can forgive Maine center Michel Léveillé if,
after last weekend’s series against Northeastern,
he felt like it was time to introduce Husky defenseman Tim
Judy to the family.
all, the two had spent an awful lot of time together. In
a pair of tight defensive struggles, head coach Bruce Crowder
made every effort to get his top defense pair – Judy
and freshman Steve Birnstill – matched up against
Maine’s top line of Léveillé, Colin
Shields and Greg Moore. For about 20 minutes of ice time
Friday night and even more in Saturday’s 0-0 tie,
the two groups hopped over their respective boards at the
the time of year when matchups take on more and more significance,
and it’s up to the league’s best defensive defensemen,
like Judy, to quiet the big scorers. They have difficult
and often unheralded jobs – but when you hear a coach
say that he needs players beyond his leaders to step up
and score, that’s because the defensive defensemen
are doing their jobs.
coaches also face a challenge in getting the right matchups,
one exacerbated by the hurry-up faceoff rule added last
season. Playing on the road – when your opponent has
the last change – can make matters even more difficult.
think matchups are very key at this time of year,”
Northeastern head coach Bruce Crowder said. “We’ve
got six games left, but only two of them are at home, so
I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to control
Huskies are at Merrimack Friday, and if Crowder can control
it, you can be sure that Judy will see a lot of Marco Rosa
and Brent Gough.
don’t know if I’ve had a guy who just competes,
competes, competes, the way Timmy Judy does,” Crowder
said. “He plays like he’s 6-2, when he might
be 5-11 if he has heels on. But he comes to play every day.
He’s been very good with our younger kids, not necessarily
vocally, but in setting an example for them of how to play.”
Crowder will do his best to get Judy and Birnstill on the
ice against Merrimack’s top line, you can be sure
that Chris Serino will match up Bryan Schmidt against Jason
Guerriero at every opportunity.
an eye on matchups to watch over the last three weeks of
the regular season, here’s a quick tour around the
league at some other elite defensive specialists on the
Andrew Alberts at Boston College has shown more of an offensive
touch this year, but he’s still at his best in his
own end. He pairs with J.D. Forrest to provide a terrific
Massachusetts offers a similar look on its first defensive
unit, where the offensively gifted Thomas Pöck is paired
with unheralded Nick Kuiper. That gives head coach Don Cahoon
a luxury – match Kuiper against an opponent’s
top line without limiting Pöck’s ice time.
BU, Maine and Providence have all-in-one packages. They
get their best defensive work from their best offensive
defensemen – Ryan Whitney, Prestin Ryan and Stephen
It’s a balanced blueline at New Hampshire, although
Mike Lubesnick probably stands out as the top defensive
Expect Matt Collar and Cleve Kinley to see a lot of Patrick
Eaves and Tony Voce this weekend. UMass Lowell will try
to get its top defensive pair matched against BC’s
top line as much as possible.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
the Nominee Is ... – In informal polling
of the Hockey East coaches, Tony Voce’s name is discussed
a lot as a conference Player of the Year candidate. His
teammate, Ryan Shannon, gets some mention as well.
is, neither player’s name will be on the ballot that
Hockey East coaches receive. Boston College head coach Jerry
York plans to nominate his captain, Ben Eaves, for the award.
who shared Hockey East Player of the Year honors last year
with New Hampshire’s Mike Ayers, undoubtedly is one
of the most talented players in the conference and the country.
Injuries have kept him from the forefront of voter’s
minds, however. He has missed more than one-third of his
team’s games and York considers him doubtful for this
weekend’s series against UMass Lowell as he continues
his recovery from a fractured knee cap.
our glue,” York said of Eaves. “He’s our
guy who makes us go. Without any question, I feel that he
is the best hockey player in college. His leadership skills
for us, even when he’s hurt, make a great contribution.”
recognizes that Eaves’ impact has been limited by
injury, and knows that players like Massachusetts’
Thomas Pöck and New Hampshire’s Steve Saviano
will get plenty of support for Player of the Year honors.
He’s just hopeful that his fellow coaches don’t
forget about Eaves.
think it should be Ben Eaves,” he said. “For
him to win it, he’s got to get back and start playing,
but if he gets back when we think he will, he’ll have
a series with New Hampshire and a series with Maine before
the playoffs. He’s got a lot of hockey in front of
Godoy (37 points) is just five points shy of Ed McGrane's
team-leading total for UMass Lowell last season.
Stats Bureau – Anybody expecting Elias Godoy’s
numbers to tail off as the season progressed probably wasn’t
watching the UMass Lowell sophomore closely enough early
on. Or recognizing the pattern among Godoy and his teammates
under head coach Blaise MacDonald – these young players
keep getting better.
Godoy, that’s meant 4-4—8 totals in his last
six games, with four multiple-point games in that time.
It’s allowed him to keep pace with the conference
scoring leaders, as only New Hampshire’s Steve Saviano
has more points (39 to Godoy’s 17-20—37).
plays with everything happening in front of him,”
MacDonald said. “He’s dangerous every time he’s
on the ice; he has that sixth sense where he can find people.
He just keeps getting better and better.”
accounted for half of UMass Lowell’s six goals in
last weekend’s series against UNH and chipped in an
assist as well. Two of his three goals came on the power
play – a unit that was bolstered by the healthy return
of Ben Walter. The two play on separate lines at even-strength,
and Walter’s return helps take some focus off of Godoy.
we put on his line, that line is continually one of our
top lines,” MacDonald said. “I think Elias makes
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Maine (Fri.-Sat.) You
may not see a lot of free-wheeling hockey in this
series, but you’re almost assured of two close
games. The Friars play an ugly style when they’re
winning, and they make no apologies about it. Lately
they’ve been executing that style to perfection,
allowing two goals or fewer in each of their last
four games (all wins). Maine, meanwhile, has some
more offensive weapons but it’s still a team
defined by goaltenders Frank Doyle and Jim Howard.
Since my colleague Joe Gladziszewski took a shot at
some Hockey East uniforms a couple weeks back, I’ve
got to stick up for our sweaters.
I’m partial to two-color designs, so in my mind,
it’s tough to beat those sported by Providence,
UNH, BU and UMass. When it comes to color schemes,
Maine’s is the best in hockey and BC isn't far
off. UMass Lowell has this year’s best new sweaters
east of Miami of Ohio. All in all, Hockey East fans
have got nothing to complain about – we both
play and dress better than Gladdy’s ECAC teams.
done a great job with its Friday Night Hockey broadcasts,
but I’ve got one miniscule complaint: it’s
tough to tell if the yellow dots they use to indicate
the period are “lit up” or not, so it
always looks like the third period.
Not worth complaining about, to be sure, but as I
flipped between Maine-Northeastern and three other
games on the dish Friday night, I was confused enough
as it was.
Boston College head coach Jerry York returned
to Bowling Green last week for a 20th anniversary celebration
of the 1984 Falcon team that he led to a national championship.
He flew out Thursday morning and returned early Friday for
the Eagles’ series against Massachusetts.
was a tough trip, but that was something I wouldn’t
miss for the world,” York said. “They had 19
players back, and I had a chance to renew a lot of old acquaintances.
It’s strange, for me, because I still picture those
guys as 20, 21-year old kids. Now they’re telling
me about their kids and their jobs. I really had to shift
The Eagles were dominant in their sweep of UMass –
especially in a 4-0 first period Saturday night that York
said could have been their best period of the year. They
now hold a commanding five-point lead in the standings.
The biggest gap between first and second place in the last
10 years was BC’s seven-point edge in 2000-01.
UMass Lowell is in the midst of a grueling
stretch, with two against Boston College
this weekend followed by a home series against Maine.
But how’s this for motivation, courtesy of John Connolly’s
notebook in the Boston Herald: if the River Hawks,
who got two points against UNH last weekend, can get three
more points from their next four games, head coach Blaise
MacDonald has pledged to shave his head.
Scoring troubles continue for Boston University,
as the Terriers were held to one goal in each game last
weekend. That’s 17 times that BU has posted two goals
or less, and they’ve only got one win in those games
(1-13-3). The Terriers have been held to one goal or shutout
in six of their last seven games.
can be a big factor when it comes to goal scoring, and head
coach Jack Parker seems to be doing his best to infuse his
team with positive thinking. While he was often critical
of the Terriers’ effort earlier in the year, here’s
what he said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Providence:
“I have never been involved with a team with a record
like this (8-14-6 overall, 4-12-2 Hockey East) that is playing
so well. It's not because of a lack of effort. We were undermanned
tonight. We played just three lines for the most part. And,
everyone played well. I like how my team played tonight.
It’s just that I don't like the outcome of the game.”
Maine’s Jim Howard made a career-high
40 saves in Saturday’s scoreless tie with Northeastern,
the third time in five weeks he has allowed one goal or
less but not gotten a win.
seems to be a trend when Jimmy's in the net, we aren't putting
the puck in the net," Todd Jackson told the Bangor
Daily News. "That's got to change. We've got to
help him out and get some goals."
and his goaltending partner, Frank Doyle, have combined
for a school-record eight shutouts on the season (Howard
has three, Doyle has five). The Black Bears have shut out
their opponents in five of their last 11 games.
Allen Lessels of the Union Leader brings up a great
point to demonstrate New Hampshire’s inconsistency
this season: the Wildcats haven’t won more than four
games in a row all season. Of course, four straight is all
it takes to capture the big prize that’s eluded UNH
to this point; their ability, and the fact that the Northeast
Regional is in Manchester, are two reasons why UNH is the
lowest-ranked group on many people’s list of teams
with a legitimate shot at the national title.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this