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Andrew Raycroft enjoys life at UConn, has positive memories of Bruins days

10.20.14 at 8:44 pm ET
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Andrew Raycroft, who spent parts of five seasons with the Bruins, is now an assistant coach at UConn. (Charles Laberge/Getty Images)

Andrew Raycroft, who spent parts of five seasons with the Bruins, is now an assistant coach at UConn. (Charles Laberge/Getty Images)

Andrew Raycroft wasn’€™t planning to get into coaching. When the 34-year-old former Bruin decided to retire in April after spending the previous two seasons in Europe, he was looking forward to a year away from the rink.

But then over the summer, Raycroft’€™s agent mentioned that Mike Cavanaugh — a friend of his and the head coach of the UConn men’€™s hockey team — was looking for a new goalie coach.

There was enough interest on both sides that Cavanaugh and Raycroft, who had never met before, decided to grab some coffee and talk about the position. They each liked what the other had to say, and Raycroft, who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 2004, agreed to join the staff as a volunteer assistant coach.

It may seem odd for a former NHLer to take an unpaid, part-time position, especially when you consider that Raycroft had never even been to a college hockey game before Saturday night, but Raycroft saw it as the perfect job for him at this time.

It allows him to get into coaching without making as much of a time commitment as a head coach or full-time assistant would, and more importantly, it allows him to stay in the Boston area. Raycroft, who was famously traded to Toronto for Tuukka Rask in 2006, has called Boston home since he played for the Bruins, and he currently lives in Sudbury with his wife and three kids.

“I’€™m not looking to be a head coach or a full-time goalie coach at this point,” Raycroft said. “€œI just wanted to come in and kind of help the guys out, use some of my experience to help out and give them a few pointers here or there, give them a few new ideas. It was a good opportunity to give back a little.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew raycroft, tuukka rask,

Steve Addazio says ‘you cry a little bit together’ after heartbreak against Clemson

10.19.14 at 3:08 pm ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — To Steve Addazio, Saturday’s 17-13 loss to No. 24 Clemson is just part of the growing process for his football program.

There have been highlights, such as the 37-31 win over No. 9 USC on Sept. 13 and last week’s bounce-back win over North Carolina State on the road.

But the bumps have been painful. The loss to Pittsburgh at home in the ACC opener. The meltdown against Colorado State when they had the game in their grasp only to lose in the final minute.

And then there was Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. With 10:59 left, Tyler Murphy found Josh Bordner on the other side of the field for a 6-yard touchdown that put BC up, 13-10. But the Eagles defense could keep the Tigers from making two big plays – a 33-yard pass completion to midfield and a 32-yard run off right tackle for the go-ahead touchdown just 84 seconds later.

BC had their chances with under a minute left. Tyler Murphy found Tyler Rouse all alone down the right sideline at the Clemson 3. But the ball fell through his hands on first down and the Eagles lost a chance at beating a Top-25 team.

“€™Obviously our locker room is devastated, which is completely understandable but I’€™m proud of the fact that we battled,” coach Steve Addazio said. “We really battled tonight. We’€™re going to get to work and take a look at where we could have played better, where we could have coached better. Where I could have done a better job to be able to find the inches and the yards in there that would have swung that thing and made a difference. But our team resolve is strong and united.”

“This is where teams come into play. When you’€™re a real team you stick together. You support each other. You cry a little bit together. You take care of each other and your steel resolve gets stronger and you get ready to the play next week. You get ready to go down and play Wake Forrest. That’€™s a good football team we just lost to out there. I’€™ve got a lot of respect for them and the job they did as coaches. They found the plays that they needed to win that game and we came up a little bit short but we battled.”

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Read More: Boston College, Clemson, Steve Addazio,

Clemson slides by Boston College in rain

10.18.14 at 6:43 pm ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — A second upset of a ranked team wasn’t in the cards for Boston College.

Tyler Murphy drove the Eagles down to the Clemson 25 with under a minute to go, highlighted by a 43-yard scramble up the middle. But after a drop by an open Tyler Rouse of a likely touchdown pass near the goal line, the Eagles drive stalled and Boston College fell to No. 24 Clemson, 17-13, Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.

Boston College fell short in its effort to end Clemson’s string of 22 straight wins over non-ranked opponents and collect its second win over a Top-25 team this season. They stunned Southern Cal, 37-31, on Sept. 13.

‘€œWell, we were in a tough game tonight against a good opponent,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “As I said all week long, I had a feeling this game would be exactly the game was. It was going to be a game that was a bunch of three and outs. It was going to be a game where when you had some opportunities to make plays you had to make the plays. It was going to be a
game where our defense was really going to have to really be strong. And we had to fight and get to the fourth
quarter. That’€™s what we did. We fought. We got it to the fourth quarter. We gave ourselves a chance to win. We
just couldn’€™t make a couple of plays that we needed to make to close the game out.”

It was a slow start for both teams, as each punted three times in the first quarter. Clemson broke out on top first when running back Wayne Gallman ran it in from 17 yards out with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter. Boston College responded when Tyler Murphy found a wide open Sherman Alston for a 25-yard TD connection down the right side.

Clemson took a 10-7 halftime lead on a Ammon Lakip 23-yard field goal at the first half gun.

Boston College punter Alex Howell kept the Eagles in the game with a sensational day, punting 10 times for a 50.1 yard average.

Murphy converted his first third down conversion in 10 tries at a pivotal time. Murphy was flushed from the pocked and rolled to his right, chased by four Clemson linemen. He found a crossing Charlie Callinan for 12 yards down to the Clemson 21.

After another first down, Murphy again rolled to his right, set himself and threw back across the entire width of the field, finding Josh Bordner, who went into the air and brought the ball down for Boston College‘s first lead of the day, 13-10, with 10:59 left in the fourth quarter.

As great a day as Alex Howell had punting the ball on special teams, freshman Mike Knoll picked a bad time to push his extra point wide right.

The Boston College lead lasted just 84 seconds. With the rain pouring down, Clemson marched 83 yards in one minute, 24 seconds. Cole Stoudt found Mike Williams for 33 yards down the right sideline to get the Tigers out to midfield. Three players, C.J. Davidson found a big lane off right tackle and sprinted straight ahead for a 32 yard go-ahead touchdown with 9:35 left.

After the game, Murphy and Bordner both regretted missing chances on big plays. Bordner dropped a pass on a wide open pass over the middle in the first quarter, with no defender behind him. In the third quarter, on a double reverse option play, he underthrew a wide open Charlie Callinan over the middle. Callinan caught the pass for 35 yards down to the Clemson 29 but he fell down making the catch or BC would have had an easy touchdown. Instead, the drive stalled and the Eagles wound up with no points.
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Read More: Boston College, Clemson, Cole Stoudt, Tyler Murphy

BC’s Brian Mihalik, Josh Keyes named to ACC weekly honor roll

10.14.14 at 9:59 am ET
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Josh Keyes

Josh Keyes

Brian Mihalik was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week after recording his first career interception in Saturday’s 30-14 victory at NC State. Josh Keyes was named co-ACC Linebacker of the Week after recording a career-high 10 tackles in the game.

Mihalik, a 6-foot-9, 295-pound senior from Avon Lake, Ohio, also had a key sack in Saturday’s game, giving him 3.5 sacks on the year.

Keyes, a 6-foot-2, 223-pound senior from Ghent, New York, had two tackles for loss, including his team-leading fourth sack of the season. Keyes is second on the team with 32 tackles. This is the second time this season Keyes has been honored by the league.

The Eagles (4-2, 1-1 ACC) host 24th-ranked Clemson on Saturday.

Read More: Brian Mihalik, Josh Keyes,

What stood out in Hockey East’s opening weekend: Jack Eichel dominates; BC, Northeastern struggle defensively

10.13.14 at 8:11 pm ET
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My first two ideas for this post were “What we learned” or “What was surprising,” but you can’t really do those after one weekend of games. It’s dangerous to say we really learned anything from one or two games. Teams and players who struggled could go out and be very good in the next few weeks, and vice versa for those who impressed the most.

Similarly, nothing that happened over the weekend should really be considered all that surprising. We don’t know enough about any of these teams to be surprised by what they did on the first weekend of the season. We may not have expected UMass-Lowell to cruise past Boston College or Vermont to dominate Northeastern, but anything can happen in one game.

So in lieu of those first two options, here’s a look at what stood out:

Jack Eichel dominates in debut

There was no reason to think Eichel, a probable top-two pick in next summer’s NHL draft, wouldn’t be very good right off the bat, but two goals and two assists in his first non-exhibition college game is better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected, even if it was against a bad UMass team. Eichel was held off the score sheet for the first two periods, but then he exploded for four points in the first 12:39 of the third period as Boston University ran away with an eventual 8-1 win.

These weren’t easy, benefit-from-the-work-of-others points either. He played a central role on all four goals (you can watch them all below — Eichel’s first point is at the 1:27 mark). On the first, he took a pass at the offensive blue line and went straight to the slot before beating Steve Mastalerz with a great wrister. On the second, he won the puck back after nearly turning it over and then made a beautiful backhand pass to Danny O’Regan for the finish.

On the third, Eichel helped clear the puck out of the crease on the defensive end before patiently leading the rush the other way and beating Mastalerz with another wrist shot. On the fourth, he forced a turnover at the offensive blue line that eventually led to a Cason Hohmann goal. And while he didn’t get an assist on BU’s final goal of the game, it was his net drive that opened up space for a trailing O’Regan. It was fun to watch the highlights of Eichel’s first game, and it’s going to be fun to watch him all year.

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Hockey East Season Preview: Friar favorites and Comm Ave contenders

10.06.14 at 8:39 pm ET
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The meaningless exhibition games are over and Hockey East’€™s regular season gets started Friday night. Last year marked the first time in the league’€™s 30-year history that no Boston team reached the tournament semifinals, as UMass-Lowell, Providence, New Hampshire and newcomer Notre Dame were the four teams at TD Garden, with Lowell ultimately capturing its second straight tournament title. This year could be very different, as Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern all have enough talent to end up at the Garden, while Lowell, UNH and Notre Dame could all take a step back given what they lose. Providence, meanwhile, enters the season as the favorite to win the league.

Here is our preseason ranking, with some background on each team:

Jon Gillies and the Friars are the favorites to win Hockey East this season. (Providence College Athletics

Jon Gillies and the Friars are the favorites to win Hockey East this season. (Providence College Athletics)

1. Providence
Last year, the Friars reached the Hockey East semifinals for the third straight year and made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. This year, they’€™re poised to take the next step. Their 97 returning goals are the most in the conference, as they bring back their top five scorers and 11 of their top 13. Leading the way is senior center Ross Mauermann, who broke out to the tune of 19 goals and 17 assists last season. Junior goaltender Jon Gillies is also back after posting a .931 save percentage in each of the last two seasons. If there’€™s a question mark for the Friars, it’€™s on defense, where they lose minutes-eaters Steven Shamanski and Kevin Hart to graduation. Look for junior John Gilmour (a Flames draft pick) and sophomore Anthony Florentino (a Sabres draft pick) to be two of the leaders on the back end.

2. Boston College
The defending Hockey East regular-season champs lose more offense than anyone (56.1 percent of last season’€™s scoring to be exact), highlighted by the departure of the superstar trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold. The Eagles won’€™t come anywhere close to last year’€™s 4.10 goals per game, but the good news is that they aren’€™t going to give up too many goals either. Sophomore goalie Thatcher Demko is back, and junior Michael Matheson leads what might be the best defensive corps in the country. Sophomores Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen and Scott Savage are all looking to build on strong freshman campaigns, and newcomer Noah Hanifin could be a top-three pick in next year’€™s NHL draft. As for the offense, sophomores Ryan Fitzgerald (a Bruins draft pick), Austin Cangelosi and Adam Gilmour will all be thrust into bigger roles, and freshman Alex Tuch (a first-round pick of the Wild) will be relied upon as well.

3. Boston University
The Terriers’€™ first season under David Quinn was a tough one, as they went 10-21-4 and finished ninth in the league. Season two should be much better, though. Up front, Danny O’€™Regan, Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann are all capable of big bounceback seasons after seeing their point totals drop significantly from 2012-13 to 2013-14. Robbie Baillargeon looks to improve on a rookie season that saw him lead the team in scoring, and Jack Eichel — a likely top-two pick in next year’€™s NHL draft — is one of the most highly-touted freshmen in college hockey history. Defense is the biggest question mark here, but Bruins draft pick and team captain Matt Grzelcyk is back after missing the second half of last season with a shoulder injury, and freshmen John MacLeod (a second-round pick of the Lightning), Brandon Hickey (a third-round pick of the Flames) and Brandon Fortunato should help as well. Read the rest of this entry »

BC cornerback Bryce Jones dismissed for violating team rules

10.03.14 at 6:05 pm ET
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Junior cornerback Bryce Jones has been dismissed by Boston College for an unspecified violation of team rules, the Eagles announced. Jones, 20, had picked off a pass in last week’s loss to Colorado State, his lone interception of the season to go with his 20 tackles (17 unassisted), tied for fourth on the team. He had started all 13 games, recording two interceptions and 62 tackles, as a sophomore.

Boston College blows game at home and Steve Addazio doesn’t want to hear ‘my bad’

09.28.14 at 10:58 am ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — This is the age of ‘my bad’ sports.

A player blows a coverage at a critical juncture or drops a pass when he carelessly takes his eyes off the ball and he taps his chest and pronounces, ‘my bad’ to the coach and his teammates.

Well, after watching his team meltdown in the fourth quarter and lose 24-21 to Colorado State, presumably blowing any chance at a Top 25 spot, Steve Addazio wanted no part of it when addressing the media afterward.

As a matter of fact, what followed was a 55-year-old man’s fascinating interpretation of today’s sports culture.

“Sometimes I don’t think that young guys, they get it,” Addazio said. “I don’t think they really fathom that when you get 12 shots and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Everybody loves this, ‘my bad’ stuff. I don’t know what that is. ‘My bad.’ OK, thanks, thanks for telling me.

“The reality in college football of it’s gone, it’s gone. A loss is a loss. It’s over. And it’s fragile. You have to hang onto that thing and how tough it is to finish and close things out the right way. We didn’t close this game out. We had every opportunity to close the game out and we didn’t do it. And we have to learn to do that. And if anything can come out of this I hope that that can come out of it, some time, some day.”

The Eagles led Saturday’s game 14-0 and 21-14. They were driving for a score midway through the fourth quarter that would’ve put the game away when graduate quarterback Tyler Murphy rolled to his right and threw a pass that was intercepted, changing the momentum of the game.

The Eagles appeared to have escaped when Steven Daniels tipped a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage with six minutes left. But BC’s offense when 3-and-out, giving the Rams the ball back. The Eagles had one more chance to put away the Rams when they forced a 4th-and-10 from the 11. But this time there was a no tipped pass at the line, only an open lane for Garrett Grayson to fire a strike to Charles Lovett.

‘€œThe toughest thing about this loss is just watching the way we lost it,” Addazio said. “It’€™s just the way we lost it. We had a chance to end the game, 4th-and-10, end the game. It’€™s over. And turning the ball over when we had a chance to seal it out on the other end. That’€™s what’€™s going to be hard about this game.’€

“That’s the way it is. It’s going to be hard on everybody, players and coaches. That’s the way it is. Everybody wants everybody to feel good real quick. ‘Well, that’s OK.’ No, it’s not. It’s not OK.”

Boston College is dealing with injuries at several key positions. Linebackers Mike Strizak and Josh Keyes are banged up. Bobby Vardaro is an NFL prospect at left guard and is dealing with a bad hamstring.

“We’re banged up, nicked up, that’s no excuse,” Addazio said. “That’s just the way it is. Everybody is. We’re not deep enough, we’re not deep enough to handle the amount of injuries we’re dealing with right now. And they show up. And they show up when you don’t want them to show up. That’s all part of it, man.

Read More: Bobby Vardaro, Boston College Eagles, Josh Keyes, Mike Strizak

Rams Tougher: Colorado State stuns Boston College late

09.27.14 at 3:45 pm ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — Garrett Grayson connected with receiver Charles Lovett on 4th-and-10 in the back corner of the end zone with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter to lift Colorado State to a stunning 24-21 win over Boston College Saturday before 33,632 at Alumni Stadium.

Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy, who led scoring drives of 80, 96 and 82 yards on the day, got the ball back with a minute left at his own 25 but could not move the Eagles (3-2) into field goal position. Eagles running back Jon Hilliman, who finished with 128 yards on 24 carries, added two rushing touchdowns as Boston College fell for second time this season at home.

“I said in the locker room,, this is a devastating deal,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “You just hope that somehow in there, there is a way to learn how fragile it is, how tough it is and why we practice the way we do. Why we coach the way we do to be able to close these games out. When you let these games get away they’€™re gone forever.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Boston College took control to open the second quarter. And once again it was the running game leading the charge.

Hilliman capped off an 80-yard scoring drive with a four-yard run up the middle for a touchdown. The drive began when Eagles cornerback Bryce Jones made a leaping interception of a Grayson pass in the front corner of the end zone. The play was initially ruled out of bounds but review overturned the call and ball was placed at the Boston College 20.

Boston College made it 14-0 when Tyler Murphy once again showed off his running skills with a read option to his left. He escaped a would-be tackler and then scooted to the left pylon for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.

Colorado came back with their first scoring drive of the game, a 78-yard march that was finished off by a 21-yard pass in the flat from quarterback Garrett Grayson to a wide-open Rashar Higgins.

BC, led by Murphy, appeared poised to score right before halftime. Murphy, with 1:31 left before halftime, led the Eagles from their 22 down to the Colorado State 23. But the drive stalled and Alex Howell missed wide right on a 40-yard field goal attempt that had plenty of distance.

Still, the Eagles appeared to be in control, especially on the ground. For the third straight game, the Eagles were dominating the rushing game. They had 180 yards in 30 carries to Colorado State’s 36, which matched the combined total of Southern California and Maine in the previous two games. Dating back to the start of the USC game, Boston College had outgained their opponents 1,045-72 on the ground.

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Read More: Boston College, Colorado State, Garrett Grayson, Tyler Murphy

Mayor Marty Walsh voices support for moving Beanpot to Belfast in 2016

09.26.14 at 10:56 am ET
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The Beanpot in Northern Ireland? It sounds crazy, but if Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gets his way, it could very well happen. While visiting the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, which became a sister city of Boston earlier this year, Walsh expressed his support for bringing the annual college hockey tournament to the city in 2016.

“In the 62 years since its inception it has become the official battle for Boston’s hockey bragging rights and is widely known as the ‘social event of the winter season’,” Walsh said, according to the BBC.

“In light of the recent Sister City twinning between Belfast and Boston, which is underpinned by a longstanding connection between the two cities through ice hockey, I think it would be wonderful to bring the Beanpot to Belfast and am lending my support to the campaign.”

The Beanpot, which features Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern, has never been held outside the city of Boston. The first one was held at Boston Arena (now Matthews Arena) in December 1952, the next 42 were held at the old Boston Garden, and the last 19 have been held at TD Garden.

According to the BBC, Walsh will host a delegation from the Odyssey Trust and Belfast Giants in Boston in early October. They will meet with the NCAA and representatives from the four Beanpot schools to further discuss the idea.

“Bringing this tournament to the Odyssey Arena is ice hockey’s answer to bringing Notre Dame to Croke Park,” Walsh said. “The impact would be massive and would bring a major economic boost not only to local sport, but to hospitality, tourism and culture in Northern Ireland.

“Ice hockey has played an important role in fostering strong relationships between Belfast and Boston and bringing this high-profile tournament to Northern Ireland would further cement that relationship and celebrate the links between the two cities.”

The coaches from the four Beanpot schools were not immediately available for comment, but Steve Nazro, vice president of events for TD Garden, said he was just as surprised by Walsh’s comments as anyone else.

“This is the first we’ve heard of it, so we’re trying to work through it,” Nazro told WEEI.com. “It caught us totally by surprise. That’s really all I can say for now.”

It will be interesting to see where the schools stand on this idea. Bringing college hockey to a new audience is an admirable idea, and the Beanpot makes sense in the context of the Boston-Belfast city twinning, but the idea is already being panned by fans of the Beanpot schools on Twitter. Needless to say, it would be difficult for them to attend, which would kill the atmosphere that helps make the tournament so special.

Another point to consider is that the Beanpot fills (or comes close to filling) a 17,565-seat building here because it is special for the four schools and the city as a whole. It would not be nearly as special for the people of Belfast, so it’s hard to imagine that the Beanpot would sell significantly more tickets than any other set of games that could be brought to the city. Odyssey Arena has a capacity of 8,700.

 

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, the mayor’s office clarified Walsh’s remarks and said he meant to suggest a tournament similar to the Beanpot would go to Belfast, not the Beanpot itself. The following statement comes from his press secretary, Kate Norton:

“Today Mayor Walsh expressed his support for a ‘Belfast Beanpot’ – an initiative proposed by the Odyssey Trust, to host 4-6 college hockey teams from the Boston area to play a tournament in Northern Ireland. The tournament would not replace the Beanpot. This would not be an effort to ‘move’ the Beanpot out of Boston.

“I spoke with the Mayor following the impressive press and social media firestorm that followed his interview earlier today. He conveyed to me, in no uncertain terms, that – particularly as a Boston College grad and a hockey fan – he would never move a classic Boston event like the Beanpot out of our City.”

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