Until Sunday’s Maine-BC tilt, every single Hockey East game last week was either decided by one goal or ended in a tie. Yet despite the nip-and-tuck battles, UNH swept all four weekend points while Maine, Northeastern, Boston University and Merrimack took three of four. At the other end of the spectrum, Boston College and Providence College went oh-for-four while UMass-Lowell and UMass-Amherst lost their only games.
The biggest surprises, of course, came on Friday when Merrimack tied #2 Maine, 2-2, and Northeastern toppled then-#3 Boston College, 6-5.
[Writer’s note: Major computer problems and other difficulties have cut short this portion of the column severely. My apologies. The verbosity should return next week.]
Souza Snakebit No More
Last year, UNH’s trio of Jason Krog, Darren Haydar and Mike Souza formed the top-scoring line in college hockey. Providence College’s number-one unit of Mike Omicioli, Fernando Pisani and Jerry Keefe wasn’t far behind.
The graduation of Krog and Omicioli, however, left voids on the two lines which no one has felt more than Souza and Keefe. Souza (23-42-65 last year, tied for fourth in the nation) entered last weekend with only one goal and four assists in seven games. Keefe (16-36-52) had dropped to no goals and only two assists.
"Look at who they played with last year," explained PC coach Paul Pooley. "Michael Omicioli created a tremendous amount for Keefe and Pisani. And obviously Krog created a tremendous amount for Souza and Haydar.
"You take those two guys out of the mix in each situation and they’re not going to get as many chances and they’re not going to finish. Without those two guys who were catalysts for them, somebody hasn’t stepped up to make it happen. That goes to show how valuable [Krog and Omicioli] were."
This past weekend, Keefe failed to get off the goal-scoring schneid, but did pick up assists in both games.
Souza topped that, scoring his second goal and adding three assists.
"It was a big sigh of relief to get that [goal]," said Souza, "especially after the way things went earlier on [that night]. I had two of the best chances I’ve had all year [but didn’t score].
"It was a relief for my linemates, too, because they’ve probably been getting frustrated themselves with me."
It’s been difficult for the sniper not to get frustrated.
"Especially being the captain, you have stay positive at all times," he said. "It’s hard to do when you’re not scoring goals, but I’ve been trying to contribute in every way possible and working hard. That’s all you can do."
Souza also looked at films from last year to see what, if anything, he was doing differently.
"It was fun to watch a couple of those games that I hadn’t seen yet," he said with a smile.
"I was doing the little things better. Little things that led to offensive opportunities, stuff like chipping the puck into space instead of into the middle.
"I’ve still got to work on them. I didn’t play a great game [on Saturday], but I probably played one of my better games this year."
Attrition at UNH and BU
New Hampshire forward Matt Dzieduszycki has opted for major junior hockey with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, thereby foregoing his remaining collegiate eligibility. The sophomore had been highly regarded going into last season, but finished with only two goals and eight assists in 29 games. This year, he had scored one goal and added two assists.
A thumb injury has sidelined Boston University freshman defenseman John Cronin for four to six weeks. He will be in a cast for about four weeks and then will begin working toward returning to the lineup.
He had impressed in his first nine games, scoring three goals and adding two assists while also playing well defensively. His absence further depletes the Terrier blue line, which opened the season with little depth.
A Promising Start
New Hampshire freshman Josh Prudden may not have gotten into his first contest until this past weekend, but he made an immediate impact.
"I’d been working hard, trying to get into the lineup all year," he said. "A couple guys got injured, so I got my opportunity."
On his very first shift, just 1:23 into the game, he assisted on a Jim Abbott goal to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
"You couldn’t ask for anything better than that," he said with a smile. "It was pretty exciting."
Last week’s trivia question was: What happened the last time that Wild E. Cat threw the fish (at UNH)?
The guesses came fast and furious. One fan had the fish hitting the ref. Another had it hitting Jack Parker. (Perhaps a case of wishful thinking?) A third had Wild E. Cat stealing the fish and having himself a frozen fish dinner. Ouch!
And there were many more.
Only one person, however, got it right. This week’s tip of the fedora goes to Dawn Scarpini. On Jan. 22, 1991, the fish slipped out of Wild E. Cat’s paw and hit a Yale assistant coach. It was the feline’s last, but perhaps most memorable, throw.
Thanks again are due UNH Sports Information Director Steve Jones for the information.
This week’s trivia contest takes a musical bent. Even if you’ve never witnessed the answer in person, you may be able to deduce it anyway.
And the question is: the Providence College public address system plays one particular Billy Joel song on a regular basis. What is the name of the song and what is the occasion that prompts its playing?
Mail your responses to Dave Hendrickson. Media representatives are excluded.
Get Well Wishes
It was his sixth back operation. This one was supposed to take four hours and instead took nine. The patient? My brother, Ray.
Hang in there, ‘bro. There’s a tee time waiting for us in six months.
And Finally, Not That It Has Anything To Do With Anything, But…
I are a ideot.
With last weekend’s Maine-Boston College game at 2 p.m., I thought I had the perfect day lined up. Start it with a cup of Creme Brulee coffee, courtesy of Perfecto’s Cafe in North Andover. Add in a huge omelet with everything but the kitchen sink tossed in. Sit down to Peter Gammons’ column in the Globe.
And then watch the BU-Northeastern game that I’d taped the night before while covering UNH at Providence. I already knew that it had come down to overtime and a controversial disallowed goal, so I was figuratively licking my college hockey chops.
The coffee was delicious, the omelet even better and Gammons only disappoints when he isn’t in the paper.
The morning came to a grinding halt, however, as soon as I hit the play button on the VCR. What was Jerry Seinfeld doing on the tape? And then the Bruins? Where were the Huskies and Terriers?
Unfortunately, VCRs and TVs are not yet idiot-proof. If you program them for channel 38, you will get channel 38 even if you meant channel 68.
A half hour later I was still fuming.
"I can’t believe what an idiot I am," I said.
"I can," was the response.