Tips for Saint Nick

On-ice action was light this week. Mercyhurst swept Lindenwood, Minnesota-Duluth did the same to Minnesota State, and because that about covers it, I decided to branch out, meddle elsewhere, and author a letter to the world’s biggest gift giver outside of Oprah.

Dear Santa,

The D-I women’s coaches around the country could all use a little cheer by the halfway point of the season. You’re obviously swamped this time of year, so here are some gift ideas to help you with your shopping. I stole a page from professional league drafts and started with those that need the most help, as determined by the trusty Ratings Percentage Index, in case you’ve had to cut back like everyone else in this economy and prioritize your efforts. I tend to lean toward giving a lot of books, music and movies, because those gifts are easy to wrap without having to look for a box. You, on the other hand, have no shortage of helpers, making it more feasible to give gifts like basketballs, not that there ought to be many of those for these recipients.

Thomas O’Malley, Sacred Heart: I don’t know much about Sacred Heart, other than showing up first on this list isn’t a good sign. My wife tends to prefer Aleve®, but I’m more of an Advil® guy. Maybe like a Sam’s Club-size bottle?

Chris Donovan, Saint Michael’s: He’s been there for 11 years with a sub-.200 winning percentage and the team is winless this year. The Purple Knights are actually D-II, but I doubt anyone is putting together a shopping list for coaches of women’s D-II hockey teams, and they’re listed on RPI and hurting is hurting, so let’s try the Aleve® this time.

Vince O’Mara, Lindenwood: A year ago, he was coaching Lindenwood’s dominant club program. How about a recording of “Both Sides Now”? I’d say Joni Mitchell, but in Missouri, maybe Willie Nelson is a bigger hit.

Joakim Flygh, Yale: The first entry on our list with a win over a full-time D-I program this year. That’s the good news. History has shown that Yale students can finish first even if their talent isn’t readily apparent, so I’d recommend “Decision Points,” by George W. Bush.

Claudia Asano Barcomb, Union: “Gettysburg” — although they’ve improved, a coach of the Dutchwomen can always use more DVDs of Union victories.

Heather Linstad, Connecticut: UConn comes in as the lowest-ranked Husky, and that’s saying something, so being overshadowed on the Storrs’ campus by the basketball programs isn’t all bad. But in case a revival is imminent, try “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” by Simple Minds.

Jeff Giesen, St. Cloud State: For a Minnesota connection, give him “I Wanna Drive the Zamboni,” by Martin Zellar, because there has to be many a game when that seems like a better option.

John Burke, Rensselaer: Puckman fascinates me. At first, I thought Puckman may be the most politically correct of all mascots, because should mistreatment of pucks come under scrutiny, then the sport of hockey is in big trouble anyway. Then it dawned on me that Puckman carries a stick — for hitting other, smaller pucks. Maybe not as P.C. as I thought. Sorry for the digression; I’m still not sure what to do regarding the Engineers, and at 4-12-4, maybe Burke isn’t either. I’d suggest U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

Tim Bothwell, Vermont: The mutterings of the Catamount faithful have grown more frequent of late, and with a total of only five seniors and juniors combined on the roster, results aren’t likely to improve overnight. Can you get Bothwell one of those light thingies that Cate Blanchett gave to Frodo in “Lord of the Rings”?

Scott Wiley, Colgate: “Chelsea Dagger” by the Fratellis. Connection to Wiley and the Raiders? I doubt that there is one, but that doesn’t stop all of the ice arenas around the country that play the song, and anyway, it beats some corny toothpaste pun.

Paul Flanagan, Syracuse:  I’m guessing that Flanagan envisioned being at a different point by now when he left St. Lawrence. The Orange have a lot of youth on the roster, and better seasons are likely ahead, but get him “Airplanes” by B.o.B., for those days when he needs a wish.

Jeff Kampersal, Princeton: A Princeton-educated guy must be a reader, so how about the book, “Can We Save the Tiger?” Luckily, it’s not about golf. Maybe the plight of these four-legged tigers will lessen his team’s troubles in Kampersal’s mind.

Eric Means, Minnesota State: The WCHA is an arms race that MSU is losing, so let’s get Means some recruiting music, courtesy of Kings of Leon and “Use Somebody.”

Josh Sciba, Niagara: In his first season as the head man, and not yet five years removed from his own playing days, Sciba is not that much older than his players. He needs a camera so that he can take photos of himself to show his grandkids some day and explain, “See — I was young once. And then I became a head coach.”

Amy Borbeau, Brown: It’s been a while since one had to scan this far down the list to find Brown, so for a minute, I thought we’d lost the Bears, but no, just former coach, Digit Murphy. Get Borbeau a DVD of the 1989 film “The Bear”, featuring great animal performances and some of the poorest human acting I’ve ever seen. Just like the Brown program, where we’d all just as soon forget some of the recent drama and focus on the Bears.

Brian McCloskey, New Hampshire: I’d been planning Springsteen’s “Glory Days” for Murphy, but without her on the list, perhaps the song works best for McCloskey.

Bob Deraney, Providence: Most years, the Friars wind up in a hole by starting so slow. I recommend something to pick up the tempo at the start of the season — the Offspring, “Ixnay on the Hombre.”

Maria Lewis, Maine: In her second year, Lewis has the Black Bears on pace for their first winning season since 2005-06, but nothing seems to have as much late drama as a Maine game. Time for some Bon Jovi and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Chris Wells, St. Lawrence: When I spoke to Wells earlier this season, his team’s penalty kill was struggling, and it hasn’t improved much statistically. Seeing that the Saints have Cornell and the nation’s best power play coming up three times over the next two months, perhaps he could use a copy of “Hockey the NHL Way: Power Plays and Penalty Killing.” From what I see on Amazon, apparently authors never choose to write books the women’s college hockey way.

Kerstin Matthews, St. Anselm: Like St. Michaels, the Hawks are D-II. Matthews succeeded Dave Flint at St. Anselm four years ago, and after dipping a bit in seasons one and two, reached the 20-win plateau last campaign. When one plays in a city named Manchester, greatness is a definite possibility — Lady Gaga, “The Edge of Glory.”

Rick Seeley, Quinnipiac: Seeley has the Bobcats to roughly the same point that Clarkson was at when he made the move to Hamden nearly four years ago. Now he needs to prove he can put the finishing touches on his effort to build the program. Get him a finishing sander; it’s a little different that the other gifts, but guys always like getting power tools.

Brian Durocher, Boston University: After the program’s first two NCAA appearances and a run to the title game last year, the Terriers were hoping for more this season. More of the Boss — “One Step Up.”

Paul Colontino, Robert Morris: These are heady times for the Colonials, as a program that has never won more than 12 games in a season or lost less than 20 sits at 11-2-2. I’d suggest some sort of calendar or journal with an inspirational message for each day or week, and it wouldn’t hurt if those messages are especially meaningful on the dates when Mercyhurst is scheduled.

Nate Handrahan, Ohio State: Handrahan’s new and old teams have nearly identical RPI values, and the Buckeyes are in a familiar position: just on the wrong side of the tournament picture. He shaved a tenth of a goal allowed per game off of the average thus far, but more improvement in that regard is needed. For inspiration, “Best Defense,” by 16 Frames.

Mark Hudak, Dartmouth: Though the Big Green have made NCAA appearances since, their last realistic shot to claim a championship came five years ago. Now Dartmouth hangs in contention like a kitten stuck in a tree in one of those “Hang in There” posters. People either love or hate them, so get him a poster — and some darts, just in case.

Shannon and Matt Desrosiers, Clarkson: Couples present a new problem, because one either settles for a “lump” gift to both of them, or has to divide resources between two presents. How about a gift card for movie rentals and some microwave popcorn? That way, we don’t waste time trying to come up with a title of a movie for two people who are apt to eat the popcorn while watching game film.

Steve Sertich, Bemidji State: The Beavers are the only WCHA team never to have a top-four finish in the regular season; that’s unfortunate for a team with one of the better home-ice advantages come playoff time. So Sertich could use league points, but be careful where you acquire them. People are always trying to sell old GLWHA points and Hockey East shootout points on eBay.

Shannon Miller, Minnesota-Duluth: Books are always good. Here’s one titled “Black and White and Never Right: A Hockey Referee.” Scratch that, she might have written it. Let’s go with “No Harm No Foul Referees Are People, Too.”

Dave Flint, Northeastern: As the clock is winding down on Florence Schelling’s career at Northeastern, the logical gift might be a Swiss watch, but that’s likely out of budget. A Swiss Army knife would be good to remind Flint of her versatility, but giving an actual knife is frowned upon, so we could go with a Swiss Army knife tee shirt. Or there’s always chocolate.

Brian Idalski, North Dakota: “The Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames” might come in handy.

Mike Sisti, Mercyhurst: Sisti needs a league rival. He doesn’t know it; he probably thinks he already has one, but I don’t see anyone in the CHA capable of beating Mercyhurst twice in the same weekend. Just don’t expect him to thank you the weekend it happens. Keep this in mind when you’re getting the gifts for Lindenwood, Syracuse, Niagara, and Robert Morris. While you’re at it, you may want to get started early on Penn State.

Katie King Crowley, Boston College: It’s rare for an athlete to acquire the complete set of Olympic medals in a sport like hockey, where it requires four years per medal, but Crowley is one the few that has managed it. She likely has a fine trophy case for displaying those, but I’m sure she’ll need a display case for some more Frozen Four hardware before her current freshmen class is done.

Katey Stone, Harvard: Nobody has been on the wrong end of championship decisions more than Stone, so how about “The One That Got Away,” by namesake Katy Perry.

Peter Van Buskirk, Holy Cross: That the Crusaders show up this late on the list likely tells us more about the flaws of the RPI than it does of the performance of Van Buskirk’s charges this season, but given he’s more of my generation than a lot coaches, let’s celebrate with some old-school jazz, “The Crusaders’ Finest Hour.”

Doug Derraugh, Cornell: Derraugh, on the other hand, seems a little young to be into “Big Red” by Count Basie, but let’s stay with the Big Red theme and try “Secretariat,” because horse-racing movies are always inspirational.

Brad Frost, Minnesota: This guy just got a half a million dollar scoreboard; how does one compete with that? I stopped by my local library, and they were selling all sorts of older items at great prices. Titles like “Hey, B.C.,” “Where Eagles Dare,” “The Boston Massacre” — I’m sure he’d love any of them.

Mark Johnson, Wisconsin: Friends in Boston tell me they have something called a “Beanpot.” Being from the Midwest, I can’t promise Johnson would want one, but it is the one thing in the college hockey universe that he doesn’t already own.


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