January 17, 2008
Humility Suits van Riemsdyk Just Fine

By Jeff Howe

James van Riemsdyk hears it all the time: He's overrated; he didn't deserve the high draft pick; he's a prima donna.

Of course, that comes with the territory of being the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft. Opposing players don't often try to get in the head of a fourth-liner. Such is saved for the best, and the freshman power forward from New Hampshire has an entire conference targeting him.

Hockey East Notebook

It was a big deal when the Flyers took James van Riemsdyk with the second overall pick in last spring's NHL Draft, but you won't hear van Riemsdyk pumping his own tires.

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"I try not to get involved in that stuff too much," van Riemsdyk said. "That's just part of the game. Guys always talk to try to get people off their game. It's something you really just can't buy into. You've got to go out there and let your play do the talking."

Behind one of the most talented players in Hockey East is an extremely humble and highly motivated superstar-in-waiting. He's considered the top-ranked prospect in the Philadelphia Flyers organization, and Hockey's Future gives him an 8.5 rating, which projects him anywhere between an NHL first-liner and an "elite forward" or the "potential for greatness" and "perennial All-Star."

So, there's that.

UNH bench boss Dick Umile has never coached such a high draft pick, but he's the first to praise van Riemsdyk for his humility. With such a demand for excellence at the forward position in Durham – and a slue of extremely talented wingers already on the team – there's no way he could have fit in without earning it.

Not one bit of a problem for vanRiemsdyk.

"The thing that really keeps me humble, I guess, is I really don't feel like I've accomplished too much yet," van Riemsdyk said. "It's my first year in this league, and I really haven't done anything. You have to go out there and basically just let your play do the talking and speak for you. That's what I've been trying to do this year. There's nothing really for me to be cocky about because I really haven't accomplished that much."

In the grand scheme of things, he's right. In the last few months, however, vanRiemsdyk has arrived. He is second on the Wildcats with eight goals and 11 assists, and tied for second with 19 points, though he has only played in 15 games, having missed five to play for Team USA in the World Juniors.

And he was dominant in the Czech Republic, tallying five goals and six assists for a tournament-high 11 points in six games, while being one of three forwards selected as a Media All-Star.

Per usual for college players returning from the World Juniors, van Riemsdyk returned to the States as a better player. He led the Wildcats with four points in last weekend's home-and-home sweep of UMass. van Riemsdyk got UNH on the board Friday night at the Mullins Center, flipping a backhander past Dan Meyers to cut the UMass lead to 2-1 – "a weird goal," as van Riemsdyk put it, that finally awakened UNH. And he scored the go-ahead goal Saturday at the Whittemore Center.

"It just gave me all the confidence in the world going over there and having a good tournament," van Riemsdyk said of the World Juniors. "I felt way more comfortable [last weekend] out there on the ice for some reason, and the game slowed down for me. I was able to make plays that I'm used to making, whether it be last year or at the World Juniors. I just have a lot more confidence now. I feel like that's a huge key. It's not like I had a reawakening or anything. It's just one of those things where I just feel more comfortable now and more confident."

But, as the numbers and marquee performances pile up, so will the speculation. The college game will help van Riemsdyk grow, sure. But when kids are given the opportunity to turn in their term papers for that green paper, a fine line is drawn.
It may not be of long-term benefit for vanRiemsdyk to hold himself back playing amateur hockey, and the Flyers will certainly come calling after he finishes his freshman season. As of right now, though, van Riemsdyk isn't making any immediate decisions.

"I plan on taking it season by season and seeing how every year goes, what I need to do, how I need to challenge myself and where I can do that best, and what's going to make me a better player in the long run," vanRiemsdyk said. "I'm just going to take it year by year."


A sight to 'C': Boston University senior Brian McGuirk was reinstated as the Terriers' captain on Tuesday, coach Jack Parker announced.

McGuirk was stripped of his captaincy when he and three teammates were handed indefinite suspensions on Dec. 5. McGuirk, Bryan Ewing, Dan McGoff and Brandon Yip were all suspended for a violation of team rules.

They sat out during BU's 4-3 loss at UMass Lowell on Dec. 7, and an exhibition game against the USA Under-18 Team on Dec. 8. The suspensions were lifted prior to Boston University's game against Merrimack on Dec. 30.

"Brian has handled everything very well," Parker said in a statement issued by the team. "He has shown a great deal of maturity since returning and has continued to be an important leader for this team. He has earned the 'C' back and then some."

Pete MacArthur, who took over as the captain following the suspensions, will remain as a co-captain.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Boston University at Boston College (Sat.)
This is the final Hockey East meeting between the biggest rivals in the Northeast. Boston College swept the home-and-home seven weeks ago. It's somewhat of a letdown these teams conclude their regular-season schedule this early, but they'll meet again in the first round of the Beanpot on Feb. 4, and potentially again in the conference and national tournaments.

While You’re There: Get on the Green Line and head toward Boylston Street, where you'll find a popular INCH hangout: Whiskey's.

Stick Salute

As first reported here at Inside College Hockey, Boston College forward Nathan Gerbe is good. Gerbe has an eight-game scoring streak, in which he's notched 13 goals and 12 assists. BC freshman Joe Whitney (5-22—27) is the only other player in the league who has 25 points all season.

Bench Minor

UMass has certainly had a nice season, but it missed a solid chance to make a real splash both nationally and in Hockey East. The Minutemen, who were ranked No. 5 last week, held a 2-0 lead at home against UNH on Friday before falling 3-2, and they got dropped, 5-3, at The Whit the next night.


• Boston University has a four-game winning streak at Maine's Alfond Arena. It's the most productive stretch in Orono for the Terriers since they won six straight between 1982-86.

• Maine goalie Ben Bishop has 1,941 career saves, tying him with Jim Tortorella (1977-81) for fifth on the school's all-time list.

• UMass Lowell and Providence split the season series (1-1-1), with all three games going to overtime. Six of the teams' last 11 contests have gone to OT.

• Neither the River Hawks or Friars were whistled for a penalty in Saturday's meeting, the first time UMass Lowell has played in such a game in program history. It was also the first time since Jan. 5, 1988, that Providence was not penalized.

• Merrimack beat Northeastern Friday for the first time since Feb. 20, 2004.

• UNH goalie Kevin Regan earned his 58th career victory with a win over UMass on Saturday, tying him with Mike Ayers for the school record.

• Northeastern's loss to Merrimack on Friday ended its 11-game unbeaten streak (9-0-2), the second longest stretch in school history.

• Vermont is in the midst of a stretch in which it will play eight straight ranked opponents. The Catamounts didn't start out so well, dropping two straight to Boston College last week. UVM hosts Northeastern for a pair this weekend.

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