×

Keeping Score: Big men on campus

  • The first varsity hockey goal by Deerfield Academy in its Class of 1993 Rink was scored by junior Christina Halloran of Darien, Ct. when she beat Loomis goalie Ellnor Keehn early in the third period of the Big Green’s 1-1 tie, Wednesday. contributed photo/tom echeverria


Friday, December 07, 2018

Good morning!

Fans in these parts can’t quite grab the significance of the UMass hockey team’s ascension to No. 1 in the country, as per Monday’s poll released by the U.S. College Hockey Organization (USCHO). It means UMass kids can swagger around the flagship campus knowing their hockey team bows to no one.

The fly in the ice cube is the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll that ranks St. Cloud State No. 1.

OK, you take that side of the Mississippi. We’ll take this side and meet in Buffalo.

Coach Greg Carvel gives credit to his coaching predecessors. He’s part of a fraternity that watches out for each other. Be nice to people on the way up, because you might see them again on the way down.

I respectfully disagree with the coach. I was here and Carvel wasn’t, and the only other coach who helped get the program where it is today is John Micheletto. He couldn’t coach his way out of a Wheaties box, but Micheletto recruited Cale Makar and Matt Murray, the former an NHL-ready defenseman and the latter the Hockey East goaltender of the month.

Breathing rarefied air can be short-lived, and indeed the jig was up after a 4-0 loss last night at eighth-ranked Quinnipiac. On the post-game show following the game, Carvel acknowledged the pressure of being the No. 1 team in the country.

“I’m glad we can put this No. 1 ranking behind us and we can get back to being hockey players again,” he said.

The two teams play again tonight at 7:30 at the Mullins Center and it’s arguably the biggest game in program history. The Bobcats excel on special teams; they’ve been to the NCAAs five times since 2000 and reached the Frozen Four twice in the last five years.

When Toot Cahoon was fired/resigned, the first coach AD John McCutcheon contacted was Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold, who stayed in Hamden and is in his 24th year coaching the team.

Tonight’s game is Patriots versus Rams, Caps versus Knights, Hillary versus The Donald. They’ll be giving out white hats and towels at the door, and fans were advised to buy tickets in advance. In the words of the late Jack Buck, go crazy folks, the eyes of Hockey Nation are upon you.

Hockey Notes: Don’t expect St. Cloud State to falter. The Huskies are having a rocking-chair weekend playing back-to-back games against Nebraska-Omaha (4-8-2). … Attrition has begun to take its toll. The Daily Collegian reported that Bobby “Big Rig” Kaiser is done for the season. The 6-foot-2 freshman from Grosse Pointe, Mich., will undergo “major” shoulder surgery. … After Tuesday’s home game against Yale (5-2-2), the season will resume on Jan. 4 against UMass-Lowell at the Mullins Center, and AIC the following night at Springfield’s MassMutual Center.

****

Fran Redmond, whose family owned the Candlelight Restaurant in South Deerfield, passed away this week. In the 1970s, Fran would pour Schlitz into frosted mugs and plop them on beer-soaked coasters for Pat Morrissey, Mark Russo and me. He was a Yankees’ fan, and took great pleasure watching us fret after Reggie Jackson put one in the bleachers, or George Scott grounded into another rally-killing double play.

One summer night Rick Burleson, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk and the Boomer all hit first-inning home runs off Catfish Hunter. The Red Sox won, 9-4, and we finally got to see Fran be the gracious loser and buy us a round.

It seems like last season, because Fran’s the sort who’s not forgotten.

****

True believers are starting to lose faith that the UMass basketball team will get the 20 wins it needs to land an NIT berth. The Minutemen have had trouble at home against the H’s — losing to Harvard, Howard and Holy Cross.

On Tuesday, a sparse turnout of 2,257 at the Mullins Center saw the Crusaders score the fourth-most points in their last 52 games, beating UMass 82-78. Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Nevada scored its most points in nearly a decade in its 110-87 win over the Minutemen. UMass ranks 231st in points allowed (74.2), and it wasn’t much better last night in Providence. The Friars were listed as nine-point favorites on 5dimes, but UMass won 79-78.

“I don’t think this is their year,” said a UMass booster, who understandably prefers to remain anonymous, prior to Friday’s game. “They don’t have the aggressive, tough-to-play-against defense that’s the hallmark of UMass basketball.”

He was particularly annoyed by the 0-for-5 shooting of sophomore guard Carl Pierre of BC High, and the minutes allotted to 6-foot-8 freshman forward Sy Chatman. In his own words: “Carl Pierre has disappeared off the face of the earth, they need to hire a sports psychologist for him. As for Chatman, they must think a lot of him because they’re putting him in front of a couple of other guys (on the roster). He got blocked once, turned it over twice, couldn’t get the ball off when it was dumped to him repeated times in the post, and he had no up-and-down moves. I assume he’ll be a fine player, but right now he ain’t the answer.”

Indeed, lots of questions but few answers for Matt McCall’s Minutemen.

****

The Deerfield Academy hockey team rebounded from a 2-0 deficit and survived a late 5-on-3 disadvantage to beat NMH, 3-2, on Wednesday. The Big Green scored the game-winner with two minutes left, giving them the “W” in their inaugural game in the new rink.

“The new complex is unbelievable,” said Greenfield’s Bob Weiss. “It’s like a fairy tale.”

Deerfield hosts Avon Old Farms on Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will be streamed live, as are all of DA’s home games this season.

Earlier that day the DA girls team tied Loomis, 1-1. The game was delayed 45 minutes after a Loomis player was injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital. “Our trainers were optimistic she’d be OK,” boys coach Tim McVaugh wrote in an email. “The ambulance was precautionary given the nature of the injury.”

The DA girls will host St. Paul’s on Wednesday.

NMH hosts Academie Saint Louis today at noon, and the girls team hosts Andover at 4:30 p.m.

****

UMass hoops fans will remember DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham, two Louisianans who chose UMass over Boston College, Florida, LSU, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and Washington.

They arrived during the Derek Kellogg era, played one season and bolted after Kellogg was fired and Pat Kelsey briefly became the new coach. Kelsey changed his mind and returned to Winthrop University in South Carolina, but the two friends had already decided to cash out and play elsewhere.

They’re at the University of Houston, which is undefeated (7-0) headed into this afternoon’s game at Oklahoma State. Gresham has played every game and is averaging 17 minutes, five points and five rebounds. Jarreau has played one game and scored eight points with three rebounds in 24 minutes.

****

The bravest man or woman in Hinsdale each winter is the first to push a shanty out onto the Connecticut River setback. Ice was already beginning to form on the lake-sized body of water separated by the north-south rail trail. Temperatures are predicted to stay at or below freezing the next few days, and ice fishermen will be pushing their luck out onto three or four inches by Sunday.

****

Here’s my vote to eliminate baseball’s infield shift. The only adjustment that hitters have been able to make is to change launch angles and either hit a home run or strike out, usually the latter. David Ortiz claimed the shift cost him 500 hits, and in June Mets manager Mickey Callaway told Newsday’s Anthony Rieber, “To actually ask hitters to manipulate the barrel and try to hit the ball on the ground the other way would be really tough, and if they had that capability, they wouldn’t be getting shifted in the first place.”

It’s boring baseball, and it needs to change.

****

Hot Stove Season is time to watch Ken Burns’ “Baseball” on demand. One clip shows Mickey Mantle talking about the day a young rookie jumped for a ball that Mantle had hit 20 feet over the fence. “When I got back in the dugout, Casey said, ‘Hey Mick, did you see ol’ Charlie Hustle out there trying to catch the ball?’”

And that’s how Pete Rose got his nickname.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached by email at sports@recorder.com.