Hockey East’s Pedro vs. Clemens Matchups
Last Saturday, major league baseball featured one of the most exciting pitching clashes in a long, long time when Pedro Martinez faced Roger Clemens in Fenway Park.
(A partisan note: Pedro is our hero while Clemens is a Benedict Arnold who nearly flattened the tires on the New York Yankee bandwagon that he jumped on.)
That said, there were six Cy Young Awards (given to the top pitcher in each league) between them and another one on the way to Pedro this year.
The pairing prompted creative minds at The Boston Herald to produce a boxing-style "Fight of the Century" poster complete with Pedro and Clemens as the main event along with other Red Sox players and Yankees forming the undercard.
With that as our inspiration and ignoring partisanship (everyone is a good guy in Hockey East), let’s look at the great matchups in Hockey East.
The Best Forward vs. The Best Defenseman
Main event: Darren Haydar vs. Mike Mottau The undercard: Jerry Keefe vs. Bobby Allen; Brian Gionta vs. Doug Janik; Fernando Pisani vs. Mike Jozefowicz; Cory Larose vs. Josh MacNevin
While there’s room for argument about the league’s top forward, BC’s Mike Mottau and Bobby Allen are clearly the top two defensemen in the league. As a result, Brian Gionta goes to the undercard since it would be unseemly to have teammates facing each other. And we’ll go with a huge undercard because… well, there’s so much talent to pick from and eliminating any of these guys is just too tough.
The Best Sniper vs. The Best Goaltender
Main event: Jeff Farkas vs. Ty Conklin The undercard: Mike Souza vs. Markus Helanen
Conklin and Helanen are the cream of the goaltending crop. Farkas is the nation’s top returning goal-scorer while Souza is a natural sniper. They both would have qualified in the "Best Forward" category, but were needed more here.
The Waterbug vs. The Redwood
Main event: Billy Newson vs. Jay Leach The undercard: Roger Holeczy vs. Brooks Orpik
The 5-7 tandem of Newson and Holeczy prove that size isn’t everything; 6-4, 220-pound Leach and hits-like-a-freight-train Orpik (6-3, 203 and growing) prove that it sure can come in handy. When healthy, Merrimack’s Stephen Moon (6-5, 240) will force his way onto this card. So will 5-7 freshman-from-a-great-gene-pool Martin Kariya, once he gets a few more games under his belt.
College Hockey Leagues
Main event: Hockey East vs. all comers The undercard: none
What did last weekend’s Boston College-Bowling Green contest have to do with Valentine’s Day night?
Mail your responses to Dave Hendrickson and the first precisely correct answer will win a tip of the fedora in next week’s column. USCHO contributors and the media are not eligible for this illustrious prize.
Last week this column noted that Boston College’s Mark McLennan would have to sit out the Eagles’ game against Bowling Green because of a game disqualification in an exhibition game. So what was McLennan doing on right wing? Was a BC forfeit due to use of an ineligible player going to be fodder for this week’s column?
It turns out that a transcription error had turned a game misconduct, which was what McLennan had actually been assessed, into a game disqualification. A player is thrown out of the game in both cases, but there is no carryover effect into the next contest with a misconduct.
So McLennan was eligible to play after all, even though league officials and, by extension, this writer thought differently in the middle of the week.
Or as Emily Litella was wont to say back in the days when Saturday Night Live was still funny, "Nevermind!"
League Notes And Quotes
#1 Boston College Coach Jerry York on the opening night win on Friday: "Bowling Green gave us all we could handle. Everybody expects that [since] you’re ranked number one [you’re going to win easily], but, hey, you’ve got to earn it."
On the BC 46-19 shot advantage:
"They hung tough with us. I didn’t think the shot discrepancy was indicative of the game. We had to really work hard and earn that win and I feel very, very good about it because I think Bowling Green is going to go on to have an excellent season."
On the use of freshman Tim Kelleher in net to open Hockey East play against Merrimack: "I think depth in goaltending is certainly an objective we’d like to have. Scott [Clemmensen] is definitely the number-one goaltender based on his two years of play. But I think Tim [Kelleher] is going to develop into a 1-A goaltender."
#2 Maine Coach Shawn Walsh on sweeping Minnesota to open the season:
"We’re obviously happy to have beaten a good team twice, which is difficult to do. At the same time, we’re all well aware that it was way too wide-open. We made a lot of mistakes, but I guess that’s expected when you’ve got six new guys playing."
On goaltenders Mike Morrison and Matt Yeats, who both earned wins:
"That was the strength of the weekend. They both played exceptionally well. We left each guy out to dry a number of times and they both played very, very solid in net."
On freshman Martin Kariya, brother of graduated Black Bear Steve, who scored twice and assisted on another:
"He was terrific. His goal the second night was breathtaking. He went end-to-end, put the puck between the defenseman’s legs and walked in and scored. It reminded everyone in the rink of Stephen."
On freshman Chris Heisten (Barrett’s brother), who also scored twice and assisted:
"His line with Tommy Reimann and Barrett was very, very effective both nights. So those were two of the highlights as well."
On the defense: "Doug Janik certainly stepped up, but it was a collective effort led by him. [Anders] Lundback, [Peter] Metcalf and [Robert] Ek all played well and A.J. Begg gave us a real good weekend."
On opening the J.C. Penney Tournament against New Brunswick, followed by a MAAC school:
"You never know what to expect from a Canadian opponent. Two of them have come down and beaten U.S. colleges this year, including a good Denver team. So the biggest thing we have to worry about is improving our game from last week.
"I’m glad the MAAC schools are playing because it’ll give us an idea of that level of play. I’m a big believer in playing emerging conferences because that’s the only way they’re going to make their move."
#6 New Hampshire Coach Dick Umile on defeating Vermont:
"We had some good moments in the game, but we got a little sloppy at times. Specialty situations worked out fairly well considering it’s early in the season. The power play scored three goals and Vermont was 1-for-8 on theirs so that became a factor.
"Mentally, we broke down and got some bad penalties at a bad time in the game and made it close. But we generated enough good scoring opportunities to win the game.
We played with some composure down the end, which was a positive sign. Some experienced guys who’ve been there before knew how to play with us leading, 3-2, in the third period in a game that was up for grabs at that point."
On getting goals from six different scorers:
"The scoring was spread out. A couple defensemen scored and [Mike] Souza and [Darren] Haydar had strong games along with [Corey-Joe] Ficek. That line had a strong game."
On the defense, which was considered UNH’s biggest question mark going into the season:
"They did a good job. Our defense is going to get better and better each game because they’re going to have more experience each game. It isn’t any fault of theirs that they haven’t played as many games as the guys who graduated.
"But each game they get stronger and more confident, and play in different types of situations. You just want to get better each weekend and be comfortable near the end of the season when the playoffs come."
On the trip to Lake Superior:
"This is a good trip. They’ve got a great history out there and a fine young coach, Scott Borek. It’s a tough place to play and it’ll be a good trip for our team."
Providence College Coach Paul Pooley on the win over Notre Dame in the first round of the Ice Breaker Tournament, followed by a double overtime loss to Denver in the championship game:
"It was a good weekend for us. We didn’t play great on Friday, but we did what we had to do. We had a 2-0 lead and then we had penalty problems and [Notre Dame] got a five-on-three to change the momentum of the game. " We’d been concerned about that first game because they had played Michigan the previous week [while we played Queen’s] so they’d played a very fast team and we didn’t. Notre Dame played very well defensively for the most part.
"We need to capitalize on our chances more. We had two-on-ones and three-on-twos and some chances that we should score on and we didn’t even get a shot off. In the Denver game we had two breakaways, one one-on-oh on the goalie, a four-on-two, two or three two-on-ones and we didn’t really get good chances off them. That hurt us.
"I don’t mind maybe getting outshot, because when we get chances they’re usually quality chances, but we have to work on putting the puck in the net when we get a quality opportunity.
"But I think we found some hockey players in the Denver game. Our freshman line — we had [Doug] Wright, [Jon] DiSalvatore and [Michael] Lucci together — scored the second go-ahead goal. And Devin Rask played very well. Doug Sheppard, our captain, was a warrior out there. And [goaltender] Boyd [Ballard] played well.
"We did enough to win both games. I was disappointed that we got tied up with 10 seconds left to play in the third period on a play that we just didn’t execute. We made a poor decision and it cost us. The thing is, I had just talked to the guy about the faceoff play that they were running. We talked about it when he came over to the bench and he went out and did the wrong thing.
"But we played well in third period — we had 10 shots and they had three — and in the overtimes. Our power play was 2-for-6 on the weekend and our PK killed a five-on-three in the third period for 1:10, so it would have been nice to win."
On traveling to Miami for two games this weekend:
"Miami is obviously playing very well. They’re 3-0-1. They’re really rallying around Enrico [Blasi], their young coach who is doing a great job there. And Miami is a very tough place to play.
"These [next five] road games are really going to help us down the road. I really feel good about what we did this weekend and how we competed. Going to Miami is going to be a very tough test for us, but that’s great. It’s only going to make us better for the league [games]."
Coach Bruce Crowder on defeating Bowling Green with 20-5 and 13-3 shot advantages in the first and third periods, respectively:
"We had a bit of a lull in the second period and they took it to us, but we held the fort there pretty good over those 20 minutes. Then we had a chance to regroup.
"Bowling Green is a good team, but they’d played the night before and we hadn’t so that could have been some of the difference in the third period."
On highly-touted freshman Mike Ryan scoring twice in the third period:
"He fit in right from the get go. He didn’t miss a beat. As the game went on, he got a lot more comfortable out there and it showed up in the scoring results."
On freshman goaltender Mike Gilhooly and whether he is "the answer":
"We’ve got three quality kids — [Gilhooly, Todd Marr and Jason Braun] — here right now. Mike had a little bit of an edge going into this past weekend, but we’ll continue to evaluate kids in practice and make some sort of decision on Friday night."
On facing UMass-Amherst and UMass-Lowell this weekend:
"Those are two teams we didn’t have a whole lot of success against last year. If we’re going to make some moves, we’ve got to have some success against some [of those] teams. If you look at our record last year against Lowell, Amherst and Merrimack, we were 1-7-1. That’s what really hurt us, not even going .500 against those teams."
Coach Joe Mallen on the loss at Colgate:
"We really tried to prepare the team all week long to play a small-rink game, but once you drop the puck [it doesn’t always work out]. We actually played pretty well in spurts, but we didn’t play very well in other spurts.
"We got good goaltending from Markus [Helanen], but a couple broke off his equipment and in. We turned the puck over way too much for our liking and we didn’t get enough good quality chances. Late in the game, [however,] we had a couple excellent chances and could have tied it up, but didn’t convert on them."
On the 37-21 shot disparity that went against the Minutemen:
"We actually missed the net a lot, which is something we emphasized [not doing] in practice. And [Colgate] really blocked a lot of shots. That’s something that we had more trouble with than we should have, just in terms of defensemen getting the shot off quicker or faking and going around. But we’ve got to give Colgate’s wingers credit, too.
"We want to give up under 30 shots, so it wasn’t a quality effort that way in terms of good solid body-to-body defense."
On games this week against Northeastern and Boston College:
"Even though it was pretty intense the other night, we know the intensity is going to pick up with four Hockey East points on the line. the intensity for both teams is going to peak.
"[The Northeastern game] will be a really good let’s-see-where-we-stand game for both teams. Then the next night, we’ve got the number-one team in the country coming into our building after having played on Tuesday night, but resting on Friday. They seem to be playing terrific hockey and they’re the talk of the division."
Coach Tim Whitehead on the 8-1 loss the first night at Michigan:
"A lot of games you can’t look at the scoresheet and figure out what happened, but in this case you could. They were 7-for-12 on the power play and we were 1-for-6. That was a big difference in the game.
"We took too many penalties and it killed us because they were very sharp that night. It was their home opener and they were confident and moving the puck. And we were not sharp on the penalty kill. The combination was not good."
On the 5-1 loss the following night:
"[This time] they took the bulk of the penalties and we had the opportunities on the power play, but we couldn’t convert and they got two shorthanded ones. That was the difference in the game. I thought we played quite well, particularly five-on-five.
"On the weekend, it was 1-1 [while playing] five-on-five."
On reasons behind the special teams problems:
"We moved our season up a week this year because of the opportunity to go out to Michigan. So we knew we were not as prepared as we’d like to be. We were working [more on] five-on-five systems. We were working on special teams, too, but not as much as we’d [have liked to].
"Had both games been more five-on-five, the results might have been better, but that’s part of the game. We’re going to be prepared for it this weekend.
"The one good thing from the first night to the second night is that [Michigan] was only 1-for-8 on the power play [on Saturday], so we did make a big step from Friday to Saturday. But our power play did not. Michigan shut us down really well."
Coach Jack Parker on the losses to RPI and Niagara:
"We played like Jekyll and Hyde. We played very well against RPI and easily could have won the game. Their goaltender played real well but from a technical point of view and an emotional point of view I thought we played very well.
"So that was three straight games that we played well in and I was pretty happy with the team. Then we turned around and went through the motions against Niagara and reverted back to playing without any zip and [as if there] wasn’t any coach."
On outshooting RPI, 33-21, and still losing:
"We gave up a penalty-shot goal and a goal where their guy spun around 30 feet in front and cold-cocked a full swing into the net for the tying and winning goals, so it wasn’t as if we gave up a lot of shots and were getting buzzed in our own zone. It was just too bad we didn’t put the puck past their goalie. But they played real well clearing the rebounds.
"I think we outshot them something like 68-30 in terms of attempts, so I was pretty pleased. There wasn’t any time that we were just back on our heels. At the same time, we didn’t put it by the kid."
On traveling to Vermont this weekend:
"It’s another road game and a tough place to play, one of the toughest buildings to play in college hockey. But I think we learned something in the Niagara game about looking by people and not getting ready to play. We’re not nearly good enough to do that to any team. So maybe we’ll get their attention this week to get ready to play up there."
Coach Chris Serino on the win over Holy Cross:
"We started out like a house on fire [two goals in the first minute and a half], but then we got fancy with the puck and made it a game before we settled back down a little. We played okay in spurts, but just weren’t consistent."
On super sophomore Greg Classen, who scored four of the five goals and assisted on the other: "He was dominant. He scored goals in all different ways, and then set up a goal. He just played fabulous."
On losing to BC, 7-2:
"With seven minutes left in the second period it was 2-2, but then they got a [four-on-four] goal and then they got another one right at the end of the period.
"We couldn’t really stay with our game plan down a couple goals. We weren’t there to make the game close; we were trying to win so we had to open the game up a little bit. When we did, what I [was afraid] would happen, happened."
On the 56-18 shot disparity:
"The shot advantage was way in their favor, but territorially it wasn’t. It wasn’t a game that we were struggling to keep the puck out of our end. It was an up-and-down game and we had the puck in their end as much as they had it in ours, but we just didn’t get the shots away.
"We broke down at times, but the positive part is that we skated with them. That’s going to help us.
"For the most part, we played much better than we did against Holy Cross."
On the tough trip to St. Lawrence:
"Anything is better than going to BC.
"If we continue to improve and pay attention to defense a little bit more, I think we can play with anybody. We’re looking for improvement defensively, mistake-wise. Against BC, three times we had guys standing right next to a guy who scored. It’s one thing to get in position, but it’s another thing to do something once you’re there."
Not That It Has Anything To Do With Anything, But…
I don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but have been making an exception with the baseball playoffs. And, so help me, if I see that pathetic nitwit with the Taco Bell chalupa one more time I’m gonna scream. And the talking Chihuahua makes two.
Louie the Lizard and The Ferret, on the other hand, are welcome on my TV screen any time.
When I grow up, I want to be The Ferret.
Thanks to Jim Connelly for his assistance.