Here we are at Thanksgiving and I know at least two coaches in the country who are looking for a little bit more for which to give thanks.
Boston College bench boss Jerry York and Maine counterpart Tim Whitehead are scratching their heads right now at exactly what happened to their Frozen Four clubs from a year ago. Both suffered off-season losses, but each were still thought of as formidable threats at the start of the season.
Both teams, for the first time in a very long time – if ever – are riding simultaneous five-game winless streaks. In the last eight games combined, BC and Maine have a combined 0-6-2 record, the two ties coming from BC against Merrimack and Massachusetts.
Offense for each team has been a struggle at times. BC is averaging 2.73 goals a game, more than a goal behind Hockey East’s top offense, New Hampshire. Maine, though, has potted a league worst 1.91 goals per game.
True, the season is your and there’s no real need to start smacking the panic button. A year ago, both clubs went through tough stretchs in the season yet turned things around come March and April to reach college hockey’s ultimate stage.
But still, seeing both clubs struggle while teams like Northeastern, Massachusetts and Providence all rank in the top four of the standings, is a bit strange.
More on the Eagles’ suspensions
I don’t want to make this week’s entry all about BC, but the news came out of the Eagles camp this week that Brett Motherwell, who along with Brian O’Hanley, was suspended after the opening game of the season, has left school to sign with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.
At the same time, head coach Jerry York told Boston Herald writer John Connolly that O’Hanley will not return to the Eagles this season but will remain in school to finish his classes.
This turn of events puts to rest any thought that these two players had a chance to return from their indefinite suspensions. But it certainly doesn’t answer questions as to what these two players did to deserve such a severe penalty.
Original rumors of missing curfew certainly seem ludicrous at this point as suspending a player for an entire season seems far too severe a penalty. You can also likely throw out any type of public record offenses (i.e. arrests), as those would have surfaced by this point.
Whatever the offense, it’s clear that York doesn’t want this going beyond the doors of the locker room. There will certainly be speculation, but it seems like a strong possibility that the truth in the matter will never surface publicly.
Home Sweet Home
Home ice is certainly supposed to have an advantage in hockey, but the current streak that Niagara has put together in the confines of Dwyer Arena is almost unfathomable.
The Purple Eagles are unbeaten in 22 consecutive games at home dating back to February 10, 2006. In addition to winning or tying all of their league games in that span, they also have knocked off the likes of Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Western Michigan and Bowling Green, to name a few.
From what I’ve always seen, fans can add to the home ice atmosphere. But a lot of the time, there’s pressure on college students to play in front of their friends and family. So that makes Niagara’s feat even more impressive.
College Hockey Showcase
College hockey fans in the midwest will once again be treated to their annual battle of the best in the CCHA and WCHA as Michigan and Michigan State will play host to Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend in the annual College Hockey Showcase.
While all four of the teams have to be considered quite strong, this year, for the first time in recent memory, it is Michigan and Michigan State who are near the top of the national polls heading in the weekend.
This is certainly a test for the overall power of the CCHA. Michigan for the second straight week ranks 2nd in the USCHO.com poll, while Michigan State dropped a spot to 4th after falling back-to-back nights to #1 Miami.
Wisconsin and Minnesota each have had their struggles and ranked 12th and 13th, respectively. The Badgers are at .500 with a 5-5-0 record while Minnesota stands a couple of games better at 7-5-0 but are coming off an upset loss at home at the hands of Alaska-Anchorage.
Depending upon the series’ outcomes, there could be a major shift or a deafening status quo come next Monday’s poll.
The holidays have once again crept up upon us, so let me take this opportunity to wish all of my readers as well as all the coaches, players and fans out there a Happy Thanksgiving!