October 16, 2002
East Notebook

Why coaches are title sponsors

By Nate Ewell

Neither of them are 2-0-0, but Jack Parker and Tim Whitehead both have reason to carry their heads high after winning tournament titles last weekend – BU at the IceBreaker Invitational, Maine in the Black Bear Classic.

Coaches love regular-season tournaments – and not just because they enjoy decorating their offices with mismatched trophies, plaques and crystal.

In-season tournaments offer a little something different from a run-of-the-mill weekend series: another team goal to post on the weight room wall, and another test to see how the boys perform under pressure.

It’s not one-and-done – but it’s the closest approximation we get before March.

Eyes on more prizes
Last week’s tournament titles by Boston University and Maine could be just the start of a hardware-filled season for Hockey East. Teams from the conference figure to be favorites or co-favorites going in to at least seven other regular-season tournaments this year:
• Dodge Holiday Classic (BC)
• Great Lakes Invitational (BU)
• Auld Lang Syne Classic (UML)
• Everblades College Classic (Maine)
• Denver Cup (UNH)
• Ottawa Tournament (NU)
• Beanpot (BC, BU, NU)
Read this week's West Notebook

In BU’s case, the Terriers are 1-0-1 because their shootout win over Northern Michigan in the IceBreaker semifinals goes in the books as a tie. And while a shootout may be a terrible way to decide a hockey game, it just might say something about the character of the team. It certainly doesn’t hurt when a freshman, Brad Zancanaro, scores the winning goal.

Whitehead’s troops, likewise, had a less-than-perfect semifinal performance, squeaking by New Brunswick in an exhibition game. But the team responded on Saturday, hammering Lake Superior, 8-1.

Maine heads to Alaska Anchorage this weekend for another tournament, although this one features predetermined games instead of a championship format. The Black Bears will see better opponents – vs. Colorado College and the Seawolves – but could find that competition and frequent flier miles aren’t as fulfilling as a trophy.


Yeah, What He Said

"You know, Mr. Burns, you're the richest guy I know. Way richer than Lenny." – Homer Simpson

"Oh yes. But I'd trade it all for a little more." – Mr. Burns

Entering the season, Hockey East's best pure goal scorer was Maine's Colin Shields. And its best defensive corps belonged to Boston University.

Guess what: the rich got richer. And they have a pair of MVP trophies to prove it.

The fact that a BU defenseman captured MVP honors at the IceBreaker Invitational wasn't too surprising. It's the fact that it was a freshman – not Ryan Whitney orFreddy Meyer or Bryan Miller – that makes their blue line that much more imposing. Hockey East, say hello to Jekabs Redlihs, a rookie out of Latvia who is joined by another impressive freshman defenseman, Dan Spang.

In Orono, the league's best pure goal scorer spent the summer working on – what else? – his shot. "I've got a little more weight behind it this year," he said. "I'm going to keep working on it every day and see what happens."

Shields had a hat trick in the Black Bear Classic title game to earn MVP honors with his family (parents, Martin and Margaret, and brother, David) in town from Glasgow, Scotland.

1. Q rating – Four MAAC schools get the chance to take home a tournament trophy this weekend, with Quinnipiac entering as the overwhelming favorite in the seventh annual Quinnipiac Cup.

The Bobcats welcome American International, Bentley and Fairfield – the bottom three teams in the 2001-02 MAAC standings – to the tourney. Making matters even more lopsided, Quinnipiac has played two games and an exhibition; Fairfield has played the U.S. NTDP in two exhibitions, while this weekend marks the openers for AIC and Bentley.

Quinnipiac is 10-1-1 with four championships in the six years of the Q Cup.

2. Enough time for another post-game beer – We all love hockey's speed. And thanks to the new “hurry-up” faceoff rule, the game is faster than ever.

Check out some of the game times from last weekend:

• North Dakota vs. Canisius (an 8-0 game), 2:20
• Rensselaer vs. Wisconsin (a TV game!), 2:10
• Northeastern vs. UConn (a 10-1 game), 2:09
• Michigan vs. Niagara, 2:07
• Quinnipiac vs. Lake Superior, 2:05

The new rule provides for 15 seconds between a whistle to stop play and the next faceoff – five seconds for each team to change, and another five seconds to line up before the puck is dropped, ready or not.

What will it mean? Besides the fact that the strap connecting goalies' pads to their skates will probably have to be adjusted more often – always a convenient way to buy your teammates some time – the rule obviously picks up the pace of the game. It’s hard to say whether it benefits certain teams, although you’d think it would help teams:

• In better condition – the rule provides less catch-your-breath time, both between and during shifts.

• With depth – again, with less time for rest, it will help if your team can roll four lines.

• With skilled coaches – five seconds isn’t a lot of time to plan your next move. Coaches who think three steps ahead of their opponents will have an advantage.

Some other good news: if games fit into a two-and-a-half hour block consistently, it could help increase television exposure down the road. Station managers, in their infinite wisdom, hate when a great college hockey game cuts off the first five minutes of The Best Damn Sports Show Period.

3. MAAC attacked – MAAC teams struggled out of conference on opening weekend, going 0-5-0 while being outscored 35-3.

• Lake Superior 2, Quinnipiac 1
• North Dakota 8, Canisius 0
• Northeastern 10, Connecticut 1
• Niagara 4, Canisius 1
• Providence 11, Iona 0

Although some, like Canisius vs. North Dakota, were predictable, certainly MAAC fans would have liked a better showing from NU-UConn and PC-Iona. They can take heart, though. Theirs weren't the only scores to jump off the page of the Sunday paper, thanks to UNH-Vermont, and a non-conference win could be in the cards this weekend as Mercyhurst visits Lake Superior.

Three Great Weekend Getaways
1. Minnesota at New Hampshire
A great early-season test for two teams that lost a lot, but still look strong. Two games, to boot.
While You're There: It's a perfect time to be a leaf-peeper. Get some great foliage driving south on Rt. 108 towards Exeter.

2. Denver at Boston College (Fri.) – Between this and the Gopher-'Cat series, you've got four Frozen-caliber teams within 70 miles.

3. UMass Lowell at Rensselaer (Fri.) – Our season previews said these teams were Primed for a Fall. Last weekend offered hints that we could be wrong.

4. Early impressions – While last year's NCAA Tournament teams from the ECAC – Cornell and Harvard – hit the books for two more weekends, things are busy in Vermont and upstate New York. Rensselaer probably made the biggest impression among last weekend's participants, posting an impressive 5-1 win over Wisconsin in an emotional game for the Badgers (Mike Eaves's first as coach) and in a tough place to play (the Kohl Center).

"We really kept it simple tonight," Engineers coach Dan Fridgen said after the game. "We did the little things, capitalized on two-on-ones, rebounds and power plays."

With dynamic scorers Marc Cavosie and Matt Murley playing pro hockey, Rensselaer needs to do the little things, because it won't generate offense by talent alone. The Engineers learned that Saturday, in a 5-1 loss to Boston University in which the Terriers held a 41-15 shot advantage.

Nevertheless, it's a strong start for Fridgen's underrated troops, who return home Friday against UMass Lowell and travel to Massachusetts on Sunday.

5. Another honor for his Hall plaque – Durham, N.H., will celebrate its most famous ex-quarterback before Saturday's game against Minnesota. Rod Langway's story is as fascinating as it is improbable: he was born in Taiwan, recruited to UNH to play football and achieved his greatest fame playing for the Washington Capitals.

November 4, the two-time Norris Trophy winner enters the Hockey Hall of Fame (and, as an aside, Wildcat fans – that's a great excuse to make the trip to Toronto, because the Hall is a must-see).

Since Oct. 10, 2002

Anaheim Mighty Ducks: Assigned Jason Krog (UNH) to Cincinnati of the AHL.

San Jose Sharks: Assigned Jim Fahey (Northeastern) to Cleveland of the AHL.


• Northeastern enters Saturday's meeting with No. 2-ranked Denver (No. 1 in the INCH Power Rankings) with an 8-2-3 record in its last 13 meetings with the No. 1 or 2 team in the country.

Three Stars
3. Colorado College
The Tigers deserve some credit in this space, providing the only blemish on Hockey East's 7-1-2 non-conference record last weekend thanks to their split with UMass Lowell.
2. St. Lawrence goalies
Sophomores Mike McKenna (50 saves Friday night) and Kevin Ackley (37 saves Saturday night) were busy as the Saints earned at split at Miami, handing the 3-1-0 RedHawks their first loss of the season.
1. Providence's offense
Seven players had at least three points last weekend, led by Peter Fregoe (4-3—7), Jon DiSalvatore (1-5—6) and Peter Zingoni (4-0—4).

• Twelve of Vermont's 18 skaters in its first two games have been freshmen or sophomores.

• Holy Cross outshot Quinnipiac, 48-28, in the Bobcats' 6-1 season-opening win over the Crusaders.

• UMass Lowell's win at Colorado College snapped an 11-0-1 run by the Tigers in non-conference home games. The last coach to beat them? The Riverhawks' Blaise MacDonald, as coach at Niagara in January 2000.

• Can we throw out the theory that it take a while for freshmen defensemen to make an impact? Maybe not yet, but joining BU's Jakub Redlihs on the IceBreaker All-Tournament Team blue line was Rensselaer rookie Brad Farynuk.

• St. Lawrence played a CCHA team (Miami) and will play a WCHA team (Michigan Tech), a CHA team (Wayne State), and the U.S. Under-18 Team before opening its conference slate Nov. 2 vs. Clarkson.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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