Gotkin doesn’t want to sound like someone who just
unwrapped a pair of socks on Christmas day. The Mercyhurst
coach is grateful for the excitement generated by his team
posting the first-ever sweep at Quinnipiac, but he knows
that it was part of the journey, not the destination.
of calls I’ve been getting with congratulations, I
think, jeez, did we win the MAAC championship?” he
wonders. “But that shows the respect people have for
Quinnipiac – everyone knows they have a very good
hockey program. They were certainly two great wins, I don’t
want to downplay that, but we’ve got 14 games left,
and that’s a long way to go.”
best news for Gotkin and the Lakers – they keep getting
better. That’s partly a credit to his coaching, and
partly the natural progression of a young team that was
challenged early by a brutal schedule that included trips
to Maine, Colorado College, Denver, and Rensselaer.
no question that we are playing better than we have, especially
looking back to November,” he said. “Whether
we’ve peaked, I don’t know. That’s what
we talked to the team about yesterday. We told them now
the big question is, ‘How much better can we get?’”
playing better than anyone in the MAAC right now because
of balanced production – from every position and all
four lines – a quality so important to Gotkin that
he avoids identifying a first, second, third and fourth
Nolan Brown anchors the Laker blue line and penalty kill.
The stay-at-home type that never gets attention –
but deserves it – Brown picked a good weekend to record
his first three points of the year, earning MAAC Player
of the Week honors in the process.
Andy Franck has emerged as the No. 1 goaltender, starting
each of the last four games (all wins), after splitting
time to start the season. Franck leads the MAAC with a .928
conference save percentage, and has strong overall numbers
as well (6-4-0, 3.18, .905).
a lock back there for us,” Gotkin said of the rookie
from Lakewood, Ohio. “A lot of things go into a good
hockey program, but if you want to be good in college hockey,
get a good goalie. That’s the big secret.”
Gotkin’s focus remains on getting better over these
last 14 games and not worrying about the conference championship.
It’s a possibility, since the Lakers are seven points
back with four games in hand, but the real prize is the
MAAC playoff championship. With that comes the conference’s
automatic NCAA Tournament bid – not to mention a slew
of congratulatory phone calls.
MORE NOTES NO FAN SHOULD BE WITHOUT
Three-legged race – As Boston College and
New Hampshire posted sweeps last weekend and Maine took
a hard-fought three points at Merrimack, those three clubs
separated themselves from the pack in the Hockey East standings.
Best of all, with six weeks left in the Hockey East regular
season, all three play the other two at least once, highlighted
by the BC-UNH series to close out the season.
a look at their remaining schedules:
College (5 home, 5 away): Providence (2); Massachusetts;
Maine; Merrimack (2); Northeastern (2); New Hampshire (2)
(8 home, 4 away): UMass Lowell (2); New Hampshire (2); Boston
College; Merrimack; Providence (2); Massachusetts (2); Boston
Hampshire (5 home, 6 away): Boston University (2);
Maine (2); Providence; Northeastern (2); Merrimack; UMass
Lowell; Boston College (2)
by a point, but with two games in hand and only one loss,
the Black Bears are probably in the best position of the
trio. Until the Beanpot wraps up and everyone has played
the same number of games, you’ll hear the term “loss
column” as often as when the Red Sox were in a pennant
race (ah, the good old days…).
wrinkle in the three-way race: Ben Eaves (BC), Martin Kariya
(Maine) and Lanny Gare (UNH) figure to battle for the conference
scoring title. Eaves leads the other two by one point at
the moment, 23 to 22.
What They Said
buried all his memories of home in an icy clump that
lies beneath the ground." – Phish
year, things were working at Dartmouth’s Thompson
late in the second period of Saturday’s game
with Vermont, the clock malfunctioned. The Big Green’s
perfect home record followed suit.
Catamounts had already scored twice to narrow the
Dartmouth lead to 3-2 before technical difficulties
sent them to the locker room just under a minute early
for the second intermission. They played 20:48 in
the third period.
more goals upon the return to the ice gave Vermont
five goals in less than five minutes, and carried
the Catamounts to the win. They host Rensselaer and
Union this weekend with a chance to move into the
top half of the league standings.
team deserved to win the game,” Dartmouth head
coach Bob Gaudet said. “They out-played us,
out-worked us, out-hit us, out-everything. I have
tremendous respect for the effort they put into the
Ivy revival – Foremost among the curiosities
in this year’s ECAC standings: the dominance of the
the strength of Cornell and Harvard and the strong years
turned in by Brown, Yale and Dartmouth, the Ancient Eight
– as its known in sports where Columbia and Penn field
teams – has debunked the idea that schedule, scholarship
and admissions restrictions put those teams at a competitive
While these schools may have some things working against
them, there’s no shortage of theories to explain the
Ivies’ strength. Cornell and Harvard both have great
hockey traditions to draw from; all of the schools offer
attractive options for qualified students (and those admissions
restrictions, some say, aren’t as tough as you think).
reason, Ivy teams occupy the top four spots in the conference,
and if not for Dartmouth’s three-game ECAC losing
streak, they would be five-for-five. All five have made
appearances in the INCH Power Rankings at some point this
We asked the
coach of the sixth Ivy team, Len Quesnelle at Princeton,
for his take on the Ivies’ resurgence.
the point that there are some very good head coaches and
assistant coaches at the Ivy League schools. They're doing
a great job of identifying the types of players that fit
into their systems," Quesnelle said. "It's a testament
to the outstanding coaching at the Ivies and the ECAC in
Hurting Heights – Boston College swept Boston
University despite missing star defenseman J.D. Forrest
with a quadriceps injury. This while news broke that freshman
Patrick Eaves – due to have his neck brace removed
in two weeks – could be out for the season.
Not all the injury
news in Chestnut Hill is bad, of course, as Ben Eaves made
his quick return from a groin injury two weeks ago without
having to miss a game (although he missed three earlier
games with a rib injury). Patrick’s progress will
no doubt be monitored closely in the coming weeks –
while head coach Jerry York said he was likely out for the
season, a slim chance of a return exists.
remarkable what York’s team has been able to accomplish
despite the losses of Eaves, Eaves and Forrest. Last weekend,
for example, without their best offensive defenseman, the
Eagles still produced a 4-for-13 effort on the power play
(including 3-for-5, accounting for all three goals, on Thursday
success speaks well for its depth, and its chances as the
season moves forward – especially if the Eagles can
Great Weekend Getaways
Providence at Brown (Tues.)
remarkably similar teams take the ice for this year’s
Mayor’s Cup in their black, white and brown jerseys
(easily college hockey’s least colorful rivalry).
Both Brown and Providence got off to impressive starts
before tailing off in November. Yet they’ve both
shown signs of life lately. Brown enters on a roll,
with a 4-0-1 record in its last five entering Saturday’s
game at Merrimack. Even though Providence has lost three
straight, including a sweep at St. Cloud State, the
Friars have beaten Maine and BU this month. When they’ve
played well, goaltending has carried both teams –
expect it to be the key in this one.
While You're There: Try not to make too many jokes
about Providence’s currently-jailed ex-mayor,
Buddy Cianci. Like, “did you know this year’s
Mayor’s Cup, for a change, won’t be won
by the coach who makes the biggest bribe?” That’s
just in bad taste (never mind not very funny).
University vs. New Hampshire (at BU Thurs., at UNH
Sat.) – The Wildcats are unbeaten in January,
with a 5-0-1 mark since their loss at Denver. BU has
lost three straight, but in a maddeningly inconsistent
season, they’ve shown the ability to turn things
around quickly. The Beanpot’s approaching, and
you’ve got to wonder if the Terriers’
next inevitable hot streak could start this weekend.
Clarkson (Fri.) and St. Lawrence (Sat.) at Cornell
– It’s been almost two months since Cornell
played a home game, so the Faithful will be restless.
Their heroes make their return Friday. With two wins,
they’ll return to their rightful position in
the ECAC – first place.
Merrimack assistant coach Stu Irving was among the award
winners recently announced by the American Hockey Coaches
Association. Irving captured the Terry Flanagan Award, presented
to an assistant coach to recognize his career body of work.
Irving and head coach Chris Serino deserve raves for the
work they’ve done with Merrimack this season. Rarely
do players hurt as much after a loss as their coaches do,
but you can feel how much the Warriors care about the game
– and that’s a big reason for their surprising
sixth-place standing in Hockey East.
In each of Maine's three ties this year, including last
Friday against Merrimack, the Black Bears have scored with
the goaltender pulled to tie the game.
Army's sweep of Air Force last weekend was its first on
the road in series history. Army freshman goalie Brad Roberts
made 74 saves in the two games and did not allow an even-strength
The Calgary Flames acquired ex-Boston College defenseman
Mike Mottau from the New York Rangers this week for a draft
pick (one of two ex-Eagles to get traded this week; see
above). The acquisition gives the Flames organization three
Hobey Baker winners: Mottau, Chris Drury and Jordan Leopold.
has outscored opponents 35-16 in the third period this season.
Cornell’s Sam Paolini is one of five finalists for
the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented to the game’s
• Ben Eaves
got a big break when he tied Friday’s BC-BU game at
2-2. Defenseman John Adams, killing a penalty, threw a long
pass to Eaves that skipped past Eaves’ stick and fooled
BU goalie Sean Fields. “It was not our typical play
that we work on, but we just got the bounce tonight,'' Eaves
told the Boston Herald. “I've put a couple in off
my rear end, a couple off my head going to the net when
a guy's shooting and you get spun around, but I haven't
done anything like this yet.''
Yale freshman goaltender Josh Gartner gets a lot of credit
for his team’s sweep of Notre Dame on the road last
weekend. Gartner stopped 59 of 61 shots in the victories,
his first starts since losing to New Hampshire two weeks
ago. The son of Hall of Famer Mike Gartner is now 3-1-0
with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage
on the year. “We gave up 12 goals last weekend (against
Harvard and Brown),” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor.
“We talked about that a lot this week and were focusing
(The Coach's Quote Edition)
Mercyhurst's Rick Gotkin on his team's building confidence
think our guys know that we have a pretty good hockey
team here. They all believe in each other and they believe
in the systems.”
Cornell's Mike Schafer, whose team beat Union and Rensselaer
used this last week as a test run to get ready for the
playoffs. We tried to build towards tonight and use
it. We were just ready to play. Our guys had a lot of
jump in their legs all night long. We just played very,
Merrimack's Chris Serino, after Saturday's 2-1 loss
do I tell my kids? They just played their butts off
and lost the game. But we know this: If we play our
best game and they play their best game, 9 out of 10
times we probably lose. Tonight, I thought we played
pretty close to our best game."
why Union head coach Kevin Sneddon thinks Cornell is a strong
national championship contender: "They're big and they're
physical. They can score and they can play defense. And,
if all else fails, they have one of the best goalies in
in its 22nd game, outshot its opponent for the first time
this season, but lost to Maine.
Rivalry-be-damned, Jack Parker benched Brian McConnell in
Friday’s showdown with BC for taking a 10-minute misconduct
in Thursday night’s game. McConnell, who was a member
of the U.S. National Junior Team, has 6-6—12 in 18
GP for the Terriers.
forward Tim Morrison joined the Quinnipiac team for the
spring semester and played Saturday night against Mercyhurst.
Morrison was leading the North American Hockey League in
goals before joining the Bobcats.
Boston College's league series sweep of BU is its first
since 1990-91. Stay tuned, though: that year, the Terriers
beat the Eagles in the Beanpot title game.
Martin St. Louis (Vermont) was named to the NHL's Eastern
Conference All-Star team, joining Bill Guerin and Brian
Leetch (both Boston College) in the All-Star Game. Erik
Cole (Clarkson) will play in the Youngstars game.
Dartmouth sophomore Lee Stempniak recorded his seventh multiple-point
game of the season with three points against Vermont. He
leads the team and stands tied for second in the conference
in scoring with 26 points, trailing only Harvard's Tim Pettit
thanks to Joe Gladziszewski for his contributions. A variety
of other sources were utilized in the compilation of this