This Week In Hockey East: Feb. 15, 2001

The Goal

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen Colin Hemingway’s stunner yet? With FOX Sports Net at the Whittemore Center to telecast the New Hampshire – Providence College tilt, the cameras were rolling when the sophomore scored The Goal of the Year. It made just about every highlight show and may well result in an award for Associated Press photographer Jim Cole, who captured it perfectly on five successive shots.

“Without a great play, there’s no great picture,” said Cole with a smile.

It certainly was a great play. (See if you missed it.) Hemingway, a right-handed shot, skated right-to-left across the goal mouth with a backhander the only apparent possibility. Instead, he toe-tucked the puck back between his legs, reached through his legs behind his body and roofed a forehand over goaltender Boyd Ballard.

In this observer’s eyes, the move ranks second only to Mike Legg’s famous “lacrosse” goal in the 1996 NCAA tournament. Paul Kariya certainly scored many flashy goals and one could argue that they were more within the context of typical play, but Hemingway’s still ranks higher on the outrageousness scale. And a potential rival, Greg Bullock’s 360-degree spin-a-rama and backhander into the top of the net against Boston University, occurred in a shootout, thereby attaching an asterisk to its brilliance.

“I’ve watched guys do it in practice, but I don’t really do it that much,” said Hemingway. “It’s just something that came to my mind. I’ve tried it, but it’s never worked before, so that’s why I’ve never done it in a game before.”

Never worked before? Only tried it in practice a little?

“It looked like he practices it a lot,” said Josh Prudden to a chorus of laughter among the press before going on to corroborate Hemingway’s contention. “He doesn’t really screw around too much like that, but he has very good moves and really good hands.”

Ty Conklin also added confirmation when asked if Hemingway had ever scored with that move on him in practice.

“Thank God, no,” said Conklin with a grin. “He’d shoot my confidence.”

What was most compelling about the move was Hemingway’s sheer audacity.

“I thought it was unbelievable,” said Prudden. “I couldn’t believe that he actually tried it. It’s more like something that you mess around with in practice. …

“It’s kind of a hot dog play, but it was pretty cool. When I saw it, I really didn’t believe it.”

Hemingway noted that he hadn’t planned the move in advance, although he had promised his mother that he’d do something special in the game to commemorate her birthday. Presumably seeing her son on SportsCenter was special enough for Mrs. Hemingway.

“A lot of the players can do it,” he said, “but it’s just something you don’t do in a game because it’s kind of dipsy-doodle and coaches don’t really like that kind of stuff. But I just thought, ‘Go for it and hope for the best.'”

No, coaches don’t really like that kind of stuff at all. Most would be thinking as the play developed, “What are you doing? Great shot!”

One can only imagine coach Dick Umile’s reaction if Hemingway had shot wide.

“It’s one of those goals where if he screws up, Coach is going to be mad,” said David Busch. “But it worked, so who’s complaining?”

Would Busch try such a move?

He smiled and shook his head. “Hell, no!”

Of course, Umile was delighted with Hemingway’s result.

“[If I’d missed,] he probably would have told me to cut the fancy ahhh… you know… and just drive it to the net and put it in the normal way,” said Hemingway. “But he congratulated me on the goal. He was happy with the win and happy with the goal.”

Conklin Snares Another Record

Although overshadowed by Hemingway’s flamboyance, Conklin went into the UNH record books with his 54th career win, passing previous all-time leader Sean Matile.

“To set the record here at UNH says an awful lot,” said Umile. “There have been some great goaltenders here, so for him to set the record is fabulous.

“It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid. It hasn’t happened by accident. He’s worked at it.”

Not surprisingly, Conklin downplayed the feat.

“It’s a matter of me being on a lot of good teams and having a lot of talent around me,” he said. “That’s how [records] like that are set.”

U Is For UNH And U-Turn

Perhaps New Hampshire Public TV will be overdubbing Sesame Street references to the letter U with the above phrase after UNH rebounded from an 0-4-1 stretch with wins at home over Northeastern and Providence. In particular, the Wildcat’s absolute dominance of the first two periods against Providence gave evidence that whatever had ailed them was history. They outshot the Friars, 21-6, a statistic that accurately measured New Hampshire’s control.

“It was a great weekend,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “It think the team capped it off with one of the best games we’ve played all season against a really good Providence College team.

“They had six shots [in the first two periods.] They just weren’t doing much against us five-on-five. I like the way the team skated and tight-gapped them. We gave them nothing and they’re a tough team. We matched them physically and played good hockey.”

Conklin added an observation about the team’s defense that is bound to make the hearts of UNH fans beat a little faster.

“It was outstanding,” he said. “It reminded me of the year we went to the [NCAA] finals. [It was] outstanding work in the neutral zone and when they did get in the zone, we just shut them down.”

To fully appreciate the importance of the two wins and the way the Wildcats beat Providence, one has to look at the five games that preceded last weekend. In that stretch they lost critical ground in the standings, losing to Northeastern, twice to Boston University and to Maine while tying Merrimack, 5-5, after holding a 5-2 third-period lead. Streaks like that eat at a team’s confidence and often at its cohesion.

It also frays the nerves. Umile, who had apparently heard the phrase “0-4-1” a few too many times over the preceding week, wasn’t altogether happy with a question intended to contrast the earlier dry spell with the success against Northeastern and Providence.

“Right now I’m just focusing on this weekend,” he said. “I don’t even remember that [streak] now. I don’t even want to talk about that. These guys played hard this weekend. Let’s focus on this weekend. We had a great weekend so we’re going to enjoy that.

“You guys are the ones that keep adding those babies up. We just look forward. You guys look in the past.”

Hemingway, however, offered a glimpse into the impact of the two wins.

“We went on that losing skid, going 0-4-1,” he said. “Then to get two wins this weekend is just great. The team is a lot more positive now. Everybody is just working together. It’s a great feeling in the locker room.”

The Wildcats still have their work cut out for them, however. They hold only a one- and three- point advantage over Providence and Maine, respectively, their closest pursuers for second place. They must concede two games in hand to both of them. What’s more, two of their remaining four contests come against first-place Boston College this weekend. With that in mind, home ice in the playoffs is still in jeopardy with UMass-Lowell and Boston University still in the hunt.

“There’s a long way to go for home ice,” said Umile. “This race is as tight as it’s ever going to get.”

A Sleeping Giant Awakens?

This weekend will be an important test, but it looks as though the Black Bears are coming out of hibernation at just the right time. Other than losses to Boston College — it seems as if this year everyone is losing most of their games against BC — Maine has now won four straight and holds a 7-1-2 record in its last 10. Included in those games are a 3-for-6 split of the points against UNH and a 3-for-4 weekend against BU that would have been 4-for-4 if not for a fluke deflection.

The latest wins came on the road against UMass-Amherst. Maine rallied for a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night and coasted to a 5-1 victory on Saturday.

“We played very, very well even on Friday night, holding them to two shots in the second period and then 12 over the last two periods plus overtime,” said coach Shawn Walsh. “It was a barometer of what we could do on Saturday. Saturday we did a similar job. We played very thorough.

“The overtime win over New Hampshire [the week before] gave us a lot of confidence. We played like a confident team [last weekend], which hasn’t always been the case this year.”

For the most part, Maine has played exceptional defense all year long. The crises of confidence have been on the offensive side. Prior to last weekend, the Black Bears had fallen to seventh in the league in goals per game.

“When you’re not scoring, it’s just so hard to keep tapping the well, tapping the reserve of backchecking and playing both ways because you don’t get rewarded for it,” said Walsh. “It’s frustrating. Once we broke out and got some goals, it made it much easier for the players.

“But all along, we’ve played pretty well this year. Other than a couple of periods — like the first [Brian Gionta five-goal] period at BC and the first period at Providence [in November] — we’ve been right there. Now we’re starting to get rewarded.”

One of the most encouraging signs on the weekend was the reemergence of Dan Kerluke. As a sophomore, he posted a 23-19–42 scoring line. With incremental improvements as a junior and senior, he might have been expected eventually to become an All-American or at least an All-Hockey East forward.

Instead, he fell to 12-14–26 last year and had only five goals and six assists going into last weekend. On a team bereft of proven finishers, Kerluke is one player who has done it in the past in a big way.

Perhaps getting back on track at just the right time, Kerluke scored twice on Friday night, including the game-winner in overtime, and added another two on Saturday.

“We thought he was going to be [our goalscorer] the last two years,” said Walsh. “What’s striking is that in that 23-goal year only [two] were power-play goals. He’s a guy that can break open five-on-five situations.

“He’s had a lot of chances, but they haven’t found the net. I think he’s confident now. A couple of those goals were pure scorer’s goals, which we’ve lacked this year.

“I think he relaxed everybody. It’s great to see him on track and we certainly want to do everything we can to keep him on track.”

Another solution to Maine’s dearth of offense may be in the form of defenseman-turned-forward Michael Schutte. The sophomore broke open Saturday night’s game with a hat trick, playing on a line with Martin Kariya and Brendan Donovan. Matthias Trattnig, the usual linemate of Kariya and Donovan, had left for his native Austria’s pre-Olympic tournament.

“Schutte is a real offensive guy, [but] I have not liked his defensive intensity,” said Walsh. “So we put him up front about three weeks ago and he’s gotten better and better. He broke out playing with Kariya and we plan to keep them together.”

Donovan will move to another line while Walsh hopes that a trio of Kariya, Trattnig and Schutte becomes a consistent offensive force.

In many ways, it’s surprising that the goals have come so hard for the Black Bears this year even though they lost their top four scorers from last year (Cory Larose, Barrett Heisten, Ben Guite and Brendan Walsh). With added ice time and a more prominent role on the power play, the second-tier scorers would have been expected to elevate their contributions to fill the void. Instead, almost every player has remained at last year’s level of production.

“I don’t know [why that is,]” said Walsh. “I really don’t know. There isn’t one thing I would pinpoint except you are what you are. In our case, nobody has stepped up and said, ‘I’m going to be one of Hockey East’s top six or seven forwards.’

“Until somebody steps up and does that week in and week out, we’re just going to be a balanced team that has to play as a team. We’re clearly a group that has to be greater than the sum of our individual parts.

“In a way, it’s been that way lately [for our program.] Even our [1999] national championship team was like that. But we did have a Cory Larose or a Steve Kariya who we could lean on. None of our younger guys have stepped up to assume that mantle yet.”

If they can get a modest amount of scoring, the Black Bears could be a scary club to face in the playoffs.

“This is the youngest Maine team we’ve had in 10 years,” said Walsh. “Now we’re a little more mature. We were decimated early with injuries, but now we’re back in good health. We’re dangerous now.”

The Dark Horse

They haven’t made the USCHO Top 15 yet, but watch out for the Lowell River Hawks. They’re now 7-2-3 in their last 12 league contests with the only losses coming at the hands of Boston College.

“They might be the best kept secret in Hockey East,” said BU coach Jack Parker after Lowell completed its first-ever season’s sweep of the Terriers. “They’re playing so well. They’re as good of a team as there is in this league. … We know who the better team between [the two of] us are.

“We gave them a pretty good game and they still beat us. Any other year, if we were playing Lowell and getting ready for the Beanpot final, we might have looked by them. But we didn’t look by them tonight because they’re playing so well, they’re such a good team, they’re chasing us down for home ice and we’d already lost to them twice.

“We made a couple mistakes that were just brutal. But other than those [errors,] I thought it was a pretty good effort by us.

“I have no qualms that we weren’t ready to play [on Friday.] There was no focus on anything but UMass-Lowell and they still beat us.”

One secret weapon for the River Hawks is their huge fourth line of converted defenseman Kevin Kotyluk (6-2, 220 pounds) and freshmen Anders Strome (6-3, 195) and Peter Hay (6-5, 200). With that size, the trio can bang with any line in Hockey East. That group drew penalties on two straight shifts at critical junctures against BU. On Sunday, Hay and Kotyluk both scored goals in a 5-2 win over Merrimack.

“[The fourth line] was huge in [the win over BU] because they drew a couple of penalties,” said UML coach Tim Whitehead. “[Against Merrimack] they actually got rewarded with a couple of goals and [were] just a huge boost.

“After Christmas, when we were missing [key players with injuries], we needed everyone to step up. That was important for our team to understand that everyone is important and everyone can contribute on this team. From that point, everyone started contributing.”

In addition to the Beef Brothers, Lowell also has one hulking force on its other top three lines: Tom Rouleau (6-2, 225) on the first line; Kyle Kidney (6-0, 240) along with Yorick Treille (6-3, 202) on the second; and Jeff Boulanger (6-1, 212) on the third.

“They match up well against us size-wise up front, but they match up well against a lot of people size-wise,” said Parker. “When you’re not drilling a lot of shots and not getting a lot of play in their end, their size helps them out down the other end.

“They’re a solid team. It isn’t just that they match up well with BU and can only beat BU. They’re a real good team … and they play hard.”

All of which leads to a classic clash against Maine this weekend. Both teams are hot right now and hungry to gain home ice for the playoffs.

“Anyone who has followed college hockey knows how good Lowell is now,” said Walsh. “They’ve swept BU. They took UNH to back-to-back tie games. They had two one-goal games with BC. So we clearly know how good they are.

“They’re just a thorough team. Tim has done a fabulous job of bringing them back from the depths. Now they’re enjoying the penthouse.”

Walsh offers a surprising candidate for the league’s MVP.

“I think the best player in the league this year has been Ron Hainsey,” said Walsh. “He’s the one individual who has meant more to his team [than any other]. Obviously, [Brian] Gionta has had great games against us and Ty Conklin has had great individual games, but in terms of what Ron has done for his team, he’s the best. He’s given them confidence. He’s clearly been the best blueliner.”

Walsh sees a couple keys to the weekend’s crucial series.

“The matchup of interest is their power play vs. our penalty kill,” he said. “We’re fourth in the nation in penalty killing; they’re seventh on the power play, so that’ll be a matchup.

“It’ll also be a matchup of their style [against our defense.] They forecheck everything and the strength of our team is our defense. So it’s going to be a real matchup of our defensemen being able to handle their forecheck.

“They’re a team that comes right after you. We’re certainly going to have to be prepared for that. It should be a great test because we’re both now confident teams. We’re the only [Hockey East] teams coming into this weekend with three-game winning streaks.

“You’ve got two confident teams in what should be a terrific series. Everybody is looking forward to an NCAA-type playoff atmosphere.”

He’s Got Their Number

UMass-Lowell’s Dan Fontas continued to be a major thorn in BU’s side on Friday night. The junior, whose father Paul played at BU with Parker, scored the game-winner in all three contests against the Terriers. Those were his only game-winners of the year. Of his six goals this season, four have come at BU’s expense.

“I wish I could play BU every night,” said Fontas with a big smile. “I bring a lot of emotion when I play BU. … I guess I have their number this year.”

Dewey Wins!

If UMass-Lowell needed any extra incentive for its game on Friday night against BU, it got it from a Boston Globe article written as a Beanpot preview, but run earlier than expected on Friday morning. The writer, Bob Duffy, had filled in details based on an anticipated win by BU with the presumed intention of changing those details in the event of a loss.

Instead, the article appeared unedited with references to BU defeating Lowell. It provided some ideal fodder for the Lowell locker room bulletin board.

Parker dismissed it as “bizarre” that the editing error would be a motivator for the River Hawks, but those in the other locker room weren’t so sure.

“We wanted the respect we deserve,” said Fontas.

“I think our guys were ready to play before that,” said Whitehead. “Maybe it just added a little fuel to the fire.”

A Missed Opportunity

Providence could have taken a giant stride toward locking up second place with a win at New Hampshire on Saturday, but instead took it on the chin without hardly a counterpunch for two periods before finally awakening in the third. By then it was too late.

“[UNH] came to play in the first two periods and either we didn’t or they just took it to us,” said coach Paul Pooley. “It was disappointing. … We got outplayed bad.”

In particular, Josh Prudden’s backbreaking goal with 4.9 seconds remaining in the second to give UNH a 3-1 lead galled the Providence coach.

“[To get scored on with] 4.9 seconds left in the second period is unacceptable,” he said. “On the road, [if] you’re getting outplayed but you go into the third period down by one goal, it isn’t a big deal. But two goals is a big deal.”

Ironically, the Friars came into the UNH contest on what might have been the high note of the season, a 5-3 win over first-place Boston College.

“I told our team before the game that weeks ago when we played Merrimack, we responded to adversity,” said Pooley, referring to a game deadlocked at 0-0 going into the third period which the Friars won, 1-0. “Now we have to respond to having a little success.

“After [the win over BC,] we’re fighting for the second spot. It’s a different type of response. That’s [a result of] the growth of our program and the growth of our players.

“We haven’t been here, but we have to learn from it and understand what it takes to be a top 10 team in the country. It was a great win for us [against BC]. A great win. But this [loss to UNH] overshadows that in my mind.”

Kolanos Returns With A Vengeance

Boston College forward Krys Kolanos sat out the Beanpot semifinal game (and its predecessor as well) with a shoulder injury that had been bothering him for weeks. At the time coach, Jerry York said, “It was very sore during practice … and the doctors didn’t like what they saw on the X-rays.”

Despite those ominous words, Kolanos returned to action last Friday.

Although he’s still playing through pain since the injury has a few more weeks to heal, he was dominant at times in the Beanpot championship game. He recorded a men-amongst-boys goal to give BC a 2-0 lead, fighting off a defender with one arm while shooting with the other. He added a beautiful assist on the Eagles’ third goal. He also had many instances when his size and wingspan frustrated BU defenders and guaranteed BC continued puck possession and offensive opportunities.

While this observer would have preferred giving the Tournament MVP to a player who suited up for both games, Kolanos was the obvious candidate considering the title game only.

“I only played in the one game, but I guess this was the big game,” he said. “I think the fire in me after losing in the final game last year [to BU] made me just want to be out there. I wanted to be out there last week but I had to be patient and wait for the X-ray.”

Selected Notes

  • Boston University‘s Jack Parker will be coaching his 1000th game next Friday against Northeastern at Matthews Arena. While a Hollywood plot would require a home game for such an event, the combination of the travelling Terrier faithful and — one hopes — the suitably respectful Husky partisans should still give Parker his due.
  • Merrimack College defenseman Stephen Moon suffered a concussion in the second period of Sunday’s game against Lowell and did not play the third. He is expected to return on Friday against Northeastern.
  • Although no one doubts that New Hampshire has been hurt by the injury to Matt Swain, the damage has been minimized by the play of Josh Prudden, who has moved up to the second line. During Swain’s five-game absence, Prudden has scored two goals and added three assists. His goal at the close of the second period against Providence is almost certainly the biggest one of his collegiate career.

    It’s always great to see a kid move up from the fourth line and then make a significant contribution on one of the top ones.

  • When UMass-Lowell completed its season’s sweep of BU, one River Hawk fan tossed a broom onto the ice. Landing in the Terrier end, however, it didn’t last long. John Sabo snapped it in half.

    From The Mailbag

    I recently received one of the wittiest emails I’ve gotten in a while, so here it is for your reading pleasure. For those who don’t remember, I picked Northeastern to defeat Boston University in the Beanpot semifinal game. This note arrived prior to the title tilt.

    Mr. Hendrickson,

    You are cordially invited to attend the finals of the 49th annual BU Invitational Tourney (formerly known as the Beanpot Tournament).

    Monday, February 15, 2001 at 8 o’clock.

    Dinner will be served. A generous helping of crow will available for all sportswriter guests.”

    Once again BU defies the pundits in the Beanpot!! There’s an old saying, “Never bet against a streak, you’ll go broke.”

    In all seriousness, I really enjoy the column and the coverage. (Even if you underestimate Parker Power.)


    Rob Doherty

    That one brought an appreciative smile to my face. Kudos to Rob for his sharp wit.

    At the other end of the spectrum, I give you two emails which I will allow to remain anonymous to protect the guilty. They are unedited, save for the removal of one word and the insertion of an asterisk for a vowel.

    Mr. Hendrickson,

    Did you really think that UNH was going to lose at HOME to Providence this weekend? I used to be a sports writer myself, so I know that that your job is comprised of nothing but BS, and trying to say whatever sounds good to your editor. UNH is a National Championsip contender, Mr. Hendrickson. Let’s make that clear. You can keep writing about Northeastern and Merrimack, and how they are doing better than most people figured, but don’t get confusd. UNH is the real deal. If we didn’t get hosed in Maine (Hockey East has a fine crew of officials!) maybe we would be in first place. Not that I would expect you to undestand that. You’re a writer, you don’t really undestand sports do you..I mean how to play them? Be smart when you predict our scores against BC this weekend. Remember, we already beat the almighty No. 2 by a score of 4-1 at their place this year…nevermind, you wouldn’t care though, you’re a sports writer, thus, you’re a sellout. Tell me that BC will win 4-2 at BC and that the game will be a 2-2 tie at UNH. Listen Jerkey, get a clue! I don’t know how old you are, and I don’t really care. The fact that you are a sports writer already looses credibility for you. Get your [bleep] together. You’re probably one of those guys that really thinks Mankato belongs in the top-15. Follow the leagues, and folow the sport. Dave, don’t write what people want you to write, write what you feel is true. I know you can’t REALLY feel that Cornell is better than UNH…Come on! Reality game…UNH 6, Cornell, 1…maybe 2, if Ty has a bad night! One last time, Mr. Hendrickson, please get a clue!

    Here’s the P.S. from the same, ahem, gentleman, whose messages, I should note, are the antithesis of what I usually receive from UNH fans.

    I just read the rest of your insae column. S*cks 2 BU! Overrated (meaning the No. 2 team that has lost 7 ganes). Get with the program Hendrickson! Get out of the dity for 2 minutes of your life, and check out reality! It’s here in Durham!

    Geez, and I thought everyone loved me….

    The Inside Scoop

    One of my USCHO colleagues, the name of whom will be withheld to protect the guilty, had a tough evening at the Beanpot on Monday for two reasons.

    He’d proclaimed a week ago that Harvard’s Oliver Jonas was the best goaltender in the tournament. While Jonas could have sued for non-support in the 4-1 semifinal loss to Boston College, he looked a light-year or two short of being the best dufflebag in the 8-7 consolation loss to Northeastern.

    To make matters worse, that same colleague then pulled a two-year-old copy of the Boston Phoenix out of his laptop case. With a bemused look on his face he muttered, “So that’s why the bag has been so heavy!” Something tells me that the nubile cutie he might have hoped to find in the Personals section got tired of waiting.

    Trivia Contest

    Last week’s question asked what unique achievement do Merrimack’s Anthony Aquino and Dartmouth’s Mike Maturo share?

    There were some amusing responses that weren’t what the question was looking for. The best one was Edward N. Moller noting that “along with Carl Corazzini and Krys Kolanos, they lead their teams in alliteration.”

    Good stuff, but not the winner.

    The correct answer, as noted by Justin Pelletier, is that Aquino and Maturo are the only two people this season to have scored more than one goal against Ty Conklin in a single game. Justin’s cheer is:

    “Does this mean no Beanpot let-down game this weekend? Boo-YA! Go BU!!”

    This week’s question will require your thinking caps on. It comes from the Boston Herald‘s Jocko Connolly and asks: what do former collegians Scott Harlow (BC), Paul “The Shot” Hurley (BC), Nick Vachon (BU), Christian Soucy (Vermont) and Jim Stewart (Holy Cross) have in common?

    Send your answers or wild guesses to Dave Hendrickson.

    Thanks to Jim Connelly and Scott Weighart for their assistance.