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College Hockey:
First impressions across Hockey East

It’s only one weekend so I reserve the right to unlearn what I think I’ve learned. But here are three things I think I learned from this weekend’s games.

Three, Massachusetts may have found at least one solution to the graduation of goaltender Paul Dainton.

I know it’s just one game and the road to Goaltender Stardom is littered with the empty husks of goalies who looked good in their first game. 

Got it.

But let’s put it this way. Freshman Kevin Boyle made a strong first impression in UMass’s 3-3 tie with Northeastern. The Huskies finally got the equalizer via an extra-attacker goal with two seconds remaining, but Boyle looked strong protecting a 3-2 lead from early in the second period until that point.

UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon won’t be making any lasting decisions based on the one game, but going into the season he needed either returning sophomore Jeff Teglia or one of two freshmen, Boyle or Steve Mastalerz, to emerge between the pipes. Teglia might well have gotten the start against Northeastern if not felled by illness.

But let’s just say that the early evidence on one of the three candidates is quite positive.

Two, this is not last year’s BU Terriers; the 2011-2012 edition can protect a third-period lead.

Last year, the Terriers were infamous for robbing goaltender Kieran Millan of shutouts by taking chances to “get their goal” and in the process turn a 2-0 or 3-0 lead into a close game. Against New Hampshire on Saturday, however, BU maintained a defense-first approach, limiting the Wildcats to only six third-period shots (with the result of getting goals off defense instead of bad choices).

One, this may be last year’s Merrimack Warriors.

Those who expected the Warriors to wither up and die following the loss of Stephane Da Costa (and others), got a surprise this past weekend. Merrimack traveled up to Orono and defeated Maine, 2-1.

In many ways, the Warriors followed the same recipe that gave them so much success last year. Other than the low score (which admittedly could be evidence of a more defensive style of play), the ingredients all match.

Last year, especially in the playoffs, Merrimack blocked shot after shot. Against Maine, the Warriors blocked 19 of them.

Beyond that, they killed all nine penalties and scored a shorthanded goal. Least year, their PK ranked third in Hockey East, behind only BU and BC, and their nine shorthanders trailed only BC.

Based on the one game, the recipe matches.

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  • Irish Spectre

    Zero, back-to-back tourney wins away to kick off the season, including vs. no. 3 ranked N. Dakota in their own barn, means that, once again, Jerry York and his BC Eagles have reloaded; ho hum. 

  • Phoenixfyre1313

    I don’t know that those older coaches would have any more power to stop this than the current ones do/did.  It wasn’t a coaches decision.  It was more the Big 10 forcing the ADs of the Big 10 schools to comply, if they wanted to stay in the Big 10 for other sports and as much as we all hate it, it comes down to money and keeping all the other revenue generating sports is more a consideration for the school as opposed to keeping the WCHA together or for what might be best for college hockey.  It is sad, but the fact is hockey is way down on the list as far as priorities, even in a place like Minnesota where hockey is far and away the sport that they have had the most success in.

  • Fast Walk to Fresno

    Yes, we all agree that it was the Big Ten that forced this down the member AD’s throats, and that the coaches had no say. The strangest thing about this whole Big Ten thing is, why the hell does the Big Ten care about college hockey? There’s very little money to be made on it. Everyone I’ve discussed this with said, “it’s all about the Big Ten Network and wanting the hockey games on there.” What? How can that be possible? First, college hockey is not exactly an advertising magnet. Second, when exactly are they planning on airing these games? Once college basketball season starts (which is only a few weeks after hockey), there is complete overlap in the days/times of the games. So, why would the BTN choose to air a college hockey game over a college basketball game when all the advertisers know that the latter has significantly better ratings? Note, I’m talking about national ratings, not local ratings, but national ratings would be all the BTN could care about in terms of why they want to add college hockey to their programming. 

    So, someone explain this to me. How exactly does the Big Ten Conference or BTN benefit from this monetarily?

  • Wayne

    What I will always remember most about Sauer, in a negative vein, is the number of UW games I saw while following WCHA hockey where his players intentionally went to the head/neck of opponents to finish a check.  It happened way too often for it not to have been coached.  Former UW player and NHL-er Sean Hill many years ago ended the hockey career of a promising Denver player named Mike Aikens in a play that unfolded right in front me, perhaps early 1990′s or thereabouts.  Unfortunately, a part of what Mr. Sauer brought to the college game and a part of his enduring legacy, successful W-L record notwithstanding.

  • Burketim444

    As a MN fan I’m glad to be in a different league than N Dakota. I admire their team
    but the fan base makes the game an ugly experience. I just go to games to cheer on my team and hope for a good game. They can make it very personal. I’ve had many ND fans scream in my face and I’ve never made a comment back. All for just wearing
    a Gophers jersey. What happened to sportsmanship?

  • Nicole

    Sounded more to me like Sauer was talking about Alabama-Huntsville. He specifically says something about keeping programs running.

  • tom hewitt

    What does a college education have to do with some young fellows playing hockey anyway?  Why should I care if the players on two teams in a game are enrolled as students in some particular university?  Is it critical to my enjoyment of a hockey game that the participants be wearing uniforms that represent some school when the players themselves would probably be happy to be playing on either team?  Ice hockey is a great sport that doesn’t require an affiliation with hypocritical educational organizations.  I’ll go to junior games.

  • Sjl442

    What happened to your RMU/Sacred Heart picks?

  • http://twitter.com/chrislerch Chris Lerch

    Not sure what happened there. The picks are in now. I’m going with a split in that series.

  • http://twitter.com/chrislerch Chris Lerch

    Nice pics. Always a pet peeve – away jerseys should have school’s name, home sweaters should have the nickname. Just the opposite here.

    • Atlantichockey

      Chris:

      In division 3 they wear dark at home and white on the road…thus the uniforms are just as you prefer.

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