Last but not least
love to defend the top-to-bottom strength of their conferences
by noting that on any given night, the last-place team can
reach up and steal a win.
Of course, it
goes without saying that every coach who says that would
hate to actually be behind the bench for the last place
team. But for at least 60 minutes in the ECAC, Hockey East
and MAAC last week, it wasn’t a bad place to be –
and those common words of warning proved prophetic.
(Hockey East), Princeton (ECAC) and Fairfield (MAAC) all
picked up victories last week, with the River Hawks beating
Merrimack, Princeton beating Harvard and Fairfield posting
two wins (vs. Bentley and Connecticut).
mind that UMass Lowell’s win was followed by two thumpings
by Boston College. With conference victory No. 1 under their
belt, head coach Blaise MacDonald’s troops could have
something to build on. Now they face Northeastern (one point
ahead in the standings) in a weekend series to get out of
the cellar – and into Hockey East’s final playoff
is a team that is very similar to us,” MacDonald said.
“A lot of their games this season are similar to (ours),
they have played very well for most portions of the game,
maybe failed to capitalize on some critical scoring chances,
and then either gave up a power-play goal or allowed a goal
scored against them at the wrong time ... Just like us,
they are a team that could get on a roll and win a lot of
hockey games going down the stretch, and be right in the
thick of things.”
Princeton – where MacDonald coached current Tiger
head coach Len Quesnelle as an assistant – will look
to build on its victory. By beating first-place Harvard,
2-1, the Tigers produced the biggest upset among last week’s
last-place victors and head into final exams on a high note.
a real big win for this team," said Princeton coach
Len Quesnelle. "This is a great way to go into exams.
Our guys will feel really good when they step onto the ice
again after the break. This is a stepping stone for our
Fairfield’s two victories – capped by a dramatic
overtime win on Saturday against UConn – give the
Stags a shot at moving out of the cellar this weekend. Currently
tied with American International at 3-7-1 in MAAC play,
Fairfield faces struggling Sacred Heart in a home-and-home
most importantly in terms of conference races, last week’s
events give top-tier teams a good mid-season warning about
facing a team that is out of the race for the league title.
you something to think about it, doesn't it," said
Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni. "games like this terrify
you, because you hope your team will look past their record
and not have a letdown."
revealing another reason you hear coaches talk about how
last-place teams can win on any given night: to remind their
teams not to take anyone lightly. The events of last week
illustrate that better than their words ever could.
MORE NOTES NO FAN SHOULD BE WITHOUT
Standing balancing act – The loss to Princeton
isn’t all that hurts Harvard’s hold on first
place in the ECAC – now’s the time of year when
the Crimson (and Tigers) hit the books for exams as the
rest of the league catches up in the games played column.
(12-3-0 overall, 7-1-0 ECAC), with just one loss, looks
poised to move up as the schedule balances out. The way
the Big Red have played this year, Harvard’s eight-point
lead in the standings is certainly less imposing.
to watch in the next few weeks: Clarkson (8-11-1, 5-3-1),
which could break into the league’s top four –
an even more important echelon this year, given the new
playoff format (Nos. 5 through 12 will play a first-round
best-of-three series, with the winners facing Nos. 1 through
4 in best-of-three series).
The Golden Knights
stand three points behind Yale with three games in hand
(the Bulldogs have exams out of the way, but with travel
partner Princeton in study mode, Yale heads out of conference
for the next two weeks).
The Golden Knights
are 3-1-0 the last two weeks and have shown that they can
win with offense (6-0 vs. Colgate, 7-5 vs. Dartmouth) or
defense (1-0 vs. Vermont).
to prove to ourselves that we could take four points on
the weekend and we did it with two different styles of play,”
interim head coach Fred Parker said of the Dartmouth-Vermont
sweep at Cheel. “We showed that we can play on both
levels this weekend.”
troops, who are 8-8-1 since Mark Morris was fired, host
rival St. Lawrence Saturday to continue their charge toward
the top four.
What He Said
His name's like my name!"
– Homer Simpson
always a little more on the line when Army and Air
Force – the two Division I hockey-playing service
academies – face off, as they do this weekend
you ready for the series, here’s a reason –
perhaps not a good one, but a reason nonetheless –
to root for the Black Knights: senior captain Joe
plenty of admirable qualities. He grew up near the
Academy, attending Army games as a kid. He can play
both forward and defense. He posted over 20 points
last year while playing with a painful shoulder injury.
here’s why we like him: his name. Seventeen
years ago, Sports Illustrated tabbed another
Joe Dudek – a running back at Division III Plymouth
State College – as its
choice for the Heisman Trophy over players like
Bo Jackson and Chuck Long.
this Joe Dudek doesn’t mind if we don’t
hype him for the Hobey. But we will pull for him this
The rivalry – The most compelling matchup
of the week comes at an opportune time: both Boston College
and Boston University are playing well headed into their
beat BU in the Terriers’ only action last weekend,
but Jack Parker’s troops had reeled off six straight
wins before that loss. The pucks have been going in for
the likes of John Sabo (nine goals), Mark Mullen (who scored
his seventh against PC) and Brian Collins (six-game point
streak) while Sean Fields has been strong behind what is
universally acclaimed as a formidable group of defensemen.
Eagles righted the ship against UMass Lowell last weekend,
snapping out of a 1-4-2 funk. Ben Eaves returned more quickly
than expected from a groin injury to post eight points and
earn Hockey East Player of the Week honors. When healthy,
he’s probably the best player in the league.
In the first
meeting this season between BC and BU, a 3-2 Eagle win on
Nov. 15, Eaves was held off the scoresheet entirely. But
often in the battles between these big-name schools, it’s
the lesser-known players who play big roles.
As they take
the ice this week for the 213th and 214th meetings, everybody
will have a chance to make a name for themselves against
Big-game goalie in Green – After giving up
a pair of touchdowns in the North Country to Clarkson (7-5)
and St. Lawrence (7-3), Dartmouth turned to Dan Yacey in
goal Wednesday night against New Hampshire in the battle
for the Riverstone Trophy, in front of over 10,000 fans
in Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena.
atmosphere to ask the sophomore to step in to for his first
start of the season, but consider the high-pressure spots
Yacey played in last season:
against UNH, also in Manchester (his collegiate debut, where
he stopped all 21 shots he faced in relief)
• against Maine, in Portland (where he stopped 30
shots in a 4-1 loss), and
• against Colgate, in the ECAC playoffs (where he
stopped five of seven shots before being relieved).
Wednesday night, making 36 saves and earning Player of the
Game honors in the 1-1 tie.
that when the shot came, I'd take it,” Yacey said.
“I felt good coming into this game and I've supported
the team all year."
Have the Big
Green – like Yale with Josh Gartner – found
a viable option in net midway through the season? Quite
possibly. And no doubt head coach Bob Gaudet – himself
a former goaltender – took into account Yacey’s
experience in big games last year before he gave him the
nod Wednesday night.
made the puck hit him," Gaudet said. "He was out
on his angles and he played big. They didn’t have
a whole lot to shoot at. He made some really key saves in
the second period when we were a little tentative."
Great Weekend Getaways
Boston College vs. Boston University (at BU Thurs.,
at BC Fri.)
these teams are 24-12-5, so while you could throw out
the records, why would you want to? This could be a
preview of the Beanpot final or Hockey East final –
but it’s two games. Sit back and enjoy.
While You're There: Who are we kidding – no
out-of-towners are getting tickets to these tilts. But
if you’re visiting, you can watch Thursday’s
game at Fours, near the FleetCenter, which features
college jerseys among its spectacular wall decor (including
a couple mentioned in this week’s Cocktail
at Quinnipiac (Fri.-Sat.) – A sweep here would
virtually assure Quinnipiac of the MAAC regular-season
title. The Bobcats, with a nine-point lead in the
standings, have won five in a row (three by one goal,
including two in overtime) and are unbeaten in 21
straight at home. Mercyhurst – which is 11 points
back but with four games in hand – could really
make things interesting if it picks up two wins. A
split (or a win and a tie) is more likely, especially
if this series follows along the lines of the first
meeting between the two teams, a 3-3 tie in November.
Massachusetts vs. New Hampshire (at UNH Fri., at UMass
Sun.) – New Hampshire returns to the Hockey
East grind just two days after an emotional in-state
game against Dartmouth Wednesday night. Massachusetts
should be ready for the Wildcats, and have more confidence
than when they first met, a 4-0 New Hampshire win
in Durham Nov. 24.
Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen has signed a three-year
contract extension, keeping him behind the Engineers’
bench through the 2005-06 season.
• Ed Caron’s
college hockey travels continue. A freshman last year for
New Hampshire, he transferred to Yale and spent the fall
semester in New Haven, sitting out the season as a transfer.
The Edmonton Oilers draft pick and Hudson, N.H., native
has since returned to Durham and will begin spring semester
classes on Jan. 21. He will be eligible to return to the
ice after the fall semester next season.
Massachusetts and head coach Don Cahoon credit for turning
around a program without playing a boring style. The Minutemen
like offense, as evidenced by their 26.4 percent Hockey
East power play (which leads the conference) and the frequency
with which defenseman Thomas Pock jumps into the offense
(11-11—22 in 22 GP). UMass wants to maintain its attacking
style in this weekend’s series with New Hampshire.
“We need to play a little more aggressive than we
did the first time we played them,” freshman Stephen
Werner said. “They’re a good skating team and
they’re used to the big surface. We need to really
go after them and provide some pressure instead of thinking,
‘Whoa, this is UNH, a top-five team.’”
The Sharks are still struggling, but it’s great to
see Ron Wilson (Providence) back behind an NHL bench. The
one-time star offensive defenseman might have another on
his hands in Jim Fahey, formerly of Northeastern. Fahey
has seen plenty of power-play time among his 17-or-so minutes
per night, an endorsement in itself from a coach often slow
to embrace rookies. And it’s probably a mistake to
read too much into it, but it’s one we’ll go
ahead and make: nice to see Fahey, a four-year college guy,
beating out Jeff Jillson, who left early, for time on the
Sharks’ blue line.
Bill Guerin and Brian Leetch
Boston College alums were the only collegians to earn
starting nods in the NHL All-Star Game – for what
The schedule makers
games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
this week. Who needs the NHL?
New Hampshire hockey fans
crowd of 10,104 attended the UNH-Dartmouth game, compared
to 815 at the men’s basketball game between the
two schools the same night. The hoops haters among us
love numbers like that. More kudos to the Granite State
media for their coverage of the game, highlighted by
Allen Lessels’ historical
look at the two programs in Sunday’s Union
teams were involved in three overtime games both Friday
and Saturday nights, including a pair of ties for Canisius
at Lake Superior State. Those ties marked the conference’s
first points against a team from the CCHA.
Bobby Robins had his first two career goals in UMass Lowell’s
win over Merrimack. Defenseman Jerramie Domish added his
first two goals of the season during the weekend losses
• Who has
the edge if BC and BU go into overtime? The Eagles are 0-3-3
in OT; the Terriers are 0-2-2.
Owen scored both goals in Princeton’s 2-1 upset of
Harvard. Owen has four of his team-leading nine goals this
season against the Crimson.
Kariya remains one of the hottest players in the nation,
although his point streak was snapped Saturday against Northeastern.
He posted 1-5—6 Friday night, the 10th player in Black
Bear history to have six points in a game (joining his brothers,
Paul and Steve).
sophomore Matt Craig leads the MAAC with 14 goals after
recording his second hat trick of the season Saturday vs.
Iona. He scored 11 goals last season.
• New Hampshire
teammates Lanny Gare and Colin Hemingway are tied in career
points with 127 apiece entering the weekend.
• St. Lawrence
is 1-8-0 on Fridays and 4-5-2 on Saturdays.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of