Hockey East Goes 13-1-1
After a slow start in nonconference play earlier this year, Hockey East took no prisoners during Thanksgiving week, posting a 13-1-1 record. Ironically, Maine and Boston College, expected to be two of the league’s bellwether teams, made no contributions to the dominance since both clubs were off.
Hockey East delivered its best haymaker to the WCHA’s chin, sweeping those five contests. The league also posted a 5-1-1 mark in seven games with the ECAC as well as taking singletons with the CCHA, MAAC and CHA.
New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell hosted and won the inaugural Conference Classic and Festival of Lights tournaments, respectively, while Providence College and Boston University did even better, winning three games in five days.
As that sage philosopher Adam Sandler would say, not too shabby.
Parker Gets 600th Win
BU coach Jack Parker reached yet another milestone with his team’s 5-1 win over Colorado College on Nov. 27, becoming only the fourth NCAA hockey coach to record 600 wins.
"There were a few people talking about it before the weekend and before the game, and I forgot all about it," he said after the game. "The buzzer went off and Carl Corazzini turned and said, ‘Coach, congratulations!’ and I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about.
"And I think that’s how most coaches feel. Just another game."
Ironically, Parker’s 300th also came against Colorado College, a real longshot since the two schools have met only 14 times dating back to the 1949-50 season.
Parker further becomes the first coach to achieve the feat at one school. The three who preceded him into the 600-win club — Ron Mason, Bob Peters and Len Ceglarski — split their win totals between two or three programs.
"It might be easier to do it that way, or it might be harder to it that way," said Parker. "I’ve been fortunate to be at the right one school. I’ve certainly been fortunate to be at Boston University, where hockey’s been a big part of the program long before I even played here."
The following table lists the 13 coaches who have reached the 500-win plateau, with an asterisk indicating those who are still active.
Wins Coach (Schools, in chronological order) 848 Ron Mason* (Lake Superior, Bowling Green, Michigan State) 732 Bob Peters* (North Dakota, Bemidji State) 674 Len Ceglarski (Clarkson, Boston College) 600 Jack Parker* (Boston University) 597 Jeff Sauer* (Colorado College, Wisconsin) 570 Jerry York* (Clarkson, Bowling Green, Boston College) 555 John MacInnes (Michigan Tech) 543 Rick Comley* (Lake Superior, Northern Michigan) 542 Jack Riley (Army) 532 Don Roberts (Gustavus Adolphus) 520 Don Brose* (Minnesota State-Mankato) 503 Ed Saugestad (Augsburg) 501 John "Snooks" Kelley (Boston College)
Speaking of BU…
Anyone who isn’t impressed with what the Terriers have achieved so far this season just isn’t paying attention. Before the first game, they seemed to be a lock for the Five-To-Nine Lottery, this writer’s term for the "rest of the pack" teams that were all so closely matched that any one of them could finish fifth or last, but none of which had much of a chance to break through to playoff home ice.
It was reasonable then to question the Terrier depth on the blue line and, especially, the total lack of experience between the pipes. (Name the last team that succeeded despite poor goaltending. You might have to go back to the early seventies at Harvard when Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna regularly lit the Crimson lamp.)
Three straight losses in late October put BU at 2-3-0, seemingly justifying that pessimism. A 3-2 win over Providence saw some positives, but might have been attributed more to Friar turnovers and shaky goaltending than a Terrier renaissance.
Three wins followed, but two came against Merrimack, a team picked for last place that had yet to begin its recently much-improved play. In the other, UMass-Lowell outshot BU, 32-21, but lost anyway. What’s more, BU defensemen John Cronin injured a thumb and would be out for more than a month.
A win is a win is a win, but it wasn’t yet clear how good, or how ordinary, this team would be. Even more importantly, the Cronin injury had just potentially exposed one of the two Terrier Achilles’ heels.
Most fans who saw the next game against Northeastern will remember the controversial disallowed goal in overtime that resulted in a 4-4 tie, but the box score also showed that the Huskies outshot BU, 32-11, in regulation.
Shot totals might be overrated, but 32-11? Just how good was this team?
A 5-5 tie with UNH, BU’s first points against a top 10 team, started to open even skeptical eyes, however. And wins over Harvard, Denver and then-seventh ranked Colorado College on Thanksgiving week vaulted the 9-3-2 Terriers into the top 10 themselves.
The 5-1 victory over CC gave the Terriers a nine-game unbeaten streak and easily their most impressive win.
"This is the best team we’ve played all year," said Colorado College coach Scott Owens, whose Tigers had already played #5 Michigan State and #7 Colgate. "It’s the first time we’ve been outshot all season long in a game.
"And I actually thought we played not a bad hockey game tonight. We worked pretty hard and did a good job. We either couldn’t put it past [goaltender Rick] DiPietro or he came up with some big saves.
"We knew they were going to come after us; that’s what people say, especially in this building. I tip my hat; I think they’re a great team right now."
A great team right now.
Sophomore Dan Cavanaugh (4-14–18), and seniors Chris Heron (5-11–16) and Tommi Degerman (7-8–15) rank third, fourth and tied for fifth, respectively, in overall Hockey East scoring.
"There was a good collection of forwards out there who can go, who can skate," said Owens. "At times, our defensive corps couldn^Òt handle their two top lines. They generated a lot of turnovers and breakdowns on our part."
One of the most welcome surprises is how well Parker’s blueliners have played in Cronin’s absence, both defensively — a total of two goals allowed in the last three games — and offensively as well. In particular, Chris Dyment posted a 3-4–7 scoring line in the three most recent games and is 7-6–13 overall, second only to BC’s Mike Mottau among Hockey East defensemen.
"The two defensemen who are getting all the offensive play — [Pat] Aufiero and Dyment — are two guys who played only half a year as freshman last year," said Parker. "One [Aufiero] missed almost the whole first half of the year, and the other missed almost all of the second.
"So they’re a lot more confident this year, a lot stronger and healthy. And they’re playing every other shift because of our injury situation; they’re getting a lot of ice time.
"In general, with the addition of [Mike] Bussoli and Cronin, the maturity of Aufiero and Dyment, with the fabulous improvement of Keith Emery, we’re just a much better team poise-wise and ability-wise at the blue line, so we’re generating some offense."
Forwards Ryan Priem and Juha Vuori have moved back to defense part-time, at least until Cronin’s return, and have filled in well.
But the single biggest key has been the goaltending of DiPietro, November’s Hockey East Rookie of the Month, and Jason Tapp. Except for the early loss to Vermont, the tandem has been at least steady and often spectacular.
"When we started this season, I knew this was going to be a fun team to be around because they play so hard," said Parker. "And I thought this was going to be a good team to build with and that we were going to be real good next year.
"But we’re getting pretty good right now. I think a big part of it is how good Tapp and DiPietro are playing."
Hockey East Lands Eight on US Junior National Team
Hockey East topped the four major conferences with eight players named to the U.S. team that will compete in the 2000 World Junior Championships from Dec. 25 through Jan. 4. The tournament, held in Skelleftea and Umea, Sweden, this year, includes national teams comprised of players under 20 years old.
"We are excited to be a major contributor to Team USA^Òs chances over the holidays," said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna. "And this obviously is another sign that our coaches continue to attract the nation’s best talent to our Hockey East campuses."
The following are this year’s Hockey East members of Team USA:
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown HEA Team Ron Hainsey D 6-2 185 Bolton, CT UMass Lowell Brooks Orpik D 6-3 224 East Amherst, NY Boston College Pat Aufiero D 6-2 191 Winchester, MA Boston University Willie Levesque F 6-0 220 Vineyard Haven, MA Northeastern Doug Janik D 6-1 190 Agawam, MA University of Maine Pat Foley F 6-1 200 Milton, MA New Hampshire Barrett Heisten F 6-1 184 Anchorage, AK University of Maine Rick DiPietro G 6-0 176 Winthrop, MA Boston University
Last week’s trivia question was: 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?
A good number of fans got this one right, but Troy Taylor gets the tip of the fedora for being the quickest of them all. The song is "An Innocent Man" and it can be heard after every Friar penalty.
As an aside, the perfect complement to "An Innocent Man" in this writer’s opinion would be to accompany every opposing player’s trip to the penalty box with Warren Zevon singing "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money."
This week’s question concerns home towns of Hockey East award winners (Player of the Week, Rookie of the Week or Goaltender of the Week). Which player who has already been honored this season hails from a town that is named, in part, after a vegetable?
Carnivores and vegetarians alike should mail their responses to Dave Hendrickson.
A Thank You Note
A heart-felt thanks is due to those fans who read in the last column about my videotaping mishap and offered their copy of the BU-Northeastern overtime game. Peter Biscardi was the first to respond and had the tape in my mailbox before I could hardly blink.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that kindness is a trait found in abundance in the college hockey fraternity.
Muchas gracias to "Mr. Biscardi" and the other great fans who made the same offer.
And Finally, Not That It Has Anything To Do With Anything, But…
High school reunions are great times and I’ve gone to every single one of mine (Lynn English, Class of None-of-your-business). This year’s, however, had some sadness to go with the good times.
I’ll miss Lenny Mills and wish I’d known about his battle with cancer. We weren’t the very closest of friends back in high school. We were more like the type who say ‘hi’ in the hallways and chat every now and then, but then go their separate ways. Friends, but not one of those you automatically stay in touch with over the years.
Even so, Lenny’s smile and good humor brightened many people’s lives, including mine. It’s sad to think of that smile extinguished. He’ll be missed, but not forgotten.
But I don’t want to leave you with sadness. It wasn’t Lenny’s way, nor is it mine.
So here are some random and (mostly) humorous observations gleaned from one of my favorite non-hockey evenings in the last five years.
People were still talking about the stunt pulled at the last reunion five years ago by the former (and still reigning) Class Clown. He not only had people actually believing that he was a judge in the Lawrence Superior Court, he had them calling him, "Your honor."
You know that a friend has had too much to drink when he or she says, "Ya know, marriage is weird," and thinks that’s profound.
Either I’m going deaf or am just dumb as a rock. A woman I’d helped in math all those years ago greeted me with a joyous, "My tutor!" but somehow instead I heard, "My Tuna!" I swear I thought she’d mistaken me for Bill Parcells.
You probably aren’t going to believe this, but someone at the reunion actually referred to me as "The Quiet One." Honest. You can pick yourself up off the floor now.
You know that a guy is both over the hill and downright pathetic when he gets together with other members of his junior high school football team — he was the starting halfback and outside linebacker — and recalls one of his sweetest memories: hearing a cheerleader yell, "Dave Hendrickson, he’s my man! If he can’t do it, no one can!"
Thanks to Scott Weighart for his contributions.