Category Archives: Boston College
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami hockey has not seen a large number of transfers, and even fewer switch colleges from New England to become RedHawks.
And although former Boston College defenseman and Montréal Canadiens draft pick Colin Sullivan has battled injuries throughout his collegiate career, he is completely healthy for the stretch run of his senior career.
“He puts in the work every day in practice, he’s always looking to get better,” senior and student coach Johnny Wingels said. “Early on the ice, late off the ice, it’s nice to see a good kid like him get his opportunity now and be rewarded for it.”
Sullivan originally committed to Yale while playing for Avon, a prestigious prep school near his hometown of Milford, Conn. He and his family decided he should remain at Avon to complete his high school years, and he decommitted from Yale and signed with Boston College.
He joined the Eagles in the fall of 2012, a year after being selected in the seventh round by Montréal.
“You’re playing for the best coach – and arguably the most decorated coach in college hockey,” Sullivan said. “Jerry York was an amazing coach, and it was a fun experience. My whole family’s from the Boston area, so it was nice having them come to every single one of my games.”
Sullivan logged 32 games with Boston College his freshman season, but playing time was an issue and he decided to pursue other options. Transferring players have to sit out for a season, and Sullivan joined USHL Green Bay while in limbo, accumulating a pair of goals and six assists in 41 games during 2013-14.
Fortunately for the RedHawks, a former MU forward contacted Sullivan and played a key role in bringing him to Oxford.
In prep school, Kevin Morris played for rival Salisbury with Sullivan’s best friend.
“Kevin shot me a text and asked me if I was interested in Miami, and of course I was,” Sullivan said. “I’d never been to the campus and was interested that someone was actually going to take a look at me. When I came here for a visit I just fell in love with the place, so playing New England prep school actually brought me here with the connections that I had back there.”
After his redshirt year, Sullivan was ready to contribute as a sophomore. But after dressing for three of Miami’s first four games in 2014-15, he was shut down with a recurring groin injury.
“It was just so frustrating to come so close, to being in the lineup again, and all in the sudden you have to take your foot off the gas pedal and go back to square one,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan logged just nine games his sophomore season, picking up a lone assist in the best-of-3 home playoff series vs. Western Michigan.
Wingels, a defenseman himself and brother of Ottawa Senators forward Tommy Wingels, tried to help Sullivan through his transitional period.
“I think he had a unique experience at Boston College, and he lost some confidence there,” Wingels said. “And I was just telling him that he needs to play his game. Boston College is a great hockey school – they have the history that they have, and he was clearly good enough to be able to commit there – so it was just a matter of getting his confidence back, because he clearly has it in him to be a good player at this level.
“It’s never fun to lose your confidence as a player, because that’s something that’s very difficult to get back. You just have to fight through it sometimes, and it might take longer than you’d hoped.”
Junior year started off with plenty of promise, as Sullivan scored his first college goal in the season opener vs. Providence, juking a defender in the slot before burying a top-shelf wrister.
“I kind of blacked out to be honest with you,” Sullivan said. “We were playing Providence, too – my whole family went to Providence, it was down to Providence and Miami – so it was nice to get a goal against them.”
But after going under the knife for the fourth time for his groin injury, Sullivan said he tried to come back too soon, as he was limited to six games the first two months. Fortunately he was healthy for the second half of 2015-16 and was in the lineup 15 times.
Last summer was the first in three years that Sullivan did not require off-season surgery, but he still had trouble getting back on the ice. He did not dress for five of the RedHawks’ first eight games last fall.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Sullivan said. “Everyone’s got to pay their dues, and I think I definitely have, but it’s something where you put your nose to the grindstone and work hard every day, do what you need to do, and finally I’m back in the lineup and hopefully making a positive impact and helping us win some hockey games.”
His attitude and hard work eventually paid off. Finally, nearly four years after transferring from Boston College, the search for more ice time that drove him to Oxford is coming to fruition.
Sullivan has played in 20 consecutive games and has three assists, all in his last nine contests.
And that confidence that earned him an NHL draft pick and a spot on Boston College’s blue line is finally back.
“For me, confidence is really key,” Sullivan said. “I rely so much on my skating and my mobility – not feeling that pain down there. Even when it was heeled, I would kind of mentally expect to feel that pain. It’s just crazy how much of a mental effect being injured has on your entire body. Now I’m at the point where that’s not a factor any more. I feel like the old Colin Sullivan again.”
He picked up helpers in back-to-back games for the first time in his Miami career on Dec. 31 at Ohio State and Jan. 6 vs. St. Cloud State. Sullivan also earned an assist on Willie Knierim’s game winner vs. Western Michigan on Jan. 28 with a well-placed stretch pass.
“It’s taking me back to high school when I’m totally healthy and I’m having fun playing again,” Sullivan said. “There was a stretch mentally where I’d come back for a couple of games and I’d get hurt again, and I’d come back for a couple of games and I’d get hurt again. I was never 100 percent. Now that I’m back on track, I’m on cloud nine right now.”
Making Sullivan even more useful to the team is his ability to play forward. He has been listed on the fourth line several times this season, enabling the team to dress a seventh blueliner.
“Any way that I can help the team,” Sullivan said. “If Coach wants me to strap on the pads and go in play in net, I’ll gladly do that. If he wants me to sit in the corner and stand on my head for three hours, I’ll do that too. Whatever it’s going to take to help the team, and I can take a couple of faceoffs, and be a (fourth-line forward) and give the top-line guys a little break, and go out and do that too, yeah, definitely.”
Sullivan and classmates Wingels and Justin Greenberg have become close friends at Miami, and both said one of his best personality attributes is his sense of humor.
“When (Sullivan) transferred here he was sort of in between classes for a little bit while his credits were figured out, and he ultimately got slotted into my class, which is great because we got to spend another year with him,” Wingels said. “He’s a great guy – he’s probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and there’s never a dull time when you’re around him.”
Both Wingels and Greenberg have gone through their share of injury issues as well, and Sullivan’s positive attitude has helped them deal with their respective issues.
“Even with right now, with me being hurt (lower-body injury), he’s so positive,” Greenberg said. “He’s going to be a groomsman in my wedding, we’re so close. We do everything together. He’s just a great guy.”
Greenberg said he also noticed the improvement in Sullivan’s game as the months have passed since his injury.
“This year, it’s not just that he’s gotten in the lineup, but he’s contributing and playing well,” Greenberg said. “Making great plays and he’s learned to defend with his feet, and he’s really made an impact – in my opinion – when he’s played, since I’ve been watching. I tend to watch him more since I’m so close with him and I think he’s played great this year.”
Sullivan is also a favorite among his hockey peers, according to Greenberg.
“He would do anything for anyone on this team,” Greenberg said. “If you went through the locker room, there’s not one guy that say they don’t love Sully. He’s the best. I can’t say enough good things about him, and I’m sure most people wouldn’t be able to either.”
Now healthy, Sullivan would like to continue playing hockey after he graduates this spring. He is a history major with a minor in entrepreneurship, boasting a 3.3 grade-point average.
But in addition to his ultimate pursuit of a traditional job, Sullivan plans on joining the military for four-plus years, and is especially interested in special forces.
“I want to serve my country before I reap the benefits from it,” Sullivan said. “I think that whole lifestyle and the aspect of being on a team – and those guys are super-competitive guys, high-octane guys – I just want to be around that. It’s going to be similar to here, same exact kind of guys, Division I athletes. I just think that’s something that I would really enjoy.”
Though everything hasn’t worked out as Sullivan had originally planned when he moved here from New England, transferring to Miami is something he has never regretted.
“If I could do it all over again, Miami is definitely the place where I’d want to go,” Sullivan said. “Coming from out east, you don’t hear about Miami University – everybody thinks I play hockey in Miami, Florida – which is interesting. Coming out here, it’s all cornfields and farmland, and the minute I drove down High Street, I said, mom, dad, this is where I want to be, this is the right fit.”
most hated school in the land Boston College Eagles announced today that Brad Bates will be their next Athletic Director after 10 years in the same position at Miami. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Miami doesn’t exactly like Boston College because of recent hockey defeats at the hands of the Eagles.
As the Miami Athletic department scrambles to find a new Athletic Director and faculty member (he taught undergrad and graduate courses in sports administration), let’s take a look back at a few highlights in Brad Bates’ 10 years in Oxford.
- November 2002 – hired on as Miami’s Athletic Director
- Back-to-back football bowl game appearances in nearly 30 years (2003-04)
- MAC Championships in Football in 2003 and 2010
- Hiring and firing of Shane Montgomery after a couple years we’d like to forget
- Hiring of Mike Heywood and later the hiring of the current regime at Yager Stadium including Don Treadwell
- Ice Hockey:
- Our beloved hockey team won a Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular season championship and Miami’s first Mason Cup as CCHA tournament champions.
- Appeared in two consecutive NCAA Frozen Fours, including the national championship game in 2009.
- On the hardwood, Bates was highly criticized for allowing Charlie Coles to stay in Oxford until his retirement last year, and has recently hired John Cooper as Coles’ replacement.
- 14 of Miami’s 18 teams won at least one conference championship: baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s cross-country, football, field hockey, ice hockey, women’s soccer, softball, men’s swimming, women’s swimming, synchronized skating, women’s tennis and volleyball
- Bates also helped raise student-athlete graduation rates. His overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent in 2011 was near the top in the nation.
- October 9, 2012 – hired as Boston College’s Athletic Director
With Miami’s search will also come some uncertainty from Oxford. Of course, there’s the issue of replacing Bates with new blood, but several other questions are also raised.
- Will Miami’s commitment to the hockey program continue? Will funding be pulled because Miami Hockey is roughly a break-even sport?
- How will this impact our commitment to the NCHC?
- Will the new man on campus put a renewed focus on basketball and football where it is sorely needed?
- With a new AD, the possibility exists that existing coaches will be less than pleased with the new leadership. Is this the push Coach Blasi needs to jump to another hockey program, or perhaps the NHL?
And one final note…
Does anyone else think that Brad is awfully excited to get out of Oxford? Before his press conference today, Brad had already created his new twitter handle (@BCBradBates), he met the hockey team before their practice today, and then spoke to their 1-4 football team after their practice. I’m not saying good riddance, but good riddance.
Let the search begin. We suspect Steve Cady may be a leading candidate, and some have suggested that Jason Lener may be near the top of the list as well. Lener is a former RedHawk Deputy Athletic Director and current Illinois Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director. In any event, we hope that the next guy for the job is a hockey fan!
For this Redskin Warrior, a sense of optimism and hope comes along with the tournament brackets for once. Teams like
the evil empires BC and BU are nowhere to be found (until the finals, anyway), other teams are missing key components, and momentum from a strong finish seems to be on our side. There are 9 teams that made the tournament in 2011, and 6 teams that have never won the whole thing.
Here are my picks and thoughts on the weekend ahead…
Northeast Region: #1 overall – Boston College, Minnesota-Duluth, Maine, Air Force
Let’s start in Worcester, where BC will undoubtedly have issues with Air Force. The Atlantic Hockey Champion has given teams fits in the last few NCAA tournaments. Last year, the Air Force Academy took the #1 overall seed Yale to overtime. 2 years ago, RIT took down another #1 seed in Denver, then blew out New Hampshire to make its first ever Frozen Four.
Even though BC has won 15 in a row, I still think Air Force comes in with the experience of last year’s tournament and gives them quite a fight. They are over sized and over matched on paper, but you can never discount the heart of the Falcons on the field or on the ice. BC in a tight one, maybe even in overtime again.
On the other side, you have the defending National Champions in the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs taking on the Maine Black Bears – Hockey East’s runner-up. If Maine’s Hobey Baker candidate and the nation’s top goal-scorer Spencer Abbott doesn’t play, I think they are 1 and done. If he plays (his status is currently “questionable”), this is a game to watch. I think the ‘Dogs come out on top in either scenario, however.
In the regional final, look for a titanic battle between the last 2 National Champions. BC’s size and speed will overpower UMD and make it to the Frozen Four again.
West Region: #4 overall – North Dakota, Minnesota, Boston University, Western Michigan
Congratulations, Western Michigan! You’ve won the CCHA Tournament, arguably the best conference in NCAA hockey this year. Here’s the Mason Cup, and you get North Dakota as your victory prize!
All kidding aside, I think the Broncos ride their Mason Cup win to a good showing. However, North Dakota has won 3 straight WCHA Playoff tournaments – something no other team has ever done, and they’ve been here before. NoDak moves on in this matchup.
In the early game in St. Paul, the home town team is matched up with Boston University. The Minnesota Golden Gophers make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. For one of the flagship programs of college hockey, this is somewhat remarkable, and in that time, 29 teams have made the NCAA tournament since Minnesota last did. Can you beat my score of guessing 24 of those 29 teams?
Minnesota, this region’s host, should have about 15,000 of the capacity 18,064 fans in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and I have no doubt this will help propel them to a victory. Don’t count out BU, however. In a battle between head coaches who have 5 total national championships between them (Lucia – 2, Parker 3), I’ll take Minnesota.
This creates a rematch of a conference tournament that we just saw last week, and ironically, it happens in the exact same building. Last Friday, North Dakota quickly went down 3-0, but rallied and scored 6 unanswered goals to move on. This coming Friday, I predict a different story, and Minnesota heads to Tampa.
Midwest Region: #2 overall – Michigan, Ferris State, Denver, Cornell
Michigan extends its NCAA tournament appearance streak to 22 years in a row – all of them under head coach Red Berenson – and will face the Cornell Big Red, whom Michigan met in the first year of the streak. While Cornell has 18 total wins on the season, Michigan has 18 wins against TUC’s this year. ‘Nuff said. Michigan big.
On the other half, a much depleted Denver squad comes in for its 5th straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers could be missing their best player in Jason Zucker, and head coach George Gwozdecky is preparing for the weekend as if they do not have their leading goal-scorer. They will take on a Ferris State squad that was unexpectedly bounced by Bowling Green in round 2 of the CCHA Playoffs, and has only been to the NCAA tournament one other time (2003) in their history. I’m taking Ferris State, here, but they’ll run into a much more stern task in the regional final.
If the 2 CCHA teams prevail in Green Bay, this pits the #1 vs #2 teams from the conference against each other. Ferris State lost 7 times during the CCHA regular season this year, and two of them were to Michigan. I don’t think Ferris State has the star power to overcome Michigan, and Michigan makes it to their second straight Frozen Four.
East Region: #3 overall – Union, Miami, UMass – Lowell, Michigan State
Of the 4 brackets in this year’s tournament, I don’t think Miami could have drawn a better grouping. They don’t have to face Michigan, North Dakota, or either of the Minnesotas OR Bostons. Nice work, selection committee!
In the early game, Michigan State – the last team in the tournament – takes on the ECAC winner, the Union Dutchmen. A school of only 2,000, who is lead by first-year coach Rick Bennett, looks for their first-ever win in the NCAA tournament. I think they get it this year, as Michigan State is reeling. As we know, they fell 6-0 and 4-1 in Oxford 2 weekends ago, and have a bit of a goalie controversy. Also in his first year, Head Coach Tom Anastos will need to find something for either Drew Palmisano or Will Yanakeff to build on from those embarassing losses. Michigan State is going to be coming off of a bye, those 2 big losses, and another “bye” week, so they are going to be rusty as well. The ECAC Champs from Schenectady, NY (that’s fun to say) take this one handily.
We’ll have some more for you on the Miami vs. UML game later in the week, but I will tease you with this fact from our Sunday #SixPack from this past weekend. Despite the youth on this team, Miami will be the bigger and stronger team. UML’s largest player is just 6′ 1″ tall. Miami averages that in height, with 13 players plus Connor Knapp coming in at 6′ 1″ or taller. It might look like a scene from one of my favorite hockey movies with the size advantage Miami will have on the ice. In any event, the
New York Rangers RedHawks take down the scrubs from Mystery, Alaska River Hawks and move on to face Union.
The Regional Final will be a hard fought battle, but I’m confident that Miami will be back on track after a big win on Friday night and will carry the momentum to Tampa where I’ll get to see the RedHawks take on Michigan in the National Semifinals.
To recap, that’s BC against Minnesota on one side, and Michigan vs Miami in the other half of the bracket. Post your picks in the comments below and we’ll see how things turn out this weekend. IS IT FRIDAY YET?!?!?!
Whether it’s followed by “University,” as it was in last year’s national championship game, or “College,” as it was in 2006, 2007 and 2008, it has meant the same thing – loss. In some cases as in 2008 and 2009, it meant heartbreaking loss.
As Miami’s program has continued to improve, the past six years have returned remarkable success. Consider two things: Miami has the best winning percentage in college hockey since 2005-06. Additionally, since 2007-08, Miami has spent more time atop the college hockey polls than any other school but they are just 1-4 against Boston College/University during those years with the one victory coming over BU at the now defunct Lefty McFadden Tournament in Dayton back in 2004. And, tomorrow’s opponent, Boston College, knocked the RedHawks out of the national tournament three consecutive years.
In 2006, Miami captured just its second ever CCHA regular season title and was ranked number one during the regular season for the first time in school history. However, they would fall in the CCHA Championship game dropping the RedHawks from a #1 to a #2 seed setting up the first of three consecutive meetings with the Eagles. This one coming in the first round. A broken stick and two empty net goals led BC to a 5-0 blanking of Miami. BC earned a trip to the Frozen Four, but lost in the national championship game to Wisconsin.
In 2007, Miami eeked out an at-large berth and #4 seed drawing New Hampshire in the first round. Led by junior captain Ryan Jones and classmate Nathan Davis, the RedHawks upset UNH earning the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Awaiting in the regional final? BC. Once again, the Eagles shut out the RedHawks breaking open a close game late and winning 4-0. With the victory over Miami, BC earned another trip to the Frozen Four, but fell in the national title game to Michigan State.
In 2008, Miami finished the regular season and CCHA Tournament 32-7-1 garnering a #1 seed in the national tournament. In the first round, Miami found themselves in a dogfight with all-world netminder Andrew Volkening and Air Force. After defeating the Falcons in overtime, they found themselves face to face with nemesis Boston College. Again. This time, Miami would take a 2-0 lead in the second period, but on the strength of three quick, consecutive goals, BC led 3-2 entering the final period. Senior captain Ryan Jones tied the game at three, but a fluke goal during overtime by current BC junior Joe Whitney sent the Eagles to their third consecutive Frozen Four. This time, they would not be denied winning the national title by defeating upstart Notre Dame in the final.
That said, seeing Boston College on the docket standing between Miami and a return trip to the national championship game isn’t all that surprising. The Eagles started slowly but have gone 17-4-1 over their last 22 games finishing 27-10-3 and are currently riding an 11 game unbeaten streak. But, BC has been incredibly lax defensively surrendering 14 goals over the past three games which will be a killer against a Miami team that is number one in the nation in team defense and ranked in the top 10 offensively. On the flip side, the Eagles can score. They rank second nationally in team offense and have potted 19 goals over those past three games winning each of them including a wild 9-7 win over Yale in the Northeast Region final.
Boston College appears to be a small team, compared to Miami, with one line that encompasses nearly 40% of their scoring. The Eagles are led by the line of Cam Atkinson (27 goals), Brian Gibbons (16) and Joe Whitney (16). However, none of the three are taller than 5’8″ and Whitney is just 5’6″. What does that mean? It means Miami’s big, and mobile, defense should have a field day clearing pucks, punishing BC forwards and should dominate this game. You have to believe the CCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year and Columbus Blue Jackets’ draft pick, Will Weber (6’4″, 225) is licking his chops considering the size differential. Weber and his defense partner, Joe Hartman (6’4″, 200), comprise Miami’s top defensive pairing. And, with Vincent LoVerde likely still out of the lineup due to injury, you can expect this pair plus Cameron Schilling (6’2″, 185) and Steve Spinell (6’1″, 200) to see quite a bit of ice time versus the diminutive, but speedy, Eagles.
In net, Miami and BC have experienced netminders to choose from. BC’s John Muse backstopped the Eagles to the national title in 2008 as a freshman and of course, Miami’s Cody Reichard took the RedHawks to within a heartbeat of the title last year while Connor Knapp made 55 saves in the 3-2 double overtime Midwest Regional final victory over Michigan just under two weeks ago. Muse, however, has been shaky as of late.
While the Eagles are no fluke, their defense and goaltending have been abysmal, and you can’t count on scoring five goals in a game like this. Defense and goaltending win championships and Miami has a distinct advantage in both categories.
Like the Michigan game, Miami must defeat a team that’sbecome their nemesis. If they want to become a truly elite program, these are the teams, in these situations, that the RedHawks must knock off to exorcise their past failures. In a sense it’s a revenge game for Miami. Considering BC has beaten them three consecutive times in the tournament, you’d think Miami will be more than up for this game and playing with something to prove. They desperately want to beat a team with the word “Boston” on the front of their sweaters.
– Western Michigan has hired former RedHawk assistant Jeff Blashill as their new head coach. Read the full release here and enjoy some quotes from Blash below:
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the Western Michigan Bronco Hockey team and build upon the foundation laid by so many Bronco Alums,” Blashill said. “I’d like to thank President Dunn, Kathy Beauregard, the athletic staff and those who were a part of this process, for the trust they’ve placed in me and for allowing me the opportunity and challenge of pursuing, with passion and integrity, championship level ice hockey at Western Michigan.”
The official Frozen Four documentary will be sponsored by Reebok and is being created with the full support of the NCAA. The crew has been shooting since Monday, and will continue through Sunday. The current plan has the documentary not only covering game footage, but the back story of one player per team.
The Rival Films Facebook page has pictures and behind the scenes info from the Frozen Four and their taping this week. In addition, the Facebook page has a trivia contest ongoing up until Saturday’s championship game, with Reebok prizes for winners.
The DVD is available for pre-order here at a significant discount from the retail price, including free shipping. DVDs will ship close to June 15th.
– For those that missed it, The Pipeline Show has a blog recap of the Frozen Four Coaches’ Edition, featuring Enrico Blasi. You can read about the episode, or listen to it by clicking this link.
– If you’re looking for a good read, check out this piece from “Let’s Play Hockey”. It’s a great look at just how many college-“honed” players are currently in the NHL today. Astounding, actually, when most players seem to come from the Canadian junior leagues. Good stuff and great pub for college hockey.
– College Hockey News has a nice feature about the RedHawks goaltending dilemma. There are some great quotes from Rico (comparing choosing a goaltender to selecting a Pope-priceless) and more!
– And whatever you do, please find time to watch the video of Pat Cannone at this link from ESPN. It shows just how long the players’ walk from the Ford Field ice to the dressing room is. It’s uphill and upstairs.