Shooting with a Smile
you’re raised by an NHL veteran and spend your summer
working out with professionals, you’re in a great
position to learn about the game.
That’s no shock. But what Ben Walter
has picked up from all those folks who get paid to play
“This game – it’s just
that, a game,” said Walter, Hockey East’s hottest
scorer with eight goals this season. “You should have
fun with it. I can’t wait to play, and last year,
when we weren’t winning and I wasn’t scoring,
that wasn’t always the case.”
UMass Lowell fans have certainly enjoyed
Walter’s breakthough performance during the first
five games of this season. He’s had multiple-point
efforts in four of the River Hawks’ five games and
posted a hat trick, with the game’s first three goals,
in their 6-1 win over Niagara.
Walter was UMass Lowell's fifth leading scorer last
year with 5-12—17.
who’s father, Ryan, was a 15-year NHLer, scored five
goals and a respectable 17 points in his freshman season.
A 29-goal scorer as a BCHL all-star the year before, he
was frustrated with his production and UMass Lowell’s
difficulties in close games, as the River Hawks lost seven
one-goal games in Hockey East.
He spent the summer working out with former
NHLer Tony Twist and several current pros, including Cliff
Ronning, in Burnaby, British Columbia. He credits those
workouts for some of his success this season, as well as
his upbeat approach.
Whatever the reason, everything’s
going in for Walter right now – especially on the
power play, where he has an NCAA-leading six goals. He’s
got a 42.1 shooting percentage.
“I’m playing with Elias Godoy
and Andrew Martin, and something’s working,”
he said. “They’re finding me the puck and it’s
going in. We’re having fun out there.”
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
simply can't resist an opportunity to show you the Skating
Shock – Head coach Paul Pooley sounds a bit
like a cop telling everyone to remain calm when he reminds
us that the Skating Friar isn’t gone from Providence’s
sweaters. In fact it isn’t – it’s just
moved to a less prominent spot on the back of the jersey,
while the new logo takes over the prime real estate on the
is always difficult for some people,” Pooley said
– unaware, perhaps, that I was one of those people
(see the “Bench Minor,” below). “But we
look at this as a new beginning. It gives us a new sense
of where we’re going as a program.”
new logo was introduced last fall and features a hooded
Friar with a new font treatment (one INCH staffer called
it a cross between the Gorton’s fisherman and the
Blair Witch). When the new logo was introduced, the school
noted that the hockey teams would continue to wear the Skating
Friar, which has been a staple at Schneider Arena since
it was built in 1973.
Skating Friar remains on the back of the new jerseys, which
Providence wore for the first time in last Friday’s
home loss to Boston University. Hockey’s transition
to the new logo was in support, Pooley said, of athletic
director Bob Dricoll’s goal to give all Providence
teams a consistent look.
also reassures fans that they probably haven’t seen
the last of the classic Skating Friar sweaters.
probably get a third jersey with the Friar on the front
at some point,” he said.
Black Bears – There’s a lot to like
about Maine’s early-season performance, from the fantastic
goaltending of Jimmy Howard and Frank Doyle, to the development
of the returning forwards, to the strong play of the freshmen.
coach Tim Whitehead, however, praises his team’s demeanor
much more than anything specific that he’s seen on
really like the culture in our program right now,”
he said. “It’s very solid. For whatever reason
we seem to have a very tight-knit group.”
result has been an all-out effort in each of the five games
(plus an exhibition) heading into the start of Hockey East
play against Merrimack and Boston University this weekend.
Whitehead beams as he recalls a comment from Moe Mantha,
who resigned as head coach of the U.S. National Team Development
Program this week, about Maine not being the most talented
team the Under-18s have faced this year, but the hardest
a great compliment for our team,” Whitehead said of
the group that is No. 1 in the polls this week. “That
really matches what we think we are.”
Longer Anonymous – There are few jobs in
hockey more anonymous than third-string goalie (Curtis Joseph
being the exception).
That’s what makes David Cacciola’s
return to the net last weekend for Providence that much
more impressive. After playing five games (four starts)
as a freshman behind former Friar Nolan Schaefer, Cacciola
faded into the background with the arrival of Bobby Goepfert
last season and didn’t see a minute of action. But
when Goepfert faltered against Boston University last week,
Cacciola jumped in. He played well enough to earn the start
the next night at Merrimack, which finished as the first
scoreless tie in Providence history.
Great Weekend Getaway
University at Maine (Sat.)
teams enter the weekend unbeaten and they’ll
renew their rivalry in each team’s second conference
game of the year. With two balanced offenses on display,
it could be a third- or fourth-line goal that makes
You’re There: Keep an eye on the Black Bears’
jerseys, as we hear that a third jersey could make
it’s debut. Will college hockey’s best
color scheme work when light blue is the predominant
teams deserve applause for submitting their
box scores to collegehockeystats.com,
an outstanding resource for info from five of the
six conferences. If only the CCHA would get on board.
admit that I haven’t seen the new Providence
jersey – I wasn’t at Friday’s BU
game and no photos are available – but moving
the Skating Friar from the front of the sweater
seems like a mistake. Here’s hoping it doesn’t
last, like those regrettable pinstriped numbers PC
wore a few seasons back.
played pretty well around him on Saturday, and he made the
saves when he needed to,” head coach Paul Pooley said.
“He’s been growing and learning. We told him
that he was going to get the opportunity to play, and he
proved that he deserved it. He’s certainly got himself
in the mix again.”
Pooley hadn’t decided on his goaltending plans for
this weekend’s home-and-home series against Massachusetts.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
How many people thought Union would be the undefeated team
when the Skating Dutchmen visit New Hampshire
Merrimack junior goaltender Casey Guenther
only played nine games in relief of Joe Exter last season,
and posted a less-than-inspiring .855 save percentage. His
early performance has been the big reason for Merrimack’s
2-2-1 start, as his .921 save percentage this year ranks
third in Hockey East, trailing only Maine’s goaltending
tandem of Jimmy Howard (.959) and Frank Doyle (.942).
Boston College is off until Wednesday’s
game against UMass Lowell, giving the Eagles a little more
time to get captain Ben Eaves and Dave Spina healthy. BC
is only 10-12-1 in games Eaves has missed during his career.
As much as his skill, however, the Eagles need his leadership
to help solve their third-period woes. Opponents have outscored
BC 11-5 in the third, while BC holds a 6-0 edge in the first
and 6-3 in the second.
Northeastern seeks its first win in a home-and-home
series against head coach Bruce Crowder’s former club,
UMass Lowell. The two teams met in the
final game of the regular season last year with the eighth
and final playoff spot in Hockey East on the line; the River
Hawks won, 4-1. Northeastern has outshot three of its four
opponents, but is 0-3-1; that’s a note that bears
a striking resemblance to UMass Lowell last year, which
averaged nearly 10 more shots that its opponents, but finished
Maine's Jimmy Howard and Greg Moore, Boston
College's Patrick Eaves, and Massachusetts'
Stephen Werner will represent the U.S. at the 2004 World
Junior Championship. The 16-man
preliminary roster was announced this week. Eaves will
play for his father, Mike, who is the head coach of the
team. Eaves had been scheduled to play on last year's team
but missed the tournament due to injury. Moore and Howard
were on last year's team, while Werner is UMass' first-ever
Speaking of the younger Eaves, he had about as good of an
offensive game as a player can have without scoring in last
Friday's 1-0 Eagles loss to Notre Dame.
New Hampshire senior Steve Saviano had
five goals in the Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase,
including a four-goal effort against Canisius. His five
goals on the weekend matched his total from all of the regular
season last year. Saviano did add four playoff goals for
a total of nine in 2002-03.