Monday, December 29, 2008

2008-2009 Video Highlights

Oct. 5- BU 4 New Brunswick 1 (exhibition)
Oct. 10- BU 5 North Dakota 1 Icebreaker
Oct. 11- BU 2 Michigan State 1 Icebreaker
Oct. 17- BU 5 Merrimack 2
Oct. 25- BU 7 Michigan 2
Nov. 16-BU 3 Northeastern 0
Nov. 21-Vermont 4 BU 3
Nov. 22-Vermont 4 BU 3
Nov. 25-BU 3 Holy Cross 2
Nov. 29-BU 4 St. Lawrence 1
Dec. 5- BU 1 BC 1 OT
Dec. 6- BU 3 BC 1
Dec. 12- BU 3 Lowell 2
Jan. 3- BU 4 Denver 1 Denver Cup
Jan. 10- BU 4 Maine 1
Jan. 13- Providence 4 BU 2
Jan. 17- BU 5 BC 2
NESN Feature: Calm Kieran
Jan. 23- BU 5 UNH 0
Jan. 24- BU 3 UNH 1
Feb. 2- BU 4 Harvard 3 Beanpot first round
Feb. 6- BU 4 Lowell 3
Feb. 9- BU 5 Northeastern 2 Beanpot Championship
Feb. 13- BU 7 Maine 2
Feb. 14- BU 2 Maine 2 OT
Feb. 20-BU 2 Northeastern 2 OT
Feb. 27- BU 6 UMass-Amherst 3
Feb. 27- SportsCenter Top Ten #2 Jason Lawrence
Feb. 28- BU 7 UMass-Amerherst 2
Mar. 8- BU 3 Providence 0
Mar. 13- BU 2 Maine 1 (HE QF)
Mar. 14- Maine 6 BU 3 (HE QF)
Mar. 15- BU 6 Maine 2 (HE QF)
Mar. 20- BU 3-BC 2 (HE semifinal)
Mar. 20- BU 3 BC 2 (HE seminfinal--3 goals in 44 seconds)
Mar. 21- BU 1 Lowell 0 -Pt. 1 (HE Championship)
Mar. 21- BU 1 Lowell 0 -Pt. 2 (HE Championship)
Mar. 28- BU 8 Ohio State 3 (NCAA Regional)
Mar. 29- BU 2 New Hampshire 1 (NCAA Regional final)
Apr. 9 - BU 5 Vermont 4 (NCAA Semifinal-HD click HD button)
Apr. 11- BU 4 Miami 3 OT (NCAA Championship-HD click HD button )
Championship game: Periods 1 & 2
Championship game: Period 3 & overtime
Bernie Corbett's Call of Goals in Championship Game
ESPN highlights of NCAA Championship Game

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 11 Hockey East Media Teleconference


General Comments on the season so far:
“I think we’ve played well up to this point, obviously. We’re 6-1 and we’ve beat some pretty good teams. Up until our last game, I thought we’ve were playing very, very thorough. I don’t think we played very thorough against UMass Lowell and I don’t think that they did either – it wasn’t a very well-played game. I thought we took a little dip and we were fortunate to win that game. Whoever won that game didn’t deserve it, I think, the way the game played out. As it turned out, we got the ‘W’. I hope we can get that mistake-riden type of game out of our system and get back to thorough hockey again.”

On the strength of Hockey East this year from top to bottom:
“It doesn’t matter if you’re rated down in the pack a little bit in this league because anybody can beat anybody. I think what separates this league – for a long, long time –from every other league is the fact is that it’s so strong from top to bottom. What makes it different this year is that everybody is strong compared to the other leagues. We’re in a situation where people ask me “do you like your team?” and I tell them that I like our team a lot, but the problem is I like every other team in our league, too.

“I saw UMass play in our tournament (Ice Breaker) at the beginning of the year with North Dakota and Michigan State. I thought they played terrifically well in both games and should have won both. They split, but they played real well. I’ve seen them on tape and they’re playing very, very well, obviously, and that
was a team that was picked a little bit farther down. You’ve got Maine that just
beat BC. They have so many new players that we didn’t know where they going
to be, but obviously they’ve bounced back pretty quickly. We’ve played
Merrimack and beat them in a real close game – much closer than the score
indicated – and obviously they had a pretty good night against UMass.

“Teams that were rated to be down in the lower echelon are as good as
anybody in this league, and the teams in the upper echelon of our league are
as good as anybody in nation. I would have to say that from a historical point
this is the best league that we’ve ever had from top to bottom –vis a vis
ourselves and vis a vis the rest of the nation, as well.”

On BU’s upcoming weekend games with UMass and Northeastern:
“First of all, I think that both of these clubs will absolutely be in the running
for home ice berths with us and some other clubs down the stretch. Any
league game is important, but when you’re playing teams that you’re hoping
you can stay ahead of or keep close to for the home-ice fight, you want to play
well. I don’t think there’s any question that these two teams are very, very
capable of not just earning home ice, but winning the league, as far as I can
see. They will be real battles – no question.

“You add to the fact that UMass is coming off a loss and us being pushed to
the No. 1 spot in the polls, it’s almost like a trap game for us. You know,
thinking that we’re pretty good and UMass can’t be that good because they
just lost to Merrimack, but we already know how good Merrimack is, and
we played them at our place, not at their place. And we already saw how
good UMass was when they played in the tournament here, so we shouldn’t
be falling into that trap.

“Northeastern has played us tough for a long period of time and they continued
to play us tough last year. I thought that they were the most improved team
in the league last year and I think they will be the most improved team
standing-wise this year. I thought they would wind up higher than they did
last year, to tell you the truth, with they way they were going early on. Now,
they’re going really well again and I think they will sustain that throughout
the season.

“We’ll have our hands full with two teams that we’ll be battling all the way
down to the wire for hopefully a home-ice berth in the playoffs.”

On the Terriers’ strong early-season schedule:
“All of a sudden we’re opening up with North Dakota and Michigan State,
which was a little insane on my part because we haven’t gotten off to quick
starts the last couple of years, but I think the challenge of playing those guys
got the best out of us. Then we had to play Merrimack, UNH and Michigan
and then go on the road to Vermont and Lowell. We’ve had a tough road to
hoe as far as the quality of the teams we’ve been playing, and low and behold
it’s a much stronger early schedule than we had last year, but we’re playing
much better than we were last year. We didn’t win our sixth game last year
until January. We’ve got a completely different type of start than we had last
year and I think that has a lot of it has to do with the quality of the teams
we’ve been playing. We knew we had to be ready and we were much more
prepared to open up the season this year.”

On being ranked first in the country:
“I don’t think it means anything, to tell you the truth. People knew that we
had a pretty good team this year. We were voted fairly highly in the preseason
polls in our league and in the nation.

“The last time we were rated No. 1 was in 2006 – the very last poll of the year
after the Hockey East tournament. Then we proceeded to lose two games later
to Boston College in the national tournament. The polls did not project and
somebody else became the No. 1 team.

“The polls are something for the fans to get involved in. When the NCAA comes
out with their polls (PairWise) starting in January, that means a little more
something because that’s the selection poll based on the RPI and the correct
criteria. Even then, that changes so drastically from game-to-game, that the
only poll then that counts is the last poll that selects the NCAA tournament
field. After that, the NCAA champion will be the No. 1 team in the nation. That’s what everybody fights for and everybody’s trying to get to. One team
wins their last game and everybody else loses their last game. This doesn’t
mean much to us except that we’ll have a little bit bigger target on our backs.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Perfection: the 1968-69 freshman hockey team


The letter was dated February 21, 1968. I had been accepted to Boston University to begin studies in September of that year. I couldn't wait to share my good fortune with members of the freshman hockey team and their coach, Bob Crocker. While arrival was seven months away, I made certain that he knew of my interest in being a team manager.

Some time in August, I journeyed to the athletic department to meet with Coach and get the team roster for the upcoming year. Unlike today with the Internet where everyone knows the full lives and exploits of the incoming recruits long before they arrive, I knew of only three of the players: Don "Toot" Cahoon, the legendary Marblehead High School All-Scholastic, Paul Giandomenico from Walpole, and a goalie, Tim Regan from Providence Rhode Island whom I had met at the season ending hockey banquet at Valle's Steak House, not far from my home. Armed with a roster and some background, I couldn't wait for the orientation process to begin.

In early September, I went to the West Campus dorms to hang out. I ran in to Mickey Gray, a senior hockey player, and we exchanged pleasantries. Shortly thereafter, a tall fellow came in wearing a Chatham Maroons hockey blazer. I introduced myself to Bob Gryp, barely giving him time to get his bearings. Then, we were joined by Guy Burrowes. There was a dry spell and so I invited them back to my home for hamburgers and we spent some time there before returning. During the next two days, players kept arriving. Coach Crocker had a team meeting where received red windbreakers with what purported to be a skating Terrier. It looked more like some sort of wildcat, but, nonetheless, it identified all of us as part of the program. During the orientation period, it was not unusual to see a wave of red coming and going up and down the campus. In addition we had street hockey games in the area between the dorm and the athletic offices, but those ended after some flower beds were trampled. Still, you could see this group was going to be special.

Practice began October 15th with Coach Crocker and Assistant Coach Andy Fila tasked with teaching everyone the BU system. The freshman program allowed you to adjust to school, learn the system and play an abbreviated schedule. In my opinion, that transition was much easier than today when players must immediately adjust academically and to Division 1 hockey. Varsity Coach Jack Kelley would watch our practices following the 4:30-6:00 varsity practices. He was familiar with all of the recruited players but certainly was interested in seeing if there were any diamonds in the rough among the "walk-ons."

An interesting thing developed initially with the first line of John Danby, Cahoon, and Burrowes. Most Mass high school players were used to shouldering the entire burden and Toot was no exception. It was not unusual to see him go the length of the ice in an effort to score. Danby and Burrowes, from Canadian junior programs, had not experienced this sort of thing, and chose to pass the puck between themselves. Coach quickly got the three together and explained the realities of BU Hockey. All here were exceptional players and wouldn't be here if they didn't have the talent. That said, this line would go on to be very productive. We couldn't wait for real games—an 18 game schedule—to start.

A number of the players who couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving celebrated with my family, leading to a relationship with my parents and my aunts and uncles that lasted until they passed. This “family-sharing” tradition has been carried on by other players and managers, contributing to the fabric of the program that makes BU Hockey special to those who are a part of it.

We opened the season hosting Brown at Boston Arena. Freshman games began at 6:30 P.M. and the crowds tended to be friends and relatives until the third period when most of the fans would be in their seats to see the varsity. Toot and Guy each had two goals and Pete Thornton and Gryp had the others as BU rolled to a 6-1 win. We traveled to New Hampshire and won 6-3, with Danby, Rick Comfort and Burrowes getting 2 goals each. Comfort had a stick with the most outrageous curve I have ever seen and he could shoot. In practice he injured both goalies, Dan Brady and Tim Regan, with slapshots. We headed to the holiday break after beating Harvard, 5-2, to reach 3-0.

During the break, we beat Yale, then headed up Commonwealth Avenue to take on the arch-rival Boston College. We rolled over the Eagles 5-2 and then reeled off four straight shutouts: 5-0 over both New Hampshire and Providence, 10-0 over RPI and 8-0 over Dartmouth. Brady and Regan were impregnable in goal and everyone had a hand in the scoring: Danby, Cahoon, Burrowes, Gryp, Comfort, Giandomenico, Tim McAdam, Charlie Dane, Californian John Donovan, Pete Thornton and Joe Meehan; even the goaltenders got into the act, registering assists. The defense was rock solid with Rick Comfort, Ted Bryand, Bob Murray and Bill Fenwick behind the blue line. Fans began to come early as the unbeaten streak extended.

A 16-1 rout of New Prep was followed by a 9-0 shutout of Salem State to begin February. Game 12 saw the team take on the Harvard JV. Danby (2), Thornton, Comfort, Burrowes, and Cahoon had the goals as we escaped 6-4. Regan came up with some big stops in net. On the day of our trip to Providence The Boston Globe ran an article on the team headlined, "BU Freshman Skaters Seek Perfect Dream." The Terriers dodged a huge bullet that day edging the Friars in the Rhode Island Auditorium, 5-4, despite the hat trick by the Friars Jerry Lessechyn, Gryp’s teammate in Chatham. Brady turned away 25 shots. Goal scorers were Giandomenico (2), Danby, Comfort, and Cahoon. Thornton led the assault in a 6-1 win over Northeastern, scoring 2 goals. McAdam, Burrowes, Comfort, and Gryp had the others. Comfort's goal came on a slapshot from the BU blueline that broke the stick of NU goalie John Burke and bounced over him into the net! A rematch with Salem State produced a 13-1 drubbing. In this game, defensive- oriented defender Bob Murray showed his offensive prowess launching a rocket past Salem goalie Voltero to get on the score sheet. A blizzard forced cancellation of the rematch against New Prep.

Two games remained to be played, both at home: BC and Merrimack. The Eagles led after one period and it was tied after two. However BU won going away 6-2. behind Cahoon’s hattrick, a pair by Danby and one by Thornton. Brady stood tall in the net.

The team concluded the first undefeated, untied season in both BU hockey and school history, thumping Merrimack 10-0 in the finale. Meehan (2), Fenwick (2), Cahoon, Danby, Burrowes, Thornton, Giandomenico, and McAdam were the goal scorers and Regan had the shut out.

Coach Crocker was asked about the potential of this team for varsity play. He responded that while the competition would certainly be stiffer, "if desire means anything, they could go a long way." He would be proven correct as much of this team would become the core of BU’s back-to-back NCAA title winners in 1971 and 1972.

Statistically, each and every player contributed. Burrowes led the team in goals with 20, while Cahoon and Danby each had 19. Comfort added 15 from his defensive position. The lone position player not to tally a goal was co-captain Bryand but he and Murray were solid in the defensive end, allowed Comfort’s forays into the offensive zone. The team outscored its opposition125-23 and each goaltender authored three shutouts. Rich Molloy, the third goaltender,was an integral part of the squad as well. Giandomenico, Meehan, Thornton, Gryp, McAdam, and Dane were solid forwards who played good two way hockey and provided scoring power as well. The four-man defensive corps--Comfort, Bryand, Fenwick and Murray—were consistent and solid in front of Regan and Brady.

Coach Crocker taught the players the BU system and Coach Andy Fila helped the goalies to refine the raw talent that they brought to Commonwealth Avenue. His work with them through their BU careers would pay off as both would earn MVP honors in the NCAA Tournament, Brady in 1971 and Regan 1972.

It's hard to believe that 40 years have passed since this team arrived on Commonwealth Avenue. Those who moved up to the varsity would follow the unbeaten season with three Beanpot titles, BU’s first ECAC championship and the only back-to-back NCAA titles posted by an Eastern school. Danby and Brady would earn All America Honors. Both, along with Regan, are enshrined in the BU Athletics Hall of Fame. Many would go on to play pro hockey with reasonable levels of success. All have moved on to careers in business, professions and hockey as well. There are families, children and in some cases grandchildren. Sadly, we lost Guy Burrowes to a tragic accident in 1980. He will never be forgotten.

As for me 1968-1969 was the realization of a dream to become a hockey manager at BU. Little did I know that it would turn out to be the ride of a lifetime. My BU teammates remain some of my closest friends today despite geographic distance and the passage of time. BU opens its Hockey East season this Friday night at home against Merrimack.

Rummaging through the attic, I located the red windbreaker with the skating Terrier (that looks like a wildcat) which gave that team its identification 40 winters ago. To honor that team, I plan to wear it to the opener.