October 25, 2007
Hot Hot Heat in Hockey East

By Jeff Howe

A wave of humidity brushed through Massachusetts late last week and turned many arenas across the state into scenes from a “Spooky World” haunted house. And the results were frightening.

Hockey East Notebook

Like a circus fire, the heat was intense inside UMass' Mullins Center as forward Will Ortiz and the Minutemen skated to a 2-2 draw with UMass Lowell Friday.

National TV Schedule

The premier early-season matchup featuring a rematch of last year’s national semifinal between Boston College and North Dakota at Conte Forum was canceled during the second intermission of a 0-0 contest due to fog. About 100 miles to the west, UMass and UMass Lowell fought through similar conditions, with the teams skating to a 2-2 draw. And, somewhere in the middle, a preseason NBA game featuring the Celtics and Nets at the DCU Center in Worcester was canceled at halftime due to melting ice seeping into the floor.

“The humidity was oppressive,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “It was 85 [degrees] on the bench, 80 on the ice, but both teams went through it. I thought Lowell handled it much better than we did. It was so uncomfortable. I took my jacket off because I was soaking wet. The dew point was so high and the humidity was so incredibly intense that it was impossible to keep the rink clear and the air quality good. They were terrible conditions.”

Unlike their neighbors to the east, there were no discussions of canceling or postponing the game at the Mullins Center. For Cahoon, though, the thoughts definitely existed.

“Only in my own mind,” he said. “Because, at one point in the third period, I couldn’t see the puck. It was on the far end in the corner, and I’m thinking I can’t even see the puck. I can only imagine what the goalies were seeing, but no one said anything to me and we kept playing through it.”

Cahoon said he had seen similar conditions, but he’s never played a game when the heat and humidity were so intense at the same time.

“I don’t ever remember being on the ice for anything like that, and I’ve been in enough games in the old Boston Garden and in other big rinks, where the weather would just overcome you,” Cahoon said. “You would skate across the ice and just get hit with air that would feel 95 degrees, but I’ve never played in that fog like that.”

The Eagles have seen things like this before. They were set to play Boston University at Conte Forum Dec. 1, 2006, but temperatures pushed 70 degrees, creating a fog and postponing the game. Conte Forum opened in 1988, before arenas were built with air conditioning and dehumidification systems. It’s an issue the BC athletic department is hoping to resolve.

The UMass campus had shifted into winter mode long before last weekend. Therefore, the air conditioners had been shut down, and there was nothing the administration could do “without the most sophisticated systems,” according to Cahoon.

Even if the campus was not in winter mode, though, there still would have been a problem. If there air conditioners were on, according to Cahoon, there would have been a dew forming on the roof of the Mullins Center, and it would have rained down while the game was going on.

“It’s pretty hard to overcome a dramatic day like that,” Cahoon said.


The kids are all right: The National Hockey League's Central Scouting Service this week released its list of what it calls "players to watch" — prospects eligible for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft — from Canada's junior A hockey leagues, the U.S. junior hockey leagues, U.S. high schools, and the U.S. National Team Development Program. Players are divided into three cagetories: A-rated players are predicted to be selected in the first or second round of the 2008 draft; B-rated players are considered potential mid-round selections; C-rated players are plotted as late-round picks.

Of course, usual suspects Boston College, Boston University, and New Hampshire have their share of recruits sprinkled about the ratings. But it's refreshing — and perhaps a testament to the new coaching regimes at some of the league's institutions — to see representatives from the up-and-coming Hockey East programs on the list.

Take Northeastern, for example. The Huskies have three recruits (Avon Old Farms defensemen Danny New and Kent School twin forwards Drew and Justin Daniels) projected as mid-round picks. Merrimack has a pair of ranked prospects in U.S. National Development Team goaltender Joe Cannata and BC High forward John Heffernan. Likewise, Providence has two recruits, Minnesota high-schooler Rob Maloney and Tilton Prep defenseman Chad Johnson in the early rankings.

Of the 21 players projected as potential first- or second-round selections in the 2008 draft, three are slated to attend Hockey East schools starting next fall. They are Indiana (USHL) defenseman John Carlson, who is committed to Massachusetts, U.S. NTDP forward and future Boston College Eagle Jimmy Hayes, and Chicago (USHL) defenseman Max Nicastro, who will attend Boston University.

Mike Eidelbes

Great Weekend Getaway
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Colorado College at New Hampshire (Fri.-Sat.)
There’s a pretty good slate of games this weekend with Maine visiting Northeastern for a pair and Boston University heading out to Michigan for a double dip. But our best bet involves UNH’s pair of home contests with Colorado College, two teams ranked in the top-six of the INCH power rankings

While You’re There: Visit Portsmouth. It’s just a few minutes down the road, and there’s plenty to do. But don’t forget your coat. It’s actually supposed to act like October this weekend.

Stick Salute

My grandfather, Richard Patten, passed away last week. Among his many accomplishments, he was an Air Force fighter pilot, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, a father of four and a huge sports fan. This space isn’t conducive to everything I could say about my grandfather; just know the respect his family has for him is immeasurable.

Bench Minor

Mother Nature has to chill out with the atypical heat waves around these parts. Games were affected all across Massachusetts last Friday due to some combination of heat/humidity/fog/El Niño/global warming/whatever else Al Gore is complaining about now. The college hockey world lost the entire third period of Boston College-North Dakota due to Big Mami’s recent heat binge. That’s not what we’re looking for.


The third time was a charm for New Hampshire coach Richard Umile, who became the ninth active coach to win 400 career games when his Wildcats topped Boston University 4-1 at Agganis Arena Friday. Umile had two previous cracks at the milestone, but UNH fell to Boston College 5-2 in last year’s Hockey East championship game before being downed by Miami, 2-1, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

• James vanRiemsdyk, the Wildcats’ heralded freshman forward, will be linked to Umile’s milestone. vanRiemsdyk tallied a goal and an assist in his first career game.

• Don Cahoon has repeatedly referred to freshman goaltender Paul Dainton as “athletic.” Before the public back lashings begin — “He’s an athlete, of course he’s athletic!” — just know the UMass coaching staff was always quick to mention Jon Quick in the same regards.

• Merrimack is 3-0-0, its best start in 14 years. It also marks the first three-game winning streak for the Warriors since 2003-04.

• Northeastern fell to No. 1 North Dakota 3-0 Saturday, and the Huskies fell to 7-4-4 against No. 1 teams since 1997.

• Vermont scored a pair of third-period goals to overcome a two-goal deficit Sunday against Boston College. The Catamounts were 0-11-0 when trailing by two goals after the second period last year.

• Boston University has scored first in all three of its games this season and has held the lead at the end of eight of nine periods.

• UMass is 35-0-1 in its last 36 contests when scoring four or more goals. The last loss came March 14, 2003, a 5-4 defeat at the hands of UNH in the Hockey East semifinals.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report. Jeff Howe can be reached at jeff@insidecollegehockey.com.