November 1, 2007
Different Plot, Same Ol' Story at Boston College

By Jeff Howe

If there’s one thing Boston College has been good at this season — other than, of course, playing hockey — it’s been creating storylines.

First, goalie Cory Schneider left school early to turn pro and the reins were given to freshman John Muse in the process. Then the Eagles kicked off their season with a loss to certified Commonwealth Ave. killer Michigan at the Ice Breaker Invitational. Junior star Brock Bradford broke his left arm in the game; he could be sidelined until at least January.

Hockey East Notebook

Ben Smith has seven points in six games, tied for second among Boston College skaters in that category.

National TV Schedule

The following night, Boston College announced the indefinite suspensions of defensemen Brett Motherwell and Brian O’Hanley for violating unspecified team rules. If all that wasn’t enough, BC’s Oct. 19 Frozen Four rematch with North Dakota at Conte Forum was fogged out.

In spite of all the drama, the Eagles are unbeaten in their last five games (3-0-2) and head into a meeting with red-hot Maine at The Heights tonight. Nathan Gerbe, who leads BC with four goals this season, likes his team’s chances, especially with the way Muse has been playing.

“He’s come in, shown he’s very composed and shown he’s ready to handle the big stage,” Gerbe said. “It’s good for the players to get that confidence around him. He gives us the chance to win every night, and that’s exactly what the team needs. That’s a great confidence boost.”

Muse has started each of the Eagles' six games this season, posting a .930 save percentage (second in Hockey East) and a 1.90 goals against average (tied for third among goalies with more than one start) to go along with one shutout. On one hand, Muse is the kid responsible for making sure the Eagles don’t miss a beat while trying to make their third straight national championship appearance. On the other, the veteran presence within the BC locker room knows it needs to pick up the slack for the wet-behind-the-ears rookie.

“He’s a quiet kid right now,” Gerbe said of Muse. “It might be because he’s a freshman and he’s kid of nervous, but he’s just a very quiet kid who works hard on and off the ice. As an upperclassman, it’s good to see someone come in like that.

“Cory was very, very good with his leadership skills. When he spoke out, everyone listened, and I think Muse has the same respect. He’s in a tough position [playing goalie]. He’s doing very well, and we all respect him in the locker room.”

Of course, one less distraction will only help. During the first game of the season, Michigan’s Travis Turnbull, a physical forward, separated the puck from Bradford along the boards. Bradford was trying to brace himself while going into the wall, but his stick and left arm got caught at an awkward angle and he broke his left humerus.

Gerbe, who was on the ice at the time, saw his roommate go down writhing in pain, and immediately knew it wasn’t good.

“His arm got caught in a tough position from his stick, and he kind of got hit a little bit,” Gerbe said. “Brock is the type of kid who doesn’t really show pain that much. He was showing it, so right then and there I knew it was going to be something serious.

“It looked like a freak accident.”

Bradford has become an extension of the coaching staff since the injury. He breaks down film, watches practice, gives advice, and goes to the locker room between periods to give in-game scouting reports.

“It helps when he comes down between periods and lets me or someone else know what we can work on, maybe a weakness in their defensemen or goalie,” Gerbe said. “It’s good to have that bird’s eye view, and I think he’s a very smart player to do that.

“He’s a very smart kid, and I think the coaching staff knows he’s a smart kid. He can read the game well.”

Another hammer dropped prior to the Eagles' Oct. 13 Ice Breaker third-place game against Rensselaer. Buried in the game notes was the announcement that Motherwell and O’Hanley were suspended indefinitely. They haven’t played since. In their absences, Anthony Aiello, Carl Sneep, and Tim Kunes have elevated their games, combining with Mike Brennan, Nick Petrecki, and Tim Filangieri to provide a formidable blue line.

“Obviously, they broke team rules and right now they’re not with us,” Gerbe said. “But our team is handling it pretty well, and we know the guys in the locker room are the guys we’ve got. We’re going to stick with that and keep moving on.”


Points well taken: Raise your hand if you had Boston College freshman Joe Whitney (3-8—11) and Providence junior Kyle Laughlin (5-3—8) leading Hockey East in scoring at the end of October.

Laughlin, who leads the conference in goals scored, netted one in four straight to close out the month and posted three consecutive multiple-point games. He had just two goals and nine assists in 36 games last year.

Whitney began the season playing left wing on a line with center Benn Ferriero and right wing Dan Bertram. But, since Bradford went down, Whitney has moved to the right side on a line with Ben Smith and Brian Gibbons.

“[Whitney] is a very good player,” Gerbe said. “He’s a very smart player. He understands the game very well. He’s fun to be on the same team with, and obviously, he’s a shorter guy, too. It’s good to see that.”

The freshman, listed at 5-foot-6, has clearly earned praise from the junior (listed at 5-foot-5), who insists they haven’t yet stood back to back to see who’s taller.

“We don’t even know.” Gerbe said with a laugh. “I think there’s a little evenness there.”

Great Weekend Getaway
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Maine at Boston College (Fri.)
BC is unbeaten in its last five games. Maine has won four in a row, including a pair at Northeastern last weekend. The Black Bears might have been better off staying in Boston all week rather than making two round trips from Orono.

While You're There: Bask in the glory of Titletown. Take a stroll down by Fenway Park, home of the world champion Red Sox. Or head down to a pub near the Garden, where the new-look Celtics open their season Friday. If you’re sticking around until Sunday, head to Champion's on Huntington Ave. to check out the Patriots-Colts matchup. Can’t find a TV? Ask Mayor Menino where to find the closest "jumbletrom."

Stick Salute

There were offseason changes in the Hockey East media relations arena worth mentioning. Kimberly Gardner left her post as sports information director at UMass to pursue other opportunities, and Brent Williamson did the same at Maine. Both were always helpful and extremely dedicated to their positions. Also, former UNH SID Pete Souris was hired as director of public relations of Hockey East, a move that will definitely take the conference to a new level.

Bench Minor

We’re sending the fashion police to adidas headquarters for their design work of UMass’ new uniforms. First, the grey breezers are just a mess. Second, shouldn’t the most important thing about designing a team’s uniform involve getting the colors right?


Prior to the team's 5-2 win at Providence Thursday night, Boston University had gotten off to a less-than-desirable start to the season. The Terriers were 0-4-1, winless in their first five games for the first time since the 1976-77 season, when they ended up reaching the national semifinals. They also allowed at least four goals in four consecutive games for the first time in nine years.

• Despite New Hampshire’s sweep of Colorado College, the most eye-opening series involved Maine’s two wins at Northeastern. Of the Black Bears’ seven goals this weekend, three were scored by players who found the back of the net for the first time in their careers.

• Northeastern lost consecutive one-goal games for the first time in five seasons.

• Of UMass’ six games this season, three have hit overtime, with the Minutemen going 0-1-2 in those contests.

• UMass Lowell swept Alabama-Huntsville last weekend, the River Hawks’ first weekend sweep since turning the trick against Boston College three years ago.

• Merrimack has two short-handed goals in five games, doubling its mark from a year ago.

• UNH is 3-0-0 for the first time in four years, and the Wildcats have scored three goals in the third period in each of their three games so far.

• Vermont has sold out 60 consecutive games at Gutterson Fieldhouse, which is good. But, the Catamounts are 0-for-20 on the power play this season (and have allowed a short-handed goal), which is bad.

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