Friday, September 30, 2011

Q&A with Chris Connolly: a dozen for number 12

As Chris Connolly approaches his senior season, he is the total points leader among current team members with 89 and, for a second season, team captain. When he arrived at BU in 2008 after a standout USHL season scoring 55 points and leading Omaha to the Clark Cup title, he joined a freshman class that included three NHL draft choices and so was flying somewhat under the radar of BU fans.

That changed quickly. His dynamic offensive play, speed, and effectiveness breaking up opponents' power-play rushes before they could begin made Connolly an instant fan favorite. He rang up 30 points, including a goal and an assist in the 2009 NCAA championship game overtime win against Miami. While the team hasn't matched that success the past two seasons, Connolly's offensive production has remained consistent with 31- and 28-point campaigns. He's expected to be a key cog in the Terrier attack this season. With the 2011-12 opener a week away, Chris answered our questions about leadership and what to expect from the Terriers. MORE

Looking back
Despite scoring 34 points in his first full NHL season, former BU All-American Colin Wilson saw limited action for Nashville is last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The Predators are looking to rely more on younger players this year and Wilson is using the playoff benchings as motivation to step up his game this season. He’s scored five points in four pre-season games, earning first-star honors in a 4-1 Preds’ win against Washington.

Several other former Terriers will begin the season in the AHL after competing in NHL camps: Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky (Bruins), Chris Bourque (Capitals), Eric Gryba (Senators), Dave van der Gulik and Zach Cohen (Colorado).

Brian Strait remains in Pittsburgh’s training camp, competing for a spot on the Pens’ blueline. He's scheduled to be in the Pittsburgh line-up tonight against Chicago in a game on the NHL Network at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Jay Pandolfo remains in contention for a roster spot with the Islanders. He'll be in the lineup when the fishsticks visit Pando's former team, the Devils, tonight. So will former Terrier Rick DiPietro, returning from another injury-plagued season.

Women’s team
The #2 Terriers open their season at home with a two-game series against #7 North Dakota. Tonight’s game at Walter Brown Arena begins at 7 p.m. Captain Jenn Wakefield and forwards Marie-Philip Poulin and Jennelle Kohanchuk are back from Canadian National Team camp and will be in the lineup; however, senior defenseman Tara Watchorn is sidelined with a concussion.
● season preview , game notes
● BU Today: Skating for a championship
● Daily Free Press game preview

Thursday, September 29, 2011

High hopes

Whenever pre-season polls are announced, most coaches will reflexively point out that these rankings are just talking points until on-ice action begins. However, what this week's national and conference polls do reveal is that college hockey coaches and media expect BU to be among college hockey’s elite programs this season.

USCHO’s first national poll—comprised of coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country— ranks the Terriers #10 with two first-place votes. Meanwhile, the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, ranks BU sixth with three first-place votes. This poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six Division I conferences, plus composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine. Notre Dame has the top spot in the USCHO poll, while Miami is ranked #1 by USA Today.

The Daily Free Press reports that juniors Alex Chiasson and Justin Courtnall will be the Terriers’ assistant captains this season. Senior Chris Connolly, a co-captain last season, is this year's team captain.

The Boston Hockey Blog reports that the injury bug has again struck two Terriers who lost time to injuries in previous season. Red-shirt freshman Yasin Cissé, recovering from knee surgery, suffered a concussion in practice; a lingering ankle injury from his junior days in Des Moines is also limiting his ice time.

Ryan Ruikka, who suffered season-ending injuries in his first two seasons, but rebounded to become a solid blueliner last year, has hairline fracture of his right foot and will be out for at least three weeks.

USCHO also has posted pre-season rankings of the nation's top college players by position. Senior Kieran Millan is listed at #6 among goalies, while sophomore Adam Clendening was picked as the #8 defenseman.

Tuesday was Hockey East Media Day, which included release of the preseason coaches' poll. The Terriers were ranked #2 behind defending champion BC. The Hockey East Writers & Broadcasters' poll, released a day earlier, reversed those rankings, with BU ranked first with 16 of 19 first-place votes and BC second. The writers and broadcasters preseason all-conference team included Chiasson.

● Go coverage
● Hockey East Coaches’ video interviews (Jack Parker begins at 2:20)
Video Interview with Millan
● 2011-12 men’s hockey prospectus

Hockey East also announced a schedule of eight games that will air on CBS College Sports including four featuring the Terriers: two against BC and another pair against Maine. Additional televised games will be announced at a later date.

►In the wake of the realignment of college hockey's Western conferences this summer, expansion of Hockey East in 2013-14 has become a genuine possibility. Notre Dame reportedly will decide shortly whether to accept an invitation to join Hockey East or to become part of the new NCHC. College Hockey News editor Adam Wodon offers insights into the decision facing the Fighting Irish, while Warrior Rink Rat's Mike McMahon spoke with Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna about expansion. If Hockey East expands, it will add two teams. Rensselaer, which previously considered moving over from the ECAC, is a likely candidate for another invitation.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Future Terriers and alums in action

BU doesn't hit the ice for its exhibition game against St. Francis Xavier until next Saturday, but numerous former and future Terriers are already involved in games.

Looking back
Former BU standout defenseman Brian Strait, contending for spot on the Penguins’ blueline, scored on slapper in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win (video) over the Wild.

Brandon Yip’s third season with the Colorado Avalanche is on hold while he recovers from a broken arm, suffered in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues. David Van der Gulik, who suited up for six Colorado games last season, is seeking to make the Avs roster and Yip’s injury could open an opportunity for him.

Jay Pandolfo, trying out with the Islanders after 13 seasons with New Jersey, had an assist in his first exhibiton game start . He later talked with The Star-Ledger about his hopes to extend his career.

After spending last season with teams in Russia and Switzerland, Chris Bourque is back with the Washington Capitals, the team that had drafted him.

Prior to retiring this past summer, former BU All-American and Hobey Baker Award winner Chris Drury ranked first among active NHL players with 17 career game-winning goals in the playoffs.

Looking ahead
BU’s newest recruit, Mike Moran, earned first star and “hardest worker” honors in the Penticton Vees’ season-opening 5-2 win over the Coquitlam Express. Moran, scored a goal and added two assists.

2012 recruit Marc Hetnik, Jr., registered an assist in each of the Vernon Vipers’s two season-opening wins over Salmon Arm.

The USHL preseason Fall Classic was played during the past few days with several future Terriers seeing action. 2012 recruit Robert Polesello, scored a goal in each of the Indiana Ice’s two wins and now has 3+2 in four exhibition games. His teammate Rob Baillargeon, a 2013 recruit, has a goal and two assists in five games.

2012 recruit Matt O’Connor, stopped 24 of 28 shots in Youngstown’s 5-4 win against Cedar Rapids.

Blueliner Matt Grzelcyk, a 2013 recruit had one assist for the NTDP U18s in three Fall Classic games

Women’s team
The number two-ranked Terriers used a pair of short-handed goals by Taylor Holze and Jill Cardella to defeat University of Ottawa, 3-1, in an exhibition game yesterday at Walter Brown Arena. BU played without its top returning forwards, Jenn Wakefield, Marie-Philip Poulin and Jennelle Kohanchuk, who are at Canadian National Team evaluation camp.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A forward for 2012

According to Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting site, BU has added a third forward to its 2012 recruit class. Mike Moran, a 6-1, 200, left-shot, was captain at The Taft School last season, leading the Rhinos in goals with 13 and co-leading in scoring with 23 points. A Marshfield, Mass., native who is a nephew of Terrier Associate Head Coach Mike Bavis, Moran will spend this season in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees. He’s the second 2012 recruit playing in the BCHL this year. Marc Hetnik, Jr., is a blueliner for the Vernon Vipers.

►Earlier this summer when the first of the predictions of the top teams for 2011-12 were published, both Inside College Hockey and The College Hockey Blog foresaw a #7 ranking for the Terriers. Now, College Hockey News has posted its projections with BU slotted at a heady #2 behind Miami University.

Looking ahead
Terrier 2013 recruit Matt Grzelcyk, a defenseman on the NTDP U18s received a strong assessment on the United States of Hockey blog, written by former USA Hockey communications director Rick Peters.

Some might look at Grzelcyk’s size and write him off as a legitimate defensive prospect. To do that would be foolish. Despite coming in at 5-9, 168, Grzelcyk’s ability on the ice will turn more than a few heads this year.

His poise with the puck in all zones separates him from some of his fellow 1994s. Not only does he have poise, but also skills. His puck skills might be unrivaled on this blue line. I was told by someone who watches Grzelcyk regularly that there’s a whole bunch we haven’t even seen from his bag of tricks.

If he can build more strength to go along with his solid skating and puck-moving abilities, he’s going to be a player rising up draft boards rapidly. Skill may just outweigh size in this instance. Grzelyck is committed to Boston University. Terrier fans familiar with Adam Clendening’s game might get a little overexcited when they see what Grzelyck can do.

Looking back
Keith Tkachuk will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on December 12 in Chicago. He’ll become the eighth Terrier inducted, joining 1956 & 1960 Olympian Dick Rodenheiser, former BU head coach Jack Kelley, 1980 Olympians Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jack O’Callahan and Dave Silk, and Tony Amonte.

Women’s team
In a preseason poll of Hockey East coaches, the Terriers were picked to finish first in the conference. BU earned six of eight first place votes with BC, picked for second, receiving the other two. Head coach Brian Durocher previewed the season in Hockey East’s first teleconference of the season.

In USCHO’s first national poll, the Terriers are ranked second behind Wisconsin, the team that beat BU in last Spring’s NCAA title game.

Friday, September 16, 2011


The “off-season” is nearly over. Two weeks from tomorrow, the Terriers take on St. Francis Xavier in a 7 p.m. start at Agganis Arena.

BU sophomore Matt Nieto (photo), who scored 23 points in his first season, is featured in Inside College Hockey’s annual A-to-Z series of player profiles. The speedster from California rebounded from a slow start last fall to become a key performer in the second half of the season.

In a Muskegon Lumberjacks interview, Freshman blueliner Alexx Privitera looks forward to his initial season as a Terrier and to seeing find some familiar faces wearing opponents’ sweaters.
As we gear up for the season, we’ll post a series of profiles of the three freshman on this year’s Terrier squad.

Looking back
Ten years ago this past week, Darryl MacLeod, a power forward on BU’s 1978 NCAA championship team and now a firefighter in Melrose, Mass., was among the out-of-town firefighters who volunteered at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. For the MelrosePatch, MacLeod and Melrose Fire Captain Jim Winslow recalled their still-fresh memories of sifting through the rubble and looking for survivors of the 9-11 attacks and the camaraderie with other responders.

David Warsofsky, who has moved up from Bruins rookie camp to the team’s main camp, talked with NESN about how his brief AHL experience last Spring has given him a leg up. A co-captain of last year’s Terrier squad and all-rookie Hockey East selection in 2009, Warsofsky is seeking to become the ninth member of BU’s 2009 NCAA championship team to suit up in the NHL.
● feature ● Patriot Ledger feature

Former Terrier captain and 1996 Hockey East Player of the Year Jay Pandolfo, who spent 14 seasons with the New Jersey Devils organization, will attend the New York Islanders training camp on a tryout basis.

Looking ahead
2012 recruit Robert Polesello scored twice in USHL/Indiana Ice's first exhibition game, a 5-4 win against Chicago. He added an assist the next night as did 2013 recruit Robbie Baillargeon in a 3-1 Indy win.

The Slightly Chilled blog, which covers the USHL, offered its take on the league’s top five netminders for the coming season and suggests that 2012 recruit Matt O’Connor could lead the Youngstown Phantoms to the playoffs in the franchise’s second season.

According to the VipersDieHardFan Blog, 2012 recruit Marc Hetnik, Jr., has impressed at the Vernon Vipers' training camp during intersquad games.

Just four minutes later some nice three-way passing between, Mike Zalewski, John Knisley and Marc Hetnik setup a highlite reel goal by Hetnik at 10:20 for his second of the night giving Team White a 7-4 lead.

Marc Hetnik "92" (2 goals) - For the second straight night I was
impressed with Hetnik. Last night he looked very good on the blueline, tonight he jumped up into the play more and looked very good on the offensive side of the game.

Women's team

The 2011-12 BU women’s team, coming off a 27-7-4 season, plays an exhibition game with the University of Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 3 p.m.

Three standouts from last season’s national finalist team that set a program record for most wins were selected in Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft. Catherine Ward, who played a single season at BU as a grad student, was picked by the Montreal Stars while Holly Lorms and last season’s captain Jillian Kirchner were drafted by the Boston Blades.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never forgotten

The names of former Terrier Mark Bavis (right) and his Los Angeles Kings colleague, Garnett “Ace” Bailey, a former Bruins forward, were among the first names recognized at today’s 9-11 Remembrance ceremonies in New York City. BU Associate Head Coach Mike Bavis (left) talked with BU Today about the horrific day ten years ago when he lost his twin brother.

College Hockey News looked back on the loss Bavis, Bailey and two members St. Lawrence’s 1988 national finalist team. CHN also posted a link to an exceptional 9-12-01 article by editor Adam Wodon about the events’ impact on the close knit college hockey and New England hockey communities including many of Mark’s BU and Catholic Memorial teammates.

One of the ironies of that tragic day was that Mark Krys, a BU defenseman and teammate of the Bavis brothers for two seasons, was working in the South Tower on 9-11, but was able to escape to safety before the tower fell.
USHR 9/13/01

● Boston University, which lost 34 alumni on 9-11, is holding a memorial service today at Marsh Chapel.

The Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation awards scholarships of $3,500 to $5,000 to Massachusetts high school students who have made a difference in their communities or demonstrated leadership at their schools

Looking back

At Bruins rookie camp, David Warsofksy discussed his opportunity to make the big club.

2009-10 BU captain Kevin Shattenkirk, who led all NHL rookie blueliners last season with 43 points, looked at ahead to his first full season with the St. Louis Blues in a discussion with St. Louis Today.

Former BU standout Clark Donatelli will be an assistant coach of the Wheeling, W.Va., Nailers, the Pittsburgh Penguins' ECHL affiliate. Donatelli, 43, was a volunteer assistant coach at Providence College last season. Another former Terrier, John Hynes is head coach of the Pens' AHL team in Wilkes Barre/Scranton.

Women's team

The 2012 Hockey East championship tournament will be played on Cape Cod at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center (HYCC) on Friday, March 3rd and Sunday, March 4th in the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Terriers “go large” again

BU has added another forward with size and skill to its 2013 recruit class, receiving a verbal commitment from 6’4”, 215, right-shot wing Kevin Duane. The New Canaan, CT, native was the top goal-scorer and second in points (15-18-33) at The Brunswick School as a sophomore. He'll accelerate and graduate from Brunswick next season, then play a year of junior with the Des Moines Bucs who drafted him this past Spring.

Duane went to the Bucs' main camp this past summer, earning a spot on the USHL club roster, but elected to return to prep school for another season. He also was drafted by the Quebec Remparts in the 9th round of the QMJHL draft this past spring.

According to U.S.Hockey Report:” [Duane’s] strong suits are his size – he’s tough to clear out in front of the net – along with his hands. He has a nice shot and sees the ice well. The main aspect of his game that needs work is his skating.” [Ed.—That skill set and the area for improvement recalls former BU standouts Mike Grier and Mike Pandolfo.]

Duane played Midget hockey with the Mid-Fairfield Blue and has been a member of the Junior Bruins organization, where he was a teammate of recent BU commit Sam Kurker on the Little Bruins and 2013 recruit Matt Grzelcyk on the Junior Bruins.

Duane also had offers from Vermont, Union, Providence, Merrimack, and Cornell.

Assuming that Kurker also will play a year of junior hockey, the Terriers' 2013 class now includes five forwards—Duane, Kurker, Malden Catholic’s Brendan Collier, St. Sebastian’s Danny O’Regan and Rob Baillargeon, now with the Indiana Ice—along with one defenseman, Grzelczyk who is in his second season with the US NTDP.

►Eagle Tribune hockey writer Mike McMahon is in the midst of previewing Hockey East teams in his Warrior Rink Rat blog. Starting from the bottom, he has profile three teams thus far with more to be added this week.

Looking back

Sunday's Boston Globe Hockey Notes column examined former BU captain Jay Pandolfo's efforts to prolong his NHL career that includes two Stanley Cups won with the New Jersey Devils. Pandolfo has also been supporting College Hockey Inc.'s efforts to promote the value of a college education to young players. He spoke to some 70 of New England's top 1996-born players at a CHI clinic in Marlborough, Mass., last month.

Women’s team
Senior Jenn Wakefield scored the game-winner for Canada in a 3-2 win against host Finland in the IIHR Twelve Nations Invitational Tournament. Wakefield scored 3 goals and 4 assists in six tournament games.
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