Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

Writer. Communications assistant. Coffee drinker.

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.

There’s a kid from Vermont at the P&G Championships! (Plus more men’s gymnastics notes.)

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In traditional media coverage of gymnastics, men’s gymnastics doesn’t get a ton of love. So I figured I would offer some notes on stories I’m watching on the men’s side of this weekend’s P&G National Gymnastics Championships taking place in Anaheim, California.

From the “Kingdom” to Championships

St. Johnsbury, VT. A town of a little less than 8,000 people a few miles from the New Hampshire border. A town best known for building the Fairbanks scale and maple syrup packing. This is not a town a hop, skip and jump away from bustling Burlington. No. This is the county seat and economic center of the region of Vermont known as the “Northeast Kingdom.”

In this small Vermont town trains a two-time Junior Olympic National all-around men’s gymnastics champion.

Nikita Bolotsky of the appropriately named Kingdom Gymnastics will make his first trip to the P&G National Gymnastics Championships this week. He will compete on the Junior 15-16 competition Thursday and Saturday. The two-time Level 9 all-around national champion qualified for his first elite Nationals by finishing sixth in the Junior Elite Level 10 category at this year’s Junior Olympic Nationals.* (See primer below this section for a quick explanation on what that sentance means.)

Sadly, despite him being a two-time national champion on Level 9, there aren’t too many videos of Bolotsky on YouTube. However, recent scores from J.O. Nationals are solid enough to make him someone to watch.

His floor exercise is well-executed. One video that caught my eye was his high bar set, which is not only fun to watch, but showcases solid form (and what can I say, I’m a sucker for release moves.)

Bolotsky also trains at Vitaly Scherbo School of Gymnastics in Las Vegas, which pretty much the exact opposite of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. I’m eager to see how he does this weekend during his first foray on the elite level.

*A quick primer: The Junior Olympics Nationals for men are for Levels 8, 9 and 10. If you wish to compete at the next level – elite – you compete in the Junior Elite division there. You have two days of competition: one where you compete your full-fledged skill filled routines, and another where you compete “technical sequences.” You do well at both and finish in the top 20? Hi P&Gs Championships. If you don’t, you have one last shot: the Elite Qualifier in July.

The New England contingent

New England might not have anyone on the women’s side of the P&G Championships, but as always, the region can be counted on bringing the men.

From Massachusetts, we have Liam Doherty-Herwitz from Bedford competing at the Junior level in the 17-18 age group, and Yan Inhaber-Courchesne of Westborough on the Junior level in the 15-16 age group. Doherty-Herwitz, who trains at Brestyan’s Gymnastics (home of Aly Raisman) was one of the very last gymnasts to earn their spot at Championships, earning sixth place at last month’s National Qualifier. He did finish first after the first day of competition there, which bodes well for what he may be capable of.  Doherty-Herwitz is a standout on floor exercise, with some very powerful tumbling.

Inaber-Courchesne has flown under my radar, so, unfortunately, I don’t know much about him. The New England Academy of Gymnastics product has competed at Junior Olympic Nationals twice, finishing ninth in the all-around this past May.

In seniors, Penn State’s Stephen Nedoroscik, originally from Worcester will compete. He captured the NCAA championship on pommel horse this past spring as just a freshman, making him only the third rookie to win a NCAA event title in the last five years. Pommel horse is not exactly every gymnast’s favorite event, so if you can find success in it, there’s opportunity for you on the national level. Nedoroscik is a graduate of Worcester Tech, and during his club career, he trained at Sterling Academy of Gymnastics.

(Sadly, there is no video of Nedoroscik’s NCAA win, so here’s some of his pommels from 2015.)

New Hampshire has a competitor in juniors, Nashua’s Michael Fletcher, also of New England Academy of Gymnastics. And as mentioned previously, Vermont has their first competitor in a while in Bolotsky.

It’s the first P&G Championships in three years without Addison Chung (Medfield, Mass.), who is just back up to full training this summer after a series of injuries. As he told me for his hometown newspaper, he and his University of Iowa coaches hope that he can make a return to the elite level in 2018. His new Hawkeyes teammate is the Junior All-Around favorite, Bennet Huang.

Is This the Year for Eddie?

I was on the bus ride home Monday and read a popular gymnastics website’s men’s P&G Championships preview, and nearly threw my iPhone across the seat.

How do you preview this year’s senior men’s event by not mentioning a gymnast who won a World Cup gold medal on floor exercise this season? Yes, the frustrating preview skipped over Eddie Penev, who may be the U.S.’s best medal hope for this year’s World Championships. (This year’s World Championships are an individual championships, meaning team medals are not at stake, but individual all-around and event medals are.)

It is Penev’s best chance to finally make a Worlds team for the U.S. (he previously represented Bulgaria twice at Worlds, making the floor finals both times.) Penev is not an all-arounder, and still rings, pommel horse and high bar aren’t exactly his cup of tea. But he will even show the occasional high bar update on social media. And in a rebuilding year – where a good portion of last year’s Olympic team has now retired and the National Team is under new leadership – Penev may be exactly what the U.S. needs to have a solid medal showing at Worlds.

“Looking at the results from the (Olympic) Games I can see that I had great medal chances on floor in particular – even gold medal chances by the looks of it – by the scores I’ve gotten over the years in international competitions,” said Penev in an interview last fall.

To me, after an epic Yul Moldauer – Akash Modi duel, fan-favorite Penev doing well could be one of the main men’s stories of these championships.

A Shout-Out to Kiwan

One of my favorites from my years attending P&G Champs, Kiwan Watts, is back after finishing 30th last year in his senior debut. Watts, who is headed to compete for Arizona State (a high level college club team) in the fall, finished first all-around at on the junior level in 2015.

I can’t put my exact finger why he became one of my favorites – I think it might have been because he sometimes has a female coach, somewhat a rarity in men’s gymnastics. But his long lines and great effort kept me paying attention. The years I covered Championships, I always made sure to catch him on high bar, but he is fun to watch on every event.


A Different Vibe at Championships

It will be interesting to hear and read reports about this year’s championships because of the grave issue hanging over USA Gymnastics like a dense fog. With news breaking on the eve of the championships that a California-based victim may have received a settlement from the organization, which may be against California law, it won’t be business as usual in Anaheim.

The actual competition will march forward, and USA Gymnastics will encourage media to focus on the gymnasts competing as much as possible. Where I think this fog might be most felt is at the National Congress and Trade Show held adjacent to the competition. (Side note: Besides watching hours and hours of gymnastics, the Trade Show was always my favorite part of the three Nationals I got to cover.) Coaches come from all over the country to attend Congress, where you can take seminars and classes from some of gymnastics’ best and brightest. There will be discussion there of course of USA Gymnastics’ new SafeSport initiatives and policies, as well as how to prevent dangerous situations from occurring at gyms across the country. I am sure there will be a much different vibe and a few hard discussions taking place in sessions at the Congress, and they are definitely conversations that need to be had if the sport wants to continue forward.

 

The YouTube Vault: Peggy Fleming Meets the Los Angeles Kings

Sometimes the videos YouTube suggests for you hold great surprises.

That’s exactly what happened late one evening while I was catching up on work, and had YouTube streaming on the television. I let a suggested video pop up, and it turned out to be Here’s Peggy Fleming, the Olympic gold medalist’s 1968 award-winning NBC special.

I had never seen the special – it aired 14 years before I was born and had no way to see it before it was uploaded to YouTube. I wish this wasn’t my first introduction to it, because it includes a fun mash-up of two of my favorite sports – hockey and figure skating.

Filmed at The Forum in Inglewood, California, the segment includes the Southern California-bred Fleming having to share the ice with the then very new Los Angeles Kings, and the chaos it creates. The embedded video below goes exactly to the segment’s starting point.

 

It’s beautifully shot and impeccably directed. The whole special ended up winning a bunch of awards, and this quick scene shows why. Anyone who likes retro hockey or figure skating will find this a treat.

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