It’s playoff time for two of the three UMass recruits.
Kenny Gillespie – RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL) – 2012
26 GP / 3 G / 5 A / 8 Pts / 47 PIM / -2
Gillespie is still in the regular season and got an assist his last time out for the Lancers.
Willy Smith – LW – Springfield Pics (EJHL/EmpJHL) – 2014
EJHL: 21 GP / 1 G / 1 A / 2 Pts / 28 PIM
Empire: 22 GP / 7 G / 18 A / 25 Pts / 24 PIM
Will Smith’s season is over as the Pics were eliminated in the Empire League playoffs. You can’t blame Smith though as he was the leading scorer for the Pics with a goal and three assists in the two playoff games.
Shane Walsh – LW – South Shore Kings (EJHL) – 2012
Dubuque (USHL): 23 GP / 5 G / 7 A / 12 Pts / 0 PIM / –8
South Shore (EJHL): 9 GP / 7 G / 6 A / 13 Pts / 4 PIM
Walsh has a goal in three EJHL playoff games so far. The Kings will take on the New Hampshire Monarchs in the semifinals this weekend.
I’m happy to relay the following Q&A with Grant Salzano from the Boston College website BC Interruption in anticipation of this weekend’s series. It pains me to say something positive about anything related to Boston College but BCI is one of the best college athletics sites around, providing extensive coverage of everything related to BC sports.
Fear The Triangle: What’s your overall feeling that as a “reward” for winning the regular season crown, Boston College gets to face a Massachusetts team that won two of three games from the Eagles this season, including knocking them off when they were #1 in the country?
BC Interruption: As far as the teams BC could have faced as the season was winding down, UMass was definitely last on the list for who we *wanted* to face. Let’s be honest, everyone appreciates a good curb-stomping of Providence every once in a while. There *is* some reward in playing the Minutemen, though. Getting to face UMass truly lets BC control its own destiny to get the #1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament. We really could use UMass dropping off the TUC cliff, and you really can’t entrust such things to the likes of BU. A BC sweep of the Minutemen would do it. It’s nice not having to rely on another team. Plus, it’s been a while since we’ve played a real hockey team. We need to get back to full speed, and UMass is a team that can push us.
FTT: BC comes into the quarterfinals winning their last 11 straight after going 7-9-1 through the middle of the season. What changed for the Eagles to spur them onto this winning streak?
BCI: Well, that *is* the 905-win question, isn’t it? Jerry York’s famous “Switch” that he flips every year is in full effect. As I posted earlier in the year in the midst of the slump, it wasn’t unexpected. It’s something we do every year. If I were to pinpoint one reason that doesn’t rhyme with Marker Pilner, I would say it’s been simplifying our game. During the slump it seemed like we were pressing, trying too hard, making way too many passes… you get the idea. Since the start of the winning streak, it’s been get the puck into a high-percentage scoring area, and shoot. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Scoring more goals while set up in the offensive zone has really opened up the games in general, which in turn allows us to use our real strength, our speed and transition game. It’s not rocket science but the difference from mid-season has been astounding.
FTT: Junior goaltender Parker Milner has had a Jekyll and Hyde season in net for Jerry York, but has been in goal for the entire 11 game winning streak. How confident are BC fans that he’s the goaltender to lead the team past UMass to the Hockey East championship and beyond?
BCI: BC fans are wondering where in the world this Parker Milner has been all season. I don’t care if he’s facing the Little Sisters of the Poor, giving up 1 goal in 4 games is pretty damn impressive. But Parker’s real coming out party was in the Beanpot. He was just sparkling in that game, and since then, I don’t think he’s let in a single soft goal. In short, BC fans are very confident… but it’s a relatively new feeling. You can’t argue with success though: Parker has the best GAA in Hockey East.
FTT: What do you view as Boston College’s biggest advantages over UMass that will lead them to a series victory this weekend?
BCI: It has to be our depth. Want to throw your shut-down line against Chris Kreider? We’ll give you the conference’s leading goalscorer not named after a gemstone in Barry Almeida. Want to try and control him instead? We’ll throw Rookie of the Year Johnny Gaudreau at you. All of our lines have serious, serious weapons. Even our line o’ freshmen has been playing some surprisingly good hockey of late. Who do you stop? Then, of course, there’s our speed. UMass scores some goals, but they also let in a bunch. I think that in itself is an advantage to BC — we like to run-and-gun with anyone.
FTT: In the past two weekends BC has rolled Vermont and Providence, two teams playing very poorly of late, by a combined score of 19-1 in four games while UMass comes into the series winning three of their last five, including upsets of #11 Maine and #12 Merrimack. Will the fact that BC hasn’t had to play a tough opponent in nearly three weeks by the time the puck drops on Friday hurt them at all?
BCI: Normally I would say yes, that BC might take a period or two to wake up from the doldrums of playing those two awful, awful hockey teams. But the encouraging thing, at least for BC fans, is that we haven’t played down to our competition in the slightest. Neither Vermont nor Providence ever had even a remote chance to take those games. That wasn’t the case when the puntable dogs down the street played them the week before. Yes, we pulled away in the third period of both games against Vermont… but hockey games aren’t 40 minutes. Even while Vermont was within a goal or two, there was never a time that they threatened. No, I think that despite the weaker competition, BC didn’t drop their level of hockey much, if at all. I’m expecting the Eagles to come out strong.
FTT: Do you think the very public speculation that junior star Chris Kreider will likely be bolting for the New York Rangers come the end of the season will be a distraction for the hockey team during the playoffs and subsequent NCAA tournament?
BCI: It hasn’t been speculation of whether or not he’s going pro at the end of the year as much as it’s been discussion of whether he’ll spend time with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL or go straight to the big club right onto a Stanley Cup-contending playoff roster. The consensus is the kid is going pro. I’m as big a fan of pipe dreams as anyone, but even I’m sure he’s gone. His stock just couldn’t be higher, he is possibly the most NHL-ready player you’ll find in the NCAA, and the Rangers are just drooling at the thought of him coming out. So, if only because it’s such a sure thing, I really don’t think it’ll be a distraction. Who knows, though. We saw what happened Gerbe’s last year with the “will he, won’t he” talk during the playoffs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a dominating playoff performance by anyone in any league.
FTT: Pregaming: Roggies vs Cityside. Who ya got?
BCI: I’ve been a Roggies guy since my freshman year and never felt the need to change it up. Any time I went out to B.S. with the crew it’s been to Roggies… somehow I’ve never set foot in Cityside. Take that for what it’s worth. It’s probably just the nostalgia of it being my BC bar, but there you go.
Hockey East has the transcripts from today’s coaches conference call available. Toot Cahoon says the teams’ previous wins over BC will have very little to do with what happens this weekend while Jerry York says the Minutemen have his team’s attention.
Congratulations to Joel Hanley who was named to the 2nd team of College Hockey Weekly’s All Hockey East Team.
The AHL released their Clear Day lists for eligibility in the AHL playoffs. Matt Anderson (Albany), Mark Matheson (Chicago), Casey Wellman (Connecticut), Greg Mauldin (Lake Erie), Mike Kostka (Norfolk), Paul Dainton (Springfield), and Matt Irwin (Worcester) all make the list.