Keeping Score: Hockey East stands tall

Published: 11/27/2020 7:08:03 PM

Good morning!
College sports teams are the engines that drive a school’s image and heightens its profile. Not many had heard of Gonzaga until it reached the Final Four, or of Ferris State until it made the Frozen Four.

COVID-19 has ended much of that for now. The Ivy League’s winter sports schedules are canceled, the ECAC is a four-team shell of itself, and the New England Hockey Conference (composed of Babson, Norwich, Plymouth State et al.) announced this week that the entire 2020-21 season has been canceled.

Hockey East has persevered, however, and Friday night the UMass hockey team played at mighty BC before hosting the Eagles on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. inside a vacant Mullins Center.

“I feel fortunate that we have an AD (Ryan Bamford) that’s pushing for us to play instead of pushing for us to shut down,” said UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel. “Hopefully we play a bunch of games but you have to start with one!”

That was the season opener last week against UConn, a dominant 5-1 win by UMass in the Mullins Center that was followed by a not-so-dominant 2-2 overtime tie the following day in Storrs. UConn won the shootout, but the standings show it was tie, so go figure.

Senior Matt Murray made 21 saves in the win, and junior Filip Lindberg made 35 saves in the tie.

“We got two goalies that want the net,” Carvel told WHMP’s Adam Frenier. “I challenged them. I said I’d love for one of you to own the net but you’ve gotta earn it, and it means playing better than you have before.”

This year’s roster has nine new players, including Garrett Wait who had a goal and an assist his first two games. The 6-foot, 190-pound winger from Edina, Minn., is a junior transfer from the University of Minnesota. “He was on the outside at Minny after they brought a new coach in,” emailed Carvel. “He had played with Bobby Trivigno in the USHL and also heard a lot of good things about our culture. He can score and is a good offensive player, just needs to get stronger and play harder.”

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Ever heard the barnyard analogy that at breakfast the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed? Boston’s five pro sports teams — the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots and Revolution — are committed. They want the pols to legalize sports betting and they want it now. “We employ thousands, provide entertainment to millions and generate billions,” said a letter signed by reps of the aforementioned entities. “In the absence of any organized opposition, we are deeply concerned at the prospect of legislation not being passed this session.”

Bettors who live in northern Mass. can drive over the N.H. border, open their GPS-enabled apps and make a wager. Jake on the Cape can wager at Twin River or Tiverton Casino in Rhode Island, and folks in Berkshire County can drive to Rivers Casino in Schenectady.

Meanwhile back in the Granite State, sports book operators have applied for licenses in Hinsdale, Keene and Claremont, according to bookies.com, but as of now the only brick-and-mortar betting parlors are in Seabrook and Manchester.

“Parlay wagering (SPORTS603) will be sold at retail locations that currently sell our lottery products,” said New Hampshire Lottery marketing director Maura McCann. “We are looking at a launch for that product in 2021.”

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Bill Madden’s book “Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life” was released on Tuesday. Seaver is beloved by New York Mets fans who saw him win 198 games in 12 seasons during his 20-year career, in which he went 311-205 overall.

Seaver and Mike Piazza are the only two Baseball Hall of Famers who were enshrined wearing a Mets hat. The first sentence of his plaque reads: “Franchise power pitcher who transformed the Mets from lovable losers into formidable foes.”

After he retired, Seaver managed his California vineyards in Napa Valley. Among the revelations that Madden disclosed while talking with WFAN’s Richard Neer last week was that Seaver didn’t die of Lewy body dementia as was widely reported. “It was Lyme disease,” said Madden. “It affected his memory and finally killed him. It’s a lesson for all of us. You got something, you go to the doctor.”

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Tulane lineman Sincere Haynesworth isn’t related to Albert Haynesworth. Life’s been a struggle for the former Titans sacks leader. His kidneys have failed him and the Tennessean reported he was ordered to pay for his children’s private school education. “She’s living in a $700,000 house and I’m living in a freakin’ apartment, how’s that fair?” said Haynesworth.

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It is a tough sport, politics. According to the New York Times election map, Joe Biden garnered 14 million more votes than Hillary Clinton did four years ago and Trump bettered himself by nearly 11 million votes.

Wall Street Journal staffer Gabriel Rubin reported in his “Washington Wire” column that when Trump tweeted he’d won the election, Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer tweeted in kind: “I’m seated on my bike, and I just won the Tour de France.”

In Massachusetts, Biden got 324,224 more votes than Hillary did and Trump attracted only 58,721 new voters.

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What makes Ken Burns documentaries mesmerizing is the research, the squinting at microfilm and poring over stacks of old newspapers to mine one small nugget. St. Louis Browns pitcher Rube Waddell, for instance, was such a heavy drinker that the Sporting News referred to him as “sousepaw.”

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Sportscaster Dick Stockton was a last-minute sub for Kenny Albert doing Bears-Lions earlier this season. One of Stockton’s first gigs was at WBZ-AM in Boston in 1970 when he replaced the “Sports Huddle” team of Eddie Andelman, Jim McCarthy and Mark Witkin.

The trio left in a contract dispute, and listeners blamed Stockton for the immensely popular show’s demise. At the end of his inaugural show, a caller phoned in and asked on the air, “Who’s gonna put you back in your suitcase?”

Stockton, who turned 78 this month, has led the good life. He golfs, does football for FOX and drags his suitcase between homes in Boca Raton and Carefree, Ariz.

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SQUIBBERS: Football refs are eschewing the chains and yard markers and eyeballing first downs. Nobody seems to mind, though Army color analyst Dean Darling cracked wise during Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern: “I like measurements. They’re fun. Sometimes they have to get out the credit card.” … Clemson spent $300,000 to fly to Florida State and stay overnight, but it was all for naught when a Tigers player tested positive for COVID-19 and the Seminoles refused to play. “Covid was just an excuse,” griped Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers have beaten the Seminoles five straight including 45-14 last year. … Jacksonville Jaguar owner Shahid Kahn became the second-fastest owner to reach 100 losses, runner-up to the late Hugh Culverhouse at Tampa Bay. … “Clearly one of the worst logos in all of sports is the New England Patriots,” says the SportsHub’s Michael Felger. Agreed. You take Flying Elvis, I’ll take Pat Patriot. … Thanksgiving marked the 66th anniversary of Notre Dame’s 51-0 win against USC. The Trojans trudged to the locker room afterward and John McKay told his players, “All those who need showers, take ’em.”

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 at chipjet95@yahoo.com




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