Hockey East thrives in ‘down’ year

Posted April 21, 2010, at 12:02 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 03, 2010, at 2:19 p.m.

There was a time this season when the highest-ranked Hockey East team in the national polls was 13th.

That led people to say the league was down.

Yet, for the third straight season, Hockey East produced the national champion.

In 13 of the last 14 seasons, a Hockey East team has played in the national championship game.

No other conference has come close to attaining that kind of championship-game consistency, although the Western Collegiate Hockey Association can brag that it produced five consecutive national champions from 2002 to 2006 and had six in seven years since the 2000 North Dakota team also won the title.

Hockey East wasn’t down this season after all.

And if you look over the past four seasons, you’ll discover that Hockey East clubs have compiled a 22-11 record in the NCAA tournament. And three of those losses came in games in which two Hockey East teams were playing each other.

So Hockey East teams went 19-8 against teams from other conferences.

Boston College senior center and captain Matt Price shed light on the conference.

“I don’t know if people under-stand just how good the teams are within the league,” said Price. “There’s no question when you’re playing against some of the best teams in the country every single night, there’s going to be parity and teams aren’t going to rise [as high in the polls] because they’re going to get beat.

“You can’t take a night off in Hockey East. You’re always being pushed. And that shows when we go into the national tournament. We have to play at our best all year and that helps us [in NCAA play],” said Price.

That is one of the primary rea-sons Maine coach Tim Whitehead felt if his team had beaten eventual national champs BC in the Hockey East championship game, the Black Bears could have done some dam-age in the NCAA Tournament.

After watching BC outscore its four NCAA tourney foes 24-9, he was probably right.

The parity in Hockey East also means that the Black Bears, who are returning all but three forwards and goalie Dave Wilson, can’t take anything for granted and have to work diligently in the offseason.

They should be an NCAA Tour-nament team next year, but it won’t happen without the work.

Orono’s Berthiaume has cancer

My best wishes and prayers go out to Orono High School boys soccer coach Larry Berthiaume and his family. Berthiaume was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Berthiaume has coached a num-ber of sports and has always done so passionately and with conviction.

His teams have always been or-ganized and well prepared and he has provided a positive voice.

He has always put his players’ well being ahead of wins and losses.

His expertise and training as a teacher have served him extremely well as a coach.

He is also a well-respected soccer referee.

Berthiaume has always had a quick wit and a healthy sense of humor. He is someone I always look forward to seeing and talking to.

He is an interesting man with knowledge about a wealth of topics.

He is an avid sports fan and a class act.

There are plans to have a silent auction and a benefit dinner for him. Stay tuned.

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