Tag Archives: college hockey

Five things to ponder

Things to ponder on this rainy Monday:

1. The NHL’s newest playoff preview video. We’ve already been treated to “What if Bobby didn’t fly?” and now this:

If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then I don’t know why you’re reading this blog right now.

2. How’s your NCAA bracket looking? If you’re me, it’s looking drastic and unfortunate. I’d picked Denver (who was ousted in round one) and Michigan (defeated by Miami-Ohio last night) to go to the championship. Guess I’m done. The Michigan/Miami game was the story of the night, last night, going to 2OT before Alden Hirschfeld beat Shawn Hunwick to win the game. Hunwick, to his credit, stopped over 30 shots; the 5’7 junior walk-on is the reason his team was even in the NCAA tourney in the first place. Major props, and here’s hoping he gets the starter spot next season. Go little Hunwick go!

3. Tonight’s Bruins game is ridiculously huge. Tim Thomas vs. Ryan Miller. A chance to make the Leaf’s microscopic playoff chances officially nil. The potential to move into a tie for 6th place with the Flyers, with a game in hand on that team. And, possibly most ridiculous of all, there’s a magic number of goals allowed that could move us into the #1 spot for Jennings contention. Remember the Jennings trophy? Remember who won it last year?

Tuukka may not have a wife for Timmy to thank this year, but how epic would this be? As far as I can tell, a rookie has never won the Jennings. Keep sieve-ing it up, Marty Brodeur, the B’s want a trophy to take home. We may have the worst offense, but we make up for it with the BEST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.

4. Eric Gryba signed with the Senators today. Although he will probably play in Binghamton, this is incredibly good news for the holder of BU’s single-season penalty minutes record.

We'll miss you, Grybs.

It also means the dismantling of the 2008-2009 championship team is continuing on it’s merry way. Colin Wilson in Nashville, Matt Gilroy in New York, and Brandon Yip in Colorado have already seen significant ice time this year; Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Cohen, and Colby Cohen are Colorado-bound (or at least Lake Erie, Colorado’s affiliate, where Zach has already seen ice time since BU was ousted from the Hockey East semifinals). John McCarthy, Brian Strait, and Jason Lawrence are tearing it up in the minors, and Nick Bonino leapfrogged over the AHL straight to the pros, where he’s already logged a game for the Ducks since leaving BU this year.

Life moves on, though; names like Warsofsky and Saponari and Chiasson will replace the Cohen, Gilroy, and Wilson of late. Goalie Kieran Millan will remain for at least another year before shipping west to Colorado. And the new incoming class of freshmen will bring a wealth of new talent and names we’ve never even considered. It’s not the end of the world, but there’s no denying it’s sad to see a team like the 08-09 Terriers break apart.

5. Game 6 of Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or’s playoff series ended in a 5-1 Huskies win. Jordan Caron leads the QMJHL in scoring (awesome) and Max Sauve’s junior career is officially over. Will we see him in Providence, now that the baby Bruins’ playoff hopes are all but quashed? Only time will tell. In other P-Bruins news, in the first game since Ned Lukacevic was released from his PTO, new signee Devin Timberlake scored in his first game out of Brown University, and ex-BU product Kenny Roche scored as well, although the Peebs lost in OT. It’s almost certain now that Providence will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1998. How depressing.

Random off-day junk

How soon is too soon to start getting fired up for Sochi 2014?

It may be four years away, but nights like last night make a hockey fan wish it were coming sooner, especially for fans of team Finland. In 2014, Finland will be out at least one superstar in Teemu Selanne and probably Saku Koivu as well, but how about this – there are two young Finnish goaltenders right now who are absolutely pushing the upper limits of awesome in the NHL right now. One of them happens to be our very own Finnish Boy Wonder, Tuukka Rask, who posted a glorious shutout of the Thrashers last night, kicking them back down away from our 8th-place playoff spot. That shutout also meant he got to add a league-topping save percentage to his already league-topping GAA record!

nhl.com has given in to TUUKKA MANIA.

Far outpacing the rest of the league in goals allowed against, Tuukka is being touted as the most positionally sound goaltender Boston has seen in years, his style vastly different from Tim Thomas’ flaily floppy fish style. While Tim’s style is fairly effective, it’s also heart-attack-inducing at times. Tuukka’s style is much more calm; he never seems to exert more energy than he absolutely has to, and he is lightning-quick sliding from post-to-post. Although we have seen some rookie mistakes, he’s only giving himself room to grow.

Elsewhere in the league last night, Antti Niemi, Chicago’s version of the young Finnish prodigy, posted a shutout, and is right behind Tuukka (and beating American Hero Ryan Miller, by the way) in goals allowed against. Through 29 games played this season, SIX of Niemi’s games have been shutouts. Only five goalies have that many or more this season, and all of them have played close to or more than twice as many games as Niemi has.

RASK/NIEMI GOALIE TANDEM FOR SOCHI. Can I order my jerseys now, please?

FERENCE RE-UPS

Andrew Ference, glass groin extraordinare, has apparently just signed a contract with the Bruins for the next 3 years. The 31-year-old will make $2.25 million per year. Andy plays an interesting role on this team; he hasn’t played more than 60 games for each of the past two seasons, giving baby defensemen from Providence the opportunity to get their shot at the big club (see: Boychuk, McQuaid, Hunwick last year, etc). It’s not a great contract; personally, I would have preferred one or two years. Three is a bit crippling, unless somehow Ference comes out as a star next year, which is unlikely.

The Bruins now need to lock up Mark Stuart, Johnny Boychuk, and even Adam McQuaid, all RFAs at the end of this season. Then, and only then, should Bruins fans think about being satisfied with this signing.

Congrats on the new contract, Andy, we’re listening to this song all day in your honor! We know it’s your favorite…or…something.

YOUR DAILY PROSPECT UPDATE

In the ongoing dramatic saga that is the P-Bruins’ push for the last playoff spot, defenseman Jeff Penner and forward Trent Whitfield were recalled to the NHL club today. Can you imagine if the Bruins were like the Sharks or Oilers, and had to waste a day flying AHLers back and forth every time they needed a callup? Instead, the baby B’s can shuttle back and forth in about an hour. It’s very convenient.

The PBruins have games against Manchester and Portland this weekend – not easy games at all. Both teams are top seeds in the conference, and with as much as Whitfield has contributed offensively and Penner has been solid at the blueline, going into these games without the two of them is a bit nervewracking.

HOWEVER. There is hope on the horizon!

It’s become a well-spoken-about fact that Max Sauve, Jordan Caron, and Michael Hutchinson will probably head to Providence to contribute as soon as their playoff runs are over. Sauve is set to be the first one to head south; his Val d’Or Foreurs dropped a 1-0 decision to Caron’s Huskies last night, and the Huskies now only need two more wins to advance. Caron scored the only goal; his work in the postseason is getting exciting. He’ll definitely be a player to keep an eye on. Joe Colborne’s Denver Pioneers are headed to the NCAA postseason as well; although there have been rumors of him signing when his team’s run is done, it’s possible that the AHL regular season could be done by the time he’s eligible, and there has been no known communication between Chiarelli and Colborne at this time.

I went to find a picture of Big Joe playing at Denver, and found this instead. Joe, bleached hair is a fashion no-no. Don't bring that to Providence.

Terrier Watch: Kenny Roche

When this appeared in my twitter feed a little while ago, I maybe did a double-take and then a few fistpumps. Kenny Roche! 2006-2007 Boston University alternate captain! Contributor to the epic moment in my life that was BU taking the 2007 Beanpot! Oh, memories.

Roche, Sean Sullivan, and the-one-the-only John Curry with the Beanpot, 2/12/07

Roche was drafted in 2003 by the New York Rangers, but has not as of yet seen any NHL time. He logged three games with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford at the end of the 2006-2007 season, signing with the Lake Erie Monsters for 2007-2008. He split time between Erie and the Johnstown Chiefs that season, then spent all of 2008-2009 in Germany’s second-tier Bundesliga, with the Lausitzer Foxes. This season, Roche has spent the majority of his time with the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers, playing 14 games for the Wolf Pack and 3 games for the Providence Bruins; he’s been called up again by Providence tonight, for their game against the Isles affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. With injury striking Mikko Lehtonen and the big club calling up Brad Marchand, the P-Bruins are lacking bodies, so here’s another good chance for Roche to show his stuff.

Interesting coincidence, discovered via Hockey Database and On Being a Sports Girl (read this post): Kenny Roche was reunited with former BU teammates Kevin Schaeffer (Class of 07, sometimes P-Bruin) and Jason Lawrence (class of 09, given a tryout contract with the Bruins, but assigned to the ECHL after not producing much for the P-Bruins) on the Charlotte Checkers this year. Lawrence, however, was traded from Charlotte to the Gwinnett Gladiators (why are so many ECHL teams in southeast states? Gwinnett is in Georgia, and is the ECHL affiliate of Columbus and Atlanta) in November. His first game happened to be against – you guessed it – his former team, and not only did the teams combine for 47 penalty minutes, but Lawrence and Roche got into a fight halfway through the second period! Scandal!

Jason Lawrence (white) vs Kenny Roche (blue). Photo courtesy of flickr user amanda_hertel.

So now Roche has beaten Jason Lawrence in a fight AND usurped his coveted spot on the Bruins’ AHL team. Oh, J-Lo, you just can’t win. The P-Bruins are tied for 8th place in the conference, and need this win, so here’s hoping Roche can contribute to the team.

I’m not over it, but Tommy Cross is awesome (again)

Okay, yeah, the Beanpot was disappointing, not even going to lie about that. I realized halfway through the game that I’d completely forgotten one of the Bruins’ prospects played for BC – not only that, but he was someone I’d taken notes on/checked out this summer. Whoops…anyways, here’s 2007 draft pick Tommy Cross!

Tommy Cross! That Bruins uniform does wonders for you, sir. Much better than the BC one.

Defenseman Tommy Cross got his start in the Connecticut hockey system, playing at Simsbury High and the Westminster School. In addition to racking up the points for his high school teams, Cross participated in the 2005 Under-17 Five nations tournament in Switzerland (USA won gold), the 2006 Under-18 Four nations tournament in Sweden, and captained his Under-18 team to a Silver medal at a tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 2006. He played two games with United States’ National Under-18 team at the IIHF tournament in 2007 in Finland, on a roster than included future cross-town rivals Kevin Shattenkirk, Colby Cohen, Vinny Saponari, and Colin Wilson, along with future NHLer James Van Riemsdyk and 2010 USA juniors star Danny Kristo.

His solid defensive performance in high school and in IIHF play got him notice for the 2007 draft, and sure enough, he was taken 35th overall, with the Bruins 2nd round pick – they traded their 2nd and 3rd round picks to the Chicago Blackhawks to snag Cross. Former teammate Van Riemsdyk went 2nd overall; Zach Hamill was the Bruins’ 1st round pick. Oh, and that skinny little dude who picked a fight against the Falcons a few weeks ago, Jordan Knackstedt? 189th overall. The 2007 draft was relatively USA-heavy, compared to prior and later years; 30% of the draft class was USA-born and only 20% European-born, compared to 28% from USA and 32% from Europe in 2006, and 20% USA/21% Europe in 2008. Post-draft, Cross played one more year at Westminster, tallying 28 points (8 goals, 20 assists) in 25 games. He also played 9 games with the Junior Blue Jackets, logging 4 points there (4 assists) before starting at Boston College as a freshman in the 08-09 season. It must have been nice, walking through the halls of a championship winning school in Fall 2008.

Tommy Cross is a Boston boy; his college decision came down to BU or BC, and although he made the wrong decision to go with BC and Jerry York’s system, sticking with two teammates from his youth hockey days (Cam Atkinson and Nick Petrecki), it’s good to see a star player from New England sticking with the region. He played 2/3 of his freshman season at BC before missing the last third with a knee injury; still, as a freshman, he registered 8 assists in 19 games, all against Hockey East teams, including one three-assist game against Maine.

Cross was invited to participate in Bruins’ training camp in 2009; he did not skate until the 3rd day of camp, participating only in off-ice exercises due to continued rehab. He’s back out there for Boston College this year; known for his stay-at-home defensive style, Cross has logged four goals and four assists. He’s mobile for his 6’3, 210lb frame, but needs to work on his offensive game a little more; on the Hockey’s Future Bruins’ depth chart he’s ranked higher than most of the P-Bruins’ defensemen, so he should give that team a solid boost on the blue line, eventually. Once he’s through with Boston College he’ll be due to at least star on the P-Bruins, with an eventual callup to the NHL probable, as long as he continues developing.

Tommy Cross. Come play for the Bruins soon, plz.

So enjoy your Beanpot, sir; you’ve got great things in your future. Besides, BU is winning it next year, so don’t get too used to having it around.

Alaska Fairbanks: A Whole New Level of….something

Ah, the hockey intro video. We all know them and love them. They give us chills in the moments before a game starts, showing classic highlights and fantastically rendered graphics, set to rock music or something equally chilling.

They’re present in professional hockey as well as college hockey; when done right, they’re effective in getting a crowd to its feet, cheering and raucous. Much as it pains me to hold Boston College in high esteem, here’s a good example of a nicely done intro video:

It’s classy, it give you the right emotions (and it’s okay to post here because Boston University won all this stuff the following year, so ha.)

Here’s another one that’s a little bland, but still okay: Colorado College Tigers. Mostly just old highlights, set to some decently intense music:

Okay.

HOWEVER.

Then we have videos like this:

WHAT.

Okay, Fairbanks, you get points for use of the Alan Parsons Project, which most people (I believe) associate with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Aside from that, though, you’ve got….a flying bear who blows up planets with his hockey stick, set to “Danger Zone” from Top Gun. Um, really? AND IT GETS BETTER. They updated their video for this season:

What have I learned from this? Alaska is dark, cold, ships have to break ice to get through places, apparently polar bears can fly jet planes, Alaskans hate Ohio State and Notre Dame with a vengeance, and they have a secret vendetta to blow up the Earth.

Hmm….seems mostly accurate! Good job, guys, if you were going for most ridiculous hockey intro video in all of NCAA hockey…you win, for now.

From the Vault: Matt Hunwick, 2004

Wow, and i thought the college-era photos of Blake Wheeler were hilarious.

A few months ago, a friend of mine who attended the University of Michigan in 2004-2005 decided to clean under her bed. Oh, the horror. Aside from about a billion Red Wings newspaper clippings and an article about Sean Avery (yeah, I don’t know, either…) she unearthed this gem. Then-sophomore Matt Hunwick, about to start his second season on the top defensive line at U of M, in a clipping straight out of the Michigan daily.

Fantastic.

A nice little detail that I’m glad she included is the little Coach’s corner blurb. Matt’s +/- of 14 was the highest on his team as a freshman and the coach seems happy with him, with the exception of the fact that he only scored one goal. (To be fair, his defensive partner Andy Burns only notched one goal as well, and Hunwick out-assisted him 14-3.)

So did he live up to the Coach’s expectations?

Leading the D-men on the team his junior year with 11 goals, I’d say that’s a yes. He outscored freshman Jack Johnson (yes, THAT Jack Johnson) by one goal, and was only 1 behind center Andrew Cogliano.

His productivity dropped off slightly as he transitioned to the AHL after college, but is slowly on the upswing since transitioning to the big show – in 53 games last year he had 6 goals and 21 assists; through 27 this year he’s already notched 4 goals, despite being somewhat of a non-presence elsewhere – he’s a -2 on the season and has only logged 8 PIMs, 2 assists, and only 18 shots on goal through 27. Light a fire under it, Hunwick! Offensive production needs to come from all sides.

Stick salute to Jessi for the scan. Thanks, gurl, you know what I like.