Grand Forks, N.D., chamber of commerce should get a hold
of Jerry York. It's probably been a while since anyone's
shown the enthusiasm about a trip to the city that the Eagles'
coach has going into this weekend's series with the Fighting
“There’s plenty of excitement
on our side,” York said. “It’s a great
matchup between two storied college hockey programs, and
I think we will both benefit from it.”
two-game series between BC and North Dakota really does
have all you could ask for in October:
• the top-ranked team in the East
vs. the top-ranked team in the West
• a rematch of the 2000 and 2001 national championship
• a national television audience on CSTV’s Friday
Night Hockey broadcast
• two of the most dynamic players in the game in BC’s
Ben Eaves and North Dakota’s Zach Parise (if he’s
• the two best first lines in the game
York, although he doesn’t have the
last change, would like to see those two first lines square
off. If it was up to him, his Ben Eaves-Patrick Eaves-Tony
Voce trio would go against Brandon Bochenski, Brady Murray
and Zach Parise (who left last weekend’s exhibition
game with a knee injury; his status is in doubt for this
“That’s a line we feel is a
threat every time they come on the ice,” York said
of the Sioux’s top unit. “I would like to see
(them against our top line). Play the best against the best
and see how it plays out.”
Adding to the intrigue, four of those six
players know each other very well. The Eaves brothers, Parise
and Murray are all products of the Shattuck St. Mary’s
program in Minnesota.
But those aren’t the only players
thrilled to be a part of this kind of series, obviously.
Even the defensemen – who might face their toughest
challenge of the year – are looking forward to it.
“I'm sure they can wheel,” said
junior John Adams, an all-tournament pick at last weekend’s
Ice Breaker Invitational. “More than anything, we've
got Ryan Shannon, Ben Eaves, Patrick Eaves, Tony Voce, Dave
Spina – forwards who can match them. It's going to
be fun to go up to their place and play a couple games in
their new rink.”
The games are the first series in a four-year
agreement between Boston College, North Dakota and Northeastern.
The Sioux head east next fall to face the Huskies, and Northeastern
travels to Grand Forks the following year. In 2006, North
Dakota will visit Boston College.
But in a series that recalls Minnesota’s
trip to New Hampshire last fall that previewed the national
championship, you get the sense that these two teams could
be meeting in Boston well before 2006.
“You always keep that in the back
of your mind,” York admitted when asked if this could
be a Frozen Four preview. “But right now we’re
focused on October. We want to be as good as we can be right
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
for the Trees – Coach York confirms that
defenseman J.D. Forrest – academically ineligible
for the first three games of the year – will make
his return to the ice this weekend in Grand Forks. An INCH
Preseason Second-Team All-American, Forrest adds a lot of
puck-moving ability to the Eagles’ blue line, especially
on the power play.
Jackson led Maine with back-to-back two-goal games in
last weekend's Maverick Stampede.
Jackson – Todd Jackson, a Yankee fan who
skates alongside a pair of Mainers for the Black Bears,
knows a thing or two about keeping things quiet. And he
didn’t mind that his Maine team was flying under everyone’s
radar in the preseason.
changed in a big way last Friday, however, as the Black
Bears made the early season’s biggest blip with their
4-0 upset of Minnesota. They produced the perfect game plan
against the Gophers – stifling Minnesota’s high-powered
forwards and forcing turnovers by their defensemen –
while getting timely goals and terrific saves from Jim Howard.
“I think it’s kind of nice not
to have that target on our back,” said Jackson, the
Black Bears’ captain and INCH’s Player of the
Week after a pair of two-goal games in the Maverick Stampede.
“But we knew what kind of a team we had here.”
Jackson has shown great chemistry with linemates
Derek Damon and Greg Moore, giving the Black Bears what
may be an even more threatening first line than they had
last year, when seven senior forwards were in the lineup.
“The main thing we all do is talk
when we’re on the ice,” Jackson said. “Especially
Derek. He’s always got his mouth going, and I always
know where he is on the ice. Greg Moore is a smart, skilled
player, too. They were linemates back in high school, so
they play well together.”
Jackson seems to fit right in. His first
goal against Minnesota was a short-handed tally created
when Damon stole the puck from a Gopher defenseman at the
point. His second came as a result of a perfect goal-mouth
pass from Moore.
“There’s no denying that we
lost a lot of firepower,” said Jackson. “A lot
of guys have the opportunity to step up and contribute.
We have guys on every single line who can get it done.”
And despite beating the overwhelming favorites
to win the national title and capturing a tournament championship
in their first two games, the Black Bears also have a level-headed
approach. There was no confetti ready for them when they
returned home to prepare for this weekend’s Black
Great Weekend Getaway
at New Hampshire (Thurs.)
Massachusetts and New Hampshire are the only Hockey
East teams with home games this week, and while all
eyes will be focused on Grand Forks, the Merrimack-UNH
game has the most intrigue of the local fare. Can
the Wildcats maintain their 28-game unbeaten streak
against the Warriors? Will Merrimack be the first
team in 2003-04 to score a goal on Mike Ayers? Check
it out Thursday night, and you can still tune in to
Friday’s game at North Dakota.
Joe Exter deserves acclaim for his performance
as in-studio analyst for CSTV’s pre-game and
intermission shows during last week’s Friday
Night Hockey broadcast. Exter is serving as a volunteer
assistant coach for the Warriors while continuing
Jackson rightfully heaps praise on Maine’s
redshirt sophomores, especially forward Michel
Leveille and defenseman Jeff Mushaluk. Leveille showed
uncanny patience with the puck in his first collegiate
game against Minnesota, and posted assists on four
of Maine’s 10 goals on the weekend. Mushaluk,
a transfer from Lake Superior State, proved to be
a big and strong defenseman, but versatile as well,
playing the point on the Black Bears’ power
preoccupied by the Sox, Boston College
forgot to pack its socks for the trip to the Ice Breaker
Invitational. Michigan State equipment manager Tom
Magee helped the Eagles secure plain white socks for
Friday’s game, and their usual socks arrived
from Chestnut Hill in time for Saturday’s championship
on you, Boston College and Northeastern.
Your ties last weekend were the only thing keeping
Hockey East from a perfect 12-0-0 non-conference record.
on break right now, so we came back to a really quiet campus,”
Jackson said. “But it’s still early. It’s
not time to celebrate yet.”
Getting to Know You – Providence’s
visit to Minnesota State, Mankato, this weekend could tell
a lot about two teams that suffered significant losses from
last season – but both bring back some talent.
The Mavericks, of course, feature the nation’s
top returning scorer in Shane Joseph, while Providence features
senior Peter Zingoni. Zingoni has four goals through two
games on an astounding 15 shots. He finished fifth on last
year’s Friar team with 12-13—25 in 32 games.
Sophomore goaltender Bobby Goepfert will
have to contend with Joseph, who had four assists as the
Friars swept a two-game series with the Mavericks early
last year. Head coach Paul Pooley got another close look
at Minnesota State when they came to the Dunkin Donuts Center
for the East Regional.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Be sure to take a look at my colleague Mike Eidelbes’s
Postcard on the return
to the ice of Patrick Eaves, if you haven’t already.
A popular choice as a potential breakthrough player on New
Hampshire is Mark Kolanos, a sophomore who only played four
games last season. Kolanos, the younger brother of former
Boston College Eagle and current Phoenix Coyote Krys, centered
a line with Eddie Caron and Patrick Foley in Saturday’s
opener for the Wildcats. He'll start Thursday's game against
Merrimack on the fourth line, between Tyler Scott and Shawn
• It’s RedHawks against River
Hawks Saturday night, as UMass Lowell partakes in its first
of two straight weekend tournaments. This trip takes the
Hawks to Alaska, where they’ll open against Miami
in the Nye Frontier Classic. Ben Walter, one of a promising
group of sophomores for Blaise MacDonald’s team, had
two goals in the opener against Massachusetts. Walter didn’t
score his first goal last year until Dec. 28 and finished
the year with five goals.
• This weekend marks the third straight
year that Northeastern and Denver have met, and it’s
in the third location. In 2001, the Pioneers’ Adam
Berkhoel posted a 3-0 shutout of the Huskies in Alaska’s
Nye Frontier Classic. Last year, he made 29 saves in a 3-1
DU win at Matthews Arena. Denver leads the all-time series,
11-5-0, but it’s tied in the last 10 meetings.
Seniors make up only five of the 27 roster spots for Merrimack,
but that quintet combined for three goals and two assists
in the season-opening win over Sacred Heart. That group
will look to erase three years of misery against New Hampshire
Thursday night. Tim Reidy had a pair of third-period goals
for the Warriors, while Marco Rosa started the scoring just
15 seconds into the game.