not truly be an official designation, and it's certainly
no reason to hang a banner, but there's no doubt who is
this year’s Lower Seeded Team Nobody Wants to Play
in the Hockey East Tournament: Boston University.
reminded of one reason whenever I look at the bulletin board
that sits to the right of my desk. That’s where I
posted the Sean Fields flyer that arrived at the beginning
of the year with Boston University’s media guide.
may not have turned out the way Fields had hoped –
the flyer bills him as an All-America and Hobey Baker candidate.
But although he won’t be one of the 10 finalists for
the Hobey, there are four highly-ranked Hockey East teams
that are hoping his name isn’t announced during the
visiting team’s starting lineup in two weeks.
are four other reasons, in addition to Fields’ talents,
that nobody wants to play the Terriers in the first round:
They’ve underachieved all year
could be considered a reason you’d want to play BU,
but potential opponents know this much: there’s a
reason the Terriers were the coaches’ preseason pick
to finish third in the conference. If they start to live
up to that potential, as they did in Friday’s 6-1
win over Massachusetts, they could definitely be dangerous.
Lately, they’ve played better than their record
most of the New Year, head coach Jack Parker has been consistent
in his praise of the Terriers.
last 15 games or so, with one or two exceptions, we’ve
played very well,” he said. “We just haven’t
been getting the results that we would have liked. I like
the way we’ve been playing. We’ve certainly
kept our focus, our intensity, and our work ethic, and we’re
not feeling sorry for ourselves.”
doesn’t sound like the coach of a team with five conference
wins on the year.
Once they start scoring goals, they may come in bunches
search for goals on Babcock Street has seemed as long and
frustrating as the Big Dig. OK, maybe not that long, but
it’s been a struggle all year to turn on the red light,
and Parker knows, if anything in hockey is cyclical, it’s
don’t think there’s any question we were spiraling
down in terms of offense,” Parker said. “Hopefully
our guys can gain some confidence and start to spiral up
a little bit.”
weekend, with eight goals in two games, could spark something,
especially on the power play. The Terriers had gone four
games without a power-play goal before posting five-for-14
numbers last weekend.
History is on their side
Terriers know how to win in the playoffs, as evidenced by
their surprising run to the Hockey East title game last
the freshest image of this year might be BU’s offensive
ineptitude in the Beanpot final – a game they nearly
won, by the way. But going back further, this is still the
team of Drury, Grier, Sacco and Amonte. The
familiar scarlet-and-white sweaters are the same, and it’s
still Parker on the bench. If mystique counts for anything
in hockey, it’s in the postseason.
AND HEARD IN HOCKEY EAST
Zingoni shares the Providence lead in scoring with 30
points in 30 games.
Experience – Although they lost back-to-back
games, the trip north to Orono proved to be an instructional
journey for Paul Pooley and the Providence Friars.
you play a team like this, you don't get it. Now we get
it," Pooley told Travis Barrett of the Woonsocket
Call. "We know what a top-three team in the country
is like. It's BC and Maine, and we struggled with both of
them because we couldn't keep the game simple enough."
weeks ago in this space, we pointed out that finishing in
the top seven seemed almost as important as making the playoffs,
to avoid a first-round series at Boston College. For the
Friars, top six has to be the goal. While they’ve
struggled against BC and Maine – going 0-6-0 against
those teams, combined – they have shown that they
can skate with Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the teams
that figure to occupy the No. 3 and 4 spots.
Friars currently stand in fifth, and in good position to
hold that spot if they play well this weekend. They’ve
got a home-and-home with Merrimack Friday and Saturday,
which is one point behind them, followed by a single home
game against UMass Lowell next weekend.
power play has been key for the Friars’ success. They
stand second in the conference and sixth in the nation at
20.8 percent. Chris Chaput, Jonathan Goodwin, Stephen Wood
and Torry Gadja all have four or more power-play goals,
putting each of them among the top 20 in Hockey East.
than His Numbers – It’s usually third-
and fourth-line muckers and grinders who coaches urge you
not to judge on statistics – not elite offensive defensemen.
Boston College’s J.D. Forrest has been much better
than his numbers indicate, according to Jerry York.
points don’t reflect how valuable he is to us offensively,”
York said. “He’s an offensive and defensive
defenseman – he does both. And bringing the puck out
of our zone, making that first pass, he’s been terrific.
He’s down numbers-wise, but he has contributed.
has missed games due to academic troubles this year –
“he got lazy,” York said – but is out
of the woods now and playing his best hockey of the season.
Supplanted by Andrew Alberts on the first power play earlier
in the year, Forrest is back on the top unit now and carries
a four-game point-scoring streak into this weekend’s
series with New Hampshire.
totals through 27 games – 4-10—14 – are
less than half his season numbers from last year (6-25—31
in 34 games), but as York said, that doesn’t tell
the whole story.
Watch – BU’s Ryan Whitney and BC’s
Patrick Eaves lead an impressive collection of 10 current
Hockey East players listed as top NHL prospects in the recent
“Future Watch” issue of The Hockey News. Five
of the nine Hockey East teams were represented in the rankings.
rated 34th among all NHL prospects, was the No. 1 entry
in the list of those players drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Three spots behind him in the overall rankings and second
in the Ottawa Senators organization was Eaves. Both were
first-round NHL draft picks – Whitney in 2002 and
Eaves in 2003.
noted in the organizational lists were: Stephen Werner of
UMass (third for Washington), Mike Morris of Northeastern
(sixth for San Jose), Andrew Alberts of BC (seventh for
Boston), Jim Howard of Maine (eighth for Detroit), Greg
Mauldin of UMass (eighth for Columbus), Greg Moore of Maine
(10th for Calgary), Frantisek Skladany of BU (10th for Colorado)
and Ben Eaves of BC (10th for Pittsburgh).
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Hampshire vs. Boston College (in Chestnut Hill Fri.,
in Durham Sat.)
Hampshire is 6-0-2 in its last eight meetings with
Boston College, dating back to February of 2001, when
BC was on its way to the national championship. What’s
more, UNH goaltender Mike Ayers has never lost to
BC (4-0-2). Among that streak was a three-point UNH
weekend to close out last season, keeping BC from
winning the Hockey East title outright. The Wildcats
were outplayed in the first meeting between these
two teams this season, but came away with a 2-2 tie.
Can they continue their good fortunes against the
Eagles? Or can BC secure the conference crown all
The Hockey East office saluted 20
Special Friends earlier this week, a
fantastic idea to help commemorate the league’s
20th anniversary. Sift through the list for an instant
reminder – it’s the people that make this
game so enthralling. And I’d bet it’s
the great people in the game that have kept these
20 Special Friends involved for so long.
for some jockeying for position here and there, the
last weekend of the regular season could
easily become a yawner. Boston College could easily
clinch the regular-season title this weekend (with
any combination of four points gained or points lost
by Maine), and BU could eliminate Northeastern from
playoff contention. With home-ice locked up by the
top four seeds last week, there may not be much drama
to go around – which shifts attention to the
ECAC rinks, where playoffs begin next week.
Everybody, it seems, has Red Sox fever. In the Boston
Herald last week, Boston College head
coach Jerry York compared Ben Eaves’ return to the
addition of Curt Schilling to the Sox staff – a line,
we happily noted, that first appeared in last
week’s INCH Power Rankings. Then UMass
Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald, in advance
of his team’s series with Maine, compared Jim Howard
and Frank Doyle to Schilling and Pedro Martinez.
stove indeed. I’m just glad Hockey East doesn’t
have any Grady Littles.
The hottest player in Hockey East right now is New
Hampshire’s Preston Callander, who has averaged
more than two points per game during his four-game goal-scoring
streak (5-4—9). He had two goals and an assist in
the Wildcats’ impressive four-goal first period on
Sunday, the same day Ray Duckler of the Concord Monitor
wrote an article calling him “Mr. Clutch.”
Callander’s impressive performance lately has helped
soften the blow of Nathan Martz’ injury, which has
left Callander between freshman Jacob Micflikier and Brett
Hemingway on the team’s second line. Martz is still
out of the lineup, so Callander will remain in that spot
for UNH, at least for Friday night.
Was that Northeastern’s last gasp
Sunday at New Hampshire? Bruce Crowder’s
club mounted an impressive comeback, but UNH had too much
of a head start. Now the Huskies need a sweep this weekend
to pull even with Boston University for the eighth and final
New Hampshire has decided against narrowing
the ice surface at the Whittemore Center, according to Allen
Lessels in the Union Leader. Athletic director
Marty Scarano and head coach Dick Umile had explored the
possibility, but found it to be cost-prohibitive.
Very sad news from Simcoe, Ontario, this week, where former
UMass Lowell goaltender Dwayne Roloson’s
father, Albert, died at 72 of a stomach aneurysm. It comes
in the same month that Roloson appeared in his first NHL
was one of those guys that everybody loved. He'd do anything
for anybody," Roloson told Brian Murphy of the Pioneer
Press. "He made sure I got to the rink anytime
I had to be, sometimes before dawn. He had a great influence
on my life. He taught me how to work hard and to treat people
This may prove to be a very fortuitous weekend off for Massachusetts.
The Minutemen are 0-4-1 in their last five and haven’t
scored more than two goals in any of those games. They went
into their last week off, about a month ago, with a 2-5-4
record in their previous 11 games and promptly won three
straight. With a 16-9-6 record overall, counting two forfeits
against UMass Lowell, head coach Don Cahoon’s
team will probably need at least another trip to the FleetCenter
to sneak into the NCAA Tournament picture.
Merrimack sophomore Matt Johnson returned
to the ice Friday for the first time since suffering a broken
jaw in November that was initially expected to keep him
out of the lineup for the season. He added an exclamation
mark on his return with a goal, his first of the season
and the second in a Merrimack flurry that produced a 4-0
Warrior lead midway through the second period against Northeastern.
Eric Pedersen had his first goal of the year to start the
scoring and Brent Gough had a goal and two assists.
Two of the nation’s three longest unbeaten streaks
belong to Boston College (13 games) and
Maine (8 games). Only Minnesota Duluth
(14) has a longer stretch without a loss. The Bulldogs face
a stiff challenge against North Dakota this weekend, meaning
that if all goes well for the Eagles and Black Bears, they
could have the nation’s longest unbeaten streaks on
the line when they meet next week.
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this