nested doll set of New England Patriots that still featured Lawyer Milloy and Antowain Smith.

Stick Salute

Collectively, the media in New Hampshire gives the Wildcats the best coverage of any team in the league. Part of that is thanks to sheer volume, with four papers following the team on a regular basis. But the writers also have a nose for a good story, as shown by Foster’s Daily Democrat scribe Al Pike in his Patriots’ feature the day before the Super Bowl.

Bench Minor

We try to avoid critiquing the difficult and thankless job of our officials, but Joe Andrews gets the bench minor this week. When an assistant referee got caught between BC defenseman Andrew Alberts and the puck Friday night against Providence, the A.R. was bowled over, and Andrews gave Alberts a two and a 10 for unsportsmanlike conduct. In the words of the Eagle summoned to serve the minor for Alberts, clearly visible on TV to even an amateur lip-reader, “What the hell?”

Boston University goaltender John Curry, injured Jan. 27 against Merrimack, looks like he’ll be ready to return to the lineup for Monday’s Beanpot championship game. Despite Stephan Siwiec’s performance in the win against BC, head coach Jack Parker indicated after the game that he’d go with Curry if his starter is healthy.

Massachusetts got its first road victory in over a year (Jan. 17, 2004) on Saturday at Merrimack. The win should also all but assure the Minutemen of a Hockey East playoff berth, since they hold a nine-point lead over Merrimack in the standings with six games to play, and they win the season series with the Warriors.

• If his recently snapped nine-game point-scoring streak wasn’t enough, here’s another measure of Patrick Eaves’ value this season. The BC forward, prone to untimely penalties in the past, averaged 2.6 penalty minutes a game his first two seasons. This year he has less than half that, at 1.1.

New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile enters the weekend series against Massachusetts with 345 career wins, just two shy of Charlie Holt’s school record.

Merrimack, the nation’s first 20-loss team, is 8-2-1 when scoring four or more goals, but 0-18-2 when scoring three or fewer. The Warriors visit Boston College, the league’s stingiest defense, on Friday.

• Brad King’s freak injury after a collision at Boston University Friday night will cost the junior the rest of the season. UMass Lowell isn’t releasing details of the injury; it will keep him in the hospital for two or three weeks, but isn’t considered career threatening. It’s a costly loss for UML in terms of size – King is 6-foot-4 – and contributions.

“It’s unfortunate because he was having a tremendous year,” said MacDonald. “He’s a physical player who is just starting to find his offensive touch.”

• No surprise seeing Mike Morris net Northeastern’s first goal in the Beanpot win over Harvard. Morris now has eight goals in the last eight games; Jason Guerriero, not coincidentally, has 11 assists (and three goals) in that time. Guerriero has assisted on 11 of Morris’ 14 goals this season.

Boston College, the top team in the Hockey East standings, and Providence, the No. 8 team, finished their season series 0-0-3.

• David Cacciola may have lost the overtime game at Lowell, but it wasn’t a wasted night for the Cacciola family. The goalie’s brother, Paul, won a Lowell Sun drawing for a free River Hawk sweatshirt.

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

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