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A week full of the marquee, memorable, mentionable

Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 9:00 AM / NCAA Update

By Bob Snow - Correspondent

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A week full of the marquee, memorable, mentionable
In one of the more memorable weeks in the history of NCAA hockey, there were a pair of dramatic outdoor games, a remarkable upset and a coaching legend moved closer to making history.
It was quite the weekend to begin college hockey's "second season" and the road to the 65th Frozen Four, to be held April 5 and 7 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, home of the NHL's Lightning.

The marquee matchup included a doubleheader at the site of the 2010 Winter Classic in Boston; the memorable was a mega-upset game in Denver (see sidebar box); and the mentionables include the start of the Hobey Baker balloting, a local-kid-done-good, and Boston College coach Jerry York on the countdown toward becoming the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history.

The Sun Life Frozen Fenway, at Fenway Park, pitted Massachusetts against Vermont on Saturday afternoon, and New Hampshire against Maine that night in a Beanpot-type affair.

Memorable game for Alabama-Huntsville

In what will go down as one of the most memorable regular-season games of the 2011-12 season, Alabama-Huntsville's Mac Roy scored 2 goals, including the game-winner in the third period, and goaltender Clarke Saunders made 41 saves as Alabama-Huntsville shocked top-10 Denver 3-2 Friday at Magness Arena in Denver.

The Chargers, relegated to an independent schedule and riding the bureaucratic roller coaster of possible dissolution after this season until a recent reversal gives hope for 2012-13 and beyond, won for the second time in a season of multiple challenges.

"Any success we have is such a team effort," coach Chris Luongo told "It was very gratifying in the locker room. The guys really enjoyed this."

For Huntsville, "enjoyment" has a different definition from most of the other 57 NCAA programs.
"As we go through all we've gone through this year," Luongo said about his team's future, "we are a young team and there is a learning curve. Light bulbs are going on and combinations are being found. We are scoring more goals than earlier in the year; there is an evolution to our game we need to understand."

As the Chargers pursue a few more wins -- on and off the ice -- the last four weeks will be the most challenging for any team in the NCAA landscape. 

"All on the road, at Minnesota, Duluth, Maine and Miami," Luongo said, "but this is definitely a confidence booster. The lesson is, we go out and do our best and any opponent is not insurmountable."

-- Bob Snow
The Beanpot, college hockey's premier in-season tournament, is played at the TD Garden the first two Mondays each February among Boston University, Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern. 

BC and Northeastern also play at Fenway, at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14.

The turnstiles last Saturday clicked in 38,456 fans from across New England to see two scintillating overtime games amidst balmy January conditions.

In the first game, UMass' Michael Marcou scored at 4:37 of overtime to give Massachusetts a 3-2 victory against Vermont. Assists went to Conor Sheary and Daniel Hobbs.

Hobbs and Eric Filiou also scored for the Minutemen; Kyle Reynolds and Drew MacKenzie had goals for Vermont.

"If you think about it," Vermont coach Kevin Snedden said, "it was 59 degrees out there. It's incredible that we even played hockey today. So was the puck bouncing a little bit? Yeah, but I think it was excellent considering the circumstances -- it was still a lot of fun."

"The emotion and the intensity was everything that it was built to be," Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon said. "The first thing that comes to mind, I can relate to Big Papi, (Red Sox DH) David Ortiz, when he hits a walk-off home run in the 11th, because that's what it felt like given the nature of the overtime."

"Every time you play a big game like this outside in front of a lot of people," said Marcou, a senior defenseman, "you always envision you scoring the overtime winner. It was my first one ever, so it's a pretty good experience to have here at Fenway."

It only took 1:29 of overtime for the Maine Black Bears to take down archrival New Hampshire in another border war between these two storied programs.

"What a great night," Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. "With both games going to overtime, obviously being on the winning side is a real thrill for us. The fans were unbelievable, really a great atmosphere. It was electric in there. It was great experience for all of our guys and we were pleased to get the last bounce."

It only took 1:29 of overtime for the Maine Black Bears to take down archrival New Hampshire. (Courtesy: Maine Athletics)
"I just crashed the net and I'm fortunate it hit my stick and popped over (UNH goalie Casey) DeSmith's head," said Maine's Brian Flynn, who initiated that last bounce for the game-winning goal. "It was mostly great to get the win as a team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to get this win in front of the Maine fans, and our friends and family in that fashion, it was special."

Hobey Baker balloting begins -- Fan balloting has opened for the 2012 Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to college hockey's top player. Last year's recipient was Miami's Andy Miele, now with the Coyotes.

Fans can vote at Click on the "Vote for Hobey Baker" icon and make your selection from this year's slate of 77 players. The first phase of fan balloting runs through March 4; phase two of fan balloting begins March 16 and will consist of the 10 finalists.

Three finalists will be announced March 29; the award will be presented April 6 at the Frozen Four in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Hannan honored by Penguins -- Niagara University's Jeff Hannan was honored by the Pittsburgh Penguins as a "Local Hero."

The native of Venetia, Pa., is being honored by the Pittsburgh Youth Hockey Network, operated by the Penguins, as part of the "Local Hero" video series. The "Local Hero" video series honors collegiate hockey players from the Keystone State, highlighting their road to collegiate hockey.

In 53 games for Niagara, Hannan has 8 goals and 16 points.'s Top 10

1. Minnesota-Duluth 14-3-3
2. Ohio State 14-4-3
3. Notre Dame 13-6-3
4. Minnesota 15-7-1
5. Boston College 13-7-1
6. Boston University 11-6-1
7. Merrimack 11-4-4
8. Cornell 9-4-2
9. Colorado College 12-7-1
10. Western Michigan 10-7-5
His father, Dave, played 16 seasons in the NHL, spending the bulk of his career with the Penguins. The elder Hannan won Stanley Cups with Edmonton in 1988 and Colorado in 1996.

York heading to hallowed ground -- If the Boston College Eagles run the table the next seven games, long-time coach Jerry York will reach the 900-win plateau Feb. 6 -- the first night of the Beanpot Tournament, when the Eagles draw Northeastern.

York will become only the second coach in history to reach 900 wins. That will begin the big countdown, to Ron Mason's all-time mark of 924, mostly at Michigan State.

York currently has 426 wins at BC since returning to his alma mater in 1994; he's won three NCAA titles at BC, in 2001, 2008 and 2010. He also won a title at Bowling Green in 1984, his second coaching stop after Clarkson.
Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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