BC-Sox game will honor Pete Frates

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
The annual spring exhibition game the Boston College baseball team plays against the Boston Red Sox is always special for the Eagles.

But it will be a little more so this year, because when the teams take the field on Tuesday afternoon every player, amateur and professional alike, will be wearing the same number -- No. 3. And every Eagle will bear the same name on his back: Frates.

The Eagles and Red Sox are teaming up to honor Pete Frates, the former BC outfielder whose battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at least partially inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the country this past summer.

More than $200 million was raised via that social media phenomenon.

On Tuesday, Boston College will wear replica uniforms designed to look like the jerseys Frates and his teammates wore during the 2007 season, when Frates served as senior captain. The Beverly, Massachusetts, native finished his BC career with 107 starts, a .228 average, 88 hits, 56 RBIs, 11 home runs and 34 stolen bases.

After the game, all the uniforms will be auctioned off to raise money for the Pete Frates No. 3 Fund, which was set up after his 2012 diagnosis to pay medical costs not covered by insurance and to raise awareness of and funds for the fight against ALS.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

BU beats NU in OT for 30th Beanpot title

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
BOSTON -- Matt Grzelcyk scored a power-play goal 51 seconds into overtime to give Boston University a 4-3 victory over Northeastern in the 63rd Beanpot final.

The championship is BU's 30th in tournament history, its first since 2009. Northeastern hasn't won the Beanpot since 1988.

NU had tied the game with a pair of third-period goals, with Kevin Roy and Dustin Darou scoring 1:35 apart midway through the period.

Grzelcyk, a junior defenseman from Charlestown, had given the Terriers a 3-1 lead with a goal at 14:18 of the second period.

CLICK HERE for a full recap on the Beanpot final.

BU, Northeastern aim to end Beanpot wait

February, 22, 2015
Feb 22
BOSTON -- What's a couple of extra days, really?

Don't expect the two-week postponement of the Beanpot final imposed by Old Man Winter to faze the Boston University Terriers or the Northeastern Huskies. That fortnight delay is nothing compared to the wait these programs have endured while the Boston College Eagles imposed their five-year stranglehold on the coveted trophy.

Not a single member of the BU program, a team that was once so dominant on Mondays in February that local pundits threatened to rename the tournament the BU Invitational, has ever lifted the Beanpot. The Terriers haven't been to a final since 2012, and the last BU Beanpot championship -- No. 29 -- was in 2009, the same year the Terriers won their last national championship.

[+] EnlargeNortheastern Celebrate
Richard T Gagnon/Getty ImagesDustin Darou's late-third-period goal got Northeastern a spot in the Beanpot final and a shot at its first title since 1988.
Which, of course, is last week compared to the Huntington Hounds. When the Northeastern faithful say they've waited a lifetime for a Beanpot crown, many mean it literally. Unlike BU, not a single member of the current Northeastern squad had even been born the last time the Huskies took the Beanpot, back in 1988.

However, Jim Madigan's squad has been on the threshold. This is Northeastern's third straight trip to the Beanpot final, thanks to a scintillating 3-2 win over five-time defending champ BC way back on Feb. 5.

The Huskies (15-12-4) have been on a serious roll since, taking four straight before dropping a 6-3 decision at Maine on Saturday, and going 15-4-3 since opening the season winless in their first nine (0-8-1).

"It's a true testament to the young men we have in that locker room, to our leadership," said Madigan, who was an assistant coach at Northeastern the last time the Hounds won the Beanpot. "To a man in the locker room, they thought we were a good team. I am proud of them. Now we're still growing and maturing as a team."

No. 3 BU (19-6-5) also has turned things around this season, bouncing back from a dismal 2013-14 campaign to lead Hockey East coming into the final week of the season. And while the top line of Jack Eichel, Evan Rodriguez and Danny O'Regan has garnered the most ink, the Terriers have plenty of weapons (109 goals, tops in the league).

"I knew the depth we had and I knew we could create some offense," BU coach Dave Quinn said. "You've got to have a first line. Show me a great team that doesn't have a great first line. There are going to be games when they get most of the points. We're fine with that. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't care who gets them, as long as we're scoring goals."

Adding more fuel to the fire, both squads are coming off Saturday night losses, with the Terriers dropping a 3-2 decision at home against Notre Dame.

The Beanpot final (scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden; the consolation game between BC and Harvard starts at 4:30) also sets up an intriguing tripleheader between the Terriers and Huskies to finish the Hockey East regular season. After Monday's game, the squads will square off for a home-and-home series next weekend.

But first things first. With a Beanpot crown in the balance, no one is looking past Monday night. Players on both squads have waited too long to get sidetracked by any distractions.

"I'm really excited to get to a Beanpot final," BU's O'Regan said after his overtime goal allowed the Terriers to knock off Harvard, and O'Regan's brother Tommy, in the first round. "Obviously, it's been a dream of my life to win one."

Wesley Saunders helps Harvard recover to capture crucial Ivy win

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Wesley Saunders is smooth.

At times, he's so smooth it seems like he’s coasting, taking his foot off the gas and letting momentum carry him around the court.

But then, seemingly inevitably, the senior makes a play or a series of plays that show his motor is still revving at an extremely high level.

Harvard trailed Princeton by double digits for most of the first half on Saturday night. The Crimson allowed the Tigers to shoot an impossibly high percentage from the floor and missed their fair share of easy looks.

"We struggled mightily in the first half, and they played very well and were sharp," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "We just talked about hanging in there. We thought that if we could just show the composure in being able to relax a little bit in the second half that the shots that we didn’t make [in the first half] we would make in the second half."

Trailing by seven early in the second, Saunders put it in gear. The Harvard star found himself as the last line of defense against a 2-on-1. He stepped up to force the pass, then dropped quickly to swipe the ball away and off the Princeton attacker's leg out of bounds.

But the official didn't see it that way, giving the ball back to Princeton. Saunders was visibly upset with the call, pointing at his leg to indicate where the ball hit and then turning away with a rueful smile when his argument fell on deaf ears.

Rarely ruffled for long, Saunders wasn't this time, either. The next time Princeton went into the lane, Saunders swiped at the ball again and this time caught it himself, streaked up the court and swooped through two defenders to lay it in.

That bucket -- which Saunders followed up with a 3-pointer shortly after -- began an 11-4 run for Harvard to get things back to even and eventually propel the Crimson to a 63-55 win.

"To win on Saturday night [in the Ivy League], it can be a dogfight," Amaker said. "You have to scratch and claw."

Saunders and the Crimson did just that, overcoming a 14-point deficit by holding Princeton to just 18 second-half points and getting big buckets from Saunders (game-high 23 points), Siyani Chambers (12 points) and Steve Moundou-Missi (12 points) down the stretch.

Asked about the big comeback, Chambers first praised the Tigers for playing a "really, really good game."

"[The comeback] was a will to win," the junior co-captain said. "We had to dig down and just compete every possession and get stops and defensive rebounds. I think in the second half we were really able to do that."

Amaker -- whose position as head coach was officially endowed on Saturday, thanks to a gift from Staples co-founder and Harvard alum Thomas G. Stemberg -- has as many alliterative sayings as a motivational speaker. After the game he shared one he likes to use with his players.

"We talk about being disciplined, determined and deserving," Amaker said. "And I thought we were all three."

The Crimson got a boost from a sellout crowd which, after braving the winter weather, was into the game the whole way. The fans cheered each Harvard defensive stop and offensive bucket. They also cheered every time the public address announcer mentioned during the out-of-town scores that Yale -- the Ivy co-leader entering the night at 8-1 -- was losing against Columbia.

Everyone in the building knew the stakes that each Ancient Eight game carries with it and could sense the opportunity, hence the effort.

"A theme for our team coming into the year that coach talked about was no regrets," Saunders said. "And we didn’t want this to be a game where we felt like we didn’t give 100 percent effort and we look back feeling like we could've done more or we should've done more to come out with the victory."

The only regrets after this one will come from the Tigers, who sit in third place in the Ivy and had the upper hand for so much of the game before faltering late. With Yale losing to Columbia, Harvard now owns first place outright with four games to go in the 14-game Ivy slate.

"I just thought our kids gave great effort," Amaker said. "And we had to. There was no other way of surviving this game if we didn’t play with an enormous amount of effort."

And while many players contributed to the win, no one may have given as much effort as Saunders, even if it didn’t always look that way.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Harvard announces hoops endowment

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The transformation of Harvard’s men’s basketball program from annual also-ran for most of its history to perennial powerhouse under Tommy Amaker has continued this season, as the Crimson entered Saturday 18-5 overall and 8-1 in Ivy League play.

And at halftime of Harvard's game against Princeton on Saturday the school announced another step -- the endowment of Amaker’s position by Harvard alum and Staples co-founder Thomas G. Stemberg.

Stemberg, who co-founded Staples in 1986 and served as the office supply giant’s CEO and chairman, graduated from Harvard in 1971 and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1973. He serves as an honorary co-chair of the booster group Friends of Harvard Basketball, which played a key part in bringing Amaker to Cambridge eight seasons ago.

“I am thrilled to announce that Tom Stemberg and his family have endowed our men’s basketball head coaching position,” Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise said in a statement. “Tom has been a friend of Harvard Athletics for more than 40 years and his continued support has helped to champion in an era of academic and athletic success for many of our programs.

“Under his leadership, the Friends of Harvard Basketball has been instrumental in the transformation of our men’s basketball program under head coach Tommy Amaker, and this gift will help us continue to pursue excellence in the years ahead.”

The terms of the endowment were not disclosed.

“Tom has been an incredible friend to Harvard Athletics for many years. This gift is a testament to his commitment to the continued success of our basketball program and the young men in it,” Amaker said in a statement. “Tom’s leadership throughout the years has been vital to the program that we have built, and I could not be more thrilled and proud to be the Stemberg Family Head Coach for Men’s Basketball.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

BC-Miami men's hoops pushed to Monday

February, 15, 2015
Feb 15
The Boston College men's basketball game against Miami scheduled for Sunday night has been postponed to Monday because of weather and travel conditions in the area. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader at Conte Forum at 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

Following the men's game, the BC women's team will face NC State, a game that also was postponed Sunday. Admission to both games is free.

"We appreciate the cooperation and patience of our fans and both the Miami and NC State programs," athletics director Brad Bates said in a statement. "Our first priority was to ensure the safety of our teams, fans, students and game personnel."

Fans who purchased tickets for either of Sunday's games may exchange those tickets for ones to the upcoming men's games vs. NC State (Feb. 28) or Wake Forest (March 7) or for any of the remaining home women's basketball games.

Beanpot final, consolation moved to Feb. 23

February, 8, 2015
Feb 8
BOSTON -- The 63rd annual Beanpot Tournament championship and consolation games scheduled to be held at TD Garden on Monday will be postponed until Feb. 23, due to a major snowstorm in the area.

The title game pitting Northeastern against Boston University will be played at 7:30 p.m., with the consolation between Boston College and Harvard scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Northeastern is in search of its fifth Beanpot championship, its first since 1988. BU has won 29 Beanpot titles.

Last week's semifinal games also were postponed by snow, marking the first time in Beanpot history that both rounds were postponed.

Ice Hockey

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- When he first accepted the head coaching job at Boston College two years ago, Steve Addazio vowed to “build a fence” around the state of Massachusetts, aiming to keep the Bay State’s top high school recruits close to home in Chestnut Hill.

Suffice it to say Addazio, a Connecticut native and former high school coach in his home state, has kept to his word. The Eagles announced 25 players in their 2015 class of recruits Wednesday afternoon, on the first day high school seniors can sign National Letters of Intent for football, with seven Bay State prospects among the group of two, three and four-star pledges.

Coupled with last year’s class, that gives the Eagles a whopping 15 Massachusetts recruits total over the last two signing days, an unusually high number for a state that on average produces anywhere up to a dozen Division 1 FBS signees in a given year.

Six of the top 10 Bay State prospects in ESPNU’s rankings were BC commits, which included several traditionally strong local pipelines: Everett defensive back Lukas Denis (No. 2), Brockton offensive lineman Aaron Monteiro (No. 3) and St. John’s Prep tight end Jake Burt (No. 9).

As it was last year, when Prep running back Johnny Thomas spurned the Eagles for Penn State, there was one big-time stud that got away. Xaverian defensive end Joe Gaziano, a Second Team USA Today All-American and the 2014 ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient, committed to Northwestern last May despite aggressive recruitment from the Eagles, and stuck with it as he signed today.

Still, Addazio was satisfied with how he’s taken care of home the last two years.

“We don’t want to lose great players that can help us win at a high level that are in this five-hour radius. You need to win on those guys,” he said. “Now, we didn’t win on every one of them, but we won a lot, and that’s critically important to do. And if you don’t do that, history shows that you’ll struggle.”

Pass rush was a critical area Addazio wanted to address with this class, and he was exuberant about the abilities of two defensive ends: three-star Wyatt Ray of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), and New Canaan (Conn.) product Zach Allen, the Gatorade Player of the Year for Connecticut.

“Zach Allen is a phenomenal football player,” Addazio said of the defensive end, who chose BC over Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and UCLA. “Like, he is a big time football player, that is one of the very finest players in the country.”

He continued, “We’re really excited about the pass rush right now with Wyatt Ray and Zach Allen. These are two young guys that are big-time pass rushers. We’re really excited about both these guys being on opposite sides, getting after the quarterback. They’ve got the size, the speed, and the athleticism to create havoc in the pass rush.”

On the other side of the trenches, the Eagles are expected to be in for growing pains up front with all five starters graduating. Long-term, though, Addazio feels the unit will become a strength after signing another big class, led by Sarasota, Fla., product Wyatt Knopfke, the Eagles’ only four-star recruit and the No. 26 overall guard according to ESPNU.

Five offensive linemen in all dotted the class, which also included 2014 ESPN Boston Lineman of the Year Chris Lindstrom of Shepherd Hill Regional High. Addazio thinks he’s recruited an offensive line “reminiscent of years past here.”

“I’ve coached that position my entire career, and I’ll tell you I’m as excited about last year’s and this year’s offensive line class, which should be about eight guys, that I think are just gonna be absolute dominant front here as the years go by,” he said. “Now, with a young offensive line, it’s gonna be difficult to get them to immediately play at a high level. But that’s certainly one of the tallest orders we have in front of us. But in the future, we’ll be a dominant front.”

A Study Abroad

UMass signed three Bay Staters to its recruiting class, all of them offensive lineman: Xaverian’s Joe Parsons, Marblehead’s Derek Dumais and Cohasset native Michael Yerardi of Suffield Academy (Conn.). Beyond that, it’s been a much different approach to recruiting for the Minutemen, who have dug into head coach Mark Whipple’s familiar routes from Florida and Pennsylvania all the way out to his home state of Arizona.

Just how far do Whipple’s tabs stretch? Literally, the Minutemen have extended halfway around the world in their last two classes. A year ago, they signed offensive lineman Lukas Kolter from Cologne, Germany. Today, they signed 21-year-old, 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end Travis Reynolds out of Brisbane, Australia, giving the Minutemen three internationals over their last three recruiting classes.

UMass has had a terrific run with tight ends the last two years. Leominster native Rob Blanchflower was drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers last May; 26-year-old Juco transfer Jean Sifrin, who took the region by storm with several SportsCenter-worthy grabs this fall, is a late-round projection and the No. 14 ranked tight end in ESPN’s current NFL Draft forecast.

Whipple has high hopes for Reynolds, who also has a rugby background, and thinks can be an explosive addition to his multiple offense.

“His story is a little like Jean. The same digging under the cracks,” Whipple said at his afternoon press conference. “He’s played American football. There’s tape of him running down the field catching, just like Jean was. There about the same size. He caught the ball, turn and ran away from people. The nice thing is, is that Travis is 21 and five years young and I hope he’ll be here more than one year.”

The Colton Effect

UMass has traditionally had success with walk-on’s under Whipple, producing pros such as Rob Blanchflower, James Ihedigbo and Kole Ayi. And there’s no denying the influence former walk-on Joe Colton’s rags-to-riches ascent in Amherst has had on Westwood’s Clapboardtree Street, where All-State Xaverian linebacker Kenny Kern signed a letter this morning declaring his intent to take the Colton route with the Minutemen.

Coming out of Xaverian with no Division 1 offers, Colton, a 2010 ESPN Boston All-State selection, tried his hand at prep school, where he came up empty again a year later. The Norwood native decided to walk-on at UMass, and in their first year of Division 1 FBS membership he immediately got on the field as a safety, registering the sixth-most tackles on the team as a true freshman.

Two years later, Colton is a fan favorite in Amherst, one of the team’s most popular players for his gritty approach to the secondary. And back at Xaverian, the Hawks have begun to see players walk-on to the Minutemen at a yearly clip.

Last year, fullback Matt Tuleja transferred to UMass from Assumption and immediately got on the field as a junior, opening running lanes for another former walk-on, Shadrach Abrokwah.

Kern, a 2014 ESPN Boston All-State and captain of the Division 1 State Champion Hawks, gave a pledge to walk-on with the Minutemen Tuesday night, just days after giving a commitment to Assumption.

“I just felt that it was a better choice for my future academically and athletically,” Kern said. “Some former Xaverian alums like Joey Colton and Matt Tuleja have been real with me about the good and bad parts of their experiences.”

Asked about Kern, Colton told ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Uva there are similarities between him and Tuleja, a teammate of Colton’s on the Hawks’ 2009 Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad.

“The kid reminds me of an undersized Matt Tuleja,” Colton said. “Great fit for the program and the culture we want at UMass.”

Goin’ Coastal

The local Division 1 programs have maintained steady pipelines in Massachusetts over the years, from the decades-long exodus of Brockton and Everett kids to Chestnut Hill, to the almost-yearly walk-on tradition developing from Xaverian to UMass, to BC defensive coordinator Don Brown’s affinity with Central Mass prospects at seemingly every stop of his career.

One new pipeline to keep an eye on going forward is Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have been one of Division 1 FCS’ most consistent contenders this decade, making four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last five seasons and reaching the national quarterfinals each of the last two; since 2008 the Conway, S.C.-based school has sent nearly a dozen players to the NFL, including Mike Tolbert, Jerome Simpson and Tyler Thigpen.

And as their program stock has risen, so too has their aggression on the recruiting landscape in New England.

For this year’s class, the Chanticleers scored two New Hampshire pledges, one scholarship (Pinkerton Academy’s Noah Robison) and one preferred walk-on (New Hampton’s Seamus Tully), and has been aggressive with Massachusetts recruits. Last July, they got a verbal commitment from Xaverian safety Damion Wood, a 2014 ESPNBoston All-State selection, but they have since parted ways.

In all, they offered scholarships to five Bay Staters in the Class of 2015 who ended up elsewhere – Wood, St. John’s of Shrewsbury safety Davon Jones (BC), Xaverian lineman Joe Parsons (UMass), Mansfield tight end Brendan Hill (UNH) and Milton Academy lineman Bobby Gilmore (Harvard) – and in most cases were either the first or one of the first to offer.

Their aggression up here stems from recruiting coordinator Cory Bailey, a Wrentham native and Xaverian grad who served as head coach at Worcester’s Assumption College in two separate stints before joining the Coastal staff in 2013. All too familiar with the landscape, he’s made a vow throughout his career to always keep his alma mater on his radar, telling ESPNBoston.com, “Every year, no matter where I am in the country, what program I’m at, I’ll always recruit Xaverian, and the Catholic Conference.”

“I think there’s a lot of good football players up there,” Bailey said. “You look at [University of] New Hampshire, what they’ve done with kids from that area – year in and year out, they’re a national championship contender – taking a kid or two from up there makes a lot of sense.”

Even in an area as rich in homegrown talent as the Palmetto State, Coastal aims to maintain a foothold across the Eastern Seaboard (more undergrads currently hail from New Jersey than South Carolina, Bailey said). And long-term, with their proven track record, they should continue to reap the benefits.

“One thing about Northeast, New England kids is that generally they might be underdeveloped compared to a kid from the Southeast,” Bailey said. “The reason for that is down here, with restrictions around spring ball and summer training, they’re not as strict as they are the Northeast. So you sometimes get a kid coming in that might not be as good at the outset, but their potential is higher in some cases.”


Addazio said Lindstrom, who graduated high school in December, has already put on 15 pounds since enrolling at BC last month. “He’s a guy that’s gonna fight you,” Addazio said. “He likes football, he was brought up tough, and he’s tough. You can tell by the way he’s training in the weight room.” … New Hampshire continues to mine the Bay State for talent that slips off the radar. This year, it’s by way of injury. Two-sport All-State Mansfield product Brendan Hill, who has missed his last two basketball seasons with knee surgeries, signed with the Wildcats as a tight end after holding nearly a dozen offers from the FBS and FCS ranks over the summer, including UConn and UMass. Meanwhile Bridgewater-Raynham running back Brandon Gallagher, who missed two months of the season with a broken ankle, is heading to Durham as a preferred walk-on. … Central Connecticut State might have a few steals on their hands in linemen Guershwon Jean-Louis (Everett) and Chris Tinkham (Lynn English/East Coast Prep). Jean-Louis, a massive body at 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds, showed flashes this fall with the Crimson Tide in their run to the MIAA D1 State Championship. Tinkham, a 2013 ESPN Boston All-State selection who had been on UMass and BC’s radars in the past, demonstrates a lot of raw power in his 6-foot-3, 275-pound frame. “I’m not the kid in your face about where I’m going, so maybe CCSU did seem under the radar to people looking in from the outside. But to me, it felt right,” Tinkham said. … Sixteen players from Massachusetts signed FBS scholarships on Wednesday, another high-watermark year after inking 15 players last year. Eleven prospects were graded a three-star by ESPNU, including the nation’s No. 2 placekicker, Milton Academy’s Justin Yoon (Notre Dame).


Boston College unveils 25-man recruit class

February, 4, 2015
Feb 4
Some have compared national signing day to Christmas, a day of gifts for college football fans. But for Boston College, it’s less kid-on-Christmas-morning and more financial-planner-recommending-investments.

“Sure, that stock has huge potential, but it also comes with huge risk,” the planner says. “What you really want is this U.S. Treasury bond!”

In other words, BC investments are typically long-term.

“The lifeblood of our program exists through recruiting and the development of the student-athletes we already have,” coach Steve Addazio told reporters at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “The recruiting process is critically important.”

The Eagles finished 2014 with a 7-6 record for the second straight season, losing the Pinstripe Bowl in heartbreaking fashion in overtime to Penn State on a missed PAT and a Nittany Lions TD.

Despite some success in his first two seasons, Addazio has said, more than once, that it’ll take three or four full recruiting classes to get the roster stocked as he wants it.

He now has two.

This year's 25-player class includes one four-star recruit (ESPN 300 offensive lineman Wyatt Knopfe) and 24 three-star recruits (led by offensive tackle Anthony Palazzolo). Only Arizona, with 25, has more three-star recruits signed up than BC does in this class.

Addazio reiterated Wednesday that in his first two seasons the Eagles’ roster has been short on numbers, with a roster size closer to the FCS level than the FBS level.

“We have to really be able to load our team back up with a full roster of 85 scholarship players,” he said. “We have to encourage and develop a larger walk-on population. When you have that, you’re a healthier football team; you can practice at a higher level, and you become a much more fundamentally developed team.”

The class of 2015 recruits hail from nine states: seven from Massachusetts; six from Florida; four from Connecticut; two each from New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia; and one apiece from California and New York.

Addazio is also bringing aboard another graduate transfer, defensive lineman Evan Kelly from the University of Richmond.

The Eagles added five offensive linemen, three wide receivers, two quarterbacks, one running back and one tight end on offense, and six defensive backs, four defensive linemen and three linebackers on defense.

It’s no coincidence that the class is heavy on linemen. The Eagles graduated their entire starting offensive line in 2014, and will have an all-new unit in 2015. So it’s important to rebuild the depth in that position group.

“I think we’ve really increased our athleticism, our team speed, yet it all starts up front in the building of your offensive and defensive lines, and we certainly attacked those positional needs,” Addazio said. “You’re talking about roughly 56 of our 85-man roster is now comprised in the last two recruiting classes, which is an awfully large chunk and a very young football team. They are great building blocks for the future success of the program.”

Of course, this year’s O-line recruits are likely a while away from contributing -- it’s rare to see underclassmen on the line at BC -- and it’s worth noting that one of the five (Dudley native Chris Lindstrom) has arrived on campus sporting a mouth full of braces.

The Eagles have high hopes for these players, but they’re all still kids.

So, the coach was asked, will any of them turn out to be “dudes”?

“I hope they’re all dudes,” Addazio said. “That’s the goal right now. We think we’ve got some dudes, but that remains to be seen.”

BC begins spring practice on Feb. 25. The 2015 season will start with four straight home games, including two against FCS-level opponents Maine and Howard, leading up to a Friday prime-time matchup with Florida State.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Northeastern knocks BC from Beanpot throne

February, 4, 2015
Feb 4
BOSTON -- The king is dead.

For the first time in six years, the No. 11 Boston College Eagles (16-9-2) won't be hoisting the Beanpot trophy. Not after the Northeastern Huskies (11-11-4) bounced the five-time defending champs, 3-2, in a nail-biting semifinal Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Huskies' victory, somewhat ironically, ensures that their opponent next Monday in the Beanpot final -- Boston University -- will keep its record of six straight Beanpot crowns (1995-2000) for the foreseeable future.

BU earned a shot at its 30th Beanpot title by outlasting Harvard, 4-3, in double overtime.

"We knew tonight was going to be a close game. We knew we had to get over the hump," Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. "We had believability. We had confidence against Boston College. But when you find ways to lose games against them, or get tied late in the game, it does something to your confidence.

"And those last seven or eight games, that's happened, whether it's been in the [Beanpot] finals the last two years or the regular season," he said. "A lot of the preparation this week was the mental part, the believability and the confidence that we're just as good and we can beat this club."

[+] EnlargeDarou
Richard T Gagnon/Getty ImagesDustin Darou's goal with 1:34 left in regulation gave Northeastern a shot at its first Beanpot title in 1988 and meant BC wouldn't win its sixth straight.
It also allowed the Huntington Hounds to climb back to .500 after starting the season 0-8-1.

"I don't think I've ever been on a team as a player or a coach where you don't get a win out of the blocks the first nine games," Madigan said. "It's a true testament to the character of the young men we have in the locker room."

The Beanpot nightcap appeared to be following the same script as the traffic outside TD Garden and the first semifinal earlier in the evening: Absolute gridlock. But with the score knotted at 2-2 with 1:34 left in regulation, Northeastern junior defenseman Dustin Darou, with one career goal, took a pass from Kevin Roy at the left point.

"Kevin sent it up to me, and I kind of dragged it across," he said. "I was actually hoping for him to come up the wall because I'm not much of a shooter. But he never came, and I kind of saw an opening and just threw it on net, and it really worked out."

Darou's seeing-eye snap shot sailed past several BC and Northeastern players, then past Eagles goaltender Thatcher Demko for the game-winning tally.

"It's one thing to win against BC," Darou said. "But to score the game-winning goal was really surreal for me."

After a spirited-but-scoreless first period, the teams began to open it up in the middle frame. Northeastern took a 1-0 lead at 21 seconds on power-play goal that was part magic, part mistake.

With BC's Alex Tuch in the box for interference, NU's Roy received a cross-ice pass near the right faceoff dot and held it, freezing BC netminder Thatcher Demko. He then slid a pass to Mike McMurtry in the slot, but the junior from Ontario scuffed his shot. Instead, the puck slid through to Colton Saucermann, and the junior defenseman snapped it into the open net.

"I thought we kept our feet moving well, and that forced BC to pull us down," Madigan said. "The one thing we did really well was play smart. We kept our feet moving, in terms of back pressuring and not taking penalties, not reaching in and hooking and slashing. They've got an excellent power play and great personnel, so I like the way we handled that situation."

Four minutes later, BC's Austin Cangelosi launched Ryan Fitzgerald in alone on Clay Witt with a terrific bank pass off the right boards, but the NU goalie denied Fitzgerald's bid with a sparkling spread-eagle pad save. BC's Destry Straight, however, followed the play and jammed home the rebound to tie the game, 1-1.

The Huskies went up 2-1 on another power-play tally, this time with BC's Steve Santini serving two for holding. NU's Mike Szmatula send a pass to John Stevens at the top of the left circle, and the sophomore waited for Zach Aston-Reese to set up a screen at the top of the crease before wristing a laser past Demko's blocker at 11:21.

"Obviously we took a lot of penalties," said BC coach Jerry York. "It's hard to overcome that because you're playing the same players over and over again."

The Eagles continued to take ill-advised penalties, but the next one worked in their favor. With Teddy Doherty serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice, BC's Chris Calnan broke in on Witt, but was denied by a pinpoint poke check. Undeterred, Fitzgerald got another breakaway chance, and this time he made good on it, flipping a backhander over Witt's glove at 18:29, moments before Doherty stepped out of the box.

With just under 12 minutes left in the third, McMurtry was left alone in front, but Demko waited out the Husky forward and made the stop. Finally, though, Darou broke through.

"We knew coming into the game that we had to get to three," Madigan said. "We haven't been able to get to three goals against Demko much over the last few years. We knew when the opposition gets to three, you have a good chance of winning. It took three, and obviously we got the win."

Tuesday night's win puts Northeastern into the tournament final for the third straight year. However, the Huskies don't need to be reminded that they haven't won the cherished pot since 1988. Waiting for them will be the BU Terriers, with 29 Beanpot titles. Not a single player on either team has won the trophy previously.

"They've got depth up front. They've got four real good lines, their defensemen are younger but they're highly skilled, and they've got a great goaltender," Madigan said. "So we'll have our hands full next Monday. And that's what you've got to do in this tournament. You've got to beat a good team to go play just as good of a team."

BU solves Harvard, Michalek in double OT

February, 3, 2015
Feb 3
BOSTON -- Twelve years and counting. The long-simmering frustration of Ted Donato's No. 6 Harvard Crimson at the Beanpot continued Tuesday night, as No. 3 Boston University overcame a record-setting 63-save performance by Harvard netminder Steve Michalek with a 4-3 double overtime win at TD Garden.

"We were kind of expecting a one-goal game, or a game that would come down to the last minute," BU coach David Quinn said. "I certainly didn't envision double overtime, but I'm just really proud of our guys. I think we showed a lot of resiliency and resolve."

[+] EnlargeBU Hockey
Richard T Gagnon/Getty ImagesDanny O'Regan's goal in double overtime gave BU a shot at its 30th Beanpot title and its first since 2009.
The Terriers came out buzzing at the start of the second overtime. Just after the two-minute mark, BU's Evan Rodriguez intercepted a lazy clearing attempt from Harvard captain Kyle Criscuolo and drove hard down the left side. Controlling the puck on his backhand, Rodriguez feathered a pass to a streaking Danny O'Regan, who flipped the puck over Michalek for the game-winner.

"I've been lucky enough to play with Evan for a while now. I know he's a great player," O'Regan said. "So I just put my head down and went to the net. I knew he'd find me, and he did just that."

Quinn agreed with O'Regan's assessment of Rodriguez. "He's highly intelligent. I know he did hound the puck," Quinn said. "He caused the turnover, stayed with it, and made a great play to Danny. He's been doing things like that all year."

The victory puts the Terriers (17-4-4) in position to win their 30th Beanpot title, but their first since 2009.

"We're real excited to get to a Beanpot final," O'Regan said. "Obviously it's been a dream, a lifetime dream, to win one. And the first step was today."

BU carried the play early in the game, including a nifty rush by super frosh Jack Eichel off his off wing that Michalek smothered, and captain Matt Grzelcyk denting the right post with a blast from the left point. The Terriers broke through at 16:50, when Cason Hohmann, snaking behind Harvard's Max Everson, converted a sensational cross-crease pass from Rodriguez and stuffed the puck behind Michalek.

"Evan's a resilient, hard-working player who has had a heck of a year. He's a heck of a hockey player," Quinn said. "There's not a lot that he can't do."

Harvard knotted the game just 75 seconds later, when North Reading's Jimmy Vesey fought off BU's John MacLeod and got the puck to Criscuolo, the Crimson captain ramming it home for his 12th on the season.

Harvard jumped ahead 2-1 just 22 seconds into the second, when a great hustle play by Jimmy Vesey forced Grzelcyk to cough up the puck behind the BU net. Criscuolo swooped in, curled and threw the puck in front of O'Connor, where Alexander Kerfoot tapped it past the sprawling BU netminder.

"I thought early in the second, we really got away from playing responsible hockey," Quinn said. "We gave up that goal early in the second, and I think we got deflated. All of a sudden, it looked like we were pressing, acting like there were two minutes left to go in the game."

A defensive miscue by BU's Ahti Oksanen helped Harvard boost its lead to 3-1 at 8:28. With O'Connor scrambling to get back into his net after making a save, Oksanen tapped a loose puck to the stick of Harvard's Sean Malone, and the sophomore from New York ripped a wrister into the back of the BU net for an unassisted tally.

[+] EnlargeSteve Michalek
Richard T Gagnon/Getty ImagesHarvard goalie Steve Michalek makes one of his 63 saves, a Beanpot record.

The Terriers began clawing back at 15:34. BU's Nick Roberto sprung free on a breakaway, but fired the puck over the net. Matt Lane dug out the rebound and sent it back to Roberto. The sophomore from Wakefield, Massachusetts, snapped a shot that Michalek stopped by couldn't control, allowing freshman Nikolas Olsson to bury the rebound, cutting the Crimson lead to 3-2.

With only 23 seconds left in the middle frame, BU evened things up at 3-3. Oksanen found a soft spot in the slot by the right hash marks, took a behind-the-net feed from Hohmann and roofed a shot over Michalek's right shoulder.

"They have a team that's very opportunistic, and they have some great offensive players," Donato said.

The squads skated through a scoreless third, but not without a few scares for each side. Harvard's Eddie Ellis batted a puck midair that had eluded Michalek at the midway point, and Harvard's Seb Lloyd was denied an apparent goal after Malone crashed into O'Connor in the crease. The video replay proved inconclusive.

That set the stage for overtime, where BU took the initiative, peppering the Crimson net. Michalek made an outstanding split save on Rodriguez parked at the right corner of the crease just past the 3:30 mark.

"Steve was very solid, and spectacular when he needed to be," Donato said.

Four minutes later, with Michalek out of position, Harvard's Brayden Jaw gave up his body on the goal line to stuff a point-blank bid from O'Regan.

"I thought I did my job, said Michalek, whose 63 saves were a Beanpot record. "I thought everyone on the team buckled down defensively. We had numerous blocked shots on Grade A opportunities. This is a tough one to swallow."

The Crimson began to find their legs halfway through the first OT, and Tyer Moy had a clean breakaway at the 12-minute mark but lost control of the puck just as he was getting ready to shoot. O'Connor then blocked a backhand follow-up by Tommy O'Regan, Danny's brother.

That led to the heroics of Rodriguez and Danny O'Regan in the second overtime, sending the Terriers to next Monday's final with a chance for the first Beanpot title for the current BU players.

"It's my fourth year here, and we haven't had much success in the Beanpot since I've been here," Hohmann said. "I wasn't nervous, but every time they got a shot on net, I was like, 'Oh, please, don't trickle in somehow.' But I think we work really, really hard, and everyone's really excited. I can't wait to play in the finals next week."

Beanpot games moved to Tuesday

February, 1, 2015
Feb 1
The Beanpot semifinals scheduled for Monday at TD Garden have been moved to Tuesday because of a snowstorm expected to hit Boston.

Tuesday's first game, at 5 p.m., will pit BU against Harvard, while the nightcap has BC facing Northeastern.

BC football announces 2015 schedule

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
The 2015 schedule is out, and once again Boston College football won’t leave the state in September due to a home-heavy early slate.

In 2014, BC didn’t have to leave Massachusetts for its first five games -- which included a season-opening road game at Gillette Stadium against UMass -- and turned that home cooking into a 3-2 start.

This time Steve Addazio’s Eagles will host their first four opponents, including College Football Playoff semifinalist Florida State in a Friday night matchup on Sept. 18 (on ESPN or ESPN 2).

BC won’t hit the road until October, when it travels from Chestnut Hill to Durham, North Carolina, to play Duke on Oct. 3.

But the season’s second month includes three road games, with trips to Clemson and Louisville following the one to Duke. The Eagles won’t get a bye week until Week 11, rest not arriving until only two games remain.

The game immediately following that bye week might just be the one fans circle on their calendars, though. On Nov. 21, BC will play Notre Dame at Fenway Park (as the road team, since the Fighting Irish will be the home team through a clause in their stadium series contract).

In all, BC’s 2015 schedule includes eight games against bowl teams from 2014 (only Syracuse and Wake Forest didn’t qualify for the postseason; Maine and Howard are FCS opponents), five games against teams with nine or more wins, and three games against teams that finished last season in the AP Top 25.

The announcement had Eagles players excited, including junior running back Myles Willis and sophomore defensive back Kamrin Moore:

63rd Beanpot may be full of surprises

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
Come Monday, Super Bowl XLIX and the region's first major snowstorm will be behind us. Which means it's Beanpot time in Boston.

The 63rd edition of this classic parochial hockey showcase will have Boston University squaring off against Harvard in the early game, and defending champ Boston College taking on Northeastern in a rematch of last year's final in the nightcap.

That lineup alone reinforces Boston's contrarian nature. In most instances, a game between the No. 2 and No. 4 team in the nation would be your headliner. Not at the Beanpot.

No. 4 Harvard, with wins already this season over No. 2 Boston University and No. 15 Boston College, has shown it has the ability to be the first team without the name "Boston" to take home the Beanpot in two decades. To get to the championship tilt on Feb. 9, the Crimson will need to knock off the Terriers for a second time this season, and that could prove no small feat.

Here's a quick look at the combatants:

Boston University (15-4-4; 10-2-2 HE)
What a difference a year can make. Last year, the Terriers came limping into the Beanpot with only three league wins, and promptly got bounced by Boston College in the opening round. This year, BU is sitting atop Hockey East, with the league's top three scorers -- freshman phenom Jack Eichel (36 points), junior Danny O'Regan (28), and senior Evan Rodriguez (28). By comparison, last year's anemic squad didn't have a single player with double-digit goals by the first Monday in February.

That gives hope for a BU squad that, in times gone by, considered a Beanpot crown a birthright (the Terriers have won a record 29 titles, but none in the past five years). Translation? No one on the current squad has hoisted the cherished pot. If they're to win this year, they'll likely do it by pushing the pace. Dave Quinn's BU offense comes in waves, with the Terriers currently ranked fourth in the country with 34.4 per game, and ninth in team scoring, with 3.39 goals per game.

That high-powered offense has taken some pressure off junior goaltender Matt O'Connor (1.91 goals against average and .937 save percentage, the latter tied for fourth in the nation). The Terriers' team defense (2.00 goals per game) is also good for fourth in the country. That stout defense will be tested by a Harvard squad that's already squeaked out a 3-2 win against the Terriers, in BU's own building, in November.

The Terriers, looking for their first Beanpot crown since 2009 (the year they won their last national championship), have made the final only once in the last four years. Clearly, Quinn's primary objective is to make sure his team isn't looking past Harvard.

Harvard University (12-4-2; 8-3-2 ECAC)
Coach Ted Donato's Crimson squad is enjoying a renaissance almost on par with Boston University. In fact, Harvard is undefeated against Hockey East competition this season, notching a 4-2 win over No. 10 UMass-Lowell in November in addition to victories over the Terriers and Boston College. They'll need to keep that record intact if they're to capture the school's 11th Beanpot crown, and first since 1993. But they know now that they can do it.

Like BU, Harvard is getting it done with offense. The Crimson's 3.72 goals per game, led by Jimmy Vesey (30 points) and Kyle Criscuolo (26), is tops in the country, as is their power-play percentage, which is humming along at a 25 percent clip. Criscuolo, in fact, registered two goals against the Terriers in Harvard's 3-2 win. BU, which is rarely afraid to mix it up, will need to play smart and stay out of the box.

On the other end, Harvard has surrendered only 39 goals in 18 games, good for third in the country, and a team goals-against average of 2.14 (6th in the nation). Senior goaltender Steve Michalek, who has bounced back from suspension his sophomore year to show the promise that made him a draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, leads Harvard with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. Michalek came up huge against BU earlier this season, recording 40 saves in that 3-2 win. Given that BU will be motivated by the revenge factor, Michalek will need to be just as sharp on Monday.

Harvard hasn't made the title game since 2008, when the Crimson lost a heartbreaker to BC, 6-5, in overtime. It is the only time during Donato's tenure as head coach that Harvard has reached the championship game.

Boston College (15-8-2; 8-5-2 Hockey East)
The defending champs, for five years running, come into the 2015 edition of the Beanpot with a decidedly different look. Last year's top line of Johnny Gaudreau (who put in an appearance at the NHL All-Star Game last weekend), Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold is long gone, downgrading the BC's offense from "high-test" to merely "regular." The Eagles are ranked 16th in the nation in scoring (3.00 goals a game), and the current squad is scoring by committee. Last year, Gaudreau came into the Beanpot with 23 goals and 51 points. This year, BC's top scorer is Adam Gilmour (7 goals, 19 points). Sophomores Ryan Fitzgerald and Chris Calnan are the top goal scorers, with 12 and 11 respectively. That's a fairly precipitous drop.

As a result, there's more pressure on the defense. This is where the Eagles shine. Captain Mike Matheson leads a top-notch set of blueliners including Teddy Doherty, Noah Hanifin, Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen and Scott Savage. Not only can these D-men apply lock-down defense, but they can also chip in offensively. They may need to.

Sophomore goaltender Thatcher Demko (2.08 GAA, .928 save percentage) will also need to come up big if the Eagles are to bring their 20th Beanpot crown back to Chestnut Hill. But Demko, who also represented his country earlier this season at the World Junior Championships, has shown he can handle pressure. And never, ever discount the role of head coach Jerry York (28-12 in Beanpot competition since 1985) and his uncanny ability to push the right buttons when a trophy is on the line.

Northeastern University (10-11-4; 6-7-2 HE)
Last year's runner-up has had an uneven season to date, coming into the Beanpot just under .500, with five fewer wins than at the same time last year. Perhaps more importantly, the Huntington Hounds managed to collect only one of a potential four points in two recent games against the Eagles (gaining a 1-1 tie at home, before losing the next night, 4-2, at BC). They'll need to break through Monday to have any chance at the school's fifth Beanpot crown, and first since 1988.

Unlike Monday's early game between BU and Harvard, the BC-Northeastern game is shaping up as more of a defensive struggle. Former Beanpot MVP Kevin Roy is having a solid junior year (11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points) to lead the Huskies, and Mike Szmatula (10 goals) and Dalen Hedges (5 goals, 23 points) have also chipped in. But overall, Jim Madigan's squad is having trouble finding the back of the net this season, ranking 39th in the country with 2.48 goals per game.

In goal, senior Clay Witt and sophomore Derick Roy (Kevin's younger brother) have nearly identical stats (roughly 2.70 GAA, .910 save percentage) while virtually splitting the first 26 games. Those aren't embarrassing numbers, by any measure, but they're not exceptional, either. Last year, for example, Witt came into the Beanpot with a 2.04 GAA, and a .943 save percentage.

Whichever goaltender gets the start Monday will need to bring his "A" game, combined with a total team effort, to ensure Northeastern gets back to the championship game. The Huskies have made the Beanpot finals three of the past four years. The one time they didn't, in 2012, they got throttled by BC, 7-1. Madigan might make use of that motivational nugget.

Rick Pitino nostalgic about return to Boston

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- On the way to Conte Forum for Wednesday night's game against Boston College, Louisville coach Rick Pitino took a little detour down memory lane.

"I was thinking of it as I was on the bus," Pitino, 62, said after his team's 81-72 win. "I was telling all the assistant coaches, 'This is where I lived. This is BU.'"

Though he's originally from Long Island, Pitino has strong Massachusetts ties. He graduated from UMass. He coached at Boston University for five seasons. And, of course, he coached the Celtics -- famously missing out on the opportunity to draft Tim Duncan, struggling to win without a transcendent star and ultimately returning to the college ranks.

Back in the state to coach a game for the first time since that final season with the Celtics -- the only other times he's been back to Boston, according to Pitino, were to deliver a speech and to attend a wedding -- he focused on more positive memories postgame.

"I used to run the Charles River every morning," he said in his rapid-fire cadence. "I think it was about a five-mile loop, and Jim Calhoun would be running the other way.

"And five out of seven days we would cross [paths], and remember, this is BU-Northeastern -- although it doesn't get the exposure of Louisville-Kentucky -- soon as he saw me, [he] put his head down and I put my head down and we never said hello," he said with a chuckle. "For all that time. And today, we're good friends.

"I've got great memories here," he said. "Wish things would've turned out better for me in the end, but my children were raised here and BU was very good to me, as well as the Celtics were very good to me."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.