college coaches react to losses with the kind of anguish
normally associated with dying pets and discussions of puppy
makes UMass Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald’s reaction
to last week’s news all the more refreshing. The River
Hawks were handed not one, but five losses last week when
they discovered that transfer Paul Falco was not eligible
when he entered the lineup after Christmas.
the forfeits dropped the surging River Hawks below .500
and all but out of the race for home ice in the Hockey East
Tournament, MacDonald shrugged them off.
would be a much different reaction if my son was sent over
to Iraq,” said MacDonald. “This is the toy department
of life, and we realize that. Honestly, it’s not that
big a deal.”
are a few reasons MacDonald can afford to take what could
be devastating news in stride:
knows how good his team is
fact remains that we won those games,” he said –
not defiantly, but proudly. “The reaction was, hey,
we know in this room that we went to Michigan State and
won. We know we swept UMass.”
River Hawks have one of the league’s top forwards
in sophomore Elias Godoy, who stands second in points among
conference players with 14-19—33. He is complemented
by classmate Ben Walter, who’s out with a sprained
knee right now, but – according to MacDonald –
improving every day.
got a young team
been seen as a weakness for the River Hawks all year –
the 18 freshmen and sophomores that dot their lineup on
any given night – could suddenly be a positive. Instead
of fielding a senior-laden team that just had its hopes
for a dramatic sendoff dashed, MacDonald views that youth
as a positive.
think it would make more of an impact if this was a team
full of seniors,” he said. “If anything, this
adds to the resiliency of a young team.”
team still controls its destiny
six points now separating UMass Lowell and fourth-place
New Hampshire, Tsongas Arena probably won’t be hosting
a playoff game this season. But MacDonald is less concerned
about where the River Hawks play, and more about how they
nice thing is that we play six of our last 10 games against
the top seven teams in the country,” he said –
something that a downtrodden coach would consider more nerve-wracking
than nice. “If we want to make some noise, we’re
in a great position to do it.”
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
in Translation – Providence is another team
that knows it’s better than its Hockey East record,
although the Friars haven’t had to give back any conference
victories. The Friars have seen their strength in non-league
play, where they were 8-1-1.
nothing but Hockey East play ahead, and head coach Paul
Pooley’s challenge is to get his team to produce the
results in the conference that they’ve enjoyed outside
a better hockey club than we’ve shown in the league,”
Pooley said. “We just need to do the same types of
things inside the league that we’ve done in our other
of that is emphasizing the typical things that coaches harp
on – sticking to systems, playing as a team. But it’s
beyond a cliché on a team that truly boasts no superstars,
with five players with seven or more goals, and four within
nine points of Chris Chaput’s team lead in scoring.
I tell the guys all the time is, when we play well we’re
a very good team,” Pooley said. “We’re
not a great group of individuals.”
most individually talented of the bunch may be defenseman
Stephen Wood, who was a second-team All-Hockey East honoree
last season. If Massachusetts’ Thomas Pock and New
Hampshire’s Brian Yandle are the top offensive defensemen
in the league, Wood is in a group of elite players in more
of a two-way mold, along with Boston University’s
Ryan Whitney and Maine’s Prestin Ryan. According to
Pooley, if Wood plays consistently over the last nine games
of the regular season, that will help the Friars elevate
one of the reasons that I’m confident that we can
be better,” Pooley said. “When I see him play
his game, he’s one of the best defensemen in the league.
But I think he can be more consistent. I’ve seen him
play some unbelievable games, and I’ve seen him play
games where he’s trying to do too much, and that happens
to seniors sometimes.”
MacDonald expresses excitement over UMass Lowell’s
remaining schedule, the Friars’ appears much more
favorable – only Maine, who they play twice in Orono
– is ahead of them among their remaining games.
year’s Providence team went 6-0-2 in February. They
have the schedule – and, based on their non-league
games, the ability – to come close to that mark again.
Full 'Pot – For "the matchup everybody
wants", Boston College vs. Boston University in the
Beanpot final is sure lopsided.
Terriers are 8-1 in their last nine Beanpot championship
meetings with Boston College, with the lone Eagle win coming
in 2001. And even though this year's BC team holds a clear
talent edge over BU, we're reminded of last season, when
the Eagles swept the season series but lost the Beanpot
to BU, 3-2.
meet again Monday at the FleetCenter, and this year BC will
hope to complete the regular season sweep, having already
beaten BU three times this year.
Terriers, whatever their struggles, still have that Beanpot
magic, as they proved Monday night. They got a boost from
their line of Frantisek Skladany, Brad Zancanaro and Mark
Mullen, which generated chances and was the best trio on
the ice in the first game.
Eagles, meanwhile, have found other ways to generate offense
without Ben Eaves in the lineup. Fourth liners Ned Havern
and Justin Dziama, playing with Adam Pineault, accounted
for two of BC's four goals in the win over Harvard. Havern
has three game-winning goals in just over three weeks.
ability to win without the elder Eaves left an impression
on Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni.
think Ben Eaves and especially this year with them, he's
had his challenges in his career, and they've seemed to
have some challenges when he's been out, but not this year,"
he said. "They're firing on all cylinders, and it's
a credit to ther hockey team."
time the two teams met, BU coach Jack Parker noted that
if a few more Eagles could be out with injuries, his Terriers
might have a chance. Either that, he could have added, or
they could just play on the Beanpot stage. That seems to
give BU an edge as well.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
vs. New Hampshire (in Amherst Fri., in Durham Sat.) This
matchup of New England state universities pits two
teams whose fortunes swung in opposite directions
last weekend. While UNH was swept at Maine, Massachusetts
picked up four wins – one each against Northeastern
and Merrimack, and two by forfeit against UMass Lowell.
As a result, the Wildcats are essentially out of the
race for the conference title, while UMass jumped
to second place, just two points behind Boston College.
you can only make one of the games, make sure it’s
at the Mullins Center, and get there early –
Friday night is Mullet Night, and the first 1,000
fans through the doors receive a free mullet wig.
We’re not making this up.
Days later, college hockey is still buzzing over Ryan
Shannon’s backcheck on Rob Fried’s
breakaway in the Beanpot. Providence coach Paul Pooley
mentioned Shannon’s play to the Friars at Tuesday’s
practice, holding it up as an example of a talented
player putting forth the extra effort to win. Shannon
shares the Hockey East conference scoring lead with
6-13—19 through 15 games.
for a Mike Legg goal isn’t nearly as cool, Chris
Collins, when you don’t get the puck
on your stick. (Although don't let this stop you if
you get another chance to try it.)
Massachusetts (two wins) and Merrimack
(one) were the two teams to benefit directly from UMass
Lowell’s forfeits. UMass is now in the hunt
for the league title, although the Minutemen have two more
losses and are two points behind Boston College.
The forfeit gives Merrimack a boost in the clump of five
teams at the bottom of the standings, four of which will
make the playoffs. The Warriors are in a three-way tie atop
that group, but have played the most games of any conference
team (18). One of their six remaining games is against Northeastern,
currently in last place with seven points.
John Yaros has started four straight conference games for
UMass Lowell, but don’t be surprised
if you see Chris Davidson back between the pipes in the
second game of a weekend. Yaros is 2-0-0 on Friday nights
the last two weeks and 0-2-0 on Saturdays. Head coach Blaise
MacDonald said it has been important to get Yaros experience
in back-to-back situations – the transfer was out
of game action for more than a year and missed nine weeks
with mono – but he also knows that Davidson is a capable
alternative. Davidson is 6-3-1 with a .919 save percentage
in Hockey East games this year.
The Atlanta Thrashers, in town a night early for a game
against the Bruins, were in attendance at the FleetCenter
for Monday’s Beanpot games. Do you think Shawn McEachern
did a little bragging? McEachern had two goals in the 1990
Beanpot championship game for BU and won
it again in ’91.
Five former Hockey East stars will take part in the NHL’s
All-Star festivities this weekend. Former Boston
College Eagle Brooks Orpik will participate in
the YoungStars Game on Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN), while Adrian
Aucoin (BU), Bill Guerin (BC),
Dwayne Roloson (UMass Lowell) and Keith
Tkachuk (BU) will play in the All-Star
Game Sunday at 3 p.m. (ABC).
Northeastern goaltender Keni Gibson gave
an early indication of the sort of night he was going to
have when he whiffed on a clearing attempt in the first
two minutes of Monday's first Beanpot semifinal. The puck
eventually slid wide of the post, but it was an ominous
start to the game.
Twin brothers Brad (Boston University)
and Tony (Providence) Zancanaro face off
for the second time this year on Friday night. Tony had
two assists to Brad’s one in the first meeting, but
BU came away with a 6-4 victory.
Speaking of twin brothers, former Maine
Black Bears Chris and Peter Ferraro were both named to the
USHL’s 25th Anniversary Team, the only Hockey East
players among the honorees. Peter and Chris are currently
tied for first and third, respectively, in scoring on the
AHL’s Springfield Falcons.
When you go see “Miracle” – it opens Friday,
but we trust that most college hockey fans won’t catch
it until Sunday, at the earliest – keep an eye out
for Elias Godoy and Ben Walter of UMass Lowell,
who were extras in the movie. One former Hockey East player
who you’ll see a lot of is Mike Mantenuto, who plays
the role of Jack O’Callahan. Mantenuto spent the 2000-01
season at Maine, studying theater, before
pursuing his acting career.
Despite the difficulty Mike Ayers faced at Maine
last weekend, it’s hard to forget the two
saves the UNH goalie made within minutes
during Friday’s second period – both of which
looked like something out of The Matrix. On the
first, Ayers stopped a partial breakaway when Michel Leveille’s
shot got behind him, but he kicked up his leg and got the
puck with his calf. Shortly after that, he did a two-pad
sideways somersault to foil the Black Bears. Nevertheless,
don’t be surprised if you see sophomore Jeff Petrasiak,
who relieved Ayers Saturday night, in one of the two games
against Massachusetts this weekend. Petrasiak
has been solid whenever he's been called upon this year,
and his play helped snap the Wildcats out of a mini-slump
in early January.
Northeastern is having a tough time generating
offense beyond its duo of Jason Guerriero and Mike Morris.
Those two combined for 12 shots on goal in Monday’s
loss to Boston University, but were held
scoreless by Sean Fields and Ryan Whitney. The Huskies haven’t
scored more than three goals against a Hockey East team
Maine’s power play has been the
worst in the league this year, perhaps the Black Bears’
only glaring weakness (11.4 percent going into this weekend’s
non-league series with Alabama-Huntsville). They caught
fire Saturday against New Hampshire, however,
scoring on three-of-five opportunities – which could
be a very bad sign for the visiting Chargers, not to mention
the rest of Hockey East.
Maine’s series against Alabama-Huntsville
and Monday’s Beanpot action represent the last non-conference
games of the regular season for Hockey East teams.
Boston College assistant coach Jim Logue,
the 1959 Beanpot MVP, will be inducted into the Beanpot
Hall of Fame on Monday.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this