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College Hockey:
Here’s what Hockey East coaches are putting in their letters to Santa

umile Heres what Hockey East coaches are putting in their letters to Santa

New Hampshire coach Dick Umile might be asking Santa for a do-over on the start of the season (photo: Melissa Wade).

I’ve once again intercepted mail from Hockey East arenas to the North Pole and am sharing it with you.

On Boston College stationary:

Well hello, Santa, this is Jerry York.

There really isn’t much for me to ask for. I’ve become the guy no one wants to get in the Christmas draw because, well … I kind of have everything.

Three national championships in six years, not to mention four Hockey East titles. A 10-4-2 record this year and first place in Hockey East. And we’re heading into the holidays the right way with a sweep over New Hampshire.

So I suppose it’d be rather unseemly for me to complain about not winning a national championship last year … or the Hockey East tournament … or the regular season crown.

But as kids say these days, what’s up with that?

So since I’m supposed to ask for something, how about us getting back another national championship?

Hey, that’s it, Santa. Help yourself to some milk and cookies, and go Eagles!

On Providence stationary:

Santa, Nate Leaman.

We came so close last year. We’d have won the regular season title if we’d just won the final game at home against Massachusetts-Lowell. But we were a bit young and inexperienced and couldn’t pull it off. We’d had a tough time in our nonconference games, so even though we advanced to the Garden, our season ended in the Hockey East semifinals.

I think we’re pretty well positioned this year, though. Instead of our nonconference record sinking us come NCAA tournament selection time, it should vault us to the top. Our 5-0-2 record outside of Hockey East is the best in the league.

And we’re in second place.

But I must admit, Santa, my coaching life flashed before my eyes when Jon Gillies went down recently and had to miss part of a game.

How about you just keep Jonnie healthy and the Friars perfect outside of Hockey East? And if that latter wish just happens to mean a national championship, well ho, ho, ho, you figured me out.

On New Hampshire stationary:

Hey, Santa, Dick Umile here.

Any chance you could wipe out that ugly start of ours? That 1-5-1 mark was a tough hole to climb out of. So just let the season retroactively start on Nov. 2, and at 8-4 I’ll be a happy camper even if it means BC swept us. Not that I wouldn’t mind putting an eraser to that weekend as well.

Hey, at our best, we’re pretty good. But at .500, we’ve got some work to do.

So give us a bit more of a scoring touch so we don’t waste all those offensive opportunities.

And for heaven’s sake, if we get in the national tournament again this year and look really good in the first-round game, don’t make it a pyrrhic victory by, at the same time, sidelining a couple of our best players for the following matchup that decides whether we make the Frozen Four.

That was pretty cruel last year, and like the Patriots getting the pass interference call go for them last weekend, we feel we’re due a break or two.

On Maine stationary:

Santa, this is Red Gendron.

I heard that writing you is a Hockey East tradition so here I am even though it seems pretty silly to me. Probably a cockamamie idea of that USCHO nitwit Hendrickson.

But here goes.

I’m really happy about two advantages for Maine hockey that are back in a major way. First off, the power play that was an embarrassment for much of last year is now at 20.5 percent, right up there among the league’s best.

And the Alfond home-ice advantage is once again a home-ice advantage. I’m talking 7-1! Wins over BC, BU and UMass-Lowell! That’s impressive, end of story.

But you know, Big Guy, I’m hoping we don’t go the rest of the season winless on the road. How about a couple W’s away from Alfond?

And maybe a stellar recruiting class or two on top of that?

Otherwise, this may be the one and only letter you get from me. No offense intended, of course.

On UMass-Lowell stationary:

Norm Bazin here.

I’ll make it short and sweet. How about giving us a second half that resembles last year?

That’s the same thing I asked you for last season and you delivered, so I’m thinking this is right in your wheelhouse.

A year ago at this time, we were in ninth place with a 2-6-1 league record and we still won the league.

What a year! First-ever regular season crown … first ever Hockey East title … first ever Frozen Four.

Just more of the same, please, and then when we get to Philadelphia, how about we play our best game instead of one of our worst?

Yeah, it’ll be great to see the city of Lowell and the school going nuts all over again.

On Vermont stationary:

Santa, this is Kevin Sneddon.

Last year at this time, we were in the same spot as now, tied for fifth. But we had a killer schedule down the stretch and had to pull out some upsets just to make the playoffs.

You know what? We’ve got almost as tough of a stretch this year: The last four weekends we play two-game sets against UNH, BC, Merrimack and Lowell. And the two games against Merrimack are in their barn.

Everyone makes the playoffs this year, but with as many seniors as we’ve got on this team, we really need to do better than just OK, better than just two-games-and-out in the playoffs.

So how about a good stretch run and a trip to the Garden? We’ll take it from there.

Whaddya say, Big Guy?

On Northeastern stationary:

Jim Madigan here.

I tell you, Santa, after finishing last a year ago, it’s nice to be right in the mix, in the middle of the standings, and with a bunch of nonconference wins under our belts, ranked 16th in the country!

We’ve got one of the league’s top-scoring squads and Clay Witt has done a great job in the nets.

So here’s a request you probably aren’t getting from anyone else.

How about a Beanpot title?

Let us bring that puppy back to Huntington Avenue and then come Valentine’s Day, I’ll talk to someone else about the playoffs.

On Notre Dame stationary:

This is Jeff Jackson here.

What in the name of Joe Bertagna are we doing writing letters to you? Is this some hazing ritual for new coaches in Hockey East, like teams convincing rookies to go to the supermarket and get their nonexistent free turkeys?

It sounds as dumb as the notion that a two-goal lead is the toughest lead in hockey to protect.

I tell you what, everyone else can take their one-goal leads and their stupid letters to Santa, and I’ll take my two-goal leads and beg you not to bring up Paul Kariya and Jimmy Montgomery in 1993.

Oh, and by the way, if there really is something to all of this Santa nonsense, I’d like us just to get healthy.

On Massachusetts stationary:

Santa, this is John Micheletto.

We missed the playoffs last season in my first year here. Although I know that everyone makes it this time around, I’d rather we not be dangling about the bottom of the standings again. I feel we’ve played better than our record in some respects and finally got our due with a W at Notre Dame to break an eight-game winless streak.

But I look at the statistics and they aren’t promising. Last in team defense, last in penalty kill and 10th in team offense. Unless you count second in penalty minutes as a good thing — I don’t, not with a PK keeping the puck out of the net only 76.1 percent of the time — then our one calling card is a top-notch power play, second at 22.6 percent. But even that drops down to 15.7 in Hockey East play.

So how about we finish stronger in the second half, by hook or by crook, and we get some more recruits for next year like Ray Pigozzi and Steven Iacobellis?

On Boston University stationary:

Santa, David Quinn here.

I know you’ve been getting mail from Jack Parker at this address since the days of the Pony Express, but I’m the new sheriff in town and so far things aren’t going so well. We’re winless in our last five league games and a couple weeks ago got embarrassed by BC and then Maine. Our team offense is ranked ninth in the league and our defense 10th (dead last if you only count conference games).

That’s not what the season ticket holders are accustomed to.

I haven’t heard the “he’s no Jack Parker” whispers yet, but that may be because I’ve stuffed cotton in my ears.

Hey, Jack’s teams had their ups and downs, just like this team is going through. Terriers teams have stormed back from worse to take home ice and better. I believe this team has it in them even if, as a local villain would have said, “Jack Parker, Chris Drury and Colin Wilson aren’t walking through that door.”

So Santa, how about giving us some of that age-old Terriers magic so we can rocket up the standings, just like the good old days?

On Merrimack stationary:

Mark Dennehy here.

You know, Santa, the “experts” kept counting us out and kept being wrong. We defied their logic for years.

Well, I’m not going to tell you the clock has struck midnight and we’ve finally turned into pumpkins, but we didn’t have a league win until last weekend.

We’ve got the league’s worst offense and power play. It’s tough to win games averaging 1.73 goals per game.

So how about restoring some of that magic from recent years? Put a little extra spark into the scoring touch of my guys. Because we sure work hard enough to deserve it.

And if you dare leave us with that sack of coal called a return to cellar-dweller status, you may just find that sack applied upside your noggin.

If you do that to us, then here come two words for you.

Bah humbug.

And finally, not that it has anything to do with anything, but …

This will be my final column before the holidays. (Jimmy will be entertaining and enlightening you next week.) So I hope you have a great holiday season.

When you do your holiday shopping, please consider my novels.

“Cracking the Ice” takes place in 1968, during the height of the Civil Rights struggle. It follows a black, 15-year-old hockey phenom who is recruited to break the color line at an all-white prep school. The headmaster who recruited him tries to help, but the coach doesn’t want him there and neither do most of the players.

This novel has received great reviews and reader reactions. It works for any audience, 14 years and up. It’s close to out-of-print status, but if you can’t find it, you can order from me. (See below.)

“Bubba Goes for Broke,” written under my pen name David Bawdy, is an R-rated comedy and crime caper featuring the world’s dumbest crook and the Hooters waitress he tries to con. If you’re easily offended, this book is funny, but it’s not for you.

Finally, I’ll have the electronic edition available in a few days of my hockey romance “Body Check.” In it, a female sportswriter falls for an old college flame who’s traded to the local pro hockey team she covers. A journalist covering the man she loves? This breaks all the rules. This novel, published under the name D.H. Hendrickson, is definitely R-rated for the spicy you-know-what scenes. (Hey, they’re a requirement for a contemporary romance.) Check your favorite online retailer in a few days.

If you’d like personalized copies of either “Cracking the Ice” (hardcover) or “Bubba Goes for Broke” (trade paperback), drop me a line at hewriter@uscho.com or send $15 for one or $25 for two (Priority Mail shipping included) via PayPal to that email account. Be sure to include address and personalization instructions. Thank you!

Or see your local online retailer.

You can always follow my fiction writing news on my website.

Happy Holidays, thanks for reading and see you next year.

USCHO covers Hockey East all week long on the Hockey East Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.


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  • SaveMaineHockey

    Dave, you’ve got it all wrong… Red Gendron IS Santa Claus.

    • David Hendrickson

      :)

  • Arcturus43

    At about 40 minutes into this week’s Maine Hockey Coach’s Show Coach Gendron answers this question for real. He said he’d wish for his players to have good health, perfect 4.0 finals, and for them to enjoy their Christmas break with their families. Thanks for asking, Julie!