Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Black Ice

Ooh. Darkness. Fun.

It's Black Friday Saturday Tuesday, which for the 11th straight season recognizes RPI's first home ECAC contest of the season. This year, it's also the first ECAC game period, so the winner tonight gets to be in first place all by their lonesome for three days. Fun.

Hard to take away much from last year's Harvard games. In November, when Harvard won 4-0 against RPI, the Engineers were at rock-bottom and had several healthy scratches in a "message sending" game from the locker room. In February, when RPI won 3-0 at home, the Crimson were approaching rock-bottom, having lost six in a row going into that contest.

One thing that is still true from February to today - while the players who left the program midseason as part of the cheating scandal at Harvard are back with the team, they won't play in any games until around Thanksgiving. That means the Crimson are likely going to improve around then... and RPI's getting them at the right time, since they can't see them until the ECAC Tournament at the earliest.

But Harvard won't be the pushovers that they seemed to be in February, either. This is a team brimming with offensive talent in the sophomore and freshman classes, and we saw last year what a team like that can do - it finished in 2nd place when it found some good defense. The Crimson shut out Bentley on Saturday, 3-0, but they had to stop 43 shots in order to do so. Something tells me RPI has a slightly better capacity to make those shots dent twine than do the Falcons.

The Engineers have struck paydirt in the first eight minutes of each of their last three victories. Getting ahead early and maintaining offensive pressure will be key tonight.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Men's Hockey - New Hampshire (26 Oct)

RPI has fought its way through the first part of a mostly difficult non-conference schedule, and come out mostly looking pretty good following a 4-2 victory over UNH, upping their early record to 4-1-0 and their record against nationally-ranked opponents (all from Hockey East) to 2-1-0. As the ECAC schedule gets underway on Tuesday against Harvard, that's a pretty good spot to be in moving forward.

New Hampshire



Zach Schroeder suited up for the first time since last December, while Scott Diebold made his third straight start in net as RPI's top goaltender following the shoulder injury sustained by sophomore Jason Kasdorf.

The Engineers started things off with a bang, scoring on the very first shift with a goal on the first shot of the game by Johnny Rogic just 38 seconds into the contest to make it 1-0 RPI in short order. The Wildcats definitely got off to a slow start on the road and the Engineers took full advantage, outshooting UNH 14-5 in the opening period of the game.

RPI made it 2-0 on an outstanding goal in transition as Luke Curadi cleared the puck out to Jake Wood, who dished to Schroeder on his way out of the RPI end. With a burst of speed, Wood drove through the neutral zone as Schroeder pushed the puck back towards him between three defenders, leaving the freshman alone coming in to the net from the goaltender's right, snapping the puck over his glove for his first collegiate goal.

Early in the second period, the Engineers continued to pour it on as Matt Neal picked up his first goal of the season 2:16 in to make it 3-0, and on the power play just a minute and a half later, Ryan Haggerty scored his 8th goal in just five games to make the score 4-0, ending the night of UNH goaltender Jeff Wyer.

From there, RPI seemed to lose some of the urgency that they had played with during the first period, as UNH slowly began working their way back into the game, beginning to gain the edge in possession and forcing the Engineer defense to be sharp. The Wildcats got on the board with a goal just past the halfway point to make it 4-1, then on the power play a minute and a half after their first goal, UNH effectively halved the RPI lead on a bizarre goal that UNH at first didn't seem to realize that they'd scored - the puck went in to Diebold's right, but ended up in the corner of the ice surface because the goal was lifted up just as it was moving through. The referee, right on top of the net, called it a goal, and reviewed it to be sure.

The Engineers appeared to regain their 3-goal edge late in the period on a blast from the slot by Haggerty, but it was waved off immediately, with the ruling that Jacob Laliberte had obstructed the UNH goaltender while in the crease.

The third period was mostly a battle of attrition by the RPI defense, as a well-conditioned UNH team began to take full control of the game. Building on their minor edge in shots in the 2nd, the Wildcats dominated the 3rd with 11 shots against just 1 for the Engineers, but Diebold and his blueliners did just enough to keep UNH from finding the back of the net again, holding on for the 4-2 win.

Other junk - With the victory, the Engineers move up two spots in the USCHO poll, from #12 to #10 with 529 votes. Other ranked ECAC teams this week are #7 Quinnipiac (beat Bentley and Holy Cross twice, up two), #11 Yale (lost to Brown and beat Princeton, down four), #14 Cornell (swept Nebraska-Omaha, up five), and #17 Clarkson (swept Colorado College, previously unranked). Brown (54 votes), St. Lawrence (32), and Harvard (13) also received votes. Ranked teams on RPI's schedule include #1 Minnesota (unchanged, received all 50 first place votes), #8 Boston College (down three), and #18 Boston University (down five). Also receiving votes were New Hampshire (106, ex-14th), Denver (47, ex-17th), and Ferris State (15).

Ryan Haggerty's eight goals is tied for the national lead with Miami sophomore Riley Barber. His next point will be the 50th of his collegiate career. His 27 career goals is tops for the Engineers among active players, the next highest total belongs to Jacob Laliberte with 16.

Tuesday's game against Harvard will technically have the two leading goal scorers in the nation by goals per game, given that the Crimson's Kyle Criscuolo scored two of Harvard's three goals in their only game thus far, Saturday night against Bentley.

Scott Diebold's 1.52 GAA is fifth best in the nation among goaltenders who have appeared in more than one game, as is his .944 save percentage. He has started in three games since Jason Kasdorf's shoulder injury, and appeared for mop-up duty in the loss to Boston College.

Phil Hampton, Travis Fulton, Bo Dolan, Riley Bourbonnais, Craig Bokenfohr, and Mark McGowan are the only skaters that have yet to record a point. Bourbonnais and Bokenfohr have yet to make their season debuts.

The Engineers have led for 211:39 of their 300 minutes of game action so far this year.

It's a quick turnaround for the Engineers, who face off with Harvard in the first ECAC game of the season on Tuesday. It will mark the first time RPI has ever played a league game in the month of October. The game is moved from its natural place in January, in order to allow for the RPI-Union non-conference game in Albany. Harvard's season only just started on Saturday, a 3-0 win over 1-5-0 Bentley in which the Falcons managed to unleash 43 shots on Crimson netminder Raphael Girard.

#14 New Hampshire at #12 RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/26/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, New Hampshire 2

College Hockey Stats
RECORD: 4-1-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Upcoming games
29 Oct - Harvard
01 Nov - at Harvard
02 Nov - at Dartmouth
08 Nov - #14 Cornell
09 Nov - Colgate

Women's Hockey - at UConn (25/26 Oct)

RPI closed out the early season nonconference schedule with a weekend series at UConn, and the road trip was not friendly to the Engineers. After allowing a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 overtime loss on Friday despite playing well, RPI was thoroughly outplayed on Saturday in a 5-2 defeat. Now the Engineers find themselves without a win in six straight games.


Smelker/Mahoney/Mari Mankey
Letuligasenoa/Gruschow/Missy Mankey



RPI jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but UConn evened things up very early in the second and went on to win 3-2 in overtime despite being outshot by a 40-21 margin by the Engineers.

Ali Svoboda scored first for RPI, breaking into the UConn zone 2-on-1 with Toni Sanders as she finished serving an interference penalty. After Sanders' initial shot was stopped, Svoboda put home the rebound for the 1-0 lead.

A power play later in the first period led to the Engineers' second goal, with Kathryn Schilter blasting a slapshot through traffic to beat goalie Sarah Moses and make it a 2-0 game.

It didn't take long in the second period for UConn to get on the board. With most of an RPI penalty taken late in the first still remaining on the board, Jessica Stott launched a wrist shot past Brianna Piper to cut the RPI lead to 2-1, 30 seconds in.

A UConn penalty just a couple minutes later might have given the Engineers a chance to regain the momentum, but instead saw the Huskies tally a shorthanded goal just 13 seconds into their penalty kill. Emily Snodgrass made the most of a 2-on-1 with Sarah MacDonnell to beat Piper and tie the game two-all.

After RPI eventually outshot the Huskies 15-7 in the second and 11-6 in the third, the teams found themselves headed to overtime. There too the Engineers racked up a shot advantage to the tune of 6-2, but despite a power play chance in the extra frame, RPI couldn't capitalize. Instead, just moments after the successful penalty kill, Kayla Campero scored to give the Huskies the 3-2 overtime win.


Smelker/Mahoney/Mari Mankey
Walsh/Hylwa/Missy Mankey



After losing despite a solid effort on Friday, Saturday's game was even less kind to the Engineers, who were outshot 33-24 in a lackluster 5-2 loss.

RPI scored first with Laura Horwood scoring an unassisted goal 3:11 in on a turnover, but that would be the last of the RPI scoring for over 48 minutes.

In the interim, UConn would pick up four goals before chasing Kelly O'Brien in favor of Piper. Emily Snodgrass notched her second goal of the weekend at 12:53 of the first to tie things up, and Sara MacDonnell picked up her second as well to put UConn ahead 2-1 on the power play.

An early 5-on-3 opportunity in the second set up the Huskies for their third goal, with Brittany Berisoff scoring on a rebound chance for a 3-1 lead. Less than two minutes later, the 3-1 lead became a 4-1 lead with Leah Buress picking up a feed from behind the net and putting it past Piper for her first goal of the season.

An extended 5-on-3 chance for RPI didn't get them back onto the score sheet, but shortly after the second penalty expired, Heidi Huhtamaki cut UConn's lead to 4-2.

Kayla Campero picked up an empty netter to put the game away by its final 5-2 score.

RPI opens up its ECAC schedule next weekend, hosting Harvard and Dartmouth in what should certainly prove a difficult test. In a bit of a departure from the usual, Dartmouth finds itself four games into the season without a win; meanwhile, Harvard has gone undefeated in early season play.


RPI at Connecticut
Non-Conference Game – Frietas Ice Forum (Storrs, CT)
10/25/13 - 2:00pm
UConn 3, RPI 2 (OT)



RECORD: 1-4-1 (0-0 ECAC)


RPI at Connecticut
Non-Conference Game – Frietas Ice Forum (Storrs, CT)
10/26/13 - 2:00pm
UConn 5, RPI 2



RECORD: 1-5-1 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Nov. 1 - Harvard (7pm)
Nov. 2 - Dartmouth (4pm)
Nov. 8 - at Cornell (7pm)
Nov. 9 - at Colgate (4pm)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wildcat Offense

OK, folks. I'm back in the real world. Hopefully the two-week lull wasn't too bad. We were unable to live-tweet the Sacred Heart game in Connecticut (which was going on while I was busy getting married) and the men's recap from last weekend appears to have been lost in the ether due to a scheduling mix-up, but other than those, hopefully the coverage you've come to expect from WaP has been humming right along without a hitch.

As far as what was missing from the recap - here's the gist of it, most of which you already know. RPI beat BU 3-1 on Friday night last weekend, a solid bounce-back from a tough game at BC. Then they stomped Sacred Heart for the second time in as many weeks, 7-1 (see, Lowell? It's freakin' simple) for a combined 13-1 throttling across 120 minutes of action against the Pioneers.

Ryan Haggerty, with 7 goals, led the nation on his own in that category after last weekend, he has since been matched by Northeastern sophomore Kevin Roy, who notched two last night in Canton against St. Lawrence to even things up (Roy's kind of a jerk for reneging on Brown at the last minute last year - we're no fans of Brown around here right about now but at the end of the day, when it comes to things like this, Brown's family).

And RPI's now ranked #12 in the nation, up five spots from after the BC loss. Cornell is now ranked (and won last night), Union's out.

Yale lost to Brown last night. So there's that too.

And that's pretty much it.

The women suffered a tough OT loss to UConn yesterday afternoon, which was even tougher considering that they had a power play opportunity in the extra session. They're back at it in Storrs this afternoon, live-tweets to come from WaP.

The men have just one game this weekend, tonight at the Field House against #14 New Hampshire. Scott Diebold was certainly on his game last weekend, and the Engineers will need him to be strong tonight as well against an always-tough UNH.

Clean version for today's pumpup. If you want the real deal, go find it yourself, we're in family mode today.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Women's Hockey - Vermont (19 Oct)

Sometimes teams are reminded that all the shots in the world aren't worth anything if you can't score, and this week the Engineers received a reminder of that fact as they fell 3-1 to Vermont at Houston Field House, despite outshooting the Catamounts by a wide 40-16 margin.

Smelker/Mahoney/Mari Mankey
Hylwa/Missy Mankey



40 shots only netted a single goal for the Engineers, and a pair of third period tallies for Vermont pushed the Catamounts to a 3-1 victory over RPI on Saturday. With the loss, RPI is now 1-3-1 on the season while Vermont moves to 2-2-1.

Dayna Colang opened up the scoring at 13:10 of the first, intercepting a clearing attempt at the RPI blue line and firing it through traffic to beat Kelly O'Brien for a 1-0 lead.

The Engineers responded in the second period, racking up a 13-4 edge in shots and evening the score 11:56 after taking control of the puck along the near side boards in the Vermont zone. The puck made its way to Toni Sanders who skated across the front of the net and put it past goalie Madison Litchfield, evening the score at 1-1.

The tie was quickly broken in the third period, with Breanne Sundquist sending another shot through traffic from the blue line to beat O'Brien and make it a 2-1 margin.

RPI pressured Vermont hard in the third period, throwing 17 shots at the Catamount net, but it was Vermont who scored again on a late power play, with Colang picking up her second of the game as she put yet another shot through a crowd and past O'Brien.

Vermont's two goals in the third period would come off just six shots in total, and all three Catamount goals would be through screens.

RPI closes out its early non-conference schedule next weekend with a pair of games at Connecticut. Both Friday and Saturday's games will feature 2pm starts.


RPI vs. Vermont
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/19/13 - 7:00pm
Vermont 3, RPI 1



RECORD: 1-3-1 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Oct. 25 - at UConn (2pm)
Oct. 26 - at UConn (2pm)
Nov. 1 - Harvard (7pm)
Nov. 2 - Dartmouth (4pm)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Backups in Boston

(Tom is in the West Indies on his honeymoon, hence the lack of additional content this week... he'll be back at the end of next week, don't worry.)

BU may not be aware of how much they've lucked out at Agganis Arena against the Engineers in the recent past - and yet, that luck hasn't translated into blowouts of RPI, not in the least. Tonight's game in Beantown represents the third straight BU-RPI game in Boston that has featured the Engineers forced to cope with an injury to its first-choice goaltender who will be inactive for the game. On December 11, 2009, an injury to Allen York pressed Bryce Merriam into duty at Agganis, and the freshman netminder responded with 32 saves on 35 shots to lead the Engineers to a 5-3 victory. Last season, on January 4, 2013, an injury to Jason Kasdorf required Merriam to take charge once again, and the senior turned in an even more impressive performance with 38 saves on 41 shots but in a losing effort as the offense was not as strong with RPI falling 3-2 in overtime.

Once again, it's RPI at BU, and once again, it's an injured top goaltender. Jason Kasdorf suffered a "freak" shoulder injury before practice on Tuesday, and while rumors are wild and flying about his long-term status (one blogger in Winnipeg suggested he was out for the year, others have said he'll be back relatively soon), we do know he's out for the coming weekend. RPI will look to Scott Diebold to channel Bryce Merriam's last two performances in order to orchestrate a bounce-back from Sunday's horrifying turnout at Boston College.

After a pair of games against two of the stronger college hockey programs in the nation, the Engineers bookend with a second game against Sacred Heart, this one the home opener. After a slow start last week in Connecticut, RPI thoroughly demolished a team that was one day removed from one of the biggest regular-season upsets in NCAA history, as the Pioneers, with just 2 wins all of last season, had just knocked off then-#1 UMass-Lowell. Hopefully, RPI can duplicate that success as a confidence builder heading into next week's till with New Hampshire, another one of the traditional Hockey East beasts.

Just one outing for the women this weekend as they take on Vermont tomorrow at the Field House as the first half of the family weekend doubleheader in Troy along with the men's game with Sacred Heart. The Engineers are coming off a big tie against BU and should be the favorites against a Catamounts team that has traditionally been one of the weakest in Hockey East. If you're planning to head to Troy for the men's game anyway, why not turn out to see the women at 3pm?

It's October, it's Friday, and you know what that means around here... turn up the volume and get psyched. In honor of the men's home opener... ladies and gentlemen... THE ROLLING STONES!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Men's hockey weekend against Sacred Heart and BC

Finally, the Engineer men get off to some meaningful games this weekend in Bridgeport, CT and Chestnut Hill, MA. Even though it is out of conference, the games count in the standings, which means the regular season is upon us!

Sacred Heart
RPI did what they had to do, as they got on the board early and often. It only took 16 minutes for RPI to put the first puck of the season behind the net. The honor went to Ryan Haggerty, as he buried home a shot on passes from Matt Tinordi and Jacob Laliberte.
The score remained 1-0 into the second, when the floodgates opened for RPI. Mike Zalewski and Milos Bubela connected with Brock Higgs, who finished at 4:31 of the second. A little over five minutes later, Ryan Haggerty secured his second goal of the game and season. Then at 16:08, the Zalewski-Bubela-Higgs combination struck again, this time with Zalewski getting the goal.
In the third, Jake Wood got on the scoresheet for his first assist of his college career, helping Mark Miller with his tally to make it 5-0.  Rounding out the scoring would be the captain Matt Tinordi to give the Engineers the 6-0 win.
Jason Kasdorf went on to make 13 saves.

Boston College



There was no doubt what game Engineers fans looked forward to this weekend, as #4 ranked Boston College provided a daunting task. The Engineers were looking to complete a Capital District sweep of the Eagles, dating back to last year's NCAA tournament.

AIt only took BC 2:03 of the first, and a power play, to get a puck past Kasdorf. Kevin Hayes scored on an assist from Scott Savage, and part of last year's Hobey Hat Trick, Johnny Gaudreau. The Engineers battled back, when Milos Bubela tied the game at 1.

It remained tied at 1 until Johnny Gaudreau struck again on the power play at 6:24 of the second. Just 13 seconds later, Quinn Smith lit the lamp behind Kasdorf to give BC a two goal lead. Jimmy DeVito got his first goal as an Engineer, to close the gap. The Engineers wanted to turn up the pressure, but Ryan Fitzgerald scored at 15:29 of the second to give BC a 4-2 lead.

Just 18 seconds into the third, Bill Arnold took a pass from Gaudreau and put it past Kasdorf.Chris Calnan and Steve Santini closed the scoring for both teams, as BC skated away with the victory.

Jason Kasdorf and Scott Diebold would combine to make 16 saves on the night.

The Engineers return to action next weekend as they travel back to Boston for a Friday night tilt with BU, before making their home opener the next night against Sacred Heart.


RPI vs. Sacred Heart
Non-Conference Game – Webster Bank Arena (Bridgeport, CT)
10/12/13 - 7:00pm


RECORD: 1-0-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)


RPI vs. Boston College
Non-Conference Game – Conte Forum (Chestnut Hill, MA)
10/13/13 - 3:00pm
Boston College 7 RPI 2



RECORD: 1-1-1 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Oct. 18 - at Boston University (7:30pm)
Oct. 19 - Sacred Heart (7pm)
Oct. 26 - UNH (7pm)
Oct. 29 - Harvard (7pm)
Nov. 1 -  at Harvard (7pm)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Women's Hockey - BU & Northeastern (11/12 Oct)

RPI returned to action at Houston Field House this weekend, hosting a pair of Hockey East opponents in Boston University and Northeastern. The Engineers started off the weekend with a solid tie against a nationally-ranked BU, before falling a goal short in a 2-1 loss to Northeastern the following afternoon.

Boston University

Horwood/Mari Mankey/Rooney
Walsh/Hylwa/Missy Mankey



BU scored early in both the first and second periods, but both times the Engineers got the goal back en route to a 2-2 tie against the #7 Terriers at Houston Field House Friday night.

The Terriers capitalized on an early turnover by the Engineers just 2:42 into the game, when Rebecca Russo took control of the puck behind the RPI net and fed Jordan Juron who quickly fired the puck past Kelly O'Brien for a 1-0 lead.

Alexa Gruschow evened the score with her first goal of the season at 11:46, taking advantage of a BU turnover and taking off down ice to beat the defenseman and get a clear shot at goalie Kerrin Sperry which she buried to make it 1-1.

BU regained the lead a quick 34 seconds into the middle frame, with Russo firing a point blank shot past O'Brien. Russo was fed from Juron behind the net, who had picked up a rebound from a big point shot by Kaleigh Fratkin.

Though the teams traded power play opportunities several times in the remainder of the second, it was the latter half of the third before the Engineers would tie things up again, with Taylor Mahoney tipping in a point shot by Madison Marzario to make is a 2-2 game.

The tie held through overtime, despite a 6-3 edge in shots for the Engineers in the extra period (and 36-28 overall).


Horwood/Mari Mankey/Rooney
Walsh/Hylwa/Missy Mankey



Like Friday night, the Engineers once again outshot their opponent on Saturday (this time by a little more lopsided 34-20 margin) but solid goaltending by Northeastern goalie Chloe Desjardins helped the Huskies defeat the Engineers 2-1.

Another early goal put Northeastern up 1-0 5:11 into the game, with Kelly Wallace making the most of a scrum in front of O'Brien to poke the puck home for the goal.

That would mark the end of the scoring until the third period. Although the Engineers peppered the Northeastern net with 24 shots in the first two periods, Desjardins held strong to keep RPI off the board.

That streak broke at 6:49 of the third when Lauren Wash made it a 1-1 game, after the Engineers stole the puck at the Northeastern blue line and broke in 3-on-1.

Northeastern waited only a few minutes before answering the Engineers' goal as Paige Savage  scored at 10:13 of the third to make it 2-1, and Desjardins made the goal stand up to lead the Huskies to a 2-1 win over RPI.

It will just be one game for the Engineers next weekend as Vermont pays a visit to the Field House Saturday afternoon at 3pm.


RPI vs. Boston University
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/11/13 - 7:00pm
RPI 2, BU 2



RECORD: 1-1-1 (0-0 ECAC)


RPI vs. Northeastern
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/12/13 - 4:00pm
Northeastern 2, RPI 1



RECORD: 1-2-1 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Oct. 19 - Vermont (3pm)
Oct. 25 - at UConn (2pm)
Oct. 26 - at UConn (2pm)
Nov. 1 - Harvard (7pm)
Nov. 2 - Dartmouth (4pm)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Three Days of Hockey!

It's the first full weekend of hockey that counts for the Engineers, with the women kicking off the home portion of the schedule on Friday and Saturday and the men getting the games that count underway on the road on Saturday and Sunday.

The women open their home games with contests against #7 Boston University tonight at 7pm (it's "pack the house night," so hit the Field House if you can get there) and then host Northeastern tomorrow afternoon. Tonight is obviously going to be a big challenge for the Engineers, but it's in those tough non-conference games that you earn the grit to gut out important league wins.

The men, meanwhile, open with a game in Bridgeport, CT against the Sacred Heart Pioneers, a game that they absolutely must win if they're going to inspire the confidence most pundits have in them this season. That game is at 1pm on Saturday and it's totally free admission-wise if you can get down to southern CT. (We may be unable to live-tweet this game, unfortunately, but we'll try to provide updates when and where possible.)

The weekend concludes with a rare trip to #4 Boston College, which is also their home opener. The Eagles lost 3-1 to Michigan last night, so you know they're going to be slightly amped not wanting to open their season 0-2.

You'd have to be clinically dead not to be pumped up for the first full weekend, especially three days worth, but in case you need a helping hand, here's a classic pumpup track that's pushing a quarter-century old... but definitely works.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A BC Interruption

Sunday's game in Chestnut Hill against Boston College is the first time the Engineers and Eagles have met since the 2007-08 season and the first time they were scheduled against each other since the 1996-97 campaign. It's been a while.

So we sat down with Joe Gravellese of BC Interruption to learn more about the Eagles in their natural habitat - we answered some of their questions as well, which they'll feature on their blog.

WaP: So, Union, huh? What's up with that? (We hate those guys.)

JG: That stunk. We just got completely overrun by a better team. It happens. Last year's BC team was just not very deep. If they didn't have "Boston College" on their sweaters, nobody would have been surprised by that first round bow-out. The Eagles had two of the best forwards in the nation, but not much after that. They were also so young and easily rattled defensively that opponents' goals tended to come in bunches. It did not make me feel much better to see Union get rolled by Quinnipiac the next night.

WaP: So, Lowell, huh? What's up with that? (We are ambivalent about these guys.)

JG: Lowell has been building into one of the top programs in the conference over the past few years. They actually had one of the best teams in 2009 and should have won the league title, but some referee shenanigans killed them in that game. They've gotten much, much better in the past few years under the leadership of Norm Bazin, who for my money is the second best coach in the conference (after Jerry York, natch). They return most of their top scorers from last year, and Connor Hellebucyk, so they should be right in the mix, nationally.

WaP: What can you tell us about Thatcher Demko? He seems to be the talk of the nation when it comes to incoming goaltenders. Is the job his or does he have to earn it still?

JG: Well, he's not starting on Thursday night against Michigan; that honor will go to junior Brian Billett, who had mixed results occasionally filling in for Parker Milner the last few years. So obviously he's going to have to earn the job. I suspect we will see him on Sunday against RPI. He played in the exhibition game and looked as-advertised: poised, confident, and very big. He's a big kid to begin with, and he makes himself big in the net. BC fans are very excited about what he brings to the table. He's the highest pedigree goaltender we've had since Cory Schneider. (Though the two goalies we've had since, John Muse and Parker Milner, won national championships. I know, we are spoiled.)

WaP: Were you surprised to see Johnny Gaudreau return for his junior year?

JG: Not really. One of Jerry York's strengths (vis a vis, say, BU, to pick a program at random) has been recruiting players who buy into the idea that the team, the school, and the education are important - they're not just a stopping point to work on your game before launching into your pro career. As a result of this recruiting philosophy, you see a lot of top-tier players who stay at least three seasons. The third year is the key, because usually those players will take some extra classes the summer before they leave, then come back the summer after they leave and finish their degree. Nathan Gerbe and Chris Kreider are two recent examples of players who went this route. At this point, I expect the top BC players to stay at least three years. I think part of York's recruiting process is screening for players who he knows will buy in to that idea.

WaP: What's your take on the addition of Notre Dame to Hockey East, and on UConn's accession next season?

JG: Well, we hate both of those teams. So I guess it will be fun, for rivalry purposes. Obviously, Notre Dame brings a lot to the table in terms of name recognition and TV exposure. (UConn brings nothing to the table.) What I didn't like about the Notre Dame move, though, is that it shattered the awesome smallness of our league. It was entirely contained within New England, every game was driveable for fans to go on the road to watch their team, and all of the programs had some level of historical tie with one another... In Boston, we tend to get a little parochial about, well, everything, but especially college hockey, so I didn't like how dramatically the footprint of the league changed. With that said, it's time to get over it. Notre Dame is one of the best programs in the country and the games against them will be must-see affairs. They will also solidify Hockey East as the best conference in the land. (Bring it, B1G trolls.) I wanted RPI over UConn, but I also would have wanted American International over UConn. So...

WaP: Any thoughts on the potential creation of an eastern-based superconference based on the NCHC? Rumor had it that BU and BC turned down entreaties by North Dakota to join that league, but could the top Hockey East programs dump the smaller ones in the future?

JG: I find it unlikely. Hockey East seems to have the philosophy that they want to grow the game in some of the less-traditional hockey power schools around here (see: Vermont, UMass, UConn). If BC, BU, UNH et. al were upset about that, they probably wouldn't have added UConn; the addition of Vermont and UMass were pretty recent, too. The historic rivalries within Hockey East are pretty well entrenched, so I can't see BC or BU going anywhere without Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence at bare minimum, and at this point the UMasses probably go into that category as well. So at that point it would probably be easier to just kick out Merrimack and UConn than make a new conference. I endorse that course of action.

WaP: Now that you guys have so many more non-conference games to play with, what are you hoping to see the Eagles do with them?

JG: Win them. But seriously, from a selfish, fan perspective, I want to see BC go to some great venues that they haven't been to often in recent years. They're at Yost on Thursday night to play Michigan, so that's great. They're playing at Brown in January; I'm an unabashed lover of the old ECAC barns, so I'm excited about that. I'd like to see a return trip to RPI, and a game at Lynah. It's a given with this new Hockey East-Big Ten Challenge that we're going to see a lot of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Obviously, I'm happy about that.

WaP: Jerry York has pretty much done it all at this point - most wins in history, championships with multiple teams, a veritable dynasty at BC - how much longer do you think he'll stay at Chestnut Hill before calling it a career?

JG: I would have said 5-6 years before last season, but he had a health scare (detached retina) that kept him out during the season's crucial stretch and made us all begin to ponder life after York. My answer to this question will depend on if he gets through this year without any health absences. He definitely seems to still be loving life as BC coach, and is arguably doing better on the recruiting trail than he ever has (this year's incoming class is incredible).

WaP: What's the vibe on campus for the RPI game? Interested, or not?

JG: Honestly, not really. This might be a lackluster home opener. It's a Sunday afternoon on Columbus Day weekend, when a lot of students go home for the holiday. Also, a lot of people seem to like that Throwyball sport, which happens at the same time, and might hurt general public attendance. We'll see. I know I'm excited about it --- REALLY excited about it --- for whatever that's worth.


And we're pretty excited, too. Should be a lot of fun.