Like many hockey writers, I like to think I have ’moles’ in and about the game.
To be truthful -- I have ’a’ mole.
We’ll call him Professor Pux, since he concentrates mostly on the college game, and as a refresher for me -- and by extension -- the rest of Bruins nation, he wrote in with his own Beanpot preview (please note: poll #’s are from last week). ----
Boston College- 14-10-1 13th in 20 team USCHO/CSTV poll (11-8-1 HEA, 4th of 10, 23 pts) BC started the season ranked #2, moved up to #1 after the first week and spent the first month or so within the top three. However, they went from Halloween to New Year’s without stringing two wins together.
Their first game of ’07 was an OT loss at Northeastern, but they responded with a three-game win streak. Sadly for the Eagles, that streak was followed by a weekend sweep at the hands of Vermont in Burlington, and then a home loss to BU -- in the make up of the December game at Conte that was fogged out by unseasonably warm weather.
Last weekend, BC bounced back by taking the regular season rubber match from BU at the Terriers Agganis Arena (the road team won all three games of this season’s series) and coming back from a 3-1 deficit versus UMass-Lowell with three unanswered goals.
Against their Beanpot rivals this season, BC is 2-1 against BU, and 1-1-1 against NU.
BU - 13-5-8 7th (10-4-7, 2nd, 27 pts) Going into last weekend, BU had the number one defense in the nation and the NCAA’s best current unbeaten streak at eight (7-0-1).
On top of all that, they were the only team in D-I to have not lost a game by more than one goal and had just beaten BC at Conte 4-1.
The Eagles stopped all of that on Friday, when, leading 3-2 with three minutes to go, the Eagle’s Dan Bertram came down the wing and sniped one top shelf to John Curry’s glove side, and then followed by an empty net goal.
Against NU, the Terriers have had two tight games -- coming from two down in BU’s home opener to briefly take a 3-2 lead for 41-seconds. That is, before NU tied it, 3-3, late in the third.
Forward Kenny Roche avoided OT by knocking in a rebound of a Peter MacArthur shot with just 56-seconds to go.
The second meeting was again at Agganis. That resulted in the first scoreless tie for BU since February 1994 (where have you gone J.P. McKersie?) and only their second double ’0’ ever.
NOTE: After 12 years without one, they have now played their second 0-0 game in less than a month, tying then UML on Friday.
It was the only blemish in the aforementioned eight game unbeaten streak.
NU - 10-12-4 Receiving votes (~27th) (7-10-4, 7th, 18 pts) Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, if the Huskies were to win their fifth ’Pot this year, it would only surprise those that hadn’t been paying attention.
In fact, with their recent surge, some are dubbing the Huntington Hounds the tourney favorite.
NU is 1-1-1 against BC, but the trend is distinctly in the Huskies direction.
They are 0-1-1 against BU, but the first meeting was their third straight road game to open the season, they led 2-0 and the game was knotted at 3 before BU’s Roche scored the GWG with less than a minute to play. The second meeting was that grinding 0-0 tie.
Looking at the forest instead of the trees, NU lost two of their first three games of the season to their B-Line neighbors on the road. They weathered a rough schedule made some changes and came out a battle tested, much more dangerous team.
They announced their intentions by coming from two down against UVM to salvage a point, then sweeping a home-and-home with Lowell, and, finally, going up to Maine and scaring the Black Bears with a 6-1 win and taking the lead the second night before succumbing, 2-1, in another OT game.
Look out Beanpotters, this pack of Huskies is hungry!
Harvard - 9-12-1 No votes (7-9-1 ECACHL, T-6th of 12, 15 pts) Harvard began the season with expectations of being a strong contender for the league title and the national post-season tournament.
And, as late as the fourth poll of the season they were ranked #11. However, since the Ivies start NCAA play later than everyone else, at that point they had yet to play a game.
Once they did start play, they began dropping in the polls, then were only among those receiving votes and have now dropped out of poll mention entirely. As such, I think it’s safe to say that they are having a disappointing year so far, and it seems that inconsistency is their biggest obstacle.
While they have played well against the top of the league (two one-point losses to league-leader St. Lawrence, taking 3-of-4 pts from surprising 2nd-place Quinnipiac, 1-point loss @ Cornell), they have also lost at home to the teams with them at the bottom (last place Brown and co-10th placer Yale), but gone 4-1 against the middle of the league - three of those wins on the road and the loss coming at home.
The good news for Harvard is that the ECACHL has such a balance after the drop off in league points after the top three, that they are only 4 points - or, one good weekend - out of 4th place and two points out of 5th.
The bad news is that they are only one point out of the basement and have played one more games than the all but one other team in the league. At least in the ECACHL (and every other league except Hockey East), every team makes the playoffs.
While leadership is hard to quantify, Harvard didn’t need to replace many points from last year’s graduating seniors. Only three of the top dozen-plus scorers from the 05-06 Crimson were seniors.
However, over 85% of the minutes played in goal were attributed to the departed John Daigneau.
This year, Sr. Kevin Du again leads the Crimson in scoring with Jr Jon Pelle and Sr Ryan Maki again close behind. Jr. Mike Taylor has stepped it up a notch by doubling his PPG average from the year before.
Contributing right away to the scoresheet are freshmen F Doug Rogers and hotly recruited D, Alex Biega. Splitting time in net with similar results are Sr Justin Tobe and Fr Kyle Richter.
As for their Beanpot match ups, two of Harvard’s better games this year were when they beat BC 4-0 at Bright Arena and when they fell short at BU, 2-1.
They have not yet played Northeastern.
NOTE: Harvard was the only ’Pot team to play two this past weekend.
Given that NU is picking up speed, while BU has cooled and Harvard is on the upswing...And noting that BC is 2-4 in their last 6 (plus Harvard already beat BC 4-0) and NU and HU won last weekend, while BC lost and BU tied UML 0-0...Is this the year that we finally get to see a NU vs. Harvard final -- which has never happened in the history of the Beanpot? ----
Well, there you have it. Professor Pux was pretty objective in his assessment, but seems willing to admit at least some interest in what the Huskies bring to the table.
By the way, in their Beanpot warm-ups this weekend, NU beat Merrimack, 1-0, BU tied UMass-Lowell, 0-0, BC fell to UMass-Amherst, 5-3, all on Friday.
The Crimson played twice. Harvard defeated Union 3-2 on Friday and Rensselaer 3-1 on Saturday.
Again, good luck to everyone in the Tourney and thanks to Prof. Pux. I owe you a rice-crispies puck.