This is a rare occurrence in the conference,
but when a situation arises that demands the mediation of
Joe Bertagna, the league commissioner knows how to react.
Bertagna, who has served as Hockey East commissioner
since July 1, 1997, was not in Orono to witness Boston University's
3-0 victory or the altercation that ensued afterwards, and
the game wasn't televised so it makes things a little more
Getting a statement from both sides –
in this case, Whitehead and Hansen as well as the coaching
staffs and officiating crew – is obvious. Deciphering
the responses is a bit more tricky.
"Two people can look at an incident and
agree on the facts and the timeline, but each person can
give a very different account just based on their emotional
attachment to the issue," Bertagna said. "It's
difficult to find an observer who doesn't have a vested
interest. We have officials who were involved, staff members
from the schools and certainly the last place we're going
to look at for opinions is fans."
Bertagna would hope Whitehead's staff would
be objective when assessing the case, but he realizes that
may not entirely be the case. The same goes for Hansen's
crew, which had to restrain the head referee following the
The commish recalled a former incident when he got the same
facts from both sides, but two entirely different spins
on the situation.
"Something I remember from before was
an official trying to break up an altercation and a coach
feeling the official used undue force," Bertagna said.
"The official's comment was, 'I was getting punched
in the back of the head. What am I supposed to do?' Both
acknowledged that the exact same things happened, but both
had a different spin on it based on where they were in relationship
to the incident."
There are several different ways Bertagna
can hand down a punishment, if he decides to do so at all.
He admitted he rarely ignores a situation. Depending on
the severity of the incident, he can make a phone call to
those involved, write a private letter of reprimand, a public
letter of reprimand or suspend the guilty party. Fines are
not an option in Hockey East. The CCHA is the only conference
that does fine coaches.
After Whitehead apologized to Hansen, Bertagna
released a public statement, essentially declaring the situation
over and done with.
This was rare in another way, too. Whitehead
and Hansen are both in high regards with the conference,
and Bertagna takes that into consideration.
"The thing to keep in mind is we're talking
about people who have pretty good reputations in their respective
fields," Bertagna said. "Scott Hansen is rated
very highly almost across the board and has been at a number
of championship games. Tim's character and reputation is
obviously top-shelf. But you get into situations and into
the heat of the battle and things are said.
"There is some precedent in my time here
where a response is measured based on if it's the first
time or it's completely out of character. In other cases,
and there are times when we don't publicize it, but we write
or have conversations where someone is put on notice nonetheless,
letting them know it's the first time but it's still serious.
If there is a next time, even if it doesn't rise to that
level, we'll go at it a bit differently."
Even the legends have to abide by the rules.
"I suspended Jack Parker one time because
of a situation involving respect for an official,"
Bertagna said. "I think it was the second or third
time so even though the last incident by itself didn't warrant
[the suspension], but because there was a pattern, this
was a case where previous history resulted in a suspension."
Things can change a bit when a player is the
one under investigation. As with the coaches and referees,
if a player has an upstanding reputation, he may get off
with a lesser penalty. And if the player's coach hands down
that penalty, Bertagna will stay clear.
"We had a case one year when a player
was spitting in the direction of a fan," Bertagna said.
"It was behind the glass, but it was still the gesture.
When it was confirmed, I was going to suspend the player,
but the coach was already ahead of me. I said, 'Fine, as
long as he misses the next game. It doesn't matter of it
comes form me or you.'"
Of course, that can change, too. Bertagna
knows a suspension from the league carries a bit more bite.
There are cases when he won't let the coach or institution
make the first move.
Either way, and with any of these situations,
Bertagna made one thing clear. This isn't the NHL. While
Hockey East is indeed a business, it's not pro wrestling.
Hockey should be the show. Showing up a coach, player or
referee should not.
"We have to remember that we're not pro hockey,"
Bertagna said. "We're not in the entertainment business.
We're educators, and everything we expect of our people
go with the expectations that we have in an academic climate."
SEEN AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
MacArthur is king in sweep of Maine: As Pete
MacArthur put it, last weekend's sweep of Maine at Alfond
Arena was "indescribable." It was the first time
Boston University won a two-game tilt in Orono in 20 years,
and it marked the official coming out party for the Terriers
While struggling to find the back of the net
most of the season, BU exploded for wins of 6-5 and 3-0,
and MacArthur registered his first career hat trick Friday.
The Terriers are tied with Boston College for second place
in Hockey East heading into this weekend's slate, which
has BU set up for a home-and-home with lowly Merrimack.
BU's resurgent offense and climb back into league contention
is even more impressive after a 10-game stretch earlier
this season when the Terriers didn't score more than two
goals in nine contests.
"It's just about getting used to the
system that we play here at BU," MacArthur said. "It's
more of a conservative style, which obviously wins hockey
games, but it takes a little longer each year to get used
to playing within yourself, not worrying about messing up
while playing to win and not playing not to lose. We're
a little bit more comfortable taking risks.
"We had a similar first half to last
year. We have a lot of the guys in the locker room here
now from last year so we know we're capable of putting together
some wins. Hopefully, this weekend we can kick start a similar
streak we had last year at this time."
The streak he spoke of was a 19-1-2 stretch
that vaulted the Terriers to a pair of Hockey East championships
and a Beanpot crown. Boston University is 4-0-1 in its last
five games, but MacArthur noted that slipping up against
Merrimack – tied for last in Hockey East – is
anything but an option.
"If we can't get a couple wins this weekend,
then those two wins up at Maine don't mean a whole heck
of a lot," MacArthur said. "There is no room for
letdown, especially where we are in the league right now.
We're in third place right now, and we've played more games
than anyone. A letdown is not acceptable with anyone in
the locker room."
Brandon Yip finally returned from a shoulder
injury he suffered earlier this season. He tallied a pair
of assists in Friday's victory and should be a huge factor
for the forwards' production.
"That's been awesome," MacArthur
said of Yip's comeback. "He makes us so much deeper
throughout our forward lines. He allows some guys to go
back and fill different roles, and we have two, solid scoring
lines. He is a guy who can not only go out there and score
some goals, but he sets up plays and can play on the power
play. He is a huge addition. We're grateful to have him
One Terrier who is flying well below the radar
is goalie John Curry, the main reason BU has floated around
.500 all season. The netminder is third in Hockey East in
save percentage (.929) and second in goals against average
While Trevor Smith has stolen headlines at
New Hampshire with his league-leading 30 points, Curry has
been the leading candidate among goalies for league Player
of the Year.
"I don't think you can say that this
is not his best year so far," MacArthur said. "If
it wasn't for him, we would not be anywhere near the position
we're at in the league right now. His record isn't unbelievable
because we have so many ties, but there aren't too many
goalies who have lost only four games and have played the
amount of minutes he has played. You can't say enough about
what he means to this hockey club."
You can say the same thing about the sweep
Great Weekend Getaway
at Vermont (Fri.-Sat.)
Vermont sits three points behind the Eagles in the
Hockey East standings and can make serious waves by
defending its home ice this weekend. The Catamounts
need to come out with a killer instinct and shouldn't
be satisfied with anything less than three points
if they want to be serious contenders in the league
this season. BC has owned Vermont since it came to
Hockey East, though, winning all six meetings between
the two teams. The Eagles went 5-0 against UVM last
year and swept the Catamounts out of the playoffs.
While You’re There: If you're
coming from the BC area, you've probably noticed a
lack of snow this winter season. Take advantage of
the mountains while you're in Vermont.
is showing some positive signs under second-year coach
Greg Cronin. The Huskies have scored 51 goals
in their first 21 games, not making them world beaters
by any stretch, but that is 13 more than they had
at this point last year. It helps that NU has only
been shut out twice to this point this season, compared
to six blankings in 21 tries a year ago. Lately, Northeastern
has really picked it up. The Huskies are 4-3-2 in
their last eight games, the best eight-game stretch
since February of 2005, when they went 5-2-1.
Merrimack's lowly offense
has produced just 26 goals in 21 games. It doesn't
matter how good your defense and goaltending are when
you're only scoring 1.24 times per contest.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• BC sophomore forward Benn Ferriero
recorded his first career hat trick and finished last week's
home-and-home sweep of Merrimack with four goals and two
assists to earn Hockey East Player of the Week honors.
• UNH goalie Kevin Regan stopped 43
shots, two shy of his career-high, to earn RiverStone Player
of the Game in the Wildcats' 4-2 win over rival Dartmouth
• Lowell freshman forward Ian Schaser
scored his first career goal in a 5-1 loss to UMass Friday
night. He has a three-game point streak.
• Vermont's Jay Anctil earned the first
point of his career with an assist in the Catamounts' win
over Northeastern Saturday.
• Maine's equipment manager Eric Marsh
resigned from the team. Marsh graduated from Maine in 1997
and was a defensive back on the football team.
• With BC's season sweep of Merrimack,
the Eagles' four seniors finished a 10-0-2 career against
• A few more notes from the BU-Maine
series: The Terriers' six goals were the highest in an opposing
rink since topping UMass 7-1 at the Mullins Center on Dec.
4, 2004. Providence was the last team to shut out Maine
at Alfond, a 4-0 decision on Jan. 20, 2006. Pete MacArthur
became the first opponent to record a hat trick against
the Black Bears since Brian Gionta did it on Jan. 27, 2001.
• A couple Minutemen ended some long
scoring droughts in their win over Lowell Friday. David
Leaderer scored his first goal in 67 games (Jan. 27, 2005),
and Zech Klann found the back of the net for the first time
in 40 games (Feb. 26, 2005).
• Merrimack has three Hockey East wins
this season, matching its total from last year.
• How's this for consistency? UNH forward
Jacob Micflikier has 138 career points in 139 games.
• Providence's win at Lowell Saturday
marked its first road triumph of the season and its first
win since Nov. 24 – against, of course, Lowell. It
ended the Friars' seven-game skid.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Jeff Howe can be reached