A note to readers

Head over to BostonSportsU18.com for complete coverage of all Boston sports. FTP writer Joshua Kummins is the site’s new associate editor and BSU18 will now serve as the hub for all of the same coverage you have been following here. This webpage will remain running, mainly as an archive.

Please contact Joshua Kummins via e-mail at jkummins@bostonsportsu18.com with any questions!

Thanks for your support!

Red Sox and Hockey East to collide again for Frozen Fenway — January 7, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. — For the second time in three years, the Hockey East Association will invade Fenway Park for an outdoor doubleheader featuring New England’s flagship hockey universities on January 7, 2012.

Members of the media turned out at Fenway for the announcement of the event on Friday afternoon.

In 2010, the inaugural event drew over 30,000 fans to Fenway in a pair of games that features local rivals with teams from the City of Boston. With four New England states represented, this year’s games will bring a different vibe.

The two regular-season Hockey East games will feature the Vermont Catamounts against the UMass Minutemen at 4:00 p.m., and the New Hampshire Wildcats against the Maine Black Bears at 7:30 p.m.

The game will be part of a “Hockey Day in New England” as the Boston Bruins will take on the Vancouver Canucks at 1 p.m. on NESN down at the TD Garden, before the broadcast of both games from Fenway beginning at 4:30. The Bruins and Canucks are scheduled to meet that afternoon for the first time since the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tickets for the hockey doubleheader go on sale September 13 at noon (EST) and will be available at RedSox.com/FrozenFenway, by calling (877) RED-SOX9, or at the Fenway Park box office. Students and alumni of the participating schools can also purchase tickets through their respective colleges and universities.

The first doubleheader in 2010 sold out in about two days, so get set to buy your tickets early, before you are shut out.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino also announced that the ice will be home to a pair of public skating sessions for local City residents during game week and more details will be announced in the future.

PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTEBOOK

NESN’s Tom Caron: “When Fenway became frozen in the final days of 2009, something magical happened here. ‘America’s Most Beloved Ballpark’ quickly became New England’s favorite sheet of ice…Hockey players of all ages got a chance to get out here and skate.”

“As we continue to celebrate hockey’s heritage in New England, we get ready to welcome hockey back to Fenway Park. The celebration two years ago ended with an exclaimation point — a college doubleheader on a snowy night that warmed the hearts of New Englanders of anyone that was here, watched on TV, or anyone that thought about lacing a pair of skates.”

Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna (Arlington, Mass. native): “Few experiences in my four decades in college hockey were as special as the first Frozen Fenway in 2010…It was a once in a lifetime experience for our four schools the first time around and I expect the same in 2012.”

“We’ve changed the nature of this event from what were local rivalries last time to a celebration of New England hockey…They all have very proud traditions of ice hockey.”

Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President and COO Sam Kennedy: “We look forward to kicking off Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary celebrations with Frozen Fenway 2012, which is a great way for thousands of families to come and enjoy favorite winter pastimes as we begin celebrating its milestone year.”

Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon: “We are just so thrilled to be a part of this historic event. It has been a great summer for us and continues to get better with this announcement. Our fans will certainly embrace this event and we will have a lot of Catamounts in the stands.”

Maine head coach Tim Whitehead: “The Black Bears are honored to participate in this Frozen Fenway event…We are excited about the opportunity to play at Fenway Park, especially against the Wildcats. This should be another fantastic Maine-UNH matchup, among the many classic games between our two teams over the years.”

New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile (Medford, Mass. native): “We have been talking about this for a while and knew that it might be a possibility, so we’re glad it all worked out…[The Maine coaches and coach Umile] talked a lot of years about playing a game in a big venue and I could not think of a better place to play than Fenway Park.”

UMass head coach Don “Toot” Cahoon (Lynn, Mass. native), the winner of the press conference’s best-dressed award: “The reason for the suit is that my prayers were answered and I felt compelled to go to church this morning and thank God for the opportunity for the chance to come to Fenway Park. I always wanted to come here as a baseball player when I was a kid, but…I missed it by a long shot.”

“Any Division I hockey program would be ecstatic to have the opportunity to play at Fenway Park – such a historic site and venue. When you think of the Flagship program for the state of Massachusetts playing in front of so many proud alumni, it creates a unique and special situation for our program to be a part of.”

UMass co-captain T.J. Syner (Springfield, Mass. native): “I never dreamed something like this would be possible…Just being able to be here is amazing and a dream come true.”

“I grew up coming to Red Sox games and it is one of the most historic ballparks in Major League Baseball, but to play a hockey game here is something else. Speaking on behalf of the team, we are all looking forward to it.”

Keefe, Foley named new assistants under Madigan at Northeastern

–Courtesy Story/Northeastern University–

BOSTON – Former Brown University assistant coach Jerry Keefe and former Harvard University assistant coach Patrick Foley will round out the Northeastern University men’s ice hockey staff, as announced by Huskies’ head coach Jim Madigan on Wednesday.
 
Northeastern’s new duo of assistant coaches combine for over a decade of coaching experience and are extremely knowledgeable about the Hockey East Association, having played their college careers in the conference. Keefe was an assistant coach under Brendan Whittet for the last two years with the Bears while Foley spent the last four seasons as the Crimson’s assistant coach on Ted Donato’s staff while Keefe
 
“I am very excited that Jerry and Pat have joined the Northeastern hockey staff,” Madigan said. “They possess all of the characteristics I felt were necessary to fill these two important roles.
 
“Jerry and Pat are quality people who possess a sharp set of communication skills, a keen understanding of the game and the ability to teach and develop our young student-athletes. Each of them understands what it takes to succeed in Hockey East, calling upon their collegiate careers.”
 
Jerry Keefe
Keefe has established himself as a notable name in the New England college hockey ranks, making stops at Westfield State and UMass Boston before his two seasons at Brown from 2009 to 2011. Much like Foley, Keefe has gained valuable experience through many different capacities with USA Hockey.
 
“Jerry has an extensive recruiting network that will allow our hockey program to attract top student-athletes to Northeastern,” Madigan said. “Additionally, Jerry’s previous coaching experience will be critical in developing our student-athletes and preparing them for future opportunities in hockey.  He will be a valuable resource in all aspects of the Northeastern hockey program.”
 
In his first season behind the bench with Brown in 2009-10, Keefe helped direct the Bears to an ECAC Semifinals birth for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.
 
One of Keefe’s most notable accomplishments was the resurrection of the Westfield State hockey program for the 2008-09 season after a 20-year dormant phase. Keefe was able to recruit 27 student-athletes and led the Owls to a second-place finish in the MASCAC. Keefe’s squad posted an 11-9-4 record and made the playoffs for the first time since 1980-81.
 
Before breathing life into Westfield State’s program, Keefe served as an assistant for one season with UMass Boston in 2006-07.
 
Keefe’s roles with USA Hockey include the Yankee Conference Team New England District head evaluator (2006-08), an instructor for New England District Festivals (2006-07), a coach for the USA Hockey Select-17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn. (2007-08), and a coach for the Massachusetts Satellite Program (2008-present).
 
As a student-athlete, Keefe was a four-year center with Providence College from 1996 to 2000 and finished with 98 points (30-68-98) in 102 career games. After leading the Friars with 52 points in 37 games, the highest single-season point total in 15 years, Keefe was honored as New England’s Most Improved Player.
 
Upon graduation, Keefe’s professional hockey career started at the end of the 2000 season with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (AHL) and Trenton Titans (ECHL). Keefe’s pro career last five years, including a pair of seasons in Europe.
  
Patrick Foley
Foley possesses a unique coaching background, both at the collegiate and international levels. The Milton, Mass. native not only coached at Harvard, but also served as an assistant coach for two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP). In 2008, Foley was an assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic.
 
“Pat brings a blend of youth and coaching experience that few his age possess,” Madigan said. “He has coached at the collegiate and international level and has surrounded himself with some of the top hockey minds in the game. Pat will use his recruiting and coaching experiences to attract and teach our student-athletes. Pat is a wonderful complement to the Northeastern coaching staff.”
 
While at Harvard, Foley specialized in working with the defensive unit and special teams. In his first year with the Crimson, Foley’s penalty-killing unit staved off 84.9 percent of the power plays it faced, good for 24th nationally, and was tops in ECAC Hockey. Foley also helped lead the Crimson to the 2008 Beanpot and ECAC Hockey title games and sweeps of road playoff series in 2010 and 2011.
 
Prior to his time in Cambridge, Mass., Foley assisted the U.S. National U-18 Team and helped guide Team USA to a gold medal in the 2006 IIHF Under-18 World Championship and a silver medal at the 2007 championship. He was also part of the staff that directed NTDP teams to a gold medal at the 2005 Four Nations tournament in Finland and a silver medal at the 2006 Five Nations in Russia. Foley was instrumental in nurturing 13 NTDP players who were chosen in the 2006 NHL Draft, including a pair of forwards selected with the first two overall picks in the 2007 draft.
 
Foley enjoyed a fruitful college hockey career at the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 2004. Foley was the second UNH player ever to serve as captain for three straight seasons and anchored the Wildcats’ consecutive Hockey East championships and Frozen Four appearances in 2002 and 2003.
 
Before dressing for New Hampshire, Foley played for the U.S. National Under-18 Team and was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round with the 185th pick of the 2000 NHL Draft.
 
Foley has family roots that tie back to Northeastern as his father, Kevin, played football for the Huskies from 1972 to 1974 as well as the 1976 season.
 
Keefe and Foley will team up with Madigan for the first time behind Northeastern’s bench in the Huskies’ scrimmage against St. Francis Xavier on Sunday, Oct. 2 at Matthews Arena at 7 p.m. Northeastern’s opens the 2011-12 schedule at home against Massachusetts on Friday night, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

Alumnus, former NHL scout Jim Madigan tabbed as tenth all-time head coach at NU

Jim MadiganPress Release (courtesy Northeastern University)

BOSTON — Northeastern alumnus and three-time Beanpot champion Jim Madigan has been named Northeastern men’s ice hockey head coach, Director of Athletics Peter Roby announced today (July 26). Madigan, the 10th coach in program history, brings more than 26 years of college and professional hockey experience to his new post on Huntington Avenue. He played for the Huskies from 1981 to 1985 and was an assistant coach at the university from 1986 to 1993. He has served as a professional scout for the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins since 1993, winning a Stanley Cup in 2009.

Madigan will be formally introduced as head coach at a press conference today at 12:30 p.m. at Matthews Arena on the Northeastern campus. The press conference will be streamed live on the athletic department’s website, GoNU.com.

“It’s a true honor to be named head coach at Northeastern,” said Madigan. “I have tremendous passion for this university and for this program. Northeastern is a world-class institution and Boston is a world-class city. I’m thrilled to be back where it all started for me—Matthews Arena.”

“The expectations I have for our program are high. We will continue to build on the momentum established by Greg Cronin and his staff, and we will compete at the highest level, both in Hockey East and nationally.” Continue reading

HEA Commissioner Joe Bertagna signs contract extension through 2013-14

WAKEFIELD, Mass. — Hockey East Director of Public Relations Pete Souris announced on Monday evening that league commissioner Joe Bertagna was signed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season.

Bertagna, who is set to begin his 15th season with the conference, became the fourth-ever to hold the position on July 1, 1997.

Northeastern University Director of Athletics Peter Roby, the executive chair of the Hockey East Committee, signed the deal.

“This contract extension is well deserved and signals our excitement about the work that Joe and his staff have done to position Hockey East as the premier hockey conference in the country,” Roby stated in a press release. “We are excited about our future with Joe as our commissioner and look forward to working with him for many years to come.”

Bertagna, a native of Arlington, Mass. and Gloucester resident, is the nation’s longest-tenured college hockey administrator after spending another 15 years as the primary ice hockey administrator the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).

“I am very pleased that the directors have seen fit to extend my service for three more seasons,” said Bertagna. “I will take this as an endorsement of what our entire staff has been doing to advance the interests of not only Hockey East but college hockey as a sport.”

The conference has enjoyed great success on the ice under Bertagna’s leadership, including five national championships and three of the last four in a row. Five of the last nine “Hobey Hat Trick” finalists have also been selected from the conference.

During his tenture, the conference has signed extensive television partnerships with the New England Sports Network (NESN) and the CBS College Sports Network. 98.5 “The Sports Hub” also broadcast and covered the 2009 Hockey East Championships at the TD Garden.

His staff has also administrated the first-ever outdoor collegiate hockey game on the East coast during the 2010 “Frozen Fenway,” which featured a women’s game between Northeastern and New Hampshire as well as a men’s game between Boston College and Boston University.

In 1991, he was named the Executive Director of the American Hockey Coaches Association (ACHA) and is currently the only person to have served in that position.

In recent years, Bertagna was instrumental in securing funds for the formation of College Hockey, Inc., the marketing arm of the Hockey Commissioners Association, which was he was instrumental in creating back in 2009.

Bertagna enjoyed a brief college coaching career at Harvard University in the late 1970s, which included the formation of the Harvard women’s hockey program in 1977-78. He was the first head coach for the women’s team, while serving a season as Men’s Junior Varsity coach.

As a player, his career began at Arlington (Mass.) High School and Harvard University. During his school playing career, he tended goal for three famous American hall of fame hockey coaches: Ed Burns at Arlington and Ralph “Cooney” Weiland and Bill Cleary at Harvard.

He also played professionally with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League as well as in Italy.

Bertagna and his wife Kathy, a two-sport athlete at Bates College, still reside in Gloucester with their three children, Bobby (14), Joey (13) and Grace (10).

Merrimack signs hockey coach Dennehy to two additional years

by Joshua Kummins
(Portions by Brad Davis, Merrimack College Sports Information Director, from press release)

The Merrimack College Athletic Department, led by Athletic Director Glenn Hoffman, added two years to the contract of hockey coach Mark Dennehy late Friday afternoon. The deal guarantees that the Boston College graduate will now remain with the Warriors through the 2018-19 season.

He originally signed a contract extension prior to the start of the record-setting 2010-11 season.

“This contract extension underscores Merrimack’s commitment to Mark and his leadership. Mark led his team to national prominence with a culture of integrity and principle. He embodies the values of the College and serves as a role model for all students,” said Merrimack President Christopher E. Hopey. “I am pleased to have Mark continue as head coach and remain an integral part of the Merrimack community.”

The extension of Dennehy’s contract continues a series of major investments made under President Hopey this year in the areas of academics and athletics and comes at a time when the College is expected to enroll the largest freshmen class in its history and is in the midst of several campus construction projects including the expansion of the Volpe Center, which will include a new sports medicine area, strength and conditioning training area and second ice rink.

In his sixth year as head coach at Merrimack, Dennehy guided the Warriors to their first-ever Hockey East Championship Game appearance, a Division I school record 25 wins and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1988. The crowds returned to a newly-renovated J. Thom Lawler Arena during this past year, while Dennehy’s team posted the best home ice record in Hockey East for the second straight season (13-2-1).

“Mark has done a tremendous job with the hockey program, and we’re happy he will be leading our program for the foreseeable future,” said Hofmann, who is in his third year at Merrimack. “His team has excelled on the ice and in the classroom, helped to build pride amongst Merrimack alumni and distinguished themselves on campus and in the community.”

Dennehy himself had very high praise for Hopey, Hoffman, and the entire Merrimack community as he opened a new chapter in his career.

“I am humbled and my family is truly grateful for the support and trust that Dr. Hopey and Glenn Hofmann have continued to show in me and the hockey program,” said Dennehy. “Merrimack is a unique and special place in which hockey is truly a part of the fabric of the College. The excitement and momentum that not only the hockey program has established, but just as importantly is present throughout the entire college community makes this a place that I want to stay at for the rest of my career.”

Dennehy was the 2009-10 Co-Hockey East Coach of the Year and was the 2010 and 2011 All-New England Coach of the Year.

In 2010-11, Merrimack defeated every Hockey East team for the second straight season and second time ever and was ranked nationally for the final 17 weeks of the season. The program reached new heights as it reached fourth in the nation during the month of February 2011.

In Dennehy’s six years at Merrimack, the Warriors have earned more Hockey East All-Academic Scholar Athletes of the Year than any other Hockey East school and have recorded a 3.0 GPA or better in three straight seasons.

This season, ten of Dennehy’s players were named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team, which was announced a few weeks back.

Merrimack also saw its first two players drafted in the NHL Entry Draft under Dennehy as Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) and Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) were selected in the 2009 draft, while Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) signed a two-year contact with the Ottawa Senators following his second year with the Warriors.

Take two: Cronin officially leaves Northeastern to become assistant coach with Toronto Maple Leafs

Northeastern University Director of Athletics Peter Roby announced today that head coach Greg Cronin has accepted an offer to return to professional hockey as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

A nationwide search for Cronin’s replacement will begin immediately, but assistant coach Sebastien Laplante, who played at NU from 1989 to 1993, will serve as the interim head coach. Laplante joined Cronin’s staff in 2008 as an assistant coach and will also be a candidate to take over the position full-time.

Cronin was named head coach at Northeastern in 2005. During his tenure, he elevated the program to new heights and collected 71 wins over the previous four seasons — the most over a four-year period in program history.

“I want to thank Greg for the incredible work he has done on behalf of this university and our student-athletes,” Roby said in a press release announcing Cronin’s departure. “Greg has been a tireless worker, both on and off the ice. He has taken our hockey program to new heights. He’s advanced our relationships with alumni and friends of the program. And he’s helped reshape our arena into one of the finest hockey venues in the nation.”

Over the last three years, the Huskies made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1994, qualified for the Hockey East semifinals twice and earned two trips to the Beanpot championship game at TD Garden.

Cronin’s new role with the Maple Leafs marks a return to professional hockey. He served as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders for six seasons from 1998-2003 and was the organization’s director of player development for three years (2002‐05). He was the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

Former Islanders and Providence Bruins head coach Ron Gordon, a native of Easton, Massachusetts, will join Cronin on the bench. Gordon was a goaltender for Boston College from 1982 to 1986, posting a career mark of 64-35-3. He’s a former Hockey East First-Team All-Star in 1986 and he played a huge role in the Eagles’ first place finish in the ECAC East Region in 1983-84.

New coach Bazin names UML assistants

Jason Lammers and Cam Ellsworth have been named an assistant coaches with the UMass Lowell hockey program, announced first-year head coach Norm Bazin on Thursday.

Lammers brings over a decade of coaching experience to UMass Lowell, most recently spending the last two seasons with Colorado College. In addition, he has coached at Ohio State University, SUNY Geneseo, Princeton University, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Clarkson University and Hobart College.

Ellsworth joins the River Hawks after three seasons as an assistant coach with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. He also adds eight seasons of professional and collegiate experience as a goaltender for Michigan Technological University and several teams in the ECHL.

Together with Bazin, the trio will look to turn-around the River Hawks who struggled to a 5-25-4 record (4-21-2 in Hockey East) last year but can return as many as 24 players for the 2011-12 season.

Hockey East announces All-Academic Team

Hockey East announced on Wednesday that 85 student-athletes were named to the 2010-11 All-Academic Team in the league’s 27th season of play. Members of the All-Academic Team achieved a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better in each of the two academic periods during which he was actively competing.

Maine senior defenseman Jeff Dimmen and freshman goaltender Dan Sullivan shared the distinction as the Top-Scholar Athlete as they both earned perfect 4.0 GPA’s for the season.

The league also honored nine student-athletes that received “Distinguished Scholar” status for players that achieved a 3.0 or better in each semester over four varsity seasons. UMass-Lowell’s Scott Campbell and Jason DeLuca, Maine’s Tanner House and Dimmen, along with Providence’s Matt Germain and Kyle MacKinnon were the three pairs of teammates to take home the honor. Vermont’s Josh Burrows, UMass’ Michael Lecomte and UNH’s Greg Manz also were awarded the distinction for four years of academic success.

Vermont defenseman Megan Dalbec headlines the 86-member women’s team. She earned Top Scholar-Athlete honors for the year with a perfect 4.00 grade point average.

FULL LIST OF ALL-ACADEMIC TEAMS (.pdf)

Northeastern’s Faust named Jim Nantz Award winner for top collegiate sportscaster in the nation

Faust

Northeastern hockey announcer Alex Faust was named the nation's top college sportscaster.

Northeastern University hockey voice and WRBB Radio sports director Alex Faust was honored with the Jim Nantz Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sportscaster. The award was presented by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) on May 15 at the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association banquet in Salisbury, N.C.

It is the first such award for the station, though Faust — who will be a senior in the fall — was recognized last year by STAA as one of the ten best collegiate sportscasters last year.

Faust’s broadcast parter and fellow classmate Jared Shafran was ranked in the honorable mention category by STAA. Faust, Shafran and rising junior Ben Horner comprised of the lead hockey broadcast team that called all but one game during this past 2010-11 season, including the dramatic Hockey East playoff series at Boston University.

“This is such an incredible honor not only for me, but for everyone here at WRBB,” Faust said after the event. “This validates years of hard work by our staff, as well as our alumni, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in sports broadcasting.”

The praise from the Northeastern community has been resounding.

Faust brings “senses of professionalism, dignity and hard work” to the table, said Northeastern assistant director of sports information Mark Majewski. “This award could not go to a more deserving candidate and I am excited to see where the future will lead him in the sport broadcasting business.”

Northeastern Director of Athletics Peter Roby said, “Northeastern Athletics is so excited to learn of Alex receiving such a prestigious award. He has worked extremely hard and has done a wonderful job of covering Husky sports over the years.”

The award continues a long tradition of talented announcers at WRBB Sports. For years, the station has provided Northeastern students with professional broadcasting experience as on-air announcers, studio hosts, and field reporters. Notable and recent station graduates include:

  • Keith Lavon (’10): Play-by-play voice of the Central Hockey League’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
  • Tom Giles (’09): Sports director at KKCO, NBC affiliate in Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Adam Jones (’08): Former host at WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub) and current midday host at ESPN Boston
  • Josh Heller (’07): Play-by-play voice of the American Hockey League’s Albany Devils
  • Dan Weiss (’02): Play-by-play voice of the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage
  • Eric Lindquist (’01): Play-by-play voice of the American Hockey League’s Worcester Sharks
  • Don Orsillo (’91): Television play-by-play voice of the Boston Red Sox