Checking in with Ferris State
Assistant coach Derek Lalonde seemed happy for the opportunity to play both Boston College and Denver on back-to-back nights.
“We said before we left for the tourney that we were here to win, and we cam up a little short last night, losing in the shootout,” said Lalonde as the Bulldogs prepared for the host team, Denver, in the consolation game. “We are a program that has had success against the big-name teams in our conference in the past, and the chance to play the big-name programs from other conferences at holiday time is great for us.”
The game, as most coaches have felt, is typical of a holiday tourney where teams get back on ice after some time off.
“We felt each other out a bit early, but we had a great start, especially that early goal. Then they started to pick it up in the second, playing with urgency and we seemed tight. Down 3-2, we actually started to relax and play better. The last ten minutes and OT, we played each other dead even.”
The tie-but-loss had them awaiting the winner of Princeton-Denver, which turned out to be Princeton in an upset.
“Believe me, despite losing last night, we are thrilled to be playing Denver at their home rink. We are excited to play in an atmosphere such as this. We didn’t come here to sightsee, we came here to play hockey, and we’ll have a battle tonight.”
The Bulldogs are led by Mike Bomersback, who scored a highlight-film shorthanded goal Friday night.
“He’s been such an impact guy for us, and a huge recruit for the program,” said Lalonde. “He has worked so hard to round out his game. He’s is a threat every time he’s on the ice. He and Greg Rallo have been carrying us a bit with [freshman Dan] Riedel still out with mono.”
“With those three, we feel we have the top-end talent to compete, both here and in the second half.”
Checking in with Princeton
It must be like being back in Colorado for Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky.
The former Colorado College Tiger, in a long-awaited return to the Rocky Mountain state (though 90 miles north of his alma mater), made a big splash as his upstart Princeton Tigers beat the host Pioneers to earn a spot in the championship game against Boston College.
“That was pretty cool,” said Gadowsky. “I’m so happy for the kids; they have really worked this season, especially lately. For them to win a game like this, well, the grins on their faces said it all last night,”
Gadowsky, who is rebuilding the Tigers after a successful stint with the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, has seen light at the end of the tunnel for his team.
“In our last three games prior to the break, we have been playing well, and the best game we played was probably the one we lost,” said Gadowsky, who starred on the Tiger blueline before a career as a player and coach in the minor leagues. “This was quite a win for the program.”
Gadowsky got together with some old college roommates the night before the game, and even got a visit from his old trainer when he played at CC. The “sort of” homecoming has a chance for a storybook ending Saturday against the Eagles.
In Denver, it’s the goalie from New Jersey — Joe Pearce of BC — playing only his second game in the past two seasons, against the team from New Jersey for the Denver Cup.
“To play Denver and BC on back-to-back nights is awesome,” said the second-year coach. “It’s great to play teams from outside the conference.”
For the team from the ECACHL, the chance to see teams from the other “Big Four” conferences was also an opportunity to investigate the “difference-in-style” theory forwarded by some on the NCAA hockey circuit.
“As far as styles are concerned, I didn’t see a much different style from these teams in the other conferences. College hockey is college hockey. The style you play is the one that best fits your team.”
For Princeton, that’s high tempo, high octane, and high energy. Against Boston College, that should produce a wild affair.
Checking in with Boston College
Boston College’s Tim Filangieri got off the plane in Denver with his Eagle teammates and looked at the Rockies. The vast mountain range that borders the Mile High City is breathtaking to see.
“It’s all right — it looked nice,” said Filangieri as he finished his pregame meal in anticipation of Saturday’s title clash with Princeton in the Denver Cup final.
New Yorkers are impressed with one thing: winning. And that is what BC did Friday (though the result goes into the record books as a tie) after being down 2-0 to Ferris State after 20 minutes.
“We were a little surprised to be down 2-0, but we stayed with it and got back into it,” said the freshman defenseman, who along with Peter Harrold comprise the number-one unit on the team. “Winning in a shootout was exciting.”
For Filangieri, it’s his first trip to Denver, and second to a WCHA rink. He saw The Ralph last season at the USHL All-Star Game.
“The rink is neat; it reminds me of our rink at BC,” said Filangieri, referring to Conte Forum. “Its big, loud, well-lit, and a pretty nice place to play.”
The big story of the night was the play of Joe Pearce. The goaltender made his return to the team after taking last season off, watching the two-headed monster of senior star Matti Kaltiainen and up-and-coming Cory Schneider. With Kaltiainen graduated, and Schneider making a return trip to the World Junior Championship with Team USA, Pearce stole the spotlight in Denver.
“That was great to see for him,” said Filangieri. “His smile was ear-to-ear last night. For him to play that well in a game, considering he hasn’t played in two seasons, is pretty amazing.”
Sheraton/TD Banknorth Classic
Checking in with Bemidji State
Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore talked about Friday night’s game with Clarkson, as one might describe the ultimate holiday gift they didn’t want.
“It was a bad tie,” said Serratore. “We gave up a two-goal lead late, and then lost a shootout to compound it. The guys are frustrated, and so am I.”
This weekend, the Beavers are in one of the ultimate college towns, Burlington, Vermont. The school, the town, and the arena all reek of college atmosphere in a good way.
“This rink is awesome; I love these old barns,” said Serratore. “Yet with the way it is set up, it kind of brings the past to the present. What a great place to play in. It reminds me of our place in terms of the atmosphere and the feeling.”
A thought on Army
Watching Army play Connecticut last Thursday was a much better game than the 3-0 score would indicate.
For starters, Army practically skated UConn out of the Huskies’ own building. They outshot, outskated, and outplayed the Huskies for a large part of the game. Without their leading scorer and top gun, Seth Beamer, who is on personal leave, the Black Knights of the Hudson relied heavily on Bryce Hollweg, Luke Flicek, and Chase Podsiad for offense.
While not hitting the scoresheet, they did produce some quality chances with speed, hard work, and pretty good hockey IQ.
Army outshot UConn 35-18, including 17-4 in the first period. The best way to sum up Army is this: they work hard, they work smart, and they play the game the way it should be played. While not having the finishers, the Black Knights do not do what most teams in their situation would, and that is just throw pucks to the net and see what happens.
They create off the rush, they go to the net, they defend well, they get great goaltending from Brad Roberts, and they are well-coached. It is refreshing to see a team that knows it is south of its opponents in terms of skill level take the game to their opponents in the fashion that they do.
Its hard, smart hockey, played without fear of counterattack or lack of skill. While Army will always have trouble scoring, it won’t have trouble entertaining fans, which partly explains why they get great and enthusiastic crowds at home.
A big thumbs-up to Brian Riley and his crew at West Point.
Dodge Holiday Classic
Checking in with Massachusetts-Lowell
It is raining out here in the east, which makes for lots of traffic both in the air and on the roads.
Those two factors combined to delay the arrival of UMass-Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald back at home on New Year’s Eve. However, that delay on the roads leading out of Logan Airport in Boston allowed MacDonald to revisit the game he had just played against the host Minnesota Golden Gophers. The game, which saw a 3-0 Lowell lead evaporate into a 5-4 defeat, still was on the mind of the fiery coach.
“The defining moment probably came when we had just gone up 3-0, and they score 18 seconds later to make it 3-1,” said MacDonald as the team bus slogged its way through traffic. “Then, we hit a pipe up 3-2, and they turn it around and score to make it 3-3. That’s a 4-2 lead that is now a 3-3 tie. They are at home, gaining momentum, gaining confidence, and when they do that, watch out.”
The Gophers have had an up-and-down season, and with some injuries and defections to the World Junior Championship, one might have thought they were ripe to get picked off.
However, Lowell has some injuries of its own and no matter how shorthanded Minnesota is, you can’t be also if you want to win. Lowell scratched bona fide scorer Andy Martin at 1 p.m. the afternoon of the championship game because of an injury that had bothered him earlier in the season.
“The night before I watched them pound Union 8-0, and I’m watching this team on this big rink and thinking to myself that I don’t want to perform badly against these guys,” said MacDonald of the impending matchup against Minnesota. “The we had a real good start. We wanted to get after their ‘D,’ forecheck and pound them to get them a little less interested in handling the puck. It was working, but in that big rink, that is hard to do for 60 minutes.”
MacDonald was happy with his kids’ performance, but felt that they might have been one big save away from an upset. That said, he did give credit where credit was due.
“They have a very good team, and have five guys on one power-play unit that can all one-time it off the pass,” said MacDonald, whose team returns to action against Maine next weekend. “That is scary when you have that type of talent.”
An interesting travel note on the weekend. Lowell and Harvard wound up on the same flight from Minneapolis to Boston, giving MacDonald and Harvard coach Ted Donato a chance to chat. MacDonald reported that Donato in a good mood after splitting at The Ralph. MacDonald was also pretty chipper after the trip.
“I love that rink,” he said of Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. “I love going out west, and that has to be one of my favorite arenas to play in.”
His next road stop is Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine, which doesn’t elicit such warmth.
“That place has not been good to us in terms of success,” he said. “A big weekend there could really get us back on track.”