Ference ready to jump in coming off suspension

566782.jpg

Ference ready to jump in coming off suspension

WILMINGTON, Mass. Andrew Ference is coming off the first suspension of his 12-year NHL career, but dont expect the defenseman to change anything about his game heading into Thursday nights game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ference is experienced enough to realize that things simply happen sometimes in the game of hockey, and that was the case in the collision with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that led to his initial suspension. When asked by particularly persnickety reporter if he was concerned about a besmirched reputation or becoming a repeat offender, Ference had the line of the day.

I dont have to register in my neighborhood, so I think its all right, shot back Ference. That type of play happens a lot over the course of the game. It doesnt usually result in a guy falling and its a little lower speed. The next time I guess Ill get the puck and score. You try to let up as much as possible and not plaster them into the boards.

The Bs defenseman hasnt played since the Jan. 21 game that resulted in his three-game suspension for boarding McDonagh, but didnt see a lot of benefit to getting a rare 10-day break into the middle of the hockey season.

This would have been like having an Olympic break during those particular years, and if youre injured or banged up then its the greatest thing in the world, said Ference. But if its not then youd rather not take any break at all. Ive been healthy this season, so its best not to take breaks.

Claude Julien took a more serious tack to the line of questioning, and pointed to Ferences levelheaded veteran approach as the biggest reason those factors wont weigh heavily in his mind. After all, Ference managed to go nearly 800 games before his first NHL suspension, so chances are there wont be another one anytime soon.

Anybody coming back is going to be a welcomed addition. Hes an experience player thats had a really good year for us. Hes as steady as we could have asked for, so were happy to have him back especially with the situation McQuaid is in right now, said Julien. The page has been turned with the suspension. Sometimes things happen in the game. It doesnt mean that its meant or that its dirty. Its a fast-paced game and sometimes you dont have time to react properly.

Its something you getter yourself at, but its not something that you dwell on. Hes a pretty respectful player. Hes going to be fine, hes always been in great shape and a guy thats been around the league for a long time doesnt let things like that rattle him.

Its a case of good timing for the Bruins, as it appears Adam McQuaids status might be up in the air after suffering a lower-body injury Tuesday night, but a refreshed and recharged Ference will step back into the six-pack of Bs blueliners.

Ferences presence has been missed from a defensive standpoint, and his efforts should help the club reach the consistency thats eluded them for pretty much all of January.

Its a new month, Ference is back and its time for the Bruins to turn the dial back up.

Patrick Towles throws for 2 TDs, Boston College beats Buffalo, 35-3

bc_patrick_towles.jpg

Patrick Towles throws for 2 TDs, Boston College beats Buffalo, 35-3

BOSTON - Patrick Towles threw for two touchdowns, Davon Jones and Jon Hilliman each ran for one and Boston College coasted past Buffalo, 35-3 on Saturday afternoon.

It was the second straight win for the Eagles (3-2) after they beat FCS-school Wagner last week.

The Eagles, who entered with the nation's sixth ranked defense, dominated on the defensive side.

"I think it was a pretty clean performance," Eagles defensive end Harold Landry said. "It was expected. We were supposed to do that. We don't expect nothing less."

Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky, completed 14 of 25 passes for 234 yards with no interceptions. He also ran eight times for 18 yards, but fumbled it away twice.

Hilliman had 54 yards rushing and Jones 53 for the Eagles.

"Totally dominating performance," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "It's great to get a win and go out and do what we needed to do."

Buffalo (1-3) was held to just 67 total yards. Quarterback Tyree Jackson completed 9 of 21 for only 42 yards, and the Bulls had just 26 yards on the ground.

"Never had any semblance of any type of sustained drive or movement, so that's disappointing," Buffalo coach Lance Leipold said.

With a steady mist blowing most of the game on a cool day, the Eagles came out throwing the ball more than usual and opened a 21-3 lead at halftime.

BC redshirt freshman receiver Chris Garrison made an outstanding catch to set up the first TD, but was taken off the field on a stretcher after the play in the first quarter with a fractured left tibia.

Garrison made a leaping grab on 44-yard pass from Towles at the Bulls' 11-yard line, but he came down awkwardly on his leg. Trainers called for a stretcher and an air cast was put on before he was taken off.

Five plays later, Jones had a 1-yard scoring run to push the Eagles ahead 7-0.

Midway into the second quarter, Towles topped an 11-play, 54-yard drive with a 7-yard TD toss to Charlie Callinan.

After a 28-yard field goal by Buffalo's Adam Mitcheson, Towles connected on an 11-yard TD pass to receiver Michael Walker along the back line of the end zone - just over the outstretched hands of linebacker Jarrett Franklin - to make it 21-3 with 21 seconds left in the half.

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

boston-bruins-danton-heinen-092716.jpg

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Danton Heinen has to know he’s got a fair shot to win an NHL job out of B’s training camp if he plays with confidence and assertiveness. 

So far, that little Black and Gold carrot has served him well in the preseason. The 21-year-old winger has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason appearances for the Bruins. He will be pushed back into the lineup again vs. the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The difference this time around is Claude Julien will be behind the bench once again for the Bruins after his time with the World Cup of Hockey and the B’s lineup will start to take on more of a real NHL feel with David Pastrnak and David Backes entering the mix.

Julien has liked what he’s seen thus far out of the University of Denver product, and clearly he’ll keep getting looks as long as the production and good work ethic are there.

“I think he’s been a real good player. He’s a smart player that seems to be heady and sees the play well. He seems to be in the right place and understands the game,” said Julien. “The hockey sense is something that you either have or you don’t, and I think he has great hockey sense. It certainly makes a great hockey player. I’ve liked him so far and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.”

One other thing is certain: wing positions are open on the roster with Frankie Vatrano out for three months and Jimmy Vesey sharpening his skates at Madison Square Garden as a New York Ranger.

“We have to keep an open mind.  Frank Vatrano is hurt, and we kind of felt that he was going to have a really good start to this year. His confidence seemed to be at its highest, and the World Championships were good for him,” said Julien. “We have to look at what we have for a replacement. We went after Jimmy Vesey and we didn’t get him. So there are some spots that are open, and there’s no doubt about it.

“I’m going to be looking at compete level and I’ll be watching for the next three games to see who can fit in those spots. There are open spots, so it’s not cut-and-dried like a lot of years when it has been.”

Clearly, the high-end offensive skill is there after posting 36 goals and 93 points in his first two years at the University of Denver prior to going pro, and Heinen has a dollop of pro experience after getting into three AHL games with Providence at the end of last season. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder showed off the playmaking ability setting up his teammates for chances in Friday night’s win over the Red Wings, and then finally scoring at crunch time in the third period when the coaching staff moved Zach Senyshyn to his opposite wing.

Both of his goals in this preseason have been tying scores in the third that factored prominently in the game’s outcome. That’s been impressive for a young prospect in his very first NHL camp.

But Heinen claims there is still more to come in his game, and that’s encouraging. He’s just starting to get comfortable as a player that uses his vision, hockey IQ and passing to generate loads of scoring chances when he’s on the ice.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve felt better as things have gone on, and I felt better [on Friday against Detroit] than I did in the first game,” said Heinen, who finished just behind a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin for the NCAA scoring title as a freshman a couple of years ago. “I just need to keep getting better. I think I have a lot more to give. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, and we’ll see what happens.

“I think I’ve rushed a few plays where I feel like I could hang onto [the puck] and make a smarter play. So it’s little things like that. As I play a little more then I get more comfortable hanging onto it, so I hope to do a little more than that.”

It will also be interesting to see how Heinen responds to again being in the B’s lineup on Saturday for back-to-back, physical preseason games when the NCAA schedule can be a bit more spaced with weekend games. 

There are other candidates like Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn that have enjoyed solid training camps to date for the Bruins, but it feels like Heinen is starting to push ahead for one of those winger roster spots Julien has in mind as he watches these final four exhibition games leading into the regular season.