Monday, October 22, 2012

Boston College Raises One More Banner

I was fortunate enough to be at Boston College’s NCAA Championship banner ceremony on Saturday night at Conte Forum. I missed 2008’s event because I got stuck in traffic on the Mass Pike that night, and 2010’s gathering was too close to Halloween to travel to New England and back—so it sure was nice to finally watch one get raised to the rafters. 

I'm still smiling two days later.

Besides the 2012-13 team and over 7,000 of their closest friends in Maroon and Gold, some of the program's past champions made it back to Chestnut Hill to celebrate on Oct. 20, including former coach Len Ceglarski and locked-out NHL players like Nathan Gerbe. Hoisting the newest banner to the skies were graduated seniors Chris Venti and Tommy Atkinson, part of the 2012 team that won 19 straight contests to close out the campaign, including the national title game in Florida against Ferris State.

To top off the festivities Saturday, the Eagles won, 3-0, over local and Hockey East rival Northeastern, which had beaten BC a week before in Boston. Goals came from forwards Kevin Hayes, Johnny Gaudreau and Stephen Whitney, while captain Pat Mullane had two assists and goaltender Parker Milner made 26 saves before a raucous sold-out crowd of 7,884 at Kelley Rink that included almost an entire section of black-clad NU undergrads who surely got back on the Green Line unhappy.

It was a nice night of nostalgia and one final salute to last year’s title team, which not only made mustard-colored jerseys a thing of beauty, but was also the third BC squad in five years to claim a national crown. When I was a student, BC made the 1990 Frozen Four and won a few Hockey East championships, but not the sheer plethora of team prizes that the program has brought home since 1998.

For me, as an alumnus, it was good to be back on an ever-changing campus that still feels like home. It was good to sit again at the Forum, where I covered several scores worth of games as an undergraduate, and to see old friends like Jack Casey and Paul Gallivan. They and the rest of the Zamboni crew work hard to keep the ice smooth for one of college hockey’s top programs, led by head coach Jerry York (915 career wins and counting) and old friend and Eagle defenseman Greg Brown.

Yes, life has been good at the Heights lately. Keep up the good work, all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chris Serino 1949-2012

Former Merrimack College head coach and University of New Hampshire assistant coach Chris Serino passed away on Monday after a long battle with throat cancer, according to and other published sources.

The hockey coach and athletic director at Malden Catholic High School at the time of his passing, Serino, 63, is survived by his wife, Robin, and their five sons. He also served as hockey coach at Northfield Mount Hermon in his career before going to the college ranks, and had previous scholastic coaching stints at both Salem High and Saugus High.

"The thoughts and prayers of the Merrimack College Hockey Program go out to Coach Serino's family," head coach Mark Dennehy said in a statement on the Merrimack athletics web site. "Anyone who knew Coach Serino understood the passion and fight with which he coached. He will be missed."

A native of Saugus, Mass., and a 1971 graduate of American International College, where he played football, hockey and baseball, Serino coached hockey at Merrimack from 1999 to 2005, fashioning a 77-150-27 record and six appearances in the Hockey East tournament. He previously served as head baseball coach at UNH, and led the Wildcats to a school-record 26 wins in 1995. UNH no longer fields an intercollegiate varsity baseball team.

"He was a great guy and a great coach," said UNH head hockey coach Dick Umile of Serino, who was on Umile's staff from 1991 to 1998. "He was a tremendous athlete and a personal friend of mine; I go way back with him. The fans, the Friends of UNH Hockey, he really got along with the community. He fought a courageous battle with cancer and it came back in the last year-and-a half and really had a battle with it."

After leaving Merrimack, Serino coached  at Malden Catholic from 2005 to 2012, and guided the Lancers to their first-ever Super 8 Championships in both 2011 and 2012. He also coached two of his five sons during his tenure, in which he compiled a 95-32-18 overall mark at the school in Malden, Mass.

Serino will be remembered at UNH's Hockey East opener on Oct. 20 against Boston University, and again at Merrimack's home opener on Oct. 26 against Vermont.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Season Finally Underway

Following a plethora of exhibition games this past week, and a handful of non-conference (and even conference) contests, the 2012-13 NCAA hockey season kicks into full gear this weekend, a weekend when the NHL itself should have been starting regular-season play. Alas ...

The beginning of the year also means early-season college tournaments, with the most way-out one being the Kendall Hockey Classic at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. The host Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will welcome in-state rival Alaska (Fairbanks), along with Canisius College and Air Force Academy. Friday's games will pit Alaska against Air Force, and Canisius against UAA. The second night will feature Alaska against Canisius, and UAA versus Air Force.

Next weekend, Alaska (the former UAF) will do the hosting honors for its own Alaska Goal Rush, as the Nanooks will entertain UAA, North Dakota and Merrimack at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

Penn State also begins its varsity sojourn this weekend when it hosts American International College, one week after the equally new Penn State women's team won their inaugural game at Vermont.

The start of the new year also marks the beginning of the end for the current men's college hockey landscape. A year from now the WCHA will have a vastly different look, the new NCHC and Big Ten Conference will both get underway, and the CCHA will be just a memory after more than 40 years of competition and eight national titles to date.

But there's six months to go between now and then, when the NCAA Division I men's champion will be crowned in Pittsburgh. Onward and upward—and drop the puck.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Huntsville Goes with Kleinendorst

The University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey program, still seeking a conference home after competing the last two seasons as an NCAA Division I independent, has turned to the professional ranks for its next bench boss.

UAH announced last week that it had hired Kurt Kleinendorst, who spent the last two seasons coaching Binghamton (AHL), as its new head coach. He replaces Chris Luongo, a former Michigan State and NHL player who guided the Chargers for the past two years.

"It was something I had been kind of thinking about and now everything has worked out," said Kleinendorst recently at

A native of Grand Rapids, Minn., Kleinendorst, 51, played four years at Providence College (1979-1983) for current New Jersey Devils President/GM Lou Lamoriello, and tallied 89 goals and 103 assists for 192 points in 123 collegiate games while earning All-America accolades. Drafted by the New York Rangers (77th overall ) in 1980, Kleinendorst played six years of minor-league hockey before turning to the coaching ranks with Raleigh (ECHL) in 1991.

He was part of the Devils' system for nine years, including a stint as head coach of the AHL's Lowell Devils (2006-09), and has also coached in Europe and with the U.S National Team Development Program in his career. He was also an assistant coach in New Jersey during the 2001-02 NHL campaign..

His predecessor, Luongo, inherited  a tough job at UAH when he succeeded fellow Michigan State grad Danton Cole in 2010, after the Chargers had made their second-ever NCAA Division I Tournament appearance. UAH managed only six wins over the past two seasons, with the threat of being dropped as a varsity sport coming dangerously close to reality last year.

It's not known why UAH decided to let Luongo go, who is a class act, and he's wished well; but maybe the hiring of Kleinendorst signals that the university is making a committment to have the "Hockey Capital of the South" stick around a while.

His old college coach believes so.

"There is no question in my mind that Kurt will be a decided asset to the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team both on and off the ice, and help UAH in their pursuit of a major Division I hockey conference affiliation," said Lamoriello at the UAH athletic web site.

Monday, October 1, 2012

USCHO's Top 10 Goalies for 2012-13

Just previewed the top 10 returning Division I men's goalies entering the 2012-13 NCAA campaign for - article can be found here. Troy Grosenick (pictured) of Union College is on the list.

Hard to believe that it's already October, the Frozen Four was six months ago, and the new season is about to face off - well, not for the NHL, not any time soon.

That's OK - those of us who love the college game in all its myriad forms have a wealth of riches to look forward to from now until the NCAA Division I Men's Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in April.