Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

Writer. Communications assistant. Coffee drinker.

2018 US Figure Skating Championships: Who to follow and who will win

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This week’s US Figure Skating Championships are taking place in what might be the only warm place in the lower 48 at the moment: San Jose, California. Oh, the irony: an event focused on ice taking place in the only state where it’s not blistering cold.

I was blessed to cover two US Championships (2014 and 2015) and wish I could be there in San Jose this week. However, since having my son, I’ve had to cut back on my writing travel, so I’m watching this week’s action from afar. If you’re looking for a great writer reporting from the event, follow my neighbor Claire Cloutier (@clairecloutier), who will be covering the event for Figure Skaters Online (@fsonline.) You also can’t go wrong reading Christine Brennan’s work for USA Today, Jackie Wong’s work for Rocker Skating and IceNetwork, and Lynn Rutherford also of IceNetwork (who I wish I got to know better when I did cover Nationals – she’s a skating writing machine.)

If I were a betting woman in Vegas, I’d feel safest betting on the men’s, ice dance and pairs events this week. I would stay away from the ladies because….well, read through my predictions and notes to see why.

Senior Men

  1. Nathan Chen
  2. Adam Rippon
  3. Vincent Zhou
  4. Jason Brown
  5. Alex Krasnozhon

To watch: I am stepping out on a limb placing Alex Krasnozhon (Junior Grand Prix champion) so high. I feel like he is going to make a huge splash here. I think the highest judges will possibly put him is fifth, but he will skate better than at least one of the skaters above him. When he is on, he is quite impressive. Starting this fall, he will be one of the nation’s top men on the international scene…Boston’s Ross Miner competes in what he is calling his final National Championships. He tends to do very well in the short program at Nationals, and I expect that again this week. He will not make the Olympic team, but if he can skate to his full potential in the long program, he’ll make the Four Continents team.

Senior Ice Dance

  1. Shibutani/Shibutani
  2. Hubbell/Donahue
  3. Chock/Bates
  4. McNamara/Carpenter
  5. Hawayek/Baker

To watch: The two and three spots will be interesting to watch. To be honest, I like Chock/Bates’ free dance more than Hubbell/Donahue’s, and I think it will be very close between the two. Chock and Bates may not have the most difficult elements, and Hubbell and Donahue are the entire package, but can make poorly timed mistakes…Do you follow the absolutely hysterical @JoeJohnsonIce on Twitter? He competes in this event, and should finish in the top ten. He has one of the best Twitter accounts of 2017…I am expecting a good week for Hawayek and Baker, namely because 2018 is apparently the Year of the Buffaloian (Hawayek is from East Aurora.) BUFFALO’S HAPPENING NOW, WE’RE ON THE MOVE NOW.

Senior Pairs

  1. Scimeca Knierim/Knierim
  2. Cain/LeDuc
  3. Catelli/Tran
  4. Denney/Frazier
  5. Liu/Johnson

To watch: The only lock is Scimeca Knierim/Knierim, who on a great day are a complete joy to watch. She has an incredible story, undergoing a few serious abdominal surgeries in 2016 and making it back to compete late last season at Four Continents and the World Championships. (From experience, I can tell you that once those muscles are cut through, it takes a while to get back to the point where you don’t feel like you’ve been sawed in half. Kudos to her for returning as fast as she did.) … As usual, there is a strong New England contingent in the pairs event, with Rhode Island’s Marissa Castelli hoping to land another national medal with Mervin Tran, and Allison Timlen/Justin Highgate-Brutman, who train in Boxborough, MA. Their side-by-side jumps are looking magnificent on social media.

Senior Ladies

  1. Mirai Nagasu
  2. Ashley Wagner
  3. Bradie Tennell
  4. Karen Chen
  5. Angela Wang
  6. Emmy Ma

To watch: This event is totally up in the air. Many of these skaters have been inconsistent through the fall international season. Nagasu, who was controversially left off the Olympic team in a decision made in the back rooms of the TD Garden four years ago, is the current buzz of practices in San Jose. She has a triple Axel and a lot of crowd support …. Tennell had one of the best performances of a US woman in years at November’s Skate America, and also is skating well in official practices. I do fear that the hype could get to Tennell, who has struggled with injuries in previous years….Wagner seems a lock to make the Olympic team – she secured that spot with a silver medal at the 2016 World Championships in Boston. She won’t win here, though, due to pesky underrotation calls….Defending national champion Chen is so inconsistent. She could win the whole thing, or she could place fifth. She could skate lights out, or fall on two or three jumps. Seeking confidence, Chen has switched back to the programs that landed her last year’s title….My dark horse is Newton, MA’s Emmy Ma. If former ABC commentators Dick Button and Peggy Fleming were still in the announcing booth, I am sure Button would proclaim Ma, “Very nice” and Fleming would say, “She skates with an ethereal quality.” Ma, along with Tennell and Starr Andrews (another skater who could be a huge surprise this week), will make up many future US squads.

But first, coffee: How a coffee shop set the table for the NWHL

In mid-December 2012, I was in a bind. As the women’s hockey columnist for New England Hockey Journal, I had to find a lead for my holiday break column that didn’t involve me interviewing a student-athlete.

Somehow – I’m not exactly sure where – I came across the story of a former Northeastern player who had just opened a coffee shop in New York City. I emailed for an interview, and she called me from her store within minutes. It was a great chat, making the story an absolute pleasure to write.

Embed from Getty Images Fast forward five years. That player was Dani Rylan, now commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), the first women’s hockey league to pay players. As of last week, the  four team league  has two agreements in place with NHL teams, and even has a corporate coffee sponsor in Dunkin’ Donuts. (I am sensing a caffeinated theme here…) The NWHL has had its stumbles, and I don’t necessarily agree with everything it has done, but I can’t deny that it has had a lasting impact on women’s hockey.

New England Hockey Journal has since purged its online archives, but I still have the version of the story on Rylan I sent to my editor on December 19, 2012. Enjoy!


It’s 6:15pm, and former Northeastern University women’s hockey player Dani Rylan has been at work for just about fourteen hours. But she sounds as enthusiastic as ever.

“I’ve been here since 4:30am,” she explains, the till of a reconciling cash register ringing in the background. “And I have a hockey game at 8:30pm tonight. It’ll be my first hockey game since opening the shop. I don’t think my teammates will like my backcheck tonight.”

“The shop” Rylan speaks of is Rise and Grind, a coffee shop she opened December 17th in East Harlem, New York. The former forward for the Huskies found herself in the coffee business unexpectedly just months after graduating from Northeastern. The former GoNU.com reporter had one of her dream opportunities working for NHL Network placed on hold because of the pesky lockout, and found herself looking for work.

“I had moved to New York City to work for the NHL Network. My brother lives in New York City too, working as a coffee distributor. He had a storefront he wasn’t using, so we worked out a business deal. I got the storefront and a coffee distributor and opened up a shop.”

But unlike her hockey playing days, running coffee shop ownership is not exactly a team effort. “I am a one man band,” Rylan laughed. “I can’t afford to hire anyone else until I pay off my business loans, so it’s just me.”

Rylan isn’t just running the shop solo – she renovated the 200 square foot, eight foot space by herself as well. “My friend designed the shop, but I had to do all of the renovation work. I ended up laying tile and all of that.

“I compared (the renovations) to preseason. I was pulling twenty hour days to to get the shop ready. It was just like working incredibly hard in the preseason with the hope that it pays off during the season. I feel the same way about this.”

It may seem like Rylan is up against incredible odds, but odds have never stopped her before. Rylan played undergraduate hockey on the men’s ACHA club team at Metro State in Colorado after playing high school hockey with Assabet Valley and and ISL’s St. Mark’s. When it was time for graduate school, she found herself in the sports leadership program at Northeastern, which allowed her two years to play for the Huskies. Despite the brief length of her tenure, she made an impact. She tallied six goals and 14 assists in 70 games played for the Huskies. Rylan was named a tri-captain for 2011-12 and had assists on game-winners in some of the biggest games of the year, including Northeastern’s Beanpot championship.

“The Beanpot championship allowed us to be rockstars on campus for a little bit,” recalls Rylan. “We were wearing our 2012 Beanpot championship gear around campus for a few weeks.”

One of those pieces of Beanpot memorabilia has made it into Rise and Grind.

“I donate five cents of each cup of coffee I sell to Ice Hockey in Harlem,” explained Rylan. “I physically put the five cents in a stainless steel style mug we all got that says 2012 Beanpot champions on it. I keep it next to the register. It’s not a lot of money, but I hope it makes a difference.”

Even though she finds herself practically living at the shop, Rylan finds the time to keep up with this season’s Northeastern squad. “I talk to a lot of them still, and I keep up on GoNU. I just loved being on the team. I think they all got sick of my telling them how much I loved them all when I was captain.”

Rylan considers this week her shop’s soft opening “to get the kinks out,” but will have her grand opening on January 2nd. It was not exactly what she had in mind when she thought of life after college hockey, but it is turning out to be something that excites her as much as hockey – and that’s not her coffee talking.

“My brother came by this afternoon when no one was in the shop and he caught me dancing behind the counter,” she laughed. “I told him I’m having fun! I wouldn’t be having as much fun if I were working for someone else’s coffee shop. It’s a lot more fun when you are doing things for yourself.”

A throwback to the 2011 Red Hot Hockey program

Tonight is another installment of the biannual Red Hot Hockey game at Madison Square Garden. This matchup between Boston University and Cornell has been taking place since 2007. For the first five installments, I volunteered for the planning committee. I helped out in any way I could, and got to do some cool things in the process, including handing out Zamboni rides and running around with an All-Access pass to the maze that is Madison Square Garden (before and after its recent renovation.) 

Another fun aspect of the committee was getting to work on the game program. In 2011, I was given the opportunity to write the BU feature. I interviewed Jack Parker about the 1971 and 1972 BU teams and their clashes with Cornell. The program is not available anywhere online, so I thought in honor of the first Red Hot Hockey I’m not attending, I would share that feature. 

For the Boston University national championship teams of 1970-71 and 1971-72, the biggest obstacle they had to overcome wasn’t a change in goaltender or adjusting to a new rink. It was Cornell University.

“Cornell has always been one of our biggest rivals,” said Boston University head coach Jack Parker. “It was and still is, a huge college rivalry.

Parker first got a taste of the BU-Cornell rivalry as a student-athlete at BU. The Terriers and Big Red found themselves pitted against each other in the most grand of spaces. In 1966, Parker’s first season playing at the varsity level, the two teams met at the 1966 Boston Arena Christmas Tournament, ECAC and NCAA Championship games. In the holiday tournament, the two teams found themselves knotted 3-3 after two overtime frames in the venue now known as Matthews Arena. Despite going toepick to toepick with the Big Red in the holiday tournament, the Terriers fell to them in their remaining large scale games that season, allowing Cornell to end the season as both the conference and national champions in games only a week apart.

When the Terriers earned their first national championship in 1971, they won the regular season conference championship to make their way to the national tournament. They won the regular season title with an outstanding 28-2-1 record, with one of those lone two losses being on January 23rd to Cornell at Lynah Rink. The 5-1 loss to Cornell in January signaled a change in goaltender for the Terriers, and the change was quite influential on their way to the national championship.

Canon, New York’s Dan Brady and classmate Tim Regan had been a part of a unstoppable goalie rotation, protecting the net of an underrated freshman team. (At the time, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play on varsity squads, giving BU a “B” team, a freshmen team that saw its own game action.) But when both goalies jumped up to the varsity level, then head coach Jack Kelley had something else in mind.

“They were both terrific goaltenders,” recalled Parker, who was coaching the freshman team at the time. “I think Jack Kelley had the opinion that he wanted a starting goaltender, and Timmy was our number one guy for quite a while. Then he faltered, and it might have been at Ithaca, I think, and Danny had the chance to play.”

Brady stayed in net through the rest of the season, and came out ahead of a 6-5 offensive battle between Cornell and BU in the ECAC Tournament Consolation game – a game that allowed the Terriers to get their revenge for that January loss, since the game ended Cornell’s season.

“Brady was a star of that season for us, and went on to win the most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament,” said Parker. Brady stayed strong in the Terriers’ 4-2 win over the University of Minnesota in the championship game played in Syracuse, New York.

A bit of a championship hangover plagued the Terriers as they began play in the autumn of 1971. Not only did they come into a season as the hunted, not the hunter, for the first time, they had to adjust to a new arena. After some frustrating delays, Walter Brown Arena finally hosted a game on November 27, 1971. While the convenience of having a rink on campus as opposed to across town was much appreciated, some particular aspects of Walter Brown seemed to slow that edition of the Terriers down. “We returned many of our guys from the year before, but we got going late. We weren’t playing up to our capabilities. Things had gotten too convenient for the guys.” remembered Parker.

The Terriers’ slow start was still a start many teams would have loved to have. They didn’t suffer a loss until December 30th – a tight 3-2 loss to Cornell in the Syracuse Invitational Tournament. In their next sixteen games through the rest of the regular season, the Terriers only fell three time: once to Clarkson, once to Boston College, and once again to Cornell in their final game of the regular season. Their 15-4-1 conference record would prevent them from defending their regular season championship, so much hung on the ECAC Tournament.

BU defeated Rensselear and Harvard in the first two rounds of the tournament, but found them facing regular season champion Cornell in the tournament title game at the Boston Garden.

The Terriers did not have the previous year’s star goalie to assist them in the 1972 tournament. “(Danny) played most of the games in the 1971-72 year as well, but then got hurt. Timmy had to come in and bail us out.”

Also playing against the Terriers in the ECAC championship game was what would seem to be a positive – playing at the Boston Garden. “It was not as if playing there was a huge advantage,” recalled Parker. “Cornell brought a lot of fans down, they travel very well. and do to this day. For us playing in Boston was not a huge advantage. Against any other team, yes, it would have been, but against Cornell it wasn’t. They were very familiar with the venue, and had played ECAC tournament games many times in there.”

The Terriers overcame their change in goaltender and overwhelming Cornell fan spirit to defeat Cornell in the ECAC Championship game, 4-1. A mere week later, the two teams faced each other again in the same exact venue to decide the 1972 NCAA Championship. Terriers Ron Anderson and Rich Jordan had two goals a piece to give BU the 4-0 win, and earn them their second straight national title.

Regan had 29 saves in the shutout, and found himself, just like his classmate the year before, the tournament MVP. “Low and behold, Timmy goes on and wins the MVP of the 1972 game,” said Parker. “I think its ironic that they ended up splitting the games, like they did that freshman year, and then splitting the honors as well. (Regan and Brady) were both terrific goaltenders that any program would have loved to have, but we were lucky to have both of them.”

Parker believes that winning the national title in their fourth game against the Big Red that year was statement making for the program. “BU-Cornell was the biggest rivalry in college hockey at the time. It was the biggest eastern college rivalry for sure. So in 1972, not only were we national champions, but we had beaten our biggest rival doing so.

“It was foretelling, because in the next two national championship games we played, we faced our biggest rival at that time – Boston College in 1978, and then Maine in 1995. But it really started off with that win over Cornell. Cornell was always our big rival, and it continues to be a big rivalry for me to this day.”

Even forty years later, the 1970-71 and 1971-72 teams are the benchmark for the best teams in program history. “Those teams were really measuring sticks for the best BU teams ever,” said Parker. “In this day, those players would have long gone to the NHL by their senior year. They were quite talented.”

Parker believes that Red Hot Hockey is a great forum to reignite one the rivalry that seemingly defined what Boston University hockey is. “Cornell is proud of their tradition, and they are always building upon that. There is no question that Jack Kelley laid the groundwork for what BU Hockey is, and likewise, there is no question that their Ned Harkness laid the groundwork for what they are. They have had a great history, and they continue to have a viable, successful program.”

Talking my day job with Helix Education (and a chance to try out the higher ed life!)

A few weeks ago, Eric Olsen from Helix Education was interested in a comment I had made in a Facebook group we are both members of. I was sharing my boss’ thoughts on how to address crisis events on social media, which is a bit different than what other deans and higher educators tend to do.

Eric asked me to appear on his podcast to talk further about the strategies I’ve come up with over the past decade or so of managing communications for my office (a Dean of Students office at a large university.) Listen to it now! (I hope I sound okay.)

Helix Education is a marketing and technology firm that works primarily on enrollment growth in higher education. I really like their visual work: you can see sample of it on their website. While enrollment is not something I work with directly, it constantly colors my work: if enrollment doesn’t meet their goals, I don’t have students to communicate to.

They currently have this online game called Enrollment Growth Hero, where you get to play the role of an eager administrator trying to get their marketing plan signed off on. Yes, you get to experience a funny take on the obstacles any higher education administrator might face when hoping to get sign off on a large project. Also, you might even win some coffee along the way (which is key to anyone who works in higher ed.) You can try it out here.  (Please note: This is a sponsored link. If you play the game, I may receive some sort of compensation.)

Why I pursue sports journalism (even with everything else going on in my life.)

This week, I was interviewed for a piece that may run on public radio in the next few months about why I pursued a side hustle on top of my full-time job. For the first time, I think I was able to best clarify exactly why I have, even though the odds are stacked against me.

To me, turning away from a sports writing career – even if it is part-time – is dishonoring every thing that got me to where I am today. Before I wanted to become a sports writer, my career goal was to teach dance at my neighborhood dance studio or be a daycare teacher at the daycare two streets down. Before the age of 11, I never aspired to more than that. I never thought I would get anything more than a high school degree. Despite being a good student and in gifted and talented classrooms, I never thought I could do more than that.

When I discovered that people wrote about sports for a living and got paid for it, I was amazed. I loved to write and I loved sports. There was a job that involved both things?! I was obsessed with finding the details. I soon realized to pursue it, I would have to go to college and I would probably have to move away from home.

Ooof. Not only had no one in my immediate family gone to college (and I only had one cousin out of my 20+ who had at that point in time), no one – and I mean, no one – moved away from Rochester.

Even though those two facts gave me pause, it stuck in my head that it was something I might want to do. Two things happened: I became obsessed with the Sports Illustrated coverage of Super Bowl XXIX (Steve Young’s Super Bowl MVP campaign) and the release of Christine Brennan’s Inside Edge. They happened almost exactly a year apart, but those two items moved sports journalism into a career I might want to pursue, to one I had to pursue. Those two chronicles pushed me over the edge. I was completely envious of all the writers involved, and I needed to find the chance to join them.

So I fought my way to college, took out horrendous loans to do so, and started towards that career – only to allow myself freshman year to be convinced that I didn’t belong in sports journalism. But I was already in college, a place I fought so hard to get to, and I wasn’t going to leave. I got a degree in history, then moved to Boston to earn a graduate degree in education, and then ended up working in one of the largest student life offices in the U.S.

The dream of a sports journalism career got me to places I never, ever thought I would go.

So when the opportunities arise to pursue that dream, I take them. Even if it is just freelance or part-time. Because I love it and because if it hadn’t been for that dream, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 12 year old me was inspired to find more out of her life, and I need to honor that girl’s dream in whatever way I can.

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