Friday, January 09, 2009

Coach's Mailbag--January 2009

Coach Jack Parker has responded to our second batch of questions, provided by blog readers. We'll plan at least one more Coach's Mailbag this season.

Q—Hey Coach, how come the Hockey East games this year have not been as wide open as the early season games against North Dakota and Michigan? Is this because the Hockey East teams play better defense, or have you been playing league games closer to the vest? I miss the high flying offense that scored 6 and 7 goals a game.
JP—Most teams in HE have solid goaltending and we have a better knowledge of each other's tendencies.

Q—In addition to the solid goaltending, what have been the contributions of this year’s freshman class and who has been the most pleasant surprise among them?
JP—All of the freshmen have made contributions, but three stick out. Dave Warsofsky, Chris Connolly and Vin Saponari have all played extremely well - the surprise being that they all have been very important in the special teams as well.

Q—After a recent game (UVM), you stated that the team didn't handle the trap particularly well. Who bears the greater responsibility to beat the trap, forwards or defenseman? Can it be beaten by a series of sharp, precise passes?
JP— It is usually the players without the puck that expose the trap. They must move into close support areas where passes can be completed.

Q—It seems that the team has shifted the power-play strategy from a Box-in-1 variant to more of an umbrella formation. Was there any particular reason for this shift? I thought the Box-in-1 was more successful against quicker teams early in the season. Does it hinge on size matchups?
JP—The Box + one set-up is used only when we are two men up. We use either the 1-3-1; overload, or BU power play set-ups in 5 on 4 situations. It usually depends on the other team’s penalty kill tendencies. Are they in a tight box? Do they try to block shots in front of their goalie? Are they playing all-out pressure?

Q—Having Chris Higgins’ goal waived off in the UM-Lowell game was frustrating. The replay appeared to show the puck deflecting of Higgins’ skate as he was stopping, which, according to the NCAA rule book, should be allowed as a goal. Why can’t the NCAA get the interpretation of the rule concerning kick-in pucks correct in game situations, especially after the controversy over the waived-off Notre Dame goal in last year’s championship game?
JP—The NCAA does "get it" and has communicated that to everyone. It was that particular referee who couldn't overrule himself - ego and stubbornness are bad human traits.

Q—It seems that the number of players leaving early for the pros is increasing. Does that change, in any way, the type of player you recruit? (e.g., smaller forwards who may excel at college level but maybe not be big enough physically to make the early jump to the pros).
JP—No - we try to get the best player available. I'll take the next Tony Amonte or Scott Lachance again, even for a few years.

Q—Do TV timeouts impact the flow of a game? If your team has the momentum, do these timeout help the other team regroup?
JP—The thirty second TO's have no effect. The full minute TO's that some broadcasts use are bad for both teams. They slow the game down emotionally.

Q—What/who has been the most pleasant surprise for BU Hockey so far this season?
JP—Easy - Zach Cohen. He has played extremely well thus far; before the season started, he did not enter into my plans.

Q—After 25 years in Hockey East, do you have a favorite HE Tournament memory? And did you expect the league would ever become so competitive from top to bottom?
JP—Shawn McEachern’s ovetime goal to beat Maine in '91 (Hockey East championship game) certainly was a highlight. As far as the balance now in HE - -it was unimaginable ten years ago.

Q—What is the most difficult place you've ever had to go on a recruiting visit to a players home (e.g., weather, obscure location)?
JP—Long answer - I flew into Moncton, NB, and needed to rent a car to drive 200 miles north of Moncton to see a kid play. When I tried to rent a car at the only booth in the airport, they noticed that my license expired five days earlier. My birthdate is 3/11/45 and it was the sixteen of March and my expiration date was 3/11/84. I took a cab into town and went to the movies (I saw The Godfather) to kill some time 'till the shift changed at the rental desk. I then went back out to the airport and gave the new person my license. He said that it looked like my license had expired and I replied "Oh, no, not 'till the 3rd of November - day 3, month 11, year 84. - He said OK is that how you do it down there and gave me a car. I then drove the two hundred miles directly to the rink - walk in after the warm up to learn that the kid I came to see got in a fight in warm ups and was ejected from the game. I never saw him play and he went to Cornell. Great trip!

Q—The consolation game of the Beanpot final night is a dog game. It's 5:00 start for two clubs that want to be playing in the later game and has no meaning to league standings. It's pretty deserted, attended by mostly family and girlfriends. Why not have the women play their Beanpot Championship that night? It would give them a night on the garden ice and will help grow interest in the woman's game, it will give the fan a reason to go earlier, and it will give provide TWO championship games in one night!
JP—First - none of Beanpot games have any meaning to league standings. Second - it is a scheduled game for all four teams’ 34-game schedule. If you didn't play it, those two teams would be the only two Division I teams in the country that didn't play 34 games (other that Ivy league). And it is exactly the same as BU playing RPI in Denver in front of a sparse crowd. It is a non-league NCAA "pair wise" game. It must be played!

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