|Hockey East Wraparound: BC looks great sooner than expected; Should Lowell be worried?; Northeastern is 4-0!||10.22.13 at 9:05 am ET|
Going into Friday night’s game between Boston College and Wisconsin, the story was Jerry York. After having the ceremony postponed twice last year — once because of York’s eye surgeries and once because of a snow storm — BC finally got to honor the man who became college hockey’s all-time winningest coach last December.
As expected, the ceremony highlighted York’s incredible accomplishments, the ones that make him the greatest coach in college hockey history. The 937 wins in his 42 years as a head coach (460 in his 20 years at BC). The five national championships (four at BC, one at Bowling Green). The 10 Frozen Four appearances in the last 16 years. The nine Hockey East tournament titles in that same span.
But, just as York wanted it, the spotlight didn’t stay on the BC coach for long — both literally because the ceremony was pretty short, and figuratively because of how the game unfolded. The focus quickly shifted to the contest at hand, and more specifically, how the Eagles played in that contest.
They absolutely dominated Wisconsin, who entered the weekend ranked second in the country. Destroyed them. Obliterated them. Outshot them 49-21 en route to a 9-2 victory.
Whenever there’s a blowout like this, it’s tough to figure out how much of it is the winning team being great and how much is the losing team being bad. The safe answer, of course, is that it’s both.
“There’s no way we’re seven goals better than the Badgers,” York said. “Everything we did tonight kind of turned to gold. … It could be a completely different game if we played tomorrow against the same team. But this particular night, everything was going just how you diagram it. Some of the plays we made, both defensively and offensively, really had me excited behind the bench.”
The Badgers didn’t play well at all. Their defense was porous. They couldn’t sustain any sort of offensive attack. They seemed to lose every battle for loose pucks. Their goalies were hung out to dry for much of the game, but they didn’t come up with too many big saves either. The fact that they went on to lose 7-3 to Boston University the next night makes it pretty clear that, regardless of their potential (and they still have a lot of it), the Badgers simply aren’t one of the five or 10 best teams in the country right now, never mind the second best.
But to just chalk up this blowout to Wisconsin playing poorly would be a disservice to BC. Even on their worst night (and Friday was probably that), the Badgers are still better than a lot of teams. It still takes an extraordinary effort to dominate them the way BC did.
For the second game in a row, the Eagles looked like a team that’s clicking on all cylinders — a frightening thought considering York’s teams usually don’t get to that point until sometime in the second half of the season. After losing a close one at Michigan to open the year, the Eagles have now outscored Rensselaer and Wisconsin — two teams expected to compete for NCAA tournament spots — 16-4 in their last two games.
All four lines scored a goal Friday night, as did three defensemen. In the last two games, BC has gotten goals from 13 different players. And for the second straight game, the Eagles’ talented freshmen played a big role, as they combined for four goals and nine assists.
“We’re still trying to formulate our team — how good we’re going to be, where we’re going to go with this team,” York said. “I think this was an initial look at, ‘Hey, there’s a possibility we could be a very good team.’ I liked the play of all 18 skaters that were in front of Brian Billett. I thought they all played well.”
Look, it’s not going to be this smooth all season for BC. It’ll hit some bumps along the way. Its freshmen will go through some growing pains. But the fact that the Eagles are already showing this kind of potential so early in the season, when most of us figured it would take some time for them to jell, is pretty scary for the rest of the league.
BU adds to Wisconsin’s misery
The Terriers didn’t dominate Wisconsin quite as much as BC did — they actually got outshot 43-26 by the Badgers — but they still came away with a 7-3 win on Saturday night. The offensive outburst was especially encouraging considering BU had been held to one goal in a loss to Rensselaer the night before.
The Terriers showed a lethal quick-strike ability, as they scored two goals in 18 seconds midway through the second (although they then gave up a goal 21 seconds after that) and two goals in 2:07 midway through the third to kill any comeback hopes Wisconsin may have had. BU’s new second line of Matt Lane, Cason Hohmann and Robbie Baillargeon had a terrific night, as the trio combined for three goals and six assists.
We knew this weekend was going to be a tougher test for the young Terriers than their opening weekend, so a split shouldn’t be too surprising. Bouncing back on the second night against a Big Ten team should give BU some confidence as it heads to Michigan to face two more B1G teams this weekend.
Should Lowell be worried?
The River Hawks got swept by Quinnipiac and are now 1-3-0 on the season. They’ve dropped from No. 1 in the country before the season to No. 18 in this week’s poll. They’ve been held to one goal in each of their three losses.
It’s still not time to panic, but these struggles shouldn’t be totally dismissed either. Yes, Lowell started 2-5-1 last season and still managed to win Hockey East and make it to the Frozen Four. But that team also went on a ridiculous 24-3-1 run from mid-December through the end of March. No matter how good the River Hawks end up being, it’s not very realistic to expect them to do that again.
The good news is that the conference schedule hasn’t kicked in yet, so the River Hawks can still accomplish all their league goals as long as they figure things out in the next few weeks. The bad news is that if they struggle at other points in the season and can’t get rolling like they did a year ago, they could end up regretting this slow start more than they did last season.
UMass opens some eyes
It was a bad weekend for one Massachusetts state school, but a great one for another. After losing to BU and Lowell on opening weekend, the Minutemen righted the ship with an impressive sweep of Michigan State, outscoring the Spartans 8-3 on the weekend. It’s worth noting that Michigan State projects as a middle-of-the-road team, but it’s also worth noting that most of us didn’t expect UMass to even be middle-of-the-road.
The most encouraging sign for the Minutemen was the play of goalie Steve Mastalerz, who stopped 62 of the 65 shots he faced. As it has been for the last few years, goaltending is the biggest question mark for UMass this season. Mastalerz did nothing to alleviate those concerns when he allowed seven goals in the first two games of the season, but this past weekend was certainly a step in the right direction.
Northeastern is 4-0!
That sounds great and all, but Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross — the two teams the Huskies have played so far — are pretty bad. Still, when you consider that Northeastern won just nine games all of last season, a 4-0 start, regardless of the level of competition, is noteworthy.
Kevin Roy is doing a great job of reminding everyone that he’s really, really good — the sophomore winger has five goals and four assists already. Linemate Braden Pimm has four goals, while freshmen Mike Szmatula and Zach Aston-Reese have seven and five assists, respectively.
Goalies Derick Roy (Kevin’s brother) and Clay Witt have identical .946 save percentages in two games apiece, but we won’t learn a whole lot about them until they face some better teams. They’ll see a little tougher competition this weekend when they travel to St. Lawrence, and then they’ll really be tested against BC in two weeks.
|Hockey East Season Preview: This really might be ‘the deepest the league has ever been’||10.07.13 at 9:22 am ET|
If you go to enough Hockey East media days, you’ll realize that there are certain lines you’re bound to hear from coaches year after year.
“Anyone can beat anyone in this league.”
“There isn’t much of a difference between the first-place team and the last-place team.”
“This might be the deepest the league has ever been.”
“There’s more parity now than ever before.”
The first quote is obviously true. That’s how sports work. We see upsets all the time, and Hockey East is no different. Just last year, we saw conference champ Massachusetts-Lowell drop the season series against eighth-place Maine (Lowell went on to sweep Maine in the playoffs, though), and second-place Boston College lose games against each of Hockey East’s bottom three teams.
But the fact that the first quote is true doesn’t necessarily mean the second quote is true. Let’s face it: the worst teams really only have a chance of beating the best teams when the best teams are off their game. There’s a reason Lowell and BC ended up with significantly better records than Massachusetts and Northeastern last season — because Lowell and BC were significantly better teams. And barring something crazy, they’ll be significantly better teams again this year.
As for the third and fourth quotes, when you hear them every year, you start to wonder if coaches would say those things even if they didn’t actually believe them. The league can’t really get deeper every single year, can it? There can’t really be more and more parity every year, right?
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|Northeastern wins outright CAA title with OT win over Georgia State||02.27.13 at 9:52 pm ET|
Joel Smith scored seven of his game-high 29 points in overtime to lead Northeastern to a 90-84 victory over Georgia State on Wednesday night in Atlanta, clinching the outright Colonial Athletic Association championship for the Huskies.
With NU leading 83-82 inside the final minute, Smith scored his team’s final seven points — on a 3-pointer and four free throws — as the Huskies held off a stubborn Georgia State squad. Northeastern scored 18 points in OT, with 12 of them coming from the free throw line.
Devonta White (24 points) hit a layup with 1:15 left in regulation that tied the score at 72. NU then missed three 3-pointers in the final minute, while GSU missed two shots and a free throw that could have broken the tie.
David Walker scored 16 points for NU (19-10, 14-3 CAA), which already clinched the No. 1 seed for the CAA tournament. Zach Stahl scored 12 points, while Quincy Ford contributed 11 points and nine assists.
This was the Huskies’ fifth overtime game of the season, and the third in their last six games.
Manny Atkins recorded 26 points and 12 rebounds for GSU (15-16, 10-8).
The league title is the first for the Huskies since they earned a share of the North Atlantic Conference crown in 1993.
NU closes out the regular season on Saturday by hosting Old Dominion before preparing for the CAA tournament at the Richmond (Va.) Coliseum the following weekend.
|Joe Rahon lifts BC over Wake Forest; Northeastern falls in overtime||02.13.13 at 9:46 pm ET|
A young Boston College team that has struggled to finish games all season finally found a way to win Wednesday night at Conte Forum. Freshman guard Joe Rahon hit two free throws with 7.6 seconds left to give the Eagles the tying and winning points in a 66-63 victory over Wake Forest.
Following Rahon’s free throws, Wake got the ball to a driving C.J. Harris (game-high 23 points), but he lost his footing while trying to make a pass near the BC basket and was called for traveling. Lonnie Jackson hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left for a three-point cushion, and Wake was unable to get off a final shot.
Rahon finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Eagles (11-13, 3-8 ACC). Patrick Heckmann contributed 14 points and Ryan Anderson netted 12.
Travis McKie scored 11 points for Wake Forest (11-13, 4-8), which shot 51.1 percent from the field compared to 43.8 percent for BC, but had 17 turnovers, six more than the Eagles.
BC led 56-54 with just under seven minutes left after two free throws from Jackson, but the Eagles did not score for the next five minutes. In that time, Wake ran off nine straight points to take a 63-56 lead. Olivier Hanlan ended the drought by hitting two free throws with 1:58 remaining.
While Wake Forest came up short on its next two possessions, BC closed the gap. Rahon made a nice feed to Eddie Odio for a dunk that made it a three-point game, 63-60, with 58 seconds left. Then Hanlon’s driving layup was goaltended, and it was a one-point game with 33 ticks left.
The Demon Deacons then inbounded the ball and started moving it up the court, but the clock never started, so the officials took five seconds off and gave Wake the ball out of bounds. It turned out to benefit BC, as Wake was unable to get the ball inbounds within five seconds and turned it over, setting up Rahon’s heroics.
It offered some redemption for Rahon, who drove hard to the basket in the closing seconds of a one-point game at Wake on Jan. 12 but did not get a foul call or a basket, and the Demon Deacons eventually won that game by three. This time Rahon got the call as he was bumped to the ground while driving down the right side of the lane on two defenders. Rahon stayed on the floor for a few seconds and grimaced as he moved his right arm when he got up, but he shook it off and drilled both of his free throws.
BC, which has lost five ACC games by five points or less, next plays at Florida State on Saturday at noon.
Elsewhere on Wednesday night, Delaware scored the game’s final seven points, including a 3-pointer from Jarvis Threatt with 12 seconds left in overtime that gave the Blue Hens a 76-74 victory over host Northeastern in a battle between the top two teams in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Jonathan Lee scored a game-high 23 points for Northeastern (17-9, 12-2 CAA), while Quincy Ford netted 21.
Threatt scored 20 points for Delaware (14-12, 9-4), which got a layup from Devon Saddler (18 points) with 14 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 67 and force the extra period.
|BC aims for fourth straight Beanpot title when it faces upstart Northeastern||02.11.13 at 10:10 am ET|
No current Northeastern players were born the last time the Huskies won a Beanpot championship, in February 1988. They’ll have a chance to end the school’s drought in the final on Monday, but they’ll have to go through a Boston College team looking to win its fourth straight tournament title, something BC has never done.
Both teams are led by diminutive young forwards: BC by sophomore Johnny Gaudreau, who leads Hockey East with 33 points in 22 games, and Northeastern by Kevin Roy, the highest-scoring freshman in the conference with 30 points in 24 games. Roy, at 5-foot-10, practically towers over the 5-foot-7 Gaudreau, but both have the speed and skill to erase any disadvantages of their size.
Roy outscored Boston University by himself in the semifinal round last Monday, recording a hat trick in Northeastern’s 3-2 win. Northeastern had not beaten BU in the Beanpot since 1988, the last year the Huskies won the tournament, before Roy buried a goal in each period of the semifinal to knock No. 13 BU out of contention.
“I think when the pressure’s higher, I get a better performance, so I was just excited to see what it was like,” Roy said after win.
It’s nothing new for Roy to be the most dominant Husky on the ice. He has 30 points on the season — 10 more than the second-highest Northeastern scorer, Vinny Saponari — and 15 goals, seven more than Cody Ferriero‘s eight.
That lack of balanced scoring might partially account for the fact that Northeastern sits in last place in Hockey East, 4-11-3 in conference play. But the Huskies have beaten BU twice and BC once, playing above their usual threshold when faced with local rivals.
|BC rally falls short at Wake Forest; Northeastern, Harvard pick up road wins||01.12.13 at 6:50 pm ET|
Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris scored 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and the Demon Deacons held off a late Boston College rally for a 75-72 victory Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Lonnie Jackson scored 23 points to lead the way for BC (9-7, 1-2 ACC). Olivier Hanlan scored 18, and Ryan Anderson record his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
BC trailed by 10 points with 5:47 remaining before embarking on a 13-4 run, capped by a three-point play from Hanlan with just under two minutes remaining. That got the Eagles within one at 71-70. After a BC defensive breakdown led to a layup for Wake point guard Madison Jones, Joe Rahon hit two free throws to get BC back within a point, 73-72.
Following a Wake miss, BC turned over the ball, but the Demon Deacons (9-6, 2-1) returned the favor with an offensive foul on a moving pick. BC regained possession with 19.5 seconds left. BC got the ball to Rahon, but the guard could not finish his strong drive to the basket, making him 0-for-7.
Harris hit two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to make it 75-72. On BC’s ensuing inbounds pass, Wake’s Travis McKie (18 points) stole it just over midcourt, but apparently thinking the game was over, he started walking with the basketball toward the sideline. That gave BC another chance with 1.5 seconds left. The inbounds pass went to Hanlan, and his contested 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short.
BC next hosts Miami on Wednesday.
In other college basketball action involving local teams Saturday, Northeastern continued its hot start in conference play with a 70-59 victory at Towson as Joel Smith scored 21 points. The Huskies (9-7, 4-0 Colonial Athletic Association) trailed 25-13 with 8:16 left in the first half but closed the period on a 26-8 run to take control. NU is off to its best conference start since beginning 6-0 in 2008-09.
In Hanover, N.H., Harvard closed the game on a 17-2 run for a 75-65 victory over pesky Dartmouth as the Crimson began defense of their Ivy League championship. Siyani Chambers scored 22 points, Wesley Saunders netted 19, and both players had six assists. Harvard (9-2, 1-0 Ivy) shot a blistering 62.8 percent from the field and held the hosts to two points over the game’s final 9:25.
At Boston University, the Terriers got 16 points and seven assists from D.J. Irving in an 85-59 victory over Binghamton. John Papale added 14 points and nine rebounds for BU (8-9, 2-2 America East).
In Bethlehem, Pa., Holy Cross’ Justin Burrell scored 16 points, but the Crusaders could not keep up with Lehigh, falling 79-47 in their Patriot League opener. Lehigh, despite missing standout guard C.J. McCollum (broken foot), went on a 14-0 run late in the first half to take command, then shot 66.7 percent in the second half to pull away from HC (8-8).
|NU beats Harvard, 4-1, for Beanpot consolation||02.08.10 at 8:03 pm ET|
Tyler McNeely scored twice while Wade McLeod and Greg Costa added single tallies as the Northeastern Huskies beat Harvard, 4-1, to claim the consolation game of the Beanpot tournament on Monday at TD Garden.
McLeod also assisted on McNeely’s second goal, a power play score 6:29 into the third that gave Northeastern a 3-1 advantage.
McLeod scored an empty-netter with 1:49 remaining to seal the win. Northeastern improved to 14-12-1 while Harvard fell to 6-14-3.
|NU’s Cronin: ‘We wouldn’t shoot the damn puck’||02.02.10 at 3:04 am ET|
BOSTON – A wise old hockey adage goes roughly like this: You can’t score if you don’t shoot.
There’s no need to remind Northeastern coach Greg Cronin of that after he watched his team try to be too cute with the Boston University and wind up on the short end of a 2-1 decision in the Beanpot semifinal Monday night at TD Garden.
And for the 22nd straight year, the Huskies will be heading home without a Beanpot title. The frustration was unmistakeable in his post-game address to reporters.
“The better team won the game,” Cronin said. “BU played a terrific game. They did a good job keeping us to the outside. My biggest problem is that anytime we had an odd-man rush, or even an even-man rush, is that we wouldn’t shoot the damn puck.
“Right before there was a penalty called on Wade MacLeod, he was standing all alone in the slot and wouldn’t shoot it. [Assistant coach] Albie O’Connell kept radioing down asking ‘Why won’t they shoot the puck?’ You reflect back on the game, and I would say conservatively that we had six chances with the puck on our stick right in front of BU’s net, and we refused to shoot the puck. Part of that was because they were doing a nice job putting their bodies in the shot lanes, and part of it was guys trying to pick a better apple.”
By contrast, BU coach Jack Parker counted over 80 shots by his team on Monday night, though many never reached NU goalie Chris Rawlings. If only NU had taken that approach, the result would have likely been much different.
“In a playoff-type game like this, when you get scoring chances in the slot, you’ve got to shoot the puck,” Cronin said. “Give [Alex] Chiasson credit – he held it and held it and held it, and I actually thought our defenseman played it well, but somehow, it snuck through Chris. It was a combination of two things: they did a nice job blocking shots, and we just didn’t want to shoot it.”
|Jack Parker: Beanpot ‘losing luster’||at 12:33 am ET|
Even though his team just dispatched Northeastern, 2-1, in a hard-fought Beanpot semifinal at TD Garden Monday night, Boston University coach Jack Parker was very honest about playing Boston College next Monday night in yet another BU-BC showdown for the 58th Beanpot championship game.
“The Beanpot is losing its luster a little bit if it’s constantly going to be BU or BC winning this tournament. We dodged a bullet tonight. These teams are real good hockey programs, Harvard and Northeastern. It’s not good overall, people are going to get tired of it. People are tired of it in some ways.”
[Click here to hear Parker's analysis of the BU-BC tradition that is growing old in the eyes of some.]
BU has won a record 29 Beanpot titles, and has reached the title game in 25 of the last 27 years. In the first game, Boston College hammered Harvard, 6-0, to reach its 30th Beanpot title game.
The two schools have combined to win the last 16 Beanpots, dating to Harvard’s title in 1993. The two programs have met in the Beanpot title game in eight of those 16.
|Terriers beat Huskies in a real dogfight||02.01.10 at 10:57 pm ET|
Alex Chiasson’s shot dribbled past Chris Rawlings with 5:47 left in the third to lead the Boston University Terriers to a 2-1 win over the Northeastern Huskies in the second Beanpot semifinal on Monday night at TD Garden.
Northeastern had a power play and pulled the goalie for the final 88 seconds but could not score. The Terriers (10-11-3) advance to face their archrival Boston College in the 58th Beanpot Championship game next Monday night at TD Garden. BC advanced with an easy 6-0 romp over Harvard in Monday’s first semifinal.
Northeastern (11-12-1) had tied it midway through the third on a power play goal by Kyle Kraemer.
“I thought it was a great college hockey game to watch,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “There were times when each time had a lot of possession in the other teams zone, a lot of good opportunities. Both goaltenders played great. It was pressed right to the end, they got the power play goal to tie it up and then we get the two-on-one on a nice break.
“[David] Warsofsky jumping in the play creates the two-on-one and Chaisson takes the shot and gets it buy him. We’ve played Northeastern twice this year and got two goals total against them. We attempted 80 shots tonight and I think we attempted 86 the last time we played them over in there place. So we have had some opportunities against this goaltender and he has had played extremely well against us I thought our goalie played great and he made an unbelievable save at the end of the game.” Read the rest of this entry »