Plenty on the line for BCBU weekend series

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Plenty on the line for BCBU weekend series

Friday night wont be Matt Grzelcyks first game against rival Boston College as a member of the Boston University Terriers hockey team.
But it will be the most important one, of course.
The freshman defenseman from Charlestown, Mass. potted a goal in his first meeting against the Eagles, a 4-2 loss for BU, two weeks ago at Agganis Arena. In fact, Boston College has only one loss on the season to Northeastern all the way back in the middle of October, but has otherwise dominated their competition for two months.
The Terriers will once again host the arch-rival Eagles at Agganis on Friday night in a game broadcast on NBCSN, and will try to knock the BC birds off their pedestal.
But this time theyll be looking to postpone BC head coach Jerry Yorks brush with history as well.
York needs just one more win to pull into a tie with longtime Michigan State head coach Ron Mason as the most successful hockey coach in collegiate history with 924 career victories. It would also be pretty sweet for the legendary Eagles coach to pull it off against his good friend, Terriers head coach Jack Parker.
Parker is no slouch with his 883 career victories the second-most among active college hockey coaches behind York but it will be the dean of Boston College hockey holding sole possession of the collegiate record if he can capture both ends of the home-and-home weekend series against Boston University.
So theres a lot on the line for an 18-year-old kid like Grzelcyk, who has lived a charmed life over the last two years while skating with the US National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. before getting drafted by the Bruins in the third round last summer. Now he finds himself ready to suit up for a hotly contested weekend series between household hockey names like York and Parker that he grew up holding in special puck reverence.
Thats pretty heady stuff for a Townie kid that grew up in the shadows of TD Garden, but never made it to Beanpot games despite his fathers standing as a longtime member of the Garden bull gang. Whether or not hed seen the BUBC rivalry with his own eyes as an impressionable youth, Grzelcyk knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.
Thats why you come to a school like Boston University, said Grzelcyk. You get to be part of that BCBU rivalry, you get to play in the Beanpot and you get a chance to play on one of the biggest stages in college hockey. Its the kind of thing you dream about as a kid growing up in Boston.
Grzelcyk will no doubt factor into the big BUBC weekend after putting up 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in the first 11 games of his college hockey career. Thats not too shabby for a frosh blueliner, but there will be stars for the teams at both ends of the ice. Forwards Cason Hohmann and Wade Regan are both point-per-game players for the Terriers while freshman goaltender Matt OConnor is 5-2 with an impressive 1.90 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.
Meanwhile sophomore Calgary Flames draft pick Johnny Gaudreau has electrified the Heights with 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists) in 11 games, and trails only UNHs Kevin Goumas for the Hockey East scoring lead. Gaudreau is joined on the Eagles offensive attack by Pat Mullane, Steven Whitney and Bill Arnold for the first-ranked and explosive Eagles unit. Senior BC goaltender Parker Milner was an invitee to the Bruins prospect development camp this summer at Ristuccia Arena, and is 10-1 with a .926 save percentage and a 2.06 goals against average for the Eagles.
So while the focus will certainly be trained on York and his pursuit of college hockey excellence and Bruins fans might even tune in to get their first extended look at Grzelcyk, this weekends two-game series is about much more than that. Its about the No. 1 ranked Eagles facing down the No. 9 Terriers in a Battle of Commonwealth Ave that hockey purists hope can simply keep going on forever.

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Six days – four quarters of football – remain in Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
 
The fact is the Patriots are 3-0 and have gotten a long – and enjoyable – look at their quarterback depth behind Brady. Brady, meanwhile, has gotten a chance to shave one-quarter off the season-long wear-and-tear he takes.
 
But highlighting silver linings and pointing out there’s not much sand left in the suspension hourglass is no real consolation. Said one team source Thursday night, “It’s never going to go away.”
 
What’s Brady been up to? Mixing family time and working out. He’s routinely spent four hours a day training, I’m told, presumably with his body coach Alex Guerrero at TB12 Sports Performance at Patriot Place. Also, aside from his Sunday session with Wes Welker, Brady’s been throwing to young college players at undisclosed locations, eschewing the opportunity to bring in some of the “name” former players who’ve reached out and offered their services.
 
Spotted in Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen last week, Brady’s also been back home in San Mateo visiting with his family.
 
Speaking to two people close to him, I was told he succeeded in making peace with the time off and avoiding the creep of too much bitterness. I was also told he’s unbelievably motivated to return at a high level and wants his transition back to be seamless in terms of performance and conditioning. That last part is, of course, to be expected. But it will be interesting to see how Brady does perform out of the gates after a month’s forced exile.
 
NINKOVICH RETURNS, TOO

The lesser of the two suspended prodigal sons set to return next week – Rob Ninkovich – is no doubt going to benefit physically from the quarter-season vacation as well. And the defensive ends who’ve performed well in his absence – Jabaal Sheard and especially Chris Long – will do well to have Ninkovich back in the mix. Mention should also be made of Trey Flowers who has shown up in opponent’s backfields on a weekly basis. It depends on what your personal cup of tea might be, but through three games, Long seems to me a much better defensive fit for this team than Chandler Jones. Jones was the more explosive pass-rusher but Long’s ability in the running game, and his play-in, play-out impact in applying pressure on the tackle in front of him makes it seem so far as if he’s an upgrade.
 
NEW DEALS AHEAD?
 
Still no word on which Patriot may be in line for a new deal since the team restructured Devin McCourty and freed up some cap space.

Donta Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Jamie Collins have been seen as the most likely targets for extensions and a redo of Hightower at this point would whittle down his $7M cap number and possibly allow another extension to be executed for either Collins or Butler, as our Phil Perry pointed out.  Jabaal Sheard, meanwhile, is the Patriot who flies under the radar when extension talk starts. He may be every bit as important to the success of the Patriots defense as the other three.
 
REX WRECKS
 
The Bills are 0-2, the natives are beyond restless in Buffalo and the Cardinals are in Western New York on Sunday. The Bills are expected to play without wide receiver Sammy Watkins and are a team staring into the esophagus of 0-3 with a visit to the Patriots coming next week. Have a gander at the Bills Mailbag in the Buffalo News.  Seems like years since Rex was all giddy about the paint job on his new truck. It was less than 19 months ago.