Hooked on a feeling

Monday night was in the top 5 best nights of my life. It took 2 postponements, almost a month and 3 overtime periods, but BU finally won its 30th Beanpot. Finally. A Boston tournament, previously referred to as the BU invitational, finally saw a BU victory again for the first time in 6 years. The Class of 2013 was the first class at BU since the Class of 1965 to not see a Beanpot win in their four years. The Class of 2014, my class, was the second.

But the streak has broken. And will never exist again. We had to watch as Wade Megan and Garrett Noonan fought back tears in their post-game press conferences after failing to win a Beanpot in their four years at BU. Evan Rodriguez and Cason Hohmann will never have to know that feeling. No other future BU class will have to know that feeling.


I knew Northeastern was not going to be easy. After not seeing their first win until the 10th game of the season, Northeastern has been climbing in the ranks and the wins column over the past couple of months. As much as I wanted to see our first win in years be against BC, I was still elated when Northeastern beat them in the first round and destroyed their 6-game winning streak. We can save the BC defeat for next year.

We scored early. Which made me nervous. Northeastern scored immediately after. Which was expected. This isn’t a team that takes a solid lead and holds on to it. Almost all of our wins have been come from behind and blowing leads has become our forte. I would much rather be tied or down a goal going into the third. That was our time. But not Monday night.

The most nervous I was all night was during the second intermission with BU up 3-1 going into the third. We don’t do that. We need to have something to fight for in the third. We don’t do the whole hang on until the end thing. I had a terrible feeling that Northeastern was going to win.

And then what we knew was going to happen did. Northeastern scored two quick goals at about the 10 minute mark to tie the game up at 3.

And all of a sudden, the nerves were gone. I can’t explain it, but I knew. This wasn’t a team that was going to lose the Beanpot again. Overtime came. As we all knew it would. And everything seemed okay.

Despite the horror stories I could tell you about overtime at TD Garden, I was okay. The first round against Harvard I was a horrible wreck with head in hands trying to stop from shaking through two grueling overtime intermissions. But Monday night I was alright.

The rest is history. Northeastern took a penalty in the first minute (one that is of course disputed, but clearly a penalty) and Matt Grzelcyk put one past Clay Witt only seconds later. You couldn’t have written a better ending. Bruins draft pick scores at the Garden in front of his dad and current Bruins employee to win the Beanpot in probably his last one at BU. And it was perfection.

The next fifteen minutes is a blur of screaming and laughing and tearing up and smiling and saying, “we finally did it” over and over again.





And then we got to walk down those god-awful TD Garden concrete stairs with smiles on our faces. A feeling I had never known.

The rest of the night only got better as we met up with the team. Got to congratulate them in person and have some fun with the Pot in a way only 6 years of waiting can allow.





And then the Sportscenter highlights of the game came on and I got to witness Matt Grzelcyk chug from the Pot in front of a giant screen showing his OT winner.









And everything was right in the world.




Leave a comment

Filed under BU Men's Hockey, Sports

Drop everything and go see Interstellar


Although I’m contradicting myself by even writing a review for Interstellar because the thing that has pissed me off the most this last week is how everyone has heard from their friends or movie critics or their mom’s uncle’s goddaughter that it was actually a terribly overrated movie with no plot and just pretty pictures so they didn’t go see it. Big. Mistake.

I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll love it. Clearly a lot of people haven’t. But please, please just go see it for yourself and make your own opinions on the matter. Because if I had listened to all the critics and friends of friends and boss’s girlfriends, I never would’ve seen this movie and I would’ve missed out on my favorite movie of the last 5 years.

So please. Go see it! It was enough to bring me out of a blog hiatus to write this review.

I should preface this with the fact that I did see this in IMAX which added a lot to it, but I still stand by my previous argument that this movie has so much more than just beauty. The plot is intense. It’s very emotional. It makes you think throughout the entire thing. You’re begging for more even after 2 hours and 50 minutes, but there’s just the perfect amount of closure.

The basis of the story is a interesting mixture between a post- and pre-apocalyptic world. Billions of people have already been wiped out from the Earth from lack of food, a terrible drought and presumably other variables. The military no longer exists. Blight is overtaking the planet leading to a higher demand for farmers than college-educated scholars. But thing are about to get much worse.

The entire country has been thrust back into the Dust Bowl era and will soon die out as planet Earth rejects them. Cue Matthew McConaughey, a former astronaut and engineer, who comes out of retirement at the request of what’s left of NASA to find another world that could possibly be habituated by the human race. The only problem is these worlds don’t exist within our solar system or even galaxy. However, a rare worm hole near Saturn makes traveling to these potential new homes possible.

What ensues is a dramatic journey through space and time that will test your mind to grasp the theory of relativity and the very concept of time and gravity. The visuals are obviously stunning. Even the beginning exposition that takes place in a middle America dust bowl state is beautiful through Christopher Nolan’s vision and 70mm IMAX photography.

The acting is perfection. Matthew McConaughey continues to impress me over the past few years and Jessica Chastain is flawless. The drama is intense. You will be on the edge of your seat, pupils fully dilated, trying to take in every moment as the plot powers on.

So stop everything now, drive to a theater right now and go see this movie. Nolan borders on perfection in Interstellar as he expands the universe in front of your eyes and expands your brain to grasp everything that is the theory of relativity and space travel. So go see it now because you will kick yourself forever if you miss out on the opportunity to see this beautiful masterpiece on the big screen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Reviews

A Picture a Day (Roughly): 121 Days Until Graduation

121 Days Until Graduation…121 Days Party at the GSU for All Seniors


120 Days…The Terriers Put Up a Decent Fight at Conte Forum, 6-4

photo (5)

119 Days…Hours of Playing Table Hockey After A UMASS Lowell Loss


117 Days…One Of Many Beautiful Sunsets Over Agganis Arena


112 Days…Stella’s After A Hockey Loss to Vermont…She Was Sick and I Was Mourning


109 Days…James and I Went Ice Skating on the Frog Pond…Almost Survived the Entire Time Without Me Taking Him Out


106 Days…A Heartbreaking Game at UMASS That Ended in a Disappointing 3-3 Tie


105 Days…Men’s Basketball Lost a Devastating Overtime Game to Lehigh…All Pictures Were Deleted

104 Days…Superbowl Sunday…Stella’s Not A Huge Football Fan


103 Days…Beanpot Monday…All The Band Seniors…But We Lost, Of Course


102 Days…Very Early in Day 108, But Bartlett Didn’t Last Very Long


101 Days…My First Full Snow Day at BU


99 Days…You Know, Just the Typical Snapchat Sent During a Hockey Game


98 Days…Waking Up at the Crack of Dawn to Stand in the Freezing Cold and Play for Truck Day at Fenway



…But Then Got to Watch Men’s Basketball Destroy Lafayette…Travis Robinson For THREEEEE!


…And Then Some Fun at Stella’s For the Rest of the Evening


96 Days…Beanpot Consolation Game…I Was A Little More Optimistic Than Everyone Else…I Shouldn’t Have Been


94 Days…Up Early Watching the Olympics Every Morning and Hating Canada More and More


92 Days…Spending Valentine’s Day with the Wonderful People of Durham, NH


90 Days…Being Snowed In The Night Before Meant Attempting Bacon Bowls After More Olympic Hockey…Success


87 Days…A Week of Nothing But Excitement for Notre Dame and an Amazing Basketball Win Over American

86 Days…Flying to O’Hare And Arriving 14 Hours Late, But Having a Blast in the Airport Getting There


85 Days…The Dog Pound Takes Over Compton Family Ice Arena at Notre Dame…


…With the Best Car in the Midwest…


…And We Made Some Friends in the Band…Including the Viking Unicorn


84 Days…Dancing with a Church’s Couple Retreat at the Hotel By Night…


…Exploring Notre Dame’s Campus by Day…


…And Finally Trying Culver’s


83 Days…A Slightly Less Eventful Trip Home and a Beautiful View of Chicago…After Sleeping Through My First Flight


82 Days…Sleeping All Day and Recovering From a Crazy Awesome Weekend

79 Days Until Graduation…Rhiannon’s 21st Birthday Party at Howl at the Moon


78 Days…BU Beats Northeastern on Senior Night at Agganis


77 Days…BU Basketball Clinches Patriot League Conference Title at Holy Cross


76 Days…Resting From One of the Most Amazing Weekends of the Year

75 Days…Roomie Date Night at the New Burger Fi

photo (6)

74 Days…Tuesday Trivia at the Pub…It Was Rhiannon’s First Time


73 Days…BU Wins In the Patriot League Quarterfinals…Naturally We Get Chicken


71 Days…I Got Bored and Dyed My Hair Red…Again


70 Days…Basketball Beat Army in the Semis…Then Hockey Lost to Notre Dame…Again


69 Days…We Watched Syracuse and the Bruins and A Lot of College Basketball…And Played A Lot of Table Hockey


68 Days…Spring Break Means We Try Sunset Trivia…Nachos Were Good…We Were Not


67 Days…It Was Almost 60 Degrees…Football in the Park


66 Days…BU Couldn’t Pull Off the Patriot League Championship…Depression Commenced


65 Days…Worked a Fun Catering…Lots of Free Food and Drinks


64 Days…Syracuse Lost in the First Round of the ACC Tournament…No Pictures Were Taken

63 Days…The Truck Finally Got Its Spring Cleaning at the Car Wash


62 Days…Stella Finally Came Back From Spring Break in Europe


61 Days…Corn Beef and Cabbage and Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Delaney and Drinks With Friends for St. Patrick’s Day


60 Days…Lots of Bracket Comparing at Trivia


59 Days…That Time I Got Hit By A Pick-Up Truck and the Roxy’s Truck Saved My Life…We Both Had Battle Scars


58 Days…That Night I Tripped on a Curb and Broke the Fall With My Face…Possibly Concussion #2 in 36 Hours

57 Days…Recovering In Bed All Day Eating Soup and Saltine Crackers…Before and After of My Face


56 Days…Working the Extreme Beer Fest All Day With a Pretty Awesome Crew…Earned Just Enough Tips To Pay For A New Tooth


55 Days…Sunday Breakfasts on the Truck…My Breakfast Burrito Kind Of Turned Into A Breakfast Taco


54 Days…Apartment Hunting For The Summer…I Liked the Neon Cupboards


53 Days…Tuesdays Are the Only Days I Get To Look Nice


51 Days…Spending All Day Researching and Writing this Column


50 Days…Paying My Respects to the Fallen Firefighters…Rest In Peace…


…Some Friday Night Ice Skating In Walter Brown…


…First Time At White Horse…And I Spent the Whole Time Watching Basketball Games…Typical


49 Days…Playing Sockey Until the Wee Hours of the Morning on Nickerson Field


48 Days…Walking Home Late at Night…Stu Vi Looks So Close If I Could Just Cut Across the River…


47 Days…Finally Cooking the Turkey That Had Been In Our Freezer Since Thanksgiving…It Was Still Delicious!


46 Days…The Sun Finally Came Back After Three Days Straight of Rain


45 Days…And Then the Temperature Started Rising…Spring Clothing Commenced


44 Days…Catering at a Jaguar Dealership in Woburn…Road Trip!


43 Days…Juan’s 22nd Birthday at McGreevy’s After Wine Night with Maddie


42 Days…Video of the Day…Matt & Kim Concert with Stella…Kim is Bat Shit Crazy and I Love Her!

41 Days…My Healthy Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies…I Made Them Almost Once A Week


40 Days…Pep Band Played at Fenway for My First Red Sox Game of the Season…We Won!


39 Days…Free Ben & Jerry’s After a Good Interview


38 Days…A Long Day of Chores, Shopping and Homework


37 Days…Late T Home After Howl at the Moon for Veronica’s 21st


36 Days…Home for the Weekend…With Cupcakes


35 Days…Up to the Canadian Border for the Night to Hear Some Friends Play


34 Days…Upstate New York’s A Funny Place


33 Days…A Quick Detour Out to Rochester to See Kat…Facetiming with the Birthday Girl


32 Days…One Year Stronger…Courtesy of the Globe


31 Days…Enjoying a Spring Day With Some Basketball…We Were Absolutely Terrible


30 Days…They Were Very Focused on the Sharks Game…


…We Weren’t.


29 Days…Preparing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs


28 Days…Celebrating Sam and Juan’s Knighting at Landsdowne


27 Days…The Boys Were Playing NHL Before Some Midnight Soccer


26 Days…There’s No Way I Can Choose Just One Picture from Marathon Monday






25 Days…Hanging Out at the Park Because It Was a Beautiful Day


24 Days…Finally!


23 Days…Writing my Final Essay while Watching the Bruins and Being Distracted


22 Days…We Served 520 Grilled Cheese in Under Two Hours


21 Days…Burger Fi with Vic…Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Hashbrown Burger…Yup.


20/19 Days…Nothing But Hockey and Homework…All Day, Everyday


18 Days…Celebrating Being Done with that Awful Class Forever


17 Days…The Bruins Lost in Double Overtime to the Habs…I Have No Pictures

16 Days…Senior Breakfast…


…Harpoon Brewery for a Very Delayed Birthday Present


…And More Celebrating Being Officially Done with Undergrad with Girls’ Night


15 Days…Worked an Event on a Really Nice Rich Guy’s Roof on Boylston Street


14 Days…SoWa is Back and There’s No Way I Have Time to Take a Picture

13 Days…Cinco De Mayo


12 Days…Some New Friends at Trivia and Jay Intensely Debating the Year the Berlin Wall Construction Began


11 Days…Finally a Day Off…A Long Day Strolling Through This Beautiful City

IMG_2207 IMG_2202 IMG_2211

10 Days…The Bruins Won in Overtime…My Lucky Third Period Ball is Back


9 Days…First Day of Training in Allston…The Brick and Mortar is Finally Done!


8 Days…Day 1 of a Week of Getting Dressed Up Almost Every Day…Weird


7 Days…Six Flags for the First Time Since High School Band Trips


6 Days…Not Making it to House of Blues and Strolling Down the Esplanade Instead


5 Days…Senior Harbor Cruise and Dancing Like Fools…



…Playing Guillotine and Desperately Trying to Order Dominos Until 3am


4 Days…The Bruins Lost to the Habs in Game 7…Why Don’t I Look More Sad in this Picture?


3 Days…808 Bash…Apparently Running Into Everyone…Losing my Phone and All That Good Stuff




2 Days…COM Graduation…


…In The Penalty Box Where We Belong…


…And Delaney’s Big Movie Premier



1 Day…River Cruise on the Charles…


…And BU Night at the Boston Pops


0 Days Until Graduation

100_2429 10390342_10203267607787491_3381516704391264955_n 10394858_10152449540935281_2122989481358149599_n






To my fellow Class of 2014…Congratulations!


It Was One Heck of a Year!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Big hockey in a small town: The AHL returns to Utica

The horn sounds at the end of the final game of the season. “Comets Win” flashes across the jumbotron. Everyone in the 3,815 sold-out crowd is on their feet chanting “U-TI-CA” at the top of their lungs. The Comets retake the ice for a victory lap as the standing ovation continues and the players salute the crowd that has cheered them on relentlessly for the past eight months. Their playoff hopes were dashed just two nights prior, but one would think they had just won the Calder Cup.

If you drive about four hours North of Madison Square Garden on the New York State Thruway you’ll run into a city of less than 62,000 people with a small hockey arena nicknamed the Aud. There isn’t a lot going on in Utica, New York, but an AHL hockey team has finally returned and the city has taken notice. Over one thousand season tickets were sold in the first three days of sales. Fans began lining up at 3:30 a.m. for tickets to the home opener and a line of over 300 wrapped around the Utica Memorial Auditorium by the time the ticket office opened.

When Robert Esche and Frank DuRoss, members of the board of the Utica Comets organization, decided to make another push to get the AHL back in Utica, they wanted to bring the entire professional hockey experience back with it. Aside from the talent on the ice and size of the arena, there are few differences between a Comets game at the Aud and an NHL game at MSG. The jumbotron shows live replays and hosts gimmicks such as “Know Your Comets” and the Kiss Cam. Shawn Smith, a former contestant on NBC’s The Voice, sings the National Anthem. The Aud even has its own pair of Green Men that show up to every home game behind the penalty box to torment the visiting team.

Hockey legend Gordie Howe dropped the ceremonial first puck in front of a sold-out crowd at the home opener and the support continued to grow over the season. An average of 3,416 fans per game passed through the Aud selling over 90% of tickets. There were 18 sellouts, more than the previous AHL team had in its entire six-year tenure in Utica. The fan support for the Comets didn’t stop at the Aud either.

Season ticket holder Tom Walker organized a bus trip to Syracuse for a matchup with the Crunch back in February. He never imagined that interest would be so high when nearly 900 Comets fans took the 50-mile trip across Central New York. “That was by far my fondest memory of the season,” recalls Walker. “It seemed like all you could hear were Utica fans cheering and being mouthy to the home crowd.” The Comets delivered a 2-1 overtime victory proving coach Travis Green’s sentiment, “When the crowd gets going, the Comets get going.”

The support has not gone unnoticed among the players either. “Utica embraced us and we as a team embraced this city,” said Brandon DeFazio, who scored the game-winning goal in Syracuse. “We didn’t leave anything on the table.”

The inaugural season didn’t look very impressive in the standings, but its effect on the city of Utica far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Forward David Marshall summed it up best after that final game: “I know a lot of teams in the Playoffs right now that wish they had our fans to play in front of.” Those fans stood on their feet for over ten minutes that final night at the Aud, but it was a standing ovation 20 years in the making.


Professional hockey made its debut in Utica, NY in 1960 when owner Edward Stanley decided to split home games for the Clinton Comets with the Aud. He wanted to increase exposure for the team while also preventing any other team from moving into the area. When the Comets first came to the Aud they only played 12 games a season in Utica, but by the 1969-70 season they were playing over 20 of their 36 games there.

The Clinton Comets were arguably the greatest team in the history of the Eastern Hockey League. They won six regular season championships, the most in EHL history, and tied the record for most playoff crowns with five. They made the playoffs 16 of their 19 years in the league and to this day are the only professional hockey team to win a playoff title on Utica ice. On April 18, 1969, 4,117 fans crammed into the Aud in standing room only sections to watch the Comets beat the Nashville Dixie Flyers 3-2 in Game 7 to win the Walker Cup.

The Clinton Comets would be the last successful team to come through Utica, NY. While the NHL saw major expansion in the late 60s and early 70s, the cost of operating a minor league team skyrocketed. After the EHL dissolved into two new leagues, Stanley reached out to local businessmen to try to save the Comets. Together, they purchased the team for $75,000, renamed it the Mohawk Valley Comets and permanently moved to the Aud.

In the Mohawk Valley Comets’ five-year tenure, they never recorded a winning season and never won a single playoff round. Because of poor performance and lack of interest, the team was put up for sale at the end of the 1976-77 season.  For the first time in 17 years, Utica was without a professional hockey team.

Over the next decade, local businessmen desperately tried to make hockey work in Utica in both the North Eastern Hockey League and the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. No team lasted more than four seasons due to poor attendance, financial problems and lease agreement issues with the Aud. The building had begun to deteriorate and the city of Utica refused to recondition it.

Some good news came to Utica in 1987 when the New Jersey Devils moved their AHL team from Portland, Maine to Utica and renamed them the Utica Devils. A federal grant allowed for renovations at the Aud and provided new locker room facilities, boards and Plexiglas that made it possible to host an AHL team.

In their six-year residency at the Aud, the Devils only had three seasons over .500 and won only three playoff games. Still, it was the highest level of hockey to ever come through Utica. Five members of the Hockey Hall of Fame played or coached for the Devils, including legendary Olympic gold medal-winning coach Herb Brooks. Other notable players included Bill Guerin, Eric Weinrich and Martin Brodeur.

Despite the talent and quality of hockey that the Devils brought to Utica, the organization lost money every year due to poor attendance. “We had the second best league in the world,” said DuRoss. “We had the top development league for the NHL. We just really didn’t grasp how special it was.” New Jersey moved its affiliation to Albany after the 1992-93 season where they thought they the larger population and arena would lead to more financial success.

Twenty years later, thanks to the persistence of DuRoss, the Vancouver Canucks moved their AHL affiliation from Peoria, Illinois to Utica. DuRoss spent 14 months speaking with the AHL office in Springfield, Massachusetts, working with elected officials for funding to improve the Aud, and courting NHL teams whose affiliation agreements were expiring.

On October 11, 2013, 26 years to the day after the Utica Devils played their first game, the AHL was back in Utica. The entire staff was blown away by the initial outpouring of support. “When this place is full, the atmosphere is unlike anywhere else in the league,” stated Adam Banko, director of ticket sales at the Aud and former director for the Albany Devils. “The businessmen down to your blue collar workers all come together to enjoy a great game. They’re really excited about something new.”


A lot has changed around the community since Howe dropped the ceremonial first puck. It’s difficult to walk around town without seeing Comets jerseys, hats and bumper stickers on every corner. Over 200 kids joined the Junior Comets hockey its inaugural season and get to skate with the players and participate in special practices. Some of the French-speaking players have visited different high school French classes in the region to lead a class. The players also periodically serve food at the local Rescue Mission and they raised $32,358 in 50/50 raffles and Comets jersey’s auctions for the Mission this season.

The Comets are bringing money to the area in other ways as well. Local businesses have thrived in the area since the season began in October. Gerber’s 1933 Tavern reopened after being closed for the past three decades. Owners Mark and Susan Mojave saw renewed potential in the area and wanted to be a part of it. A few blocks down, Tony’s Pizzeria changed into a full-service sporting venue for the start of the Comets season. They added over 30 flat-screen televisions to their new bar area and turned into Tony’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar.

According to Sam Tornatore, a member of the Comets board, the players, coaches and Comets’ staff are earning approximately $2 million a year. This translates into $1.6 million in disposable income that is being spent in the area without taking into consideration visiting organizations and their fans. There’s also sales tax that’s collected on in-game purchases, hotels, bars and restaurants that benefits the entire county.

“It’s really stimulated the first part of a big wave of development in Utica,” said Tornatore, who also owns Babes Bar and Grill down the street from the Aud. In October, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that six leading global technology companies will invest $1.5 billion to create a “Nano Utica,” making it the state’s second major hub of nanotechnology research and development. This will create over a thousand new jobs in the next couple of years to further expand the region.

“The money people have been spending in this area is hard to fathom,” says Tornatore, referring to a night in early February when America’s Got Talent quarterfinalist Leon Etienne performed a sold-out performance in front of 3,000 people at the Stanley Theater. Meanwhile, just half a mile away, the Comets had drawn over 3,700 to the Aud for a game against the Rockford IceHogs. “Almost 7,000 people going out and spending that kind of money in Utica on the same night. That’s unheard of.”

Next year promises to be even better. They have already sold over 1,000 season tickets for next year with fans lining up at 7 a.m. the morning after the Comets were eliminated from the playoffs. Work has already begun on more suites, box seats, a season ticket holder bar, private clubs and additional parking at the Aud. “Once we accomplish these additions it will open up the door for even more entertainment to come into the area,” added Tornatore. “We’re looking towards concerts, circuses and leisure shows at the Aud.”

DuRoss is amazed at the way the community has responded to the AHL’s return to Utica. “Utica, New York is one of 30 cities in the country that has an AHL team. We wanted to give our community something to be proud of.” Despite a disappointing season in the scorebooks, any one of the 3,815 people at the Aud on April 19th will attest to how proud they truly are. DuRoss brought professional hockey back to Utica, but he never imagined what hockey would bring back to Utica in return.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Year Stronger

Sports are a funny thing. They bring people together in inexplicable ways. As a New Yorker living in Boston I can attest to the immediate friendship formed, if even just for a few seconds, when I pass a fellow NY Giants or Syracuse Orange fan. Or the head nod and smile when someone notices I’m wearing the same Bruins shirt as them in the Charlotte airport. Sports turn complete strangers into your best friends.

Sports bring people together, especially in a city as passionate about their teams as Boston. But on April 15, 2013 the Tsarnaev brothers tried to use Boston’s most historic sporting event to tear the city apart.

But these young men failed to realize just how strong Boston was. They chose to attack a city that cannot be torn apart. Weakened? Yes. Wounded? Yes. Afraid, confused, angry and sad? Absolutely. But strong enough to overcome this together.

They chose the wrong event, the wrong day and the wrong city to mess with. It’s pretty hard to break the spirit of thousands of people who have just run 26.2 miles. It’s pretty hard to come into our city on our Patriot’s Day and get away with attacking our people. Our runners, fans, residents, law enforcement officials. Our hard workers from Medford. Our grad students from China. Our 8-year-old children. Our campus police officers. No. We will shut down the entire city until we hunt you down.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since that scary, confusing, devastating, sleepless week. A year of healing and growing and becoming stronger than ever. There’s still a long way to go for the many people affected by the attack and its aftermath, but every year from here on out we will remember that day and become just a little but stronger. We will watch the clock change to 2:49 P.M. on April 15th and we’ll remember that moment that changed the best sporting event in Boston forever.

Sports will continue to bring the people of this city together. Thousands of people will continue to take to the streets of Boston the third Monday of April to celebrate a resiliency that few can fathom. A resiliency that pushed you through 26.2 miles. A resiliency that leads you to run towards an explosion to save those who may be hurt. A resiliency that keeps you going after losing one or both of your legs. We will keep getting stronger. And the city of Boston will keep on running.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boston Things

In defense of Jackie Bradley Jr.

I’ll admit that I took a flying leap onto the Grady Sizemore bandwagon Monday night. What’s not to love? A 31-year-old three-time MLB All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner who hasn’t played a game of professional baseball in over two years makes his return with the Boston Red Sox and goes 2 for 4 with a solo home run his second at-bat. Sizemore was a force to be reckoned with in the mid-2000s. He hit over 20 home runs and stole over 20 bases every year from 2005 to 2008, making the All-Star team three of those years. In 2008 he became the 32nd player in MLB history to hit over 30 home runs (33) and steal over 30 bases (38) in one season. By comparison, David Ortiz hit 23 home runs and Jacoby Ellsbury stole 50 bases that same year.

So when Sizemore stepped up to the plate for the first time in 2 years, 6 months and 9 days and got a base hit to right field, Sox fans began to nod their heads in agreement with the front office for picking up the injury-riddled, ten-year veteran. And when he sent the ball out of the park to tie up the game his second at-bat? Jacoby who? And forget Jackie Bradley Jr., Grady’s still got it.

Not so fast.

Bradley Jr. may not have had the best Spring Training numbers and he certainly didn’t help his cause when he struck out looking in his only at-bat Opening Day in the top of the 9th with two runners on and the Sox only trailing by one, but the 23-year-old has quite a lot going for him. Sizemore may have had a great game, but he also struck out with men on in the eighth inning to help the Orioles cling to their one-run lead. Sizemore isn’t the player he was back in 2008. He played only 33 games during the 2010 season before micro-fracture surgery on his left knee put him out for the year. He came back to play 71 games in 2011, but only put up 10 home runs and didn’t steal a single base. He then missed the entirety of the 2012 and 2013 seasons because of back and knee injuries.

He impressed John Farrell down in Fort Meyers and landed the starting center fielder position for Opening Day, but one 2 for 4 performance shouldn’t be enough to send Bradley Jr. down to Pawtucket for good. After missing most of the 2010 season, Sizemore came back to the plate for the Indians on April 17, 2011 where he went 2 for 4, including a double and a home run. He know how to excite a fan base. But he went on to put up the worst numbers of his career in home runs and stolen bases that season. Fast forward to Wednesday night when he went 0 for 4 in the Sox 6-2 win over the Orioles. Then to Thursday night when he was rested because of an early day game on Friday that he’s slated to start. Grady Sizemore is a ticking time bomb that’s reached its expiration date.

Jackie Bradley Jr., on the other hand, is just getting started. He took his first start on Thursday night and proved to the city of Boston that he was there to play. He hit an infield single to lead off the third inning and came around to score off an Ortiz single to put the Sox up 2-0. He had a sacrifice fly to push Will Middlebrooks to third base in his second at-bat and sent Middlebrooks all the way home with an RBI single his third time at the plate. This would end up being the winning run in a 4-3 decision at Camden Yards to give the Red Sox the series.

Sizemore gets the start Friday afternoon at 2:05 P.M. against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Fenway Park home opener. He’ll need to continue to bring some of that Monday night magic to the plate to prove himself over a young, rising player like Bradley Jr. This could still be the miracle season for Sizemore that Sox fans started daydreaming about the second they saw his 345-foot blast into the left field bleachers on Monday night. The ultimate comeback kid.

But if he fails to live up to this dream or is plagued by injury once again before he even gets the chance, there’s a young, promising player waiting down in Pawtucket who is more than ready to take his place.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boston Red Sox, Sports

If the Playoffs started tonight, how would the Bruins fare?

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are less than three weeks away, but what if they were to start tonight? The first round would be Boston vs. Detroit, Montreal vs. Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh vs. Columbus, and NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia. So how would the Bruins fare if they started a 7-game series with the Red Wings tonight? Would they be hoisting the Stanley Cup in two months after missing it by just 17 seconds last season? Would they even make it past the first round? Will the first round go to overtime of Game 7? Probably. That just seems to be the Bruins way.

The Bruins have been known to struggle through Round 1 of the Playoffs, especially against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs forced a Game 7 in last year’s first round first round series after the Bruins went up 3-1 in the series. The Bruins went down 4-1 with ten minutes left in the third period, but ended up winning the game and the series in overtime in a game that has been dubbed the “Miracle on Causeway Street.”

Right now, the Bruins are set to face the Red Wings to whom they have lost two of three games so far this season. The Red Wings haven’t had the best season so far though and are just barely sneaking into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. If the Toronto Maple Leafs can break their six-game losing streak, Detroit will have a difficult time holding off the Leafs for that remaining Wild Card spot. The Bruins travel to Detroit for the last time this season on April 2nd followed by a trip to Toronto the very next day. One of these games will likely be a preview of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins have won two of their three matchups with the Leafs this season, including a 5-2 win on December 8th. This victory came with Chad Johnson in net, Shawn Thornton out on a 15-game suspension for an illegal hit on Brooks Orpik, and Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton all out with injuries. This was just the beginning of a long couple of injury-filled months for the Bruins, but the B’s managed to pull out necessary wins even with a lineup cycling through Providence call-ups and a very young defensive core. Staying out of the penalty box has been the key to beating Toronto during the regular season. The B’s had two power-play goals in each of their two victories and the Leafs had a pair of their own in the Bruins 4-3 loss. The Bruins need to find a way to beat Toronto in the Playoffs though.

It isn’t only the Maple Leafs who have given the Bruins some first round challenges though. The first round has been decided by an overtime goal in Game 7 three years in a row. The seventh-seeded Washington Capitals knocked the second-seeded Bruins out of the Playoffs in overtime of Game 7 in 2012. In 2011 before winning the Stanley Cup, the third-seeded Bruins were almost sent home early by the Montreal Canadiens before Nathan Horton scored the game- and series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7. The first round never comes easy for the Black and Gold.

This year, the second round may prove to be just as challenging for the Bruins. Boston fans will be ferociously rooting for the Lightning or whoever finds themselves face-to-face with the Canadiens in the first round. If the Playoffs started tonight, it would be Montreal vs. Tampa Bay. The Lightning are 2-1 against the Canadiens so far this season and have won five of their last seven games. That being said, the Canadiens have had the better season and thrive in do-or-die situations. The Lightning, on the other hand, haven’t made the Playoffs since the Bruins knocked them out in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals on their way to the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup. This was the same series that saw Tyler Seguin’s breakout performance where he tallied three goals and three assists in his first two postseason games in the NHL. Vezina Tropy winner Tim Thomas was in goal for the Bruins and carried them to a 1-0 win in Game 7. A lot has changed since then, but the Bruins won all four games against the Lightning this regular season.

Boston’s biggest threat in the second round would be a meeting with their fierce rivals from Montreal. The Bruins have notoriously struggled against the Canadiens, in the Playoffs and otherwise. The Habs took the regular season series with the Bruins 3-1. The Canadiens embarrassed the Bruins and Tuukka Rask with a 4-1 victory at TD Garden in January. The Bruins were coming off a four-game winning streak; the Canadiens had a four-game losing streak. Rask was pulled after the third goal in favor of Johnson who let up the fourth goal just two minutes into his appearance in the game. The Bruins bounced back in the third game of the series though with a 4-1 win. Rask proved himself early with two huge stops on two early breakaways by the Habs in the first period. He would go on to make 35 saves and help the Bruins to a six-game winning streak.

On Monday night, Montreal proved once again that they thrive in do-or-die situations. The Canadiens are fighting for every point to ensure a playoff berth and stifled the Bruins 12-game winning streak with a 2-1 shootout win. The Bruins played an incredible game though with 29 shots on goal against an impenetrable Peter Budaj. The story may have been different with another 20-minute overtime period.

This would be, by far, the most difficult series for the Bruins. However, if they could come away with four wins against the Canadiens, who have won six of the last seven meetings between the two, the Cup would be theirs for the taking.

The Eastern Conference Finals would likely be a faceoff against the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Rangers. The Rangers, with Henrik Lundqvist in goal, have been dominant as of late. Lundqvist is on a five-game winning streak and was honored Monday night for breaking the Rangers all-time win record with 305 career wins. Right now, they would be facing the Flyers in the first round, who they decisively beat 3-1 last night with 31 saves by Lundqvist. Pittsburgh shouldn’t have a problem with Columbus, who they swept in the regular season.

If Pittsburgh and the Rangers do face off in the second round, it would be a very close series. They have each have one regulation win and one shootout win in their four-game regular season series. The Penguins have two players in the top ten point-scorers in the League with Sidney Crosby in first and Evgeni Malkin tied for sixth. Pittsburgh’s League-leading offense would have the best chance of getting the puck past King Lundqvist. However, Marc-Andre Fleury has lost his last five games.

The Bruins saw both teams in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and breezed by both. The Bruins skipped over the Rangers in just five games in the second round, scoring 14 goals against Lundqvist in just five games to give him a mediocre 2.80 Goals Against Average in the series. The B’s only loss came in a Game 4 overtime decision that almost gave the Bruins the sweep.

Pittsburgh put up even less of a fight. The first-seeded Penguins were swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals and were outscored 12-2. The Bruins have yet to face Fleury in the postseason though. He was replaced with Tomas Vokoun in the first round of the 2013 Playoffs after losing two games to the New York Islanders, giving up six goals in Game 4. Vokoun played the rest of the Playoffs, but has yet to play this season after a pelvic blood clot in September benched him. Head coach Dan Blysma has stated that even if Vokoun were to return before the end of the season, Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff will be between the pipes for the Penguins come the postseason. Zatkoff has gone 12-4-1 his first season in the NHL, but has no postseason experience.

The Bruins have won two of three in the regular season series against Pittsburgh and Fleury, including a last second thriller on November 25th. Crosby tied the game 3-3 with just .3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Torey Krug responded just 34 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins the win. Pittsburgh is another team that the Bruins need to be mindful of giving up penalties to. The Pens have scored three power-play goals in their three meetings this season.

If the Penguins, who have lost five of their last seven games, do fall to the Rangers, the Bruins will be facing a team and a star goalie that they have swept in the regular season. The first win for the B’s against the Rangers this season came on Rasks second game in two nights. He made 43 saves, giving up only one goal. Zdeno Chara brought a natural hat trick to the second win, including the game-winning goal. The third win, a 6-3 decision, forced Rask to make 19 saves in a first period where the Bruins were outshot 20-9. The Bruins definitely know how to beat either of these teams. And they probably wouldn’t need seven games to do it.

Should the Bruins make a repeat appearance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they would most likely be facing the St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks. While the San Jose Sharks lead the Pacific Division, they choke every postseason. This team has been Division Champions six times in ten years from 2002 to 2012, but has never won a Stanley Cup or Conference Championship. In the last two seasons, they were knocked out in the first two rounds. They made it to the conference finals in both 2010 and 2011, but lost to Chicago and Vancouver respectively.

The Bruins have never faced St. Louis or Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They took two points from the Blues this regular season in two games with a shootout and overtime loss. The B’s split the regular season series with the Ducks, winning at TD Garden and losing in Anaheim. With the way the Bruins are playing as of late and with all of their players healthy, they are more than capable of beating either of these teams, especially with home ice advantage.

A repeat Stanley Cup Final matchup has only happened once in the past century. The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in both 2008 and 2009 with the Red Wings taking the first win and the Penguins hoisting the Cup a year later. There’s a good possibility that history could repeat itself this season. If the Bruins meet the Blackhawks in the Finals this year, Patrice Bergeron and the rest of the Black and Gold will be out for blood.

Chicago ripped the Cup out of the Bruins hands in 17 seconds that still haunt the city of Boston. The B’s went up 2-1 in the series, fought through three overtimes, played their star forward with a cracked rib, punctured lung and separated shoulder, and came within 1:16 of forcing a Game 7. However, Bryan Bickell scored with just 1:16 left in Game 6 with the goalie pulled. It looked like another grueling overtime, but the Blackhawks had a different plan. The Bruins defense never recovered from the tying goal and just 17 seconds later Dave Bolland ripped the puck past Rask to suck the life and all hope of hoisting the Cup out of the Bruins.

That’s all in the past though. The Bruins won in shootouts in Chicago earlier this season and face the Blackhawks at TD Garden tonight for the first time since those devastating 17 seconds. Now the Bruins are a different team. Rask has more experience under his belt, Patrice Bergeron is healthy, and Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg and Eriksson have added more scoring depth to the B’s offense.

If the Playoffs started tonight, the Bruins could be hoisting the Cup by the end of May. But there are three months, 16 wins and two very good Canadian teams that stand between the Bruins and the ultimate redemption.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boston Bruins, Sports