Union troops: The Dutchmen are on a roll
streak is a winning streak – and you’re always
happy to take five games in a row. But if you do it while
the calendar turns to February, in the midst of a jumbled
conference race, it feels all the better.
what Union has enjoyed over the last three weeks, and the
Skating Dutchmen carry the nation’s longest winning
streak into Friday’s game against Brown. Head coach
Kevin Sneddon’s club has won each of the last four
games on the road, helping erase the memory of an 0-5-1
stretch in December and January.
of it is great,” Sneddon said. “We faced some
adversity just prior to the holidays and once we got back,
but the players kept their focus. It’s all about confidence
right now. Our players are starting to believe in each other,
and that’s what you hope for in a young team.”
terrific top line of right wing Jordan Webb, center Nathan
Gillies and left wing Joel Beal has keyed the team’s
resurgence. They’ve combined for 28 points in the
five games (11-17—28), accounting for 58 percent of
the team’s goals in that time, including Beal’s
overtime winner at St. Lawrence Saturday night.
at the last couple of weeks and they’ve really been
strong,” Sneddon said of his No. 1 unit. “You
need key players to make key plays at key times. They’ve
certainly had good support from the other lines, but that
line is obviously the offensive spark for us.”
notes that each member of the trio offers something special
– in general terms, Beal is the setup man, while Gillies
creates space with his physical play. The coach saves his
most effusive praise for Webb: “to be honest, Jordan
Webb is absolutely hands-down the smartest hockey player
we’ve ever had here. To think that he’s only
a sophomore is really incredible.”
Their play has
helped Union gain a little separation from a cluttered middle-of-the-pack
in the ECAC. The Skating Dutchmen stand in third place with
18 points, with four teams just two or three points behind
them. Not bad for a team that was just 3-5-2 in league play
as recently as Jan. 17.
With his team
on such a roll, you might think Sneddon would want to play
the typical two games this weekend instead of one –
a result of the schedule adjustments to accommodate Harvard’s
Beanpot games. But typical of his team’s everything’s-going-great-right-now
attitude, Sneddon’s happy with the situation.
got a very big challenge in facing a team like Brown, and
this allows us to focus on Brown and only Brown,”
he said. “It helps from a health standpoint, too,
because we’ll have an extra day of rest on Saturday.
This time of year, any time you play only one game can only
be a positive.”
MORE NOTES NO FAN SHOULD BE WITHOUT
What They Said
would Brian Gionta do, if he were here right now?"
– Sung to the tune of the Brian Boitano song
Park: The Movie; author unknown
familiar name has begun terrorizing Boston College
opponents – Gionta.
isn’t rehabbing his broken leg with the Eagles.
It’s Stephen, who for the first half of the
season was notable because of his name, but not his
offensive production. With three goals in his last
two games, that’s changing fast.
began the year in a checking role, and considering
how annoying Brian was to play against, you can imagine
that he was effective. He’s become a scorer
of late, due in no small part to his joining Ben Eaves
and Tony Voce on the Eagles’ first line. Playing
alongside those two, you probably could score with
a broken leg.
not to downplay Gionta’s abilities. His emergence
in the space previously filled by Ben’s brother,
Patrick, has given to give Jerry York’s club
another offensive weapon up front – one to take
note of the rest of the way.
Beans, Beans ... – The rivalry is probably
the best between two teams of any sport in the Boston area.
And it’s one of the city’s signature events.
adds up to a great event Monday night. Boston College or
Boston University have been represented in every one of
the Beanpot’s 50 championship games. Monday they’ll
meet each other on that stage for the 16th time (BU holds
a 9-6 edge).
a great note that captures the level of hockey you’ll
see at the Fleet (and on NESN) Monday night – four
of the last five times these teams have met in the Beanpot
final, the winner has gone on to reach that season’s
NCAA championship game (winning twice – BU in 1995
and BC in 2001). The lone exception, 2000, saw the losing
team reach the national title game (BC).
you can count on both of these teams for more highlights
as the season moves on. Win either Hockey East title (regular
season or tournament), and the Eagles would inevitably gain
ground in the pursuit of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Terriers, meanwhile, hope the Beanpot has delivered
its annual shot in their collective arm.
won't be the last time we play BU (this season),'' York
speculated in the Globe. ''Because both teams are
capable of extending our seasons.''
Think Christmas: Green and Red – You can
be sure head coach Mike Schafer has told his troops this
week how to beat Dartmouth on Friday night.
Cornell alum might also want to tell them what it's like
to beat Dartmouth.
Big Green come to Lynah for the 100th game in the series
with an improbable 7-0-1 record in their last eight meetings
with the Big Red, dating back to the time when the current
Cornell seniors were still awaiting their college acceptance
shook off an 0-4-1 stretch last weekend, posting a sweep
at Princeton and Yale. Cornell, meanwhile, suffered its
first ECAC loss since these two teams met in November in
the first half of its home-and-home with Colgate last weekend.
Big Red dominated the Red Raiders in shots and clanged a
hanful off the pipe, but were held scoreless for the last
58 minutes of regulation. In overtime, Red Raider Adam Mitchell's
apparent goal was initially waved off, but after referee
Alex Dell conferred with assistant referees Kevin Sullivan
and Andy Petrus at center ice, Colgate's celebration began.
David (LeNeveu) told me the net was off its moorings and
that's why the puck went in short side," Schafer told
the Cornell Daily Sun. "The head official
waved it off, and the linesman called it."
That wacky MAAC – It was a wild week in the
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Consider:
Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac, the two teams running away in
the regular-season title race, both lost;
Army swept Holy Cross in a series between two teams headed
in very opposite directions, and yet tied in the standings;
Fairfield beat Canisius for its first-ever road win over
the Ice Griffs; and
the Stags learned Wednesday that their program will
be eliminated at the end of the season.
things first – there's not much tougher to deal with
in college athletics than having your program cut. Maine
fans, if you think you were upset by the penalty call in
overtime last year, multiply that by a thousand. Here's
hoping Fairfield continues to battle for the rest of the
season. In baseball they'd call the Stags a tough out; they
may be 5-16-2, but eight of those 16 losses came by one
what the decision means for the rest of the MAAC –
very little in the short run. Sure, you'll hear about potential
additions to the league. The possibility of expanding the
league into two conferences, which led to the uncertainty
surrounding the CHA and WCHA's automatic
NCAA Tournament bids, has been shelved for the time
back in this year's standings, the Lakers and Bobcats both
lost MAAC games (to teams other than each other) in the
same weekend for the first time since Jan. 26-27, 2001.
Mercyhurst still controls its own destiny in the regular-season
title race, three points behind Quinnipiac but with two
games in hand. Army, which plays an exhibition game this
week (more on that later), is tied for sixth, but at 7-3-0
in its last 10, is moving up in the world. Holy Cross, losers
of eight of 10, tries to snap out of it with two vs. American
International this weekend.
Great Weekend Getaways
Boston College vs. Boston University (Beanpot; Mon.)
Eagles lead Hockey East conference games in offense,
defense, power play and penalty killing – and
yet not only does it feel tough to call them a favorite
in this game, it feels like they’re guests at
BU’s tournament. Boston College has prevailed
by close margins in the three prior meetings this year
– maybe close enough for BU’s Beanpot magic
While you’re there: Tournament director Steve
Nazro recalled in the Globe this week how he
was eating at Durgin Park while the snow started falling
in the Blizzard of ’78. The folks who were trapped
at the Garden for three days got steak dinners in the
Blades and Boards Club, but I’d bet they would
have rather had Durgin Park’s prime rib. A short
walk from the Fleet, it would make a good pre-game meal,
as long as you don’t have to play that night.
College at Maine (Fri.) – It’s almost
enough to feel sorry for Boston College. With Maine
and BU ahead this week, never mind the difficulty
of the schedule – their players have to suffer
through a whole week of media- and coach-speak about
not looking ahead, playing one game at a time, etc.
Then again, they have the pleasure of playing in games
with Hockey East title implications and a Beanpot
championship on the line in a four-day span.
Dartmouth at Cornell (Fri.) – Can Cornell solve
its Dartmouth hex? Or perhaps a better way to phrase
it – can the Big Green continue their improbable
mastery of the ECAC’s best team? They carry
a 7-0-1 record in their last eight against the Big
Red into Lynah.
Army's exhibition game against Canada's Royal Military College
doesn't count in the standings – but it counts for
much more than that.
a special game," Army head coach Rob Riley said. "It's
rivalry played with a lot of emotion on both sides."
looks to reclaim the Challenge Trophy after losing a 3-2
overtime game on the road last season. A win will give the
Black Knights a memory they'll never forget.
them in overtime my junior year, in our rink, ranks as one
biggest highlights in my four years as a cadet," said
former team MVP Maj. Rich Sheridan. "There is nothing
more satisfying for an Army hockey player than beating RMC.
This is the hockey team's Army-Navy game and it's the biggest
game on the schedule. The battle on the ice is very rough
and full of hostile energy."
The 12 finalists for the Walter Brown Award, presented to
the top American-born player in New England, were announced
this week. This award always makes me wonder – why
exclude Canadians? Or why not, if it's limited to Americans,
limit it to New England natives? If you know the answer
– or want to make up a creative one – pass
it along. Meanwhile, here are the finalists:
Ayers (New Hampshire), Trevor Byrne (Dartmouth), Jon DiSalvatore
(Providence), Brandon Doria (Holy Cross), Ben Eaves (Boston
College), Joe Exter (Merrimack), Chris Higgins (Yale), Jim
Howard (Maine), Greg Mauldin (Massachusetts), Tim Pettit
(Harvard), Mike Ryan (Northeastern) and Noah Welch (Harvard).
Ben Eaves, Boston College
strong effort every weekend looks really good to Hobey
voters. As does the occasional six-point night.
Jim Hunt, Fairfield
good guy in the game, the Stags' coach deserves a better
fate. He'll get one, but it's unfortunate that it can't
be at Fairfield.
Daniel Fogel, Vermont
to new Catamount president for his ambitious goal of
a 9,000-seat arena in Burlington. Getting it done might
be another hurdle entirely, but it's nice to see a university
administrator with a positive vision for his athletic
In case there was still doubt about Lanny Gare's ability
to step into the high-profile, go-to role at New Hampshire,
it was erased last weekend. He was fantastic in the Wildcats'
split with Maine, posting three goals.
For the first time since Jan. 3, 1977, Madison Square Garden
will host a college hockey game this March 1, as Quinnipiac
takes on Connecticut. The two MAAC teams will play for the
Heroes Hat, an award established last year to honor those
who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
Clarkson had scored a total of nine goals in the previous
five games before its 7-1 win over Rensselaer Saturday.
Thirteen Golden Knights recorded a point.
Vermont is 7-2-1 when it outshoots its opponent, something
the Catamounts have done in four of their last five games.
Bentley's impressive 6-5 win over Mercyhurst – highlighted
by junior Joe Lovell's four assists – puts the Falcons
three games over .500 in the league, in good shape in terms
of hosting a first-round playoff game. But that might not
necessarily be a good thing: they are 6-3-0 on the road
in MAAC play, 4-4-0 at home.
With regular-season non-conference play complete, Hockey
East's .718 winning percentage outside the league is the
best in conference history. Maine (9-1-1) and Massachusetts
(6-1-1) led the way.
It's pretty clear goaltending has been the key to UMass
Lowell's fortunes. The River Hawks are 6-0-1 when allowing
two goals or fewer, 3-14-2 when allowing three goals or
A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation
of this report.