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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Ginand and Co. vow to stick
Northeastern preserving its promise this time

There’s no other way of saying this. When the likes of Curse of the Bambino, Seeing Red, and At Fenway essayist Dan Shaughnessy devotes his column to spotlighting Northeastern hockey –as was the case in Friday morning’s Boston Globe- they Huskies are doing something to turn heads with the ultimate magnetic pull.

No more lack of relevance as the Beanpot approaches and no more fortified conviction that merely reaching out for hardware like the regular season or playoff crown will zap a tantalizing static shock at their fingers.

They must have, for once, refined their one-dimensional, obsessive-defensive approach. Although, beyond senior Ryan Ginand, they aren’t exactly brandishing billboard-worthy scorers.

But hey, would the Dog House Dwellers rather have a molecular, disorderly conglomeration of Alex Ovechkin impersonators or a regimented legion of name-on-the-front-first Northeastern Huskies? Sometimes the customer isn’t necessarily right.

Although, the likes of Ginand has sprinkled generous sugar on the Huskies healthful run so far (17-5-2 overall coming into the weekend).

“He lights up like a Christmas tree when he gets the puck near the scoring areas,” head coach Greg Cronin said last Saturday after Ginand’s hat trick equaled the difference in NU’s 6-3 home pasting of the Friars, Part II of an assertive home-and-home sweep for the Huskies.

Lights up like a Christmas tree? That comment from the colorful Cronin –who bears a mug worthy of 24 or 007 cast consideration- either signifies a month-old case of post-holiday blues or refreshed pre-homestretch faith.

It’s pretty tough to question that faith. The tediously obvious void in Northeastern’s roll of requirements is finally showing a sturdy presence.

Ginand’s 4-1-5 totals on the past weekend swelled his season totals to 15-7-22 coming into the weekend, a pace that should have him flaunting 33 by the time the Huskies have met the two-game minimum limit for all playoff entries, which they are odds-on to do at a bare minimum.

Hypothetically, roughly 22 of those points would be goals, amounting to the most by a Husky since Mike Morris slugged home 19 and Jason Guerriero 17 in 2004-05. No other individuals in Cronin’s capstone project are on quite the same net-stuffing pace, but as a whole, Northeastern should charge up about 112 strikes by mid-March, which would be their first hustle beyond the 100-plateau since they planted 123 in 2001-02.

Of course, there was another time when Ginand was the Huskies’ primal scoring beacon. As a freshman he led the team with a grand total of 10 firsthand strikes. His 18 total points that year fell short only to Jimmy Russo’s 18.

With little much beyond that to subsist on, though (team total 67 goals), the 2005-06 Huskies were officially more shriveled than this year’s Friars, amassing but three wins –all in Hockey East action- and missing out on the postseason for the third time in four years.

Since then, they have merely subsisted too much and too long on Brad Thiessen’s gallant goaltending to hold on to any home ice privileges, much less push their campaign beyond the conference quarterfinals.

But beneath the Ginand of this year, Northeastern entered this weekend with 60 tallies to go with his 15. The remaining four-fifths have been rather smoothly split amongst 16 other puckslingers, six of them with at least five goals to their credit.

NU has had neither a festive February nor a merry March at any Causeway hockey facilities since the dusk of 1980s, back when Bruce Racine backstopped them to the Hub’s Double Crown in 1988. So by all means let their fans recreate the limbo-based anticipation many of them partook in over the 2004 Red Sox.

After all, their ultimate cushion is knowing their boys haven’t blown a tire yet.

State of disarray
There’s never a favorable time for incidents like the assault last Saturday in the final minute of a Michigan-Michigan State tangle that has since convinced partial perpetrator Andrew Conboy to dishonorably defect the Spartans.

But the timing of this play is comparatively horrid what with the NHL’s long-overdue attempts to assess the formula for dealing with fighting/unnatural infractions and the collegiate game’s renewed campaign to neutralize salty-breathed fans.

Last week, backchecking Michigan defenseman Steve Kampfer approached the oncoming puck-carrier Corey Tropp, became a touch ineptly intertwined as he thrust his body, and thus sent the Spartan on a rough jackknife dive along the center line. Upon hustling after the fugitive biscuit in his own end, Kampfer was suddenly ambushed by Tropp and Conboy, who both offhandedly applied their twigs whilst steamrolling the Wolverine along the boards.

“Whenever there’s a good hit, why does there always have to be retribution?” announcer Ken Daniels bemoaned over the FSN-Detroit airwaves while the Yost Nasties spewed unmistakable expletives at the Spartans for an entire internal and external audience to hear.

MSU foreman Rick Comley ultimately suspended Conboy and Tropp for the remainder of the season. Such a spontaneous one-strike policy is bound to flood yet another pond of debate, but theoretically, next-to-zero tolerance ought to be the most functional deterrence.

Growth in the Granite State
Myia Yates, a PC class of 1999 alumna who, in 125 ventures, meticulously crafted a perfect point-per-game career median two collegiate generations before Sonny Watrous, recently claimed a sliver of her new local spotlight as head coach of the Bishop Guertin High School Cardinals in Nashua, N.H. Nashua Telegraph scribe Tom King noted the offseason positional swap that had Yates assuming the primal whistle after serving as a sidekick to Mark Karaska.

The Cardinals, King’s column explains, “have been around for around a half-dozen years or so, but are in their second season as a full-fledged varsity competing for an NHIAA championship.”

A Minnesota expatriate when she came to Providence in 1995, Yates is suddenly vowing left and right to strengthen the seeds of women’s hockey in New Hampshire. Beyond her new duties at Bishop Guertin –where she insists better days are ahead of the team’s 2-6 start to her tenure- she is also eyeing core administrative duties with the Hudson-based Northern Cyclones program. The so-termed “Lady Cyclones” will sanction U12, U14, and U16 teams effective next season and conduct tryouts throughout April.

Quick Feeds: Not-too-distant Friar Puck alumnus Tyler Sims latched on with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals –Tampa Bay’s top affiliate- through a PTO signed Thursday. His presumptive debut in pro hockey’s petite bourgeoisie league shall thus fall after a mere 13 games spaced over three Double-A cities (Reading, Pa., Las Vegas, Memphis) in his ten-and-a-half months removed from PC. But come what may, Admiral Sims? Fun concept for any history majors who also witnessed Sims’ record-smashing toil here, is it not?…Ex-Hockey East commissioner Bob DeGregorio, now the chieftain of the Atlantic Hockey Association, has just latched the likes of Niagara and Robert Morris –two programs bracing for eviction from the termite-riddled house that is College Hockey America- effective no later than the fall of 2010. The expectable knee-jerk inquiry from fans has concerned the ultimate fate of the more geographically scattered Alabama-Huntsville and Bemidji State. May we remind you, though, that the ripening AHA is currently led by RIT and another program based in the Rocky Mountains?...Boston College graduate Scott Clemmensen, the backstop behind four consecutive Frozen Four entries between 1998 and 2001, was voted Hockey East’s all-time Unsung Hero, out-bustling the likes of ex-Friar Fernando Pisani in that derby…This author’s picks for the out-of-market game of the week: All of the Beanpot action –men’s semifinals tomorrow at TD Banknorth Garden and women’s at Northeastern on Tuesday- is an easy enough choice, but the men’s tangle between BC and NU pits two intriguing agendas against one another. The Eagles are again yearning to momentously breach out of midseason limbo. The Huskies are again trying not the let the Garden spell Waterloo for them. And both crave the prospective privilege of forcing BU to go Potless for –Doggone it- two years in a row.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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