December 7, 2005
A Rivalry Renewed

By Jeff Howe

 Hockey East Notebook

Jerry York's charges took game one of their weekend series with archrival Boston University.

National TV Schedule

Once upon a time, the year 1918 was a very significant one in the Boston area. The mere mentioning of any date in 1918 could make a Bay Stater’s face contort in ways never imaginable – and that was usually after they clutched their stomach, dropped straight to the ground and let off a horrific scream. Fear not, though, as everything has returned to normalcy since the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years all the way back in 2004.

But 1918 was also an important year for a different reason in the city that held the most famous tea party the country has ever seen. It marked the first time that Boston University and Boston College played each other in hockey, and look where that has come since. The two schools, which are located just a few miles away from each other, have played 217 times now, with the Terriers holding a 115-97-15 advantage.

Over the weekend, this rivalry was renewed during a home-and-home series. BC took Friday night’s game 2-1, and BU took Saturday’s after scoring four unanswered third-period goals for a 6-2 victory; both squads won their games in their home building.

“Home ice was certainly a factor for us winning at home and BU winning at Agganis,” BC coach Jerry York said. “The enthusiasm of the fans gave the edge to the Eagles on Friday and the Terriers on Saturday. I thought they were two pretty well-played, close games. That is what our rivalry has. Both teams are capable of winning the league championship this year. I was impressed with the skill level and the grit of both teams.

“If you weren’t a college hockey fan and you watched both of those games, you’re a diehard fan now.”

Friday’s contest was a defensive chess match, and Saturday’s game appeared to be heading in the same direction. BC rallied to tie the score at 2-2 in the third period after facing a two-goal deficit, but BU goalie John Curry held strong in net while the Eagles stepped up their offensive attack. Eventually, Boston University rattled off four goals in a stretch of 7:07 to close out the hated Eagles.

“The game was a lot closer and a lot much more competitive than 6-2,” York said. “When we tied it 2-2, I thought we played the best five minutes we played the whole series. John Curry was immense in net for that stretch, and the save he made on Chris Collins was just fabulous.”

BU senior captain Brad Zancanaro provided the game-winning tally with just under eight minutes remaining in the final period and also added a pair of assists in the team’s dogged triumph.

“It could definitely jumpstart us, and that is what we’re hoping for,” Zancanaro said. “We want to get these next two games [at Providence Thursday and at Dartmouth on Saturday] so we’re up above .500 going into winter break.”

And this series screams rivalry in every sense of the word. In an age when teams take it “one game at a time” and “every game is equally important”, those in the Eagle and Terrier locker rooms have no qualms with admitting how much they want to beat each other.

“It definitely means a lot more when you win or lose to Boston College,” Zancanaro said. “They’re our rivals, and everyone around campus and around the rink is more excited for those games. There is more meaning in those games.”

“There was certainly a different atmosphere and a different feeling, and it’s because of the longtime rivalry,” said York, who has been at BC since 1994 and is 19-34-5 against the Terriers. “Both teams have had a lot of success over the years, and that adds to it. Generally, these games are important for the league standings as well. A lot of stuff goes on when BC and BU play. Certainly, that is a very important series for us this year, next year and last year.”

Zancanaro said the entire campus is a lot livelier during a BC week, and he often hears words of encouragement from fellow students who he has never even met before.
“It’s happened a bunch of times over the last four years,” he said. “It’s nice to see that there are people in your classes who support you.

“Everyone knows when we play BC. When tickets went on sale for [Saturday’s home] game, there were people waiting outside at 6 a.m., and there was a line all the way around the building to get tickets. People come up to you and say, ‘You better beat those guys’ and stuff like that. It’s something that everyone looks forward to around here.”

The next installment of the heated rivalry takes place on Jan. 27 at Kelley Rink, where the Eagles will try to win the regular season series for the fourth year in a row. This could also serve as a tune-up for the Beanpot championship game on Feb. 13.


Re-Entering Amherst – Perhaps the period of closure for first-year Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy has finally passed. The former UMass assistant, who left the Minutemen in the offseason to take the big job on the Warrior bench, finally sold his South Hadley house – a few minutes down the road from Amherst – last week, and he squared off with the Maroon and White on Tuesday for the first time since donning his new digs.

But Dennehy’s reunion with his former recruits and the Mullins Center crowd didn’t exactly go as planned, as Dennehy’s former boss Don Cahoon and the Minutemen disposed of Merrimack by a 4-1 score. It was a close contest until UMass added a pair of goals in the final five minutes.

Dennehy, who was noticeably excited to see some former friends in the post-game press conference, decided to pull his chair from behind the designated table and move it a little closer to the group of people he had worked so closely with during his stint in the Pioneer Valley.

“I saw the ‘Entering Amherst’ sign, and I realized I had a lot of good memories here; that is the first time I’ve ever actually been on the [away team’s] bench,” Dennehy said.

He also noted that one of the hardest things in coaching against his former players was post-game handshake because of how close he got with the people he recruited.

“That is the thing I am going to miss the most about being an assistant coach,” he said. “You are so involved in getting to know each individual player, their parents, their likes and dislikes. In the recruiting process, you invest a little bit of yourself into each and every one of them. You want them to succeed, just not when you’re playing against them.”

During the game, however, the bond both sides had with one another obviously subsided.

“We’re immersed in our own teams in the game,” Cahoon said. “I’m not sitting across the ice, and I don’t think Mark was sitting across the ice thinking, ‘How am I going to beat Toot [Cahoon],’ and I’m not thinking how I am going to beat him. We’re just trying to pay attention on how to execute, pay attention to detail and compete. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s the Red Army across the ice or Merrimack College.”

Great Weekend Getaway
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Harvard (Thurs.) and UMass Lowell (Sat.) at New Hampshire
UNH will welcome some city kids to its rural atmosphere this weekend, as Teddy Donato’s Harvard Skating Smaht Kids roll into Durham Thursday night before the UMass Lowell River Hawks fly into Lake Whitt on Saturday. Thursday’s meeting between the Crimson and Wildcats will mark the first time the two teams have squared off since UNH ended Harvard’s season with a 3-2 thriller in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament on March 26, while Saturday’s game will serve as the rubber match and final regular season contest between UNH and Lowell.

While You’re There: Take a trip Manchester, the closest thing to Las Vegas you’ll ever find in New Hampshire. On Friday night, you can quench your hockey fix by taking in an AHL game at the Verizon Wireless Arena between the Manchester Monarchs and Portland Pirates.

Stick Salute

Merrimack wasn’t satisfied by just ending its 20-game conference losing streak with a 1-0 win over UNH last Tuesday. The Warriors went on to record a hat trick of non-losses by tying up Northeastern twice over the weekend, giving them four Hockey East points in five days when they had a total of three all of last season.

Bench Minor

Sixty minutes of hockey? That’s just not enough, and the good folks at Northeastern are starting to take a stand. The Huskies have skated to three straight ties and have gone to overtime in four of their last five games, plus in five of their 10 Hockey East contests. We at INCH have been asking the hockey gods for more than 60 minutes a game for years now, and it appears that these hockey gods are taking the form of Northeastern Huskies.

The two coaches have known each other since they met for a cup of coffee prior to Cahoon hiring Dennehy as an assistant coach at Princeton in 1996. When Cahoon took the head coaching position at UMass in 2000, he brought Dennehy, who coached at Fairfield for one year, with him.

Now, Dennehy is in the beginning stages of building a program at Merrimack the same way Cahoon was when he took the UMass job, and the understudy echoed some of his old boss’ comments.

“There is a lot going on to try to change the culture of the Merrimack program,” Dennehy said. “I tried to take some of the things that I learned from Coach Cahoon at both Princeton and UMass.”

Cahoon laughed when hearing of his former assistant’s comments and didn’t pass up the opportunity to roast the former Boston College standout.

“Mark didn’t spend a lot of time listening to me when I was here, so I don’t know why he is going to start now.”


• Maine has lost three straight league games for the first time since February of 2003, and have dropped four of five conference contests overall. After their early-season explosion into first place, the Black Bears have fallen to sixth place in the Hockey East standings.

• UMass Lowell goalie Peter Vetri hasn’t gotten off to the stellar start he did last season, but his 40 saves in the team’s 4-2 loss at St. Lawrence broke his previous career high of 39, which was set back on Feb. 19, 2004, in Lowell’s 4-1 win over BC.

• UNH finished deadlocked at Vermont on Friday, 3-3, but was victorious in a 4-3 affair with St. Lawrence on Saturday. Hockey East Player of the Week Jacob Micflikier scored a goal each night for the Wildcats and assisted on all five of the rest of his team’s weekend scores.

• Merrimack’s Matt Johnson scored the team’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to UMass on Tuesday night. It was Johnson’s sixth power-play goal of the season, which equals the amount of man-advantage goals the Minutemen have as an entire team this year. Vermont’s Peter Lenes and New Hampshire’s Brett Hemingway also have six power-play goals this season.

• On the other side of special teams, Boston College’s Chris Collins has scored all three of the Eagles’ short-handed goals through the season’s first two months, which is more than any team in the conference with the exception of Providence’s four man-down tallies.

• Providence has been on top of the Hockey East world for a few weeks now, and the Friars have finally cracked the national rankings after beating Maine 4-2 on Friday, their first win over a ranked opponent this season. This is Providence’s first national ranking since November of 2003.

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