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UMass-Lowell dominates UNH, wins second straight Hockey East title

03.22.14 at 9:29 pm ET
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Making mistakes is bad. Making them against UMass-Lowell, a structurally sound team that rarely makes any mistakes of its own, is even worse. And making them in a conference championship game against UMass-Lowell is worst of all.

The River Hawks scored two goals off New Hampshire mistakes in the first period Saturday night, and that was all they needed to win their second straight Hockey East tournament title. They tacked on two more goals to make it a 4-0 final, ending UNH’s season in the process.

“It’s huge for the program,” said senior forward Joe Pendenza, who had three assists Saturday night. “It’s tough to explain how it’s been and how it feels. After our freshman year, we had our doubts. We won five games. We weren’t sure what was going to happen with a new coach coming in.

“The one common thing coming out of that was that we never wanted to experience that again. We wanted to win. We wanted to do something. We’ve been very fortunate to do something special here.”

Lowell’€™s first goal came with 7:48 left in the first period. Nick Sorkin failed to clear the zone, and goaltender Casey DeSmith compounded the problem by failing to cover a bad-angle shot from Pendenza. Sophomore forward A.J. White (1 goal, 2 assists) made the Wildcats pay by flipping the loose puck past DeSmith.

The River Hawks capitalized on another mistake three minutes later. UNH defenseman Brett Pesce held onto the puck a split second too long, allowing Josh Holmstrom to tie him up and force a turnover. White grabbed the puck and fed Pendenza on the doorstep, but DeSmith made a great diving save. Unfortunately, no one from UNH was there to clear the rebound, and Holmstrom finished off the play he started.

Lowell didn’€™t need any more offense after that, but it got two more goals in the second when Joe Gambardella and then Jake Suter found the back of the net. In a perfect illustration of the team’s balanced scoring and offensive depth, the River Hawks ended the weekend with eight goals from eight different players.

“It’s been a point of emphasis since I arrived,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said of the depth. “I think to have a great team at Lowell, you have to have multiple threats. We don’t have the 50- or 60-point guy, but we have an awful lot of good hockey players. We feel if it can come from any line, it makes us a real threat.”

The four goals were more than enough given the fact the River Hawks had Connor Hellebuyck in net. The sophomore goalie made 30 saves to pick up his second shutout in as many nights, and his third in a row at TD Garden dating back to last year’€™s championship game against Boston University. The Jets draft pick was named tournament MVP for the second year in a row, making him the first player in league history to earn that honor twice.

“Connor’s stellar. There’s no question that you don’t win a championship without a good goalie,” Bazin said. “He’s provided us with great goaltending all year. Dougie Carr has had an exceptional season also. It’s just that we’ve got Connor. We feel either one of them can give us a great start, and Connor’s been carrying the ball here lately.”

UPDATE: The River Hawks will head to Worcester next weekend for the Northeast Regional, where they will take on Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They could potentially meet Boston College in the regional final.

Here is the complete NCAA bracket:

West Regional (St. Paul)
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Notre Dame vs. 9. St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional (Worcester)
2. Boston College vs. 15. Denver
7. UMass-Lowell vs. 10. Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport)
3. Union vs. 13. Vermont
6. Quinnipiac vs. 11. Providence

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati)
4. Wisconsin vs. 14. North Dakota
5. Ferris State vs. 12. Colgate

UNH beats Providence to reach first Hockey East title game since 2007

03.21.14 at 10:38 pm ET
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The 2008 and 2010 New Hampshire teams that won the regular-season title didn’€™t get here. The 2009, 2011 and 2013 squads that had a spot in the NCAA tournament locked up didn’€™t get here either. But the 2014 Wildcats team, one that finished fourth in the regular season, and one that needs a conference title just to qualify for NCAAs, is heading to the Hockey East championship game, a place the program hasn’€™t been since 2007.

The Wildcats beat Providence 3-1 in Friday night’€™s semifinals, led by their top scorer, Kevin Goumas. The senior center scored twice in the game, giving him five goals in his last two games, 24 points in his last 13, and 52 points in 39 games on the season. The Wildcats will take on defending champion UMass-Lowell Saturday night as they look to win their first tournament title since 2003.

“It’s been on my mind the last week or so, especially with playoffs coming around,” Goumas said of his collegiate career potentially ending. “The way I’ve been playing, just go out there and make sure it’s not my last game. I want to take care of business here in Hockey East first, but I also want one more chance to get to the NCAA tournament and a national championship.” Read the rest of this entry »

UMass-Lowell advances to Hockey East title game with blowout win over Notre Dame

03.21.14 at 7:23 pm ET
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Notre Dame was the lowest seed at TD Garden for Hockey East’€™s championship weekend, but you could have easily made the case that the Fighting Irish were the favorites to win it all. They entered Friday’€™s semifinals with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games, including three wins over regular-season champion Boston College in the last three weeks. And they had given up just 1.50 goals per game during that stretch.

So much for that theory. UMass-Lowell ripped the Fighting Irish to shreds Friday night, scoring two goals in the first and two more in the second en route to a 4-0 win. The second-seeded River Hawks advance to Saturday night’€™s conference championship game, where they will have a chance to win their second straight tournament title. They will take on the winner of Friday night’€™s second semifinal between Providence and New Hampshire.

“The first time’s hard, but the second time’s even harder,” said senior forward Derek Arnold when asked about getting back to the title game. “We put ourselves in a position to go after another championship, and we’re going to prepare properly tonight and tomorrow to go for that.”

“I think Hockey East has gotten more difficult in one year,” added Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “That’s the onset of Notre Dame coming into the league and everyone else getting better. It’s a great league. When you have seven of our 11 teams in the top 20 in the country, enough said.”

The River Hawks dominated the game’€™s first 10 minutes and finally got on the board with 9:47 left in the first. Sophomore defenseman Christian Folin, who is widely considered the top undrafted player in college hockey, took a pass at center point from A.J. White and fired a shot that deflected in off Notre Dame defenseman Kevin Lind‘€™s skate. Read the rest of this entry »

UMass routed by Tennessee in NCAA tournament

03.21.14 at 5:37 pm ET
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UMass’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1998 was a short one, as the sixth-seeded Minutemen were routed by Tennessee, 86-67, on Friday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.

Tennessee (23-12), an 11th seed that knocked off Iowa in a first-round game, advances to play 14th-seeded Mercer, which shocked third-seeded Duke, 78-71, in the day’s opening game.

Jarnell Stokes scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Volunteers, who shot 53 percent. Jordan McRae contributed 21 points, Josh Richardson had 15 points and five assists, and Jeronne Maymon had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Maxie Esho and Chaz Williams scored 12 points apiece for UMass (24-9), which shot 42 percent.

UMass scored the game’s first basket (a Derrick Gordon jumper), but it was the only lead the Minutemen would have. Tennessee’s lead reached double digits eight minutes into the game, and the Vols led by 19 at the break, 41-22.

UMass opened the second half with a quick 6-0 run and later closed the gap to 10 at 46-36 with 14:21 left after a Sampson Carter 3-pointer. Tennessee responded with a 9-2 run, and UMass never threatened again.

Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun reportedly interested in BC opening

03.21.14 at 2:20 pm ET
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Jim Calhoun, who won three national championships at UConn before stepping away in 2012, is interested in the Boston College vacancy, according to multiple reports.

However, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarwoski reports that “the interest isn’t mutual.”

 

A Braintree native who attended American International College and coached at Northeastern from 1972-86, Calhoun spent 26 seasons at UConn, winning titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011. He was replaced by Kevin Ollie after having some health issues, including breaking a hip in a bicycle accident after the 2011-12 season. His career record is 873-380.

Now a special assistant to UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, the 71-year-old Calhoun said recently that he is in good health, and while he declined comment about BC, he told ESPN on Friday: “I would not be opposed to talking to anyone about basketball.”

BC announced Tuesday that Steve Donahue would not return for a fifth season.

Read More: Jim Calhoun,

Harvard upsets Cincinnati in first round of NCAA tourney

03.20.14 at 5:01 pm ET
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For the second straight year, Harvard completed a first-round NCAA tournament upset, as the No. 12 seed dispatched East Regional No. 5 seed Cincinnati with a 61-57 victory in Spokane, Wash. Harvard became the first Ivy League team in 30 years to win NCAA tourney games in consecutive years, a feat last accomplished by Princeton in 1983 and 1984.

The Crimson, who upset New Mexico in the first round of the 2013 tournament, enjoyed strong shooting in the first half while the Bearcats repeatedly could not convert good looks at the basket, resulting in a 36-29 halftime lead. While Cincinnati repeatedly whittled Harvard’s lead in the second half, getting as close as one point at 54-53 with 3:12 left, the Crimson answered every run by Cincinnati thanks in part to a defensive effort that held the Bearcats to 38 percent from the floor.

Harvard (27-4) outrebounded Cincinnati (27-7), 42-33, and the Crimson’s balanced scoring attack featured five players with at least nine points. Siyani Chambers delivered Harvard’s most critical points, scoring the team’s final five points down the stretch, while the team was led by the 12 points by Ivy League Player of the Year Wesley Saunders and 11 points from guard Laurent Rivard, who was 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line.

Harvard will now play the winner of Thursday night’s game between Michigan State and Delaware. For more from the game, click here.

Would Tommy Amaker succeed at Boston College? Track record raises doubts

03.20.14 at 12:22 pm ET
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With Boston College firing Steve Donahue this week, speculation has centered on Harvard’s Tommy Amaker as the leading candidate to take over the Eagles.

On the surface, Amaker appears to be a viable candidate. He’s had unparalleled success at Harvard, winning four straight Ivy League championships (including one tie), appearing in three straight NCAA tournaments and pulling off an upset of New Mexico in last year’s opening round.

He has an overall record of 138-70 in seven years with the Crimson — including 6-0 in matchups against BC — and is 67-31 in the Ivy League.

Additionally, he’s quite familiar with the ACC, having played under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 1983-87 and then serving as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils from 1988-97, during their incredibly successful run that included back-to-back NCAA titles.

For those who only follow college basketball this time of year, it’s easy to fall for the publicity-averse Amaker, whose 12th-seeded Crimson (26-4) are a popular upset pick in Thursday’s NCAA tournament opener against fifth-seeded Cincinnati. But dig a little deeper and there are questions about whether the 48-year-old Virginia native could translate that success to the Heights.

Here are five reasons for concern when considering Amaker for the BC job.

1. His track record outside of the Ivy League is not that impressive

Amaker’s first head coaching job was at Seton Hall. He led the Pirates from 1997-2001, going 15-15 in each of his first two seasons before assembling a heralded recruiting class (Eddie Griffin, Andre Barrett, Marcus Toney-El) and then putting together a 22-10 campaign in 1999-2000, advancing to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 as a 10 seed.

However, he followed that up with a 16-15 season and his third NIT first-round exit. Amaker’s overall record at the New Jersey school was 68-55, including a 32-36 record in the Big East. Even in his 22-10 season, the Pirates were only 10-6 in league play, tying them for fourth place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Steve Donahue, Tommy Amaker,

Jeff Goodman on D&C: Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins could be good fit at Boston College

03.20.14 at 11:02 am ET
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ESPN’€™s Jeff Goodman joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about coaching changes at Boston College and March Madness. To hear the full interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Boston College announced Tuesday that it has fired basketball coach Steve Donahue. The Boston Globe has reported that Harvard bench boss Tommy Amaker could take Donahue’€™s spot.

“It’€™s a double,” Goodman said. “You’€™re hitting a double with that one I think. It’€™s safe, and new AD Brade Bates, he hasn’t tipped his hand, so I’€™m not sure how much truth there is to that yet. … I will say, still with all those people that are saying, ‘Well, they should’ve never fired Al Skinner,’ I disagree with that. The program was going down still. They had gone under .500 two of the last three years under Skinner.

“The problem was they hired an Ivy League coach who recruited Ivy League players. And I love Steve Donahue – great guy, high character — but he had two guys in Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson who were ACC-caliber players, and you need to recruit. Amaker has shown he can recruit at Harvard — he’€™s done a very good job. Now honestly, it’€™s probably going to be harder for [Amaker] to recruit at BC than it’€™s been for him at Harvard because you’€™re fighting other academic institutions for players. There’€™s a small pool and you can sell Harvard, you can sell the fact that you played at Duke, you’ve been a coach at Seton Hall and Michigan.”

Goodman thinks that Mike Hopkins, the assistant coach at Syracuse, could fill the role.

“He played for [Jim] Boeheim, he’€™s going to be the next coach at Syracuse whenever [Boeheim] retires, but I think he’€™s a guy who’€™s extremely plugged in to the Northeast, to the prep school scene,” Goodman said. “He can recruit. He’€™s got a lot of support among the people who matter as far as AAU coaches, people that have juice with the players because you have got to keep the best players at home.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more college basketball news, head to collegeblog.weei.com.

On No. 1 seed Wichita State: “I’ve been the one guy who’€™s said I wouldn’t have even given them the No. 1 seed. I know it sounds nuts — they’€™re undefeated, I get it. But they’ve beaten three teams all year and played in the Missouri Valley, which is like me playing [Brian] Scalabrine one-on-one every day. He wins every game, right? He’€™ll beat me 30 straight times, but he beat me. What good is that? Do we know by beating me he is worthy of a No. 1 seed? No, and that’€™s what I feel like with Wichita. They beat a bunch of teams that weren’t even close remotely in the league of some of these other teams.”

On the most overrated and underrated teams in the tournament: “I’€™m not buying Virginia. I’€™m just not as a No. 1 seed. Part of the problem is I saw them earlier in the year, and they lost 48-38 to Wisconsin at home. I can’€™t get that out of my head. I know they’ve played well, I know they deserve being a 1 or 2 seed and Tony Bennett‘€™s a heck of a coach. I’€™m just not buying them. … I love both Michigan State and Louisville. Michigan State, they were banged up. Louisville, just it took a while to get going — you know the first half of the year they had to learn to play without Peyton Siva and Gorqui Dieng defensively. Siva was kind of the guy on the perimeter, the leader, the point guard, and Dieng was the rim protector. They kind of started to figure it out a little bit.”

Read More: Boston College, March Madness, Mike Hopkins, Steve Donahue

BC forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes named Hobey Baker finalists

03.20.14 at 10:30 am ET
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Boston College forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes are two of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s top player.

Gaudreau leads the country in goals (32), points (69), points per game (1.86) and plus/minus (+34). He recently saw his Hockey East record-tying 31-game point streak come to an end. The 5-foot-8 winger is the clear favorite to win the award, which would make him the third Eagle to do so, joining David Emma (1991) and Mike Mottau (2000).

Hayes is second only to Gaudreau in points per game (1.51), racking up 24 goals and 32 assists on the season. Hayes has played on a line with Gaudreau and center Bill Arnold since Dec. 6, and the trio has combined for 45 goals and 64 assists in 23 games together.

Here are the other eight finalists:

-Josh Archibald, F, Nebraska-Omaha
-Greg Carey, F, St. Lawrence
-Nic Dowd, F, St. Cloud State
-Ryan Dzingel, F, Ohio State
-Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Union
-CJ Motte, G, Ferris State
-Joel Rumpel, G, Wisconsin
-Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota

Boston University begins inquiry into allegations of emotional abuse by women’s basketball coach Kelly Greenberg

03.20.14 at 9:07 am ET
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Boston University announced on Wednesday that it has formed a three-person panel to look into allegations of bullying against women’€™s basketball coach Kelly Greenberg. The decision comes after The Boston Globe reported that eight of Greenberg’€™s former players have now come forward with complaints that the coach mistreated them.

“We take these allegations very seriously, and we will look into them promptly, thoroughly and in an unbiased manner,” said Todd Klipp, the BU senior vice president, senior counsel and Board of Trustees secretary.

Elizabeth Loizeaux, an associate provost for undergraduate affairs, Sara Brown, a clincical associate professor at the university and a director of the school’€™s athletic training program, and Lawrence Elswit, BU’€™s associate general counsel, comprise the three-person panel.

“I have met with them and they have begun their work,” Klipp said. “It is my hope that they will complete their inquiry within the next few weeks.”

In a front-page story, the Globe reported on March 7 that four players left the 2013-14 women’€™s basketball team. All of those players were on athletic scholarships.

Of the four, one said that she sought mental care because of Greenberg’€™s bullying, another stated that she “felt demolished as a person” and a third said she considered suicide. The final player told the Globe that her “spirit was broken.”

Since that first article, two more players have come to the surface with allegations of emotional abuse and mistreatment. Greenberg also came up against similar allegations from two players during the 2007-08 season.

Current and former members of the women’€™s basketball team have shown support for Greenberg in the days following the allegations, as roughly 30 people gathered outside of Agganis Arena on March 8 with signs showing support for the coach. Those affiliated with the program have also created a website filled with stories showing appreciation for Greenberg.

According to the Globe, Greenberg, who just finished her 10th season with the Terriers and signed a contract extension through the 2017 season last fall,  has hired a lawyer to defend her.

Read More: Boston University, Kelly Greenberg,
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