A look around the campuses and programs of Hockey East as I offer my take on each school. The Beanpot Forum (BF) has ranked each school in Hockey East in several categories with #1 being the best and #10 the worst. The Forum will wait until Notre Dame is an official member in 2013 before we include the Irish in our BF rankings.
Boston College –
- Official Website
- Esteemed BC Bloggers to follow – BC Interruption, The Boston College Hockey Blog , danssportsreport
- Twitter sources for BC Hockey- @bcinterruption, @bchockeyblog1. @thesportsman95
- The Rink and Facilities : Conte Forum/Kelley Rink
- Famous Hockey Alumni – Brian Leetch, Bill Guerin, Brian Gionta, Joe Mullen
- Famous Alumni (Non- Hockey) – John Kerry, Bob Ryan (Boston Globe), John Connolly (of Whitey Bulger fame)
- My Biased Opinion on <Tradition, BF Rank #2> Boston College has been a dominant fixture in Hockey East since its inception in 1984/1985 winning 11 regular season crowns and 10 Hockey East championships. The Eagles have amassed an impressive 4 national titles, with 3 coming in the past 11 years under the NCAA’s winningest coach, Jerry York. The program fell on hard times after the depature of then coach Len Ceglarski in the early to mid 90’s, which I remember vividly. This proved a mere temporary set back as Jerry York took over the program and elevated it to levels never seen before at the Heights. Every aspect of the program exudes success and tradition, from its legendary coaches (Kelley, Ceglarski, and York) to its impressive resume of titles and alumni (Leetch, Guerin, Gionta, etc…). <Fanbase, BF Rank #4> The much maligned ‘”superfans” have been mocked for their apathy by many college sports pundits over the years. Although most stereotypes have some element of truth, in my opinion, BC represents the closest thing New England has to a true top flight sports program and much of the angst against the program stems from pure jealousy. There are no other New England School’s that feature nationally prominent football, hockey and baksetball programs like BC does (UMass may well be on their way however). <The Barn, BF Rank #4> BC/BU battles rank right up there with some of the most storied rivalries in sports and the atmoshphere for these tilts is unmatched anywhere else in the league hands down (although I will admit the fan base at BU is a bit nastier and less parochial and thus gets my vote as the best barn in the league to watch a game). I still view Conte Forum as a ‘new’ arena which shows my age, hard to believe its inaugural season was 1988. Perhaps its youthful hyperbole or just the fact that the gorgeous campus itself has me blinded, but I still view Conte as one of the better rinks in the league despite its stark quality. I was also quite fond of the stunning trophy case that is on display on the concourse. <The Campus, BF Rank #1> The campus itself represents everything a college should be with its picturesque gothic buildings and a tree lined, stereotypical New England-esque feel to it. In terms of campus environment, BC ranks #1 in the league by a long shot
Boston University –
- Esteemed BU Bloggers to follow – The Terrier Hockey Blog, The BU Hockey Blog
- Twitter sources for BU Hockey- @TheBUHockeyBlog
- The Rink and Facilities : Agganis Arena
- Famous Hockey Alumni – Mike Eruzione, Tony Amonte, Keith Tkachuk
- Famous Alumni (Non- Hockey) – Bill O’Reilly (Fox), Julianne Moore, Paul Fireman (Founder of Reebok)
- My Biased Opinion on <Tradition, BF Rank #1> Much like their fellow Green Line rivals from Chestnut Hill, BU has a storied program that has churned out over 60 players who have played in the NHL. The BU program dates back to 1918 and to this day includes 5 NCAA titles, an astounding 29 Beanpots and 14 conference chanpionships (including its ECAC days). The driving force behind much of the Terriers acclaim can be attributed to the stalwart behind the bench, Jack Parker (#2 in NCAA wins). The BF ranks BU as the clear #1 in terms of ‘Tradition’ and its certainly hard to argue this fact as the Terriers have been a perrenial national powerhouse for decades boasting NCAA titles in 3 different decades (last coming in 2009). Quite frankly, how can a blog site aptly named “The Beanpot Forum” not rank the Terriers #1 in terms of tradition when the BU resume reads “29” titles.<Fanbase, BF Rank #1> For a school that has dropped its football program and has a basketball team relegated to the paultry America East Conference, to say Ice Hockey reigns as king is a drastic understatement. Even as a proclaimed BC Eagle fan as a kid, it was evident to me and everyone that the BU fans, “The Dog Pound”, were by far the most boisterous, witty and knowledgeable group in the league. Although I must say the old Walter Brown Arena made the fan base seem a bit edgier and the new, aesthetically perfect Agganis Arena seems to act as a facade that softens the vitriole spewed by the BU student section. That said, the BF still ranks the BU fanbase #1 as I can think of only one arena that truly represents the ultimate college hockey experience and offers a fervent student section reciting chants throughout the whole game, and that is BU. <The Barn, BF Rank #2> I look at the addition of the new Agganis arena as a double edged sword as far as arena appeal is concerned. On one side of the coin, BU’s new facility provides a state of the art rink with all of the new amenities many of the professional variety can offer. On the flip side, like many of the new cookie cutter NHL facilities, the character and intricacies of the old barns are completely lost. For recruiting purposes, comfort and sight levels of the fans, the new Agganis arena is top notch which is why I vote it as the #2 rated barn in hockey east. It truly is one of the finest college rinks in the country, right up there with Notre Dame, Wisconsin and North Dakota’s barns. <The Campus, BF Rank #6> Its a dubious task to provide a rating for a college campus that simply DOES NOT EXIST. Although I cuurently reside in an urban environment, when I think of the ideal college campus, it does not involve things like : endless pavement, horrendous traffic, virtually no sprawling lawns or greenery- add this to the fact that the school’s ungodly tuition is exceeds 50K for an education that doesn’t mirror any Ivy school or BC for that matter. This is reason alone to chant, “IT SUCK’S TO BU”.
Providence College –
- Esteemed PC Bloggers to follow – The Friar Hockey Blog
- Twitter sources for PC Hockey- @pcbuzztap
- The Rink and Facilities : Schneider Arena
- Famous Hockey Alumni – Chris Terreri, Brian Burke, Lou Lamoriello
- Famous Alumni (Non- Hockey) – Peter Farrelly (Movie Director), Richard Daley (Former Chicago Mayor), John Thompson (Legendary Georgetown Basketball Coach)
- My Biased Opinion on <Tradition, BF Rank #5> Despite the relative mediocrity of the program, the hockey history at PC is indeed very rich; although ironically, the premier disciples of the Friar organization attained much of their fame because of their success ‘off the ice’. Any program that is responsible for the likes of Brian Burke and Lou Lamoriello must be lauded for their developmnet given the enormous effect these two figures have had on the game of hockey in general. Remarkably, the Friars have never won a hockey east regular season title despite the talent and renowned alumni who have matriculated through the PC system. Despite the scant collection of regular season hardware, the Friars can lay claim to arguably the most dramatic upset in Hockey East Tournament history as they knocked off a talent laden BC squad to win the first ever title back in 1985. Although they have only added one more Hockey East Tournament title to their resume (1996), the Chris Terreri (named Hockey East’s Top Goaltender of all time) highlights from the ’85 title game will forever be emblematic of the early years of Hockey East- This moment alone wins Tradition points for PC. <Fanbase, BF Rank #10> Because the program has fallen on somber times of late ( a scant 5 winning seasons in the past 18 years), PC’s following has suffered as a result. Even though the basketball program doesn’t hold the acclaim it once did, I feel that PC remains largely a basketball school. Although its been several years since I have attended a game at Schneider, every tid bit of information I read suggests the student section is sparse at best. Given the fact that even in the hay-day of the program, the fanbase was not exactly obsequious; it’s safe to say that the providence Fanbase rank of 10 is well deserved. <The Barn, BF Rank #9> Built in 1973 Schneider Arena can simply be described as average and unassuming on all fronts. From its capacity limits (a shade over 3,000) to its bland look, Schneider has become outdated and to some a detriment to recruiting efforts. One of new coach Nate Leaman’s first projects will be championing the cause for a major overhaul to Schneider. The rink is certainly functional and is an on campus facility that isn’t as agregiously hideous as Merrimack for instance.<The Campus, BF Rank #5> Providence has a decent campus that in some respects emulates the gothic, vintage New England college look that BC has. That said, it does sit in a downtrodden part of the city and many of the off campus apartments and bars are in skectchy hoods (not New Haven, CT bad, but bad). If you simply refrain from leaving the campus and stroll through the 105 acre, undulating, park like campus then PC has a lot to offer and can be quite impressive.
Merrimack College –
- Esteemed Merrimack Bloggers to follow – The Mack Report
- Twitter sources for Merrimack Hockey- @MikeMcMahonET
- The Rink and Facilities : Lawler Arena
- Famous Hockey Alumni – Jim Vesey, Stephane Da Costa, Steve McKenna
- Famous Alumni (Non- Hockey) – Charlie Day (Actor- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Carl Yastrzemski (HOF Baseball Player-Red Sox), Sally Ann Freedman (Beauty Queen)
- My Biased Opinion on <Tradition, BF Rank #10> If we were simply referring to the Division II allure, Merrimack would have quite the resume as the program garnered a Division II national title in 1978 and was runner up in 1984. Unfortunately for the Warrior’s sake, the BF considers these DII credentials rather meaningless as Merrimack now must compete with the big boys of Hockey East where the benchmark programs are perennial D1 powerhouses. Merrimack officially joined the D1 ranks in 1984 but wasn’t accepted into Hockey East until 1989. Until the recent success under the guidance of Mark Dennehy (former BC Eagle), Merrimack struggled mightily in Hockey East and have yet to lay claim to either a regular season crown or a Hockey East tournament championship. You can basically skip the first 20 years of the program and fast forward to 2010-2011 season which saw a Stephane Da Costa led squad reach the Hockey East Finals for the first time in school history. As with any program, once a school can achieve success for an extended period of time, the tradition builds and recruits begin to take notice. <Fanbase, BF Rank #9> It is incredibly difficult to avoid skewing the rankings based on the emotion invoked by recent success. In analyzing the fanbase over the full life of the program, the #9 ranking is certainly warranted. If Mark Dennehy remains at the helm, which I find hard to believe moving forward, I am sure the fan support will remain very strong; naturally everyone loves a winner. Despite the recent rash of support for the program, it is tough to correlate sellouts as a barometer to gauge the fervency of a fanbase when we are only talking about filling 621 student seats or approximately 2,500 in total. <The Barn, BF Rank #10> Although the program elevated itself to D1 status in 1984, its much maligned barn remains a Division II caliber facility. I personally played in nicer, more spacious rinks in High School and it is indeed truly amazing to me that any recruit would walk into Lawler and actually commit to spend 4 years at Merrimack. This speaks to the remarkable recruiting talents of Mark Dennehy as he continues to win despite the diminutive domain the program calls home. The program deserves praise for its recent efforts in upgrading Lawler arena in 2011 which increased the capacity to 2,489, of which 621 are associated with the student section. Given the small enrollment totals as a whole, I understand that the student body could not support a massive facility, but it absolutely needs some added capacity in order to compete long term in the best college hockey league in the country.<The Campus, BF Rank #9> I hate to keep using size as benchmark for success but I will have to bring this measure into the equation once again when we look at the campus ranking. Located 20 miles from Boston in suburban North Andover, Merrimack’s campus is situated on 220 acres of land is has that small college feel to it. The campus could be swapped with virtually any other small DII or DIII school in New England and does not differentiate itself in any way shape or form. If your looking for a small christian school with a virtual high school feel to it, then Merrimack is your school. If your looking for a college with panache that is polarizing upon first sight and offers a big time, rich sports tradition, please apply elsewhere.
University of Maine –
- Esteemed Maine Bloggers to follow – ????
- Twitter sources for Maine Hockey- @MaineIceHockey
- The Rink and Facilities : Alfond Arena
- Famous Hockey Alumni – Paul Kariya, Garth Snow, Jimmy Howard
- Famous Alumni (Non- Hockey) – Steven King (Author), Lawrence Bender (Film Producer- Good Will Hunting/Pulp Fiction), Ashley Underwood (Survivor : Redemption Island)
- My Biased Opinion on <Tradition, BF Rank #3> Discounting two fragmented seasons in 1922 and 1923, the Black Bear program was introduced in 1977 (ECAC Conference), the same year its legendary rink (Alfond Arena) was constructed. When one envisions the Maine program, there is one antagonistic character that comes to mind, Shawn Walsh – whose villainous personality is without a doubt synonymous with Maine Hockey. THE Maine program was born with the hiring of Walsh, a ragtag, 3rd string goalie from Bowling Green, who rose from obscurity rather quickly in Orono. When rating the tradition of a college hockey program there are three facets to consider that are paramount to everthing else; 1) Hardware -NCAA and League Titles, 2) An acclaimed resume of NHL alumni, and 3) A Historic barn with a wealth of character. The Black Bears have can undoubtedly check off all three facets in a resounding manner. Maine’s Trophy Case : been to the NCAA touney 17 times in the past 23 years including 11 Frozen Four appearances and 2 NCCA crowns, 6 Hockey East Championships and 4 Regular season titles. The 1993 NCAA title team was the best team in college hockey history and finished with an unfathomable 42-1-2 record. The names of famous alumni just roll off your tongue- Paul Kariya, Garth Snow, The Ferraro brother, Jimmy Howard, Jean Yves-Roy, Chris Imes…if I keep going I may just change my tradition rank to #1. It is nice to see that more American kids are finding a spot on the roster these days as the squads of the 80’s and early 90’s were littered with Canadiens. <Fanbase, BF Rank #2> There is not a program in the league that has a more spirited fanbase of locals than Maine. Orono is a 100 miles from nowhere and growing up I envisioned the campus in a scene that probably most closely resembled the North Pole. Much like many of the big football powers in the southern and midwestern sections of the US, the Maine hockey program IS THE SHOW in Orono as there isn’t a pro sports franchise in close proximity to compete. The Black Bear faithful are indeed an eclectic mix but certainly meld together quite well as Alfond is an intimidating place to play to say the least; whether it be a stereotypical Maine-(iac) clad in overalls and passionately ringing a cow bell or an inebriated member of the student section taking out his anger -wouldn’t you be angry if you were stuck in Orono for 4 years; the Maine fanbase is indeed something to be reckoned with.<The Barn, BF Rank #1> I am an admitted sucker for anything “old school” and it although it was built in 1974, Alfond has all of the unique and nostalgic qualities that I admire in an old barn. The balcony virtually overhangs the ice surface (in an old Boston Garden kinda way) with a loud and boisterous band cranking those all familiar college hockey tunes. The success of the late 80’s/early 90’s Maine squads provided the impetus behind the reconstruction of Alfond that was completed in 1992, increasing the capacity to a perfect level of 5,641. Modern amenities, although sparse, are present to some degree which gives Alfond a nice blend between old and new with a definite skew towards old. <The Campus, BF Rank #8> As I mentioned earlier, Orono is 100 miles from nowhere. One could argue that most big time schools, whether it be UMASS, Penn State, Oklahoma or even Notre Dame are also in rural areas as well. Maine doesn’t have the the campus or big time college feel that these others do and lacks the gravitas of some of these larger institutions. The town seems very bland and commercial to me and lacks the quiant feel of most New England college towns.That said, UMaine is the flagship university of a fairly large state and its 60 acre campus is vast and somewhat expansive. Like most stereotypical New England institutions, it does have some historical buildings that date back to its origins, 1865. Like some of the uber urban campuses (or lack thereof) like BU and NU, Maine does have a fairly picturesque layout with some history mixed in to boot.
University of New Hampshire
University of Vermont
University of Notre Dame