New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
has broken out the book of clichés and written a
completely new testament. It's been an issue since 2000,
and it's recently snowballed to the citizens of Hockey East,
almost to the degree of high comedy.
Gone are the days of the feelings of self-righteousness,
when athletes were mean, their opponents wore pink skirts
and rivalries called for blood, not brunch. Great starts
– especially those of the unexpected – called
for pats on the back or a nice chip on the shoulder.
"For us," said Northeastern assistant
coach Gene Reilly, whose Huskies are tied for first in Hockey
East, "it's taking a page out of the Patriots' book
with humble pie, and we know exactly where we're at here.
It's pretty easy to keep the kids focused because we haven't
Say it ain't so, Gene.
Humble pie has been a desired dessert around
the Northeast since Pats linebacker Adalius Thomas coined
the term with a box full of T-shirts for his teammates earlier
this season. Now, it's a dish served at Northeastern.
Then, there's Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon,
whose Minutemen are ranked No. 5 in the nation, their highest
mark in school history. But, Cahoon knows trophies aren't
distributed in January.
"It doesn't matter much at all because
it is only about where you finish, not where you start,"
Cahoon said. "In the first week of January, the number
next to your program doesn't count for a whole lot."
Oh, Belichick would be proud. But Jack Parker,
a coach whose existence in Boston predates that of the Pats'
boss – along with the Big Dig, Monster Seats, the
FleetCenter, Hockey East and everyone under 34 years old
– has bought into the trend.
"We can't be looking past anyone,"
Parker said. "The only game we can worry about is the
one that is ahead of us. The only game we can get ready
for is the one that is ahead of us, and the only game that
counts is the one ahead of us."
To be fair, Reilly, Cahoon and Parker are
all correct with their statements. Reilly and Cahoon's squads
haven't proven anything other than the fact that they can
win in October, November and December. And Parker's Terriers
are a hiccup away from finding themselves in danger of missing
the Hockey East playoffs.
There isn't a coach in the league who wants
to look down the road at that.
But where's the flare? The sizzle? The feelings
It's in Lowell, baby. River Hawks head coach
Blaise MacDonald has seen the mountain, and he's singing
all about it. After the difficulties his program endured
in the spring and summer of 2007, MacDonald is proud of
his team for being tied for fourth in the league standings.
"I think I'd be severely challenged to
put that into words how sweet it actually is," MacDonald
said. "To know what we went through last year as a
program, and then losing players, coming into the season
and having some serious health issues for some of our incoming
freshmen, to see us rebound and show the resolve that our
players have this year is amazing to me. It's great. It's
a real compelling story from our standpoint. It's almost
like justice being served."
To borrow a line from the old testament of
the book of clichés, that's one heck of a breath
of fresh air. But Belichick might look at MacDonald as though
he were Eric Mangini. Apparently, "Hoosiers" has
found its sequel.
Either way, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy has
applied these theories and put them in context. After all,
the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and seem to be driving
toward one more. They're obviously doing something right.
"I'd be a fool not to take a page out
of Bill Belichick's book in an era when we're watching the
best coached team in New England history," Dennehy
said. "So, shame on us if we're not taking it on a
day-to-day basis. That's the way to approach it regardless
of the makeup of your team. It's back to trying to get better
every day. If we do, the rest will take care of itself."
SEEN AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
Another Eagle flies the coop:
Forward Ryan Hayes has left Boston College midway through
his freshman campaign. In six games with the Eagles, the
Syracuse, N.Y., native scored two goals and added one assist.
Hayes signed Thursday with the Ontario Junior
Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers, and is expected to join
the Whalers in time for the team's games this weekend. Hayes's
departure, coupled with defenseman Brett Motherwell's defection
to the American Hockey League and the indefinite suspension
of blueliner Brian O'Hanley, leaves Boston College with
23 players on its roster -- 14 forwards, six defensemen
and three goalies.
Hayes, who came to the Eagles from the U.S.
National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., is
not related to and BC recruit Jimmy Hayes, who currently
skates for the U.S. NDTP.
— Mike Eidelbes
Great Weekend Getaway
Hampshire at UMass (Fri.)
The Minutemen put their 13-game home unbeaten streak
on the line when the Wildcats visit the Mullins Center.
The teams have had a solid rivalry going in recent
years, with it hitting a high mark when they skated
to a thriller in the Hockey East semifinals last year.
UNH came out on top, 3-2, in double overtime. The
Minutemen beat UNH, 4-1, at the Bill on Dec. 8.
While You’re There: Grab
a slice at Antonio's, which is pretty much pizza heaven.
Even plain cheese is awesome, but don't order the
boring stuff unless you want a tongue lashing from
the satirical staff.
has killed 18 straight penalties and 29 of its last
30, and its 90 percent penalty kill is first in Hockey
East and fifth in the nation.
reportedly forego the first three months of the next
baseball season and begin picking up the broadcasts
of Red Sox games in July. We kid, of course, but you
know where we're going with this.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Boston College junior forward Brock
Bradford returned to the ice Wednesday night and showcased
his flair for the dramatic. After missing 17 games with
a broken left arm, Bradford scored the game-winner in BC's
4-1 victory over Vermont.
• Maine coach Tim Whitehead was very
honest this week when assessing his team's season: "It
has been very challenging. As coaches, we knew we weren't
as talented this year as we have been the last six or seven
years. Typically, players don't understand that. You don't
have that perspective as a freshman coming in. You are joining
a team that has gone to the Frozen Four four out of the
last six years. You are thinking, 'Hey, we are just going
to be there. It is going to happen automatically.' Not just
the freshmen, but also the upperclassmen who have been a
part of that success. Some of them have been along for the
ride in minor roles, but some of them have been a big part
of it. It doesn't just happen. Each year is a clean slate.
You don't just get there because you have been there before.
You have to earn it, and in each of the past years, we have
• UMass Lowell and the Lowell Spinners,
Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, announced an agreement
this week to create the "Spinners on Ice" on Jan.
18, when the River Hawks host Boston College. It will feature
plenty of cross-promotional events throughout the game,
and Spinners manager Gary DiSarcina will drop the ceremonial
• The Catamounts were in attendance
for Thursday night's game between the Bruins and Canadiens
at the TD Banknorth Garden. NESN made a point to highlight
the players during its broadcast, as they watched UVM alum
Tim Thomas and the B's fall to Montreal, 5-2. Vermont had
a day off in between its Wednesday-Friday series at Boston
• BU coach Jack Parker on the Terriers'
trip Maine Saturday, a pair of teams that haven't found
their traditional success this season: "It's a huge
game in the standings, but it's probably a bigger game as
far as self-worth is concerned."
• UNH coach Dick Umile and Hockey East
commissioner Joe Bertagna each appeared on an intermission
report during Bruins games this week. They were helping
NESN pump its tires for its first Friday night broadcast
of Hockey East action this season.
• Boston University has scored 15 first-period
goals in 12 Hockey East games this season after notching
just 14 all of last season.
• Maine has killed 23 straight penalties.
On an unrelated note, the Black Bears are 6-0-0 this season
when scoring first.
• Merrimack has scored 38 goals this
season, one more than it scored all of last season.
• UNH goalie Kevin Regan has not allowed
a goal in league play in 135:39.
• Northeastern's 11-game unbeaten streak
(9-0-2) is the second longest in school history. The Huskies
were unbeaten in 12 straight from Nov. 25, 1980 to Jan.
20, 1981. Northeastern will attempt to match the record
Friday at Merrimack before returning home to face the Warriors
• Providence has out-shot its opponents
by an average of 49.5-24 over its last four games.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Jeff Howe can be reached