Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Q&A With Mike Geragosian

Conventional hockey wisdom says you build a team from the goal out. And, as with other positions, raw talent needs to be developed by the coaching staff. For goalies, the tasks include helping them to perfect their technique and enhancing their ability to compete and win under pressure situations.

For sixteen seasons Terrier netminders—including Rick DiPietro, Sean Fields, John Curry, Kieran Millan and Matt O’Connor—have been instructed, supported, cajoled and challenged by BU assistant coach Mike Gerogosian to build on their skills,  and develop the critical mental aspect of goaltending.

An All-New England goalie for Division 2 University of Lowell in the early 1970s, Geragosian has been mentoring goalie for more than 30 years. Before joining Jack Parker’s staff in 1999-2000 (DiPietro’s freshman and only Terrier season), Mike had coaching stints at his alma mater, Princeton and Merrimack. He’s also USA Hockey’s director of development for goaltenders for in Massachusetts and operates Mike Geragosian's All American Goalie Camps.   

Geragosian, who instructs more than 500 goaltenders annually, talked with THFB about his approach to mentoring goaltenders:

Q—Matt O’Connor attended three NHL development camps last summer and his excellent first half has drawn the further attention from NHL teams. What improvements has he made to his game that have contributed to his strong performance?

A— Matt has worked hard on his leg strength on ice with me and off ice with our strength trainer Anthony Morando.  This has led to better skating, puck control and arrival time to positioning. Matt also has improved on his readiness and his set position for all situations including the less challenging ones— where sloppy play can lead to tired defense and poor rebound control and eventually goals against.

Q—In your three decades of coaching goalies, what have been the biggest changes in approach, style and athleticism to the position?
A— The approach is quite different.  The equipment has helped the goalie evolve to being more square to puck, leaving fewer holes under and through the body. The goalies are certainly much bigger in most cases but the smaller ones can also play big.
Also, the coaching of goaltenders has evolved into a performance-enhancement situation aimed at accelerating goalies' competencies. I have taken the hybrid butterfly style and tweaked it into various movement variations that fit the situation.

Q—Which elements of being in good shape do most freshman goalies need to address:  flexibility, strength, skating (side to side), stance, etc.?
A— Most young goalies need to learn to get body positioning that enables reactive saves in the exact area of the target field where the puck is arriving. This takes experience and training on and off ice with coaches who can recognize their skill deficiencies. Leg strength, along with growth development, also helps reaction times and stream skating to exact positional play.

Q—You’ve mentored several outstanding goalies during your tenure at BU? What were the strengths that enabled them to excel?  
A— The common characteristic was they were all great athletes and had good game reads and reactive balance. Although not exactly physically alike, the mental game for all of them was at an extremely high level.

Q—Why do goalies take longer to develop and generally need more time to reach the NHL?
A— It’s usually a long journey for most goaltenders, due to the need for experience in this position. The ups and downs can be mentally difficult. Neurologists have proven that the frontal part of the brain, which helps decision-making, doesn't fully develop until age twenty-six! In contrast, many young goalies have rapid physical development.  So, we have a Mercedes with a Go-cart engine until full brain development can occur.

Q—What qualities do you look for when evaluating a goalie prospect?
A— The four areas of goaltending I look at are: physical, tactical, technical and mental.
The six C's also are important in my evaluation of a goaltender: consistent, compact, capable, concentration, challenging and, most of all competitive. Also, working with the head coaches and recruiting coaches for input and future development has been a recipe for success.

Mike was interviewed by Bernie Corbett earlier this season for Episode 9 of  Inside BU Hockey and discussed the three Terrier netminders. His remarks begin at the 24:10 mark.

Friday, December 26, 2014

We’ve Got The Jack

Celebrating BU’s resurgence led by its freshman phenom, blog contributor defkit tags his USCHO message board posts with “BU Hockey: We’ve Got the Jack.” True, Jack Eichel has been the catalyst for BU’s first-semester success, but, in fact, for more than 65 years, BU Hockey has had “the Jack.” The names can be found all over the BU record books and in the BU Athletics Hall of Fame: Jack Parker, Jack Garrity, Jack Ferriera, Jack O’Callahan and Jacques Joubert, among others.

Last month, another pivotal “BU Jack” received a long-overdue honor when former standout Terriers skater and ten-year head coach Jack Kelley was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame.  Kelley had previously been named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (1993), the BU Athletics Hall of Fame (1973) and the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame (video).
● New England Hockey Journal report

“The Mentor” recently was interviewed by BU play-by-play radio announcer Bernie Corbett for Inside BU Hockey and reflected on the induction as well as the current BU squad, which he saw in action against Maine last month. Audio begins at the 34:00 minute mark  

THFB augmented the interview with some additional questions:

Q—In your 10 season as BU’s head coach, besides the two NCAA titles games (1971 & 1972), is there another game that is most memorable to you?
A—In my second year, we won two games that I felt made a statement that we were on the verge of being competitive with the rest of the top teams. The first game was a 1-0 victory over Boston College at McHugh Forum. Bruce Fennie scored the lone goal, and Jack Ferriera stopped everything BC shot at him. The second game that year was a double overtime victory vs. Harvard in the Beanpot. Lyman Carter, a transfer that year, scored the winning goal. To me, those were two important wins that indicated we were headed in the right direction. The start of the third year, I believe we won our first ten games of the year and we ended up winning twenty-five games.

Q—In that same decade, who are a few players that would make your All-Opponent team?
A—Those players most memorable to me are Ken Dryden of Cornell, Joe Cavanaugh of Harvard, John Cunniff of Boston College, and Tim Sheehy of Boston College.

Q— And a personal highlight from your playing days?
A—One of the more satisfying wins from my playing days was beating Boston College 8-1; believe it or not, I scored 4 goals in that game! Which goes to show, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally!

When the BU hockey program resumed under Coach Harry Cleverly after World War II, it quickly became one of the best in the East. In 1949-50, three Jacks joined the BU varsity, helping to power the Terriers to their first NCAA tournament: Jack Garrity, who set the all-time record for goals in the season with 51, Jack Martin, who would score 77 points in three BU seasons and Jack Kelley, who would score 22 goals and add 10 assists in ’49-’50,

A standout at Belmont High School, Kelley had been named Boston’s top schoolboy performer in 1945 and went on to play AAU hockey with Team USA. He began his BU career as a wing on the 1949-50 NCAA finalist team, and scored a pair of goals in his first varsity game, a 10-2 win over Tufts. He later switched to defense, helping BU to a second NCAA appearance in 1950-51. Kelley would become an All-East first team defenseman and BU’s team MVP in 1951-52.  At the time of his graduation, he was the school's all-time leading scorer among defensemen and finished with 52 goals and 43 assists in three seasons.

Following a stint as coach at Weston High School, Kelley was named head coach at Colby College where his White Mules teams went 89-15-5 over seven seasons, with Kelley earning NCAA Coach of the Year honors in 1961-62. 

He took over a slumping BU program in 1962 and in his third season, the team won 14 of its final 16 games to finish 25-6. The Terriers were back and during ten seasons under Kelley, they would win 206 games against 80 losses and 8 ties for a remarkable .714 winning percentage. The Kelley decade brought BU six Beanpot championships, its first ECAC title and back-to-back NCAA championships in 1971 and 1972, the only time the feat was achieved by an Eastern school. His players would earn first-team All American recognition 14 times including half of the 1971-72 Eastern All-America team.

Kelley moved on to the fledgling WHA in 1972-73 as coach and general manager, leading the New England Whalers to the first league title—the AVCO Cup. Later, he ran the Detroit Red Wings AHL franchise in Glens Falls, N.Y., and served as president of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In 2008, BU and his former players and managers honored Kelley with a bust that Terrier fans see on the concourse at Agganis Arena

Today, Kelley splits his time between Maine and Florida, and, along with his daughter, Nancy Saucier, he races Standardbred horses in two- and three-year old stake races. His son Mark is Senior Director of Amateur Scouting for the Chicago Blackhawks; and son David, who captained the Princeton hockey team, is the prolific writer and producer of Hollywood films and television shows.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NTDP Alums Who Have Played for BU

USA Hockey National Team Development Program  alums 
who have played for Boston University

Pat Aufiero
Brett Bennett
Adam Clendening
Colby Cohen
Rick DiPietro
Jack Eichel
Brandon Fortunato
Matt Grzelcyk
Matt Lane
Jason Lawrence
Johnanthan MacLeod
Justin Maiser
Adam McConnell
Freddy Meyer
Bryan Miller
Matt Nieto
Nikolas Olsson
Luke Popko
Alexx Privitera
John Sabo
Vinny Saponari
Kevin Shattenkirk
Brian Strait
David Warsofsky
Ryan Whitney
Colin Wilson