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Beanpot Preview: No. 5 Harvard looks to end drought, but must get by No. 6 BC in opening round

02.01.16 at 11:58 am ET
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College Puckcast: 2016 Beanpot Preview

While Northeastern tends to be the butt of most Beanpot jokes (the Huskies haven’t won the tournament since 1988), Harvard continues to experience quite the drought itself. The Crimson haven’t won since 1993, and they haven’t even made the final since 2008.

This year’s team is as good as any Harvard has had over the last 20 years, as the Crimson are currently 12-4-3 and fifth in the national Pairwise rankings. They’re well on their way to a second straight NCAA tournament appearance, and it would be fair to call them a national title contender.

Before they get to that, though, Harvard would like to end its Beanpot drought. On WEEI’s College Puckcast, Ted Donato — now in his 12th season as the Crimson’s head coach — admitted he’s feeling some Beanpot pressure.

“The truth of it is, yeah, we do put pressure on ourselves. I know I do,” Donato said. “I want to win the Beanpot at Harvard here. I want our guys to enjoy that experience. Our guys have certainly circled it on their calendars and schedules and know the importance of the game. I don’t think they put pressure on themselves in relation to the overall record over the years. Each team is a new team and each year is a new year, but there’s no denying that we would like to play really well and win the Beanpot.”

The Crimson open the tournament in Monday’s 5 p.m. game against No. 6 Boston College in what could very well be the game of the tournament. The Eagles rank in the top five nationally in both team offense and team defense, and they lead the country with a plus-2.36 goal margin per game. Simply put, BC is a team without any weaknesses.

“They have a very well-balanced team,” Donato said. “It starts in the net with Thatcher Demko being one of the best goalies in college hockey. Their D corps is a very talented group. Lot of experience there. They have a good mix of size and skill and speed. And then up front, they have their usual arsenal of dangerous forwards. Guys like [Ryan] Fitzgerald and Colin White and [Adam] Gilmour and [Chris] Calnan, [Austin] Cangelosi. The list goes on and on. They’re a very talented team with great balance. I expect the game to be very competitive, very fast, very skilled. They’re a tough challenge for anybody and we’re excited to have that opportunity.”

BC may have the deeper team, but Harvard probably has the best player and best line in the tournament, if not the country. Jimmy Vesey was already a Hobey Baker finalist last season, and he’s well on his way to being one again. The North Reading native and Predators draft pick is second nationally in points per game with 16 goals and 16 assists in 19 games. He and linemates Alex Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo have combined for 1.8 goals per game this season.

“I think Jimmy continues to improve and develop,” Donato said. “He’s become a really gifted 200-foot player. He’s gone from a guy that we relied on offensively to a guy that we rely on in all situations. He kills penalties. He’s out there not only if we’re down a goal at the end of the game, but also if we’re up a goal and trying to protect a lead. He’s really done a lot of things to improve as a player. He deserves a lot of credit.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jerry York picks up career win No. 999 as BC beats BU, 5-3

01.15.16 at 9:43 pm ET
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Jerry York will have a chance to get his 1,000th career win against his biggest rival. College hockey’€™s all-time winningest coach picked up win No. 999 Friday night at Conte Forum as No. 4 Boston College beat No. 10 Boston University 5-3 and will now go for No. 1,000 when the two teams meet again Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

Of course, York isn’€™t thinking about the milestone, and he doesn’€™t want his team to either.

“People think it’s hard to believe, but I’m not involved in that,” York said. “We’ve always talked about Eagles and playing as a team. That’s why I coach a team sport. I think it’s important to be ‘we’ not ‘me.’ It’s just a number to me. The early part of my career I didn’t think I’d get to 37. They’re just numbers.”

Friday’€™s game appeared to be headed for overtime after BU’€™s Matt Lane scored a power-play goal (BU’€™s third of the night on the man advantage) with 4:12 to go to tie the game at 3-3. But then the Eagles got a power play of their own and took advantage.

With 2:10 remaining, Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald left a pass for junior defenseman Ian McCoshen, who ripped a one-timer blocker-side to give BC a 4-3 lead. McCoshen then added an empty-netter on a shot from behind his own goal line to finish the game with a career-high four points on two goals and two assists.

“I haven’t been around for all 286 games with BU, contrary to what some people might think, but there is something special about the rivalry,” York said. “I thought tonight there were some good players, boy, in red-and-white and maroon-and-gold. Some really talented, high-end guys. The momentum swings back and forth kind of highlight college hockey at its best here.”

The first period was relatively uneventful until the Terriers took advantage of a late power play. With 1:59 left in the period, Ahti Oksanen carried into the zone before sending a pass to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in the high slot, and the Bruins second-round pick fired a shot past Thatcher Demko for his sixth goal of the season.

The second period was much more eventful. Austin Cangelosi tied the game at 1-1 2:01 into the period when he scored on a penalty shot after getting hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway. BU regained the lead just 17 seconds later when Forsbacka Karlsson made a great centering pass to Oksanen while getting tripped.

The Eagles tied it again three minutes later when a McCoshen blast from the point led to a juicy rebound that Zach Sanford buried. They took their first lead with 4:25 left in the second when Casey Fitzgerald made a great cross-ice pass to set up Colin White for a power-play goal. White, a Senators first-round pick, now has 12 goals and 16 assists in 19 games, putting him second nationally in freshman scoring behind only Michigan’s Kyle Connor.

With the win BC remained one point behind UMass-Lowell for first in Hockey East, although the Eagles have two games in hand on the River Hawks. BU remains in fifth and is now six points back.

BU coach David Quinn expressed his displeasure with his team’€™s effort after the game.

“Frustrating loss. I thought we took a little bit of a step back tonight,” Quinn said. “Certainly not the way we want to play or need to play if we want to have success moving forward. I thought we were slow. I thought we were soft.”

Note: Conte honored the late, great David Bowie by playing ‘€œSpace Oddity’€ leading up to the opening faceoff and then five other Bowie songs throughout the game. Ron Poster also played ‘€œModern Love’€ on organ. This reporter appreciated all of it very much.

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Colin White nets hat trick, BC ends 3-game losing streak with big win over Providence

01.08.16 at 10:30 pm ET
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As it turns out, Boston College‘€™s offense is still really good when the Eagles have all their top forwards in the lineup.

Because the seventh-ranked Eagles didn’€™t have their full complement of forwards for the last three games, no one should’€™ve been too concerned about their three-game losing streak, which included just three goals over their last two games.

But just in case anyone was worried, BC went out and dropped seven goals on No. 3 Providence Friday night in a 7-3 win that ended their mini-skid.

Colin White was the biggest missing piece for BC the last two games, as he was over in Finland helping Team USA win bronze at the World Junior Championship as one of the team’€™s top forwards. The star freshman has been the Eagles’€™ best forward all season, and he resumed that role in a big way Friday, registering his first collegiate hat trick and adding an assist as well.

“I thought he was excellent tonight,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said of White. “He was the best player on the ice by far. I thought he was making a play every time he got the puck.”

While the Eagles finally had their complete forward corps back together, they weren’€™t completely healthy. Star goaltender Thatcher Demko missed the game with an upper-body injury, and coach Jerry York gave the start to Ian Milosz, who just joined the team this week after previously playing for the Boston Junior Bruins. Milosz stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced in a debut that was made much less stressful by the fact that BC led by multiple goals for most of the night.

“The story of the game has to be Ian Milosz, coming off the Junior Bruins and playing arguably one of the best teams in the country,” York said. “I thought he gave us a phenomenal performance tonight. I was trying to just think, what are his thoughts going into the game? Just meeting new teammates, stepping into this situation. He responded very, very well.”

York said after the game that there’€™s no timetable for Demko’€™s return, but that he’€™s hopeful that it’€™s more of a day-to-day situation.

The Eagles opened the scoring 6:38 into the game when White carried into the offensive zone before dishing to Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald and then going to the net for a tip-in goal. BC made it 2-0 six minutes later when Alex Tuch went crossbar and in straight off a faceoff win by Zach Sanford. The Friars cut the lead to 2-1 with 1:48 left in the first off a faceoff win of their own, as Mark Jankowski got the puck back to John Gilmour for a shot through traffic.

The Eagles built their lead up to 4-1 by the eight-minute mark of the second. White scored his second of the game 32 seconds into the second period when he capitalized on a bobble by Providence goalie Nick Ellis and batted a loose puck out of the air. Then White set up Tuch for his second goal of the game on a great drive to the net that saw him fend off a Friar before sending a pass over to Tuch while falling to the ice.

Nick Saracino cut the lead to 4-2 a few minutes later, but BC re-upped the lead to three a little more than two minutes after that when Austin Cangelosi took advantage of a Providence turnover and beat Ellis on a 2-on-1.

The Friars again cut the lead to two early in the third on a power-play goal by Jake Walman, who was making his return after missing the last month due to injury, but then White completed his hat trick and Fitzgerald added a power-play goal to give the Eagles plenty of insurance. With the win, BC moved up to 13th in the Pairwise rankings used to determine the 16-team NCAA tournament field, while Providence remained at six with the loss.

BU overcomes dreadful start, beats Harvard 6-5 in thriller

01.07.16 at 10:34 pm ET
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OK, college hockey. The bar has been set for craziest game of the season.

No. 11 Boston University overcame a dreadful first 30 minutes and two two-goal third-period deficits to beat No. 5 Harvard, 6-5, at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center Thursday night.

The Terriers trailed 5-3 as the third period wound down, but a Colin Blackwell unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 4:11 to go opened the door for a comeback. They took advantage just 13 seconds into the man advantage when Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk fired a shot through a perfect Danny O’€™Regan screen.

BU tied it 1:04 later on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play. Bruins second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson started the play with a great cross-ice pass to Charlie McAvoy in the left circle, then McAvoy sent a quick pass to O’€™Regan in front for a redirect goal, his second tally of the night.

The Terriers took their first lead of the game, one they wouldn’€™t relinquish, with 1:49 to go when Ahti Oksanen took a pass from Matt Lane and fired a shot over Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen’€™s blocker.

“I give BU a lot of credit because they hung in there and did a lot of good things as the game wore on,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “But quite frankly, it’s frustrating on our end because we feel like we beat ourselves. We take a very unnecessary penalty that really kind of changed the game.”

The game was BU’€™s first in 26 days, and coach David Quinn admitted he didn’€™t really know what to expect going in — and not just because of the layoff. It was also the first game back from injury for Grzelcyk, Oksanen and Nikolas Olsson, all of whom were considered questionable earlier in the week. And on top of that, it was the first game back from the World Junior Championship (which was in Finland) for Forsbacka Karlsson, McAvoy, Brandon Fortunato and Brandon Hickey. Most of those guys didn’€™t get back to Boston until late Wednesday night or earlier Thursday.

The rust and/or jet lag showed early in the game. Harvard had 13 shots on goal before BU had one, and the Crimson were up 18-2 in the shots department at the end of the first period. The dominance continued to start the second, with the shot differential growing to 26-3 by the midway point of the game. But for all their dominance, the Crimson could only build up a 2-1 lead in that time, thanks in large part to some big saves from BU goalie Sean Maguire.

Lane tied the game at 2-2 with his second goal of the game, but then goals from Sean Malone (his second of the game) and Jake Horton made it 4-2 Harvard. O’€™Regan cut the lead to 4-3 with a power-play goal before Kyle Criscuolo made it a two-goal game again with 10:00 left in the third. The Crimson couldn’€™t hold the lead, though.

The game was huge for BU in the Pairwise rankings used to determine the 16-team NCAA tournament field, as the Terriers moved up to ninth with the win. The Crimson are still in a perfectly comfortable position at five despite the loss.

“When the game started out, we were terrible,” Quinn said. “As the period went on, we went from terrible to awful. Then we closed the first period out with being less awful. Then when the second period started, we were bad. Then we got to not so bad. Then it got to OK and then it got to pretty good. Then in the third period, I just thought we played a lot better hockey. … We’ve been a resilient group all year. Just a great win.”

Sources: BU hockey player Nick Roberto suspended for gambling

12.21.15 at 2:01 pm ET
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Boston University junior forward Nick Roberto has not played all season and will not play for the remainder of the season due to gambling-related issues, sources have confirmed to WEEI.com.

College Hockey News was the first to report Roberto’s suspension.

According to sources, Roberto bet on other sports, but not BU hockey. The NCAA forbids college athletes from gambling on any sports — college, professional, fantasy or otherwise. The penalty for doing so is, at minimum, a one-year suspension.

BU self-reported Roberto’s indiscretion and turned its findings over to the NCAA, according to sources.

“Beyond confirming that Mr. Roberto will not play for the Boston University hockey team this season, federal privacy laws prevent us from discussing his status,” BU said in a statement.

“However, we can say that several months ago, we heard rumors that a BU hockey player had engaged in gambling. Although the rumors did not involve gambling on either college or professional hockey games, we nonetheless immediately conducted a thorough investigation and turned the results over to the appropriate authorities at the NCAA. Based on that investigation, the NCAA made its own findings and took remedial action, and we would refer you to that organization for further information.”

Sources have confirmed CHN’s report that at least two former BU players were also involved. The identities of the former players have not been confirmed. CHN’s report also indicates that players from other teams could be involved.

The Buffalo News, apparently curious about whether Jack Eichel was one of the former players involved, reported that a BU representative told them, “The only investigation that took place was focused on Roberto. Any involvement of Eichel or other former players is speculation at this point.”

As CHN reported, sources tell WEEI.com that the issue came to light due to a large debt that had been accrued.

Sources tell WEEI.com that Roberto is not currently being investigated by any law enforcement agencies. He is still enrolled at BU and still a member of the hockey team, and that is not expected to change.

An NCAA spokesperson told WEEI.com that it would not have any comment regarding a potential investigation.

Roberto, a Wakefield native, played at Malden Catholic High School and then Kimball Union Academy before BU. He had four goals and eight assists last season after posting seven goals and 11 assists as a freshman.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove a paragraph about a Massachusetts gambling ring that was busted in November. CHN mentioned the ring in its story but did not report a connection between the ring and BU’s situation.

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John Calipari on D&C: ‘I am not embarrassed about anything we’ve done’ at UMass

12.15.15 at 10:06 am ET
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Former UMass coach and current University of Kentucky coach John Calipari will be honored by the school this week. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Former UMass coach and current University of Kentucky coach John Calipari will be honored by the school this week. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Former UMass and current Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane (with Gary Tanguay in for John Dennis) Tuesday morning to discuss UMass honoring the former coach and his teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote a column Monday saying UMass should vacate their decision to honor Calipari because of the NCAA vacating five NCAA tournament games in 1996 because of allegations star player Marcus Camby had accepted a reported $40,000 in cash and gifts from an agent.

Calipari defended his team and the era he coached in at the school on Tuesday.

“Look, this is a time to celebrate an era of basketball,” Calipari said. “I am not worried about what somebody thinks. None of those guys feel our joy. You look at what we were able to do and the the kids and the graduation rates, the wins and exciting the campus. Again, a lot of people fought that now. They didn’t want UMass to do that and they are still mad about it today, that we were able to do what we did. Let me say this, what we’re doing and what UMass is doing, is not about me. It’s not about one player. It’s not about one season. It’s about that era.”

The former coach said he and the school didn’t know anything about Camby and cited UMass got Camby to speak with the NCAA.

“No. We didn’t know anything and what we did is everything ahead of schedule and we were on top of everything we did,” Calipari said. “Again, they said we didn’t know nor should we have known. We didn’t know or should have known what he did back in high school. Here is what I will say to you, again, that kid, you know what he ends up doing in the end? He ends up paying the money back that the school lost. It was about $150,000 and he paid the money back. It has never been done before. We were the ones that got Marcus Camby to talk — he was in the NBA, he didn’t need to talk to the NCAA.

“There were other players at other schools involved. They wouldn’t talk to the NCAA. We got our guy to talk to the NCAA. And he paid the money back. I am not embarrassed about anything we’ve done. I am proud of what we’ve done. Proud of our kids and what they’ve become and what they are becoming.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson explains why he supports Big Ten’s freshman age limit proposal

12.10.15 at 10:32 pm ET
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We covered the Big Ten‘s proposal to lower college hockey’s age limit for freshmen from 21 years old to 20 years old on last week’s College Puckcast. Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna explained why the majority of Hockey East — and the majority of college hockey coaches in general — are against the proposal.

However, not all of Hockey East is against it. UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh publicly supported the proposal and explained why over the weekend. Boston College and Boston University are also believed to be among the small number of schools who support it, although coaches Jerry York and David Quinn both essentially no-commented when asked about it.

On Thursday night, after his team came from behind to beat Boston College 4-3 at Conte Forum, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said he supports the proposal. Notre Dame was originally believed to have abstained from voting on it, but Jackson left no doubt as to where he stands. Here is the full Q&A:

The Big Ten proposal has obviously made some headlines. Where do you come down on that if you’ve made a decision where you stand?

Notre Dame, we’re in favor of it. I think it was unfortunate it happened the way it did. We didn’t even know it was happening when it happened. But I coached for 10 years at a school [Lake Superior State] that thrived on older freshmen, but not 21-year-old freshmen. We won some national championships there. I had a couple 20-year-old freshmen who only had three years of eligibility because we took them and we did not have them stop playing the middle of their junior year, so they lost a year of eligibility.

I think a number of coaches have spoken on it. I don’t like pushing guys back to make them older. I don’t like [Notre Dame freshman forward] Andrew Oglevie having to go back to the USHL for two other years after he was originally supposed to come in. And we have to do it, because we can’t compete.

My very first year [at Notre Dame], we lost in the playoffs to Alaska-Fairbanks at home. I was knocking my head up against the wall trying to figure out why. And their average age was like 24 and ours was under 20. A lot of it has to do with how we recruit. When I was at Lake Superior, we recruited 19-, 20-year-old freshmen and it helped us win. It’s a true advantage. That’s how we had to recruit to win.

It’s a little different at Notre Dame for me. I can’t recruit 20-year-old freshmen because all the top academic students out there are long gone by the time they’re 20. I’m not going to say it’s self-serving, but it’s self-serving both ways. I’ve experienced both ways. I experienced it at Lake Superior State one way, and I’m experiencing it another way at Notre Dame. Read the rest of this entry »

Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna on Big Ten age limit proposal: ‘Most people feel it’s not broken’

12.02.15 at 8:54 pm ET
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The hot-button issue in college hockey over the last week has been a proposal from the Big Ten to lower the age limit for incoming freshmen from 21 years old to 20 years old. College Hockey News was the first to report the proposal, and they have some details and reaction here.

While the vast majority of college hockey coaches are against the proposal (CHN obtained a straw poll that has them 49-11 against it), the six Big Ten coaches were unanimous in their support. And because the Big Ten is a multi-sport conference — something no other college hockey conference is — it has the power to propose legislation directly to the NCAA, regardless of where the rest of the college hockey world stands on the issue.

The proposal is widely seen as an effort that would help big-name schools (like those in the Big Ten) who don’t need to recruit older players because they are able to land the top 18- and 19-year-olds, while hurting smaller schools who rely on older players to help overcome the talent gap between them and the big schools.

Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna joined WEEI’s College Puckcast this week and addressed the Big Ten‘s proposal and where Hockey East stands on it.

“Well, Hockey East has voted by a fairly strong majority to oppose the legislation,” Bertagna said. “There’s a feeling that college hockey has never been stronger, and not only stronger, but the sense of parity if you look at the last three national champions, it’s three teams who had never won the title before. Even looking at the national rankings right now, it’s scattered about with teams who have not been winners in the past, whether it’s Lowell or Quinnipiac or St. Cloud or Omaha or Merrimack’s in there.

“It’s been a pretty good period of parity in college hockey. Part of that is that the schools that don’t get the top 18-year-olds are able to put together rosters with older players who not only give them a chance to compete on the ice, but in most situations they’re the better students on campus, they have fewer problems than the young guys. I think most people feel it’s not broken. I know the coaches voted overwhelmingly — I think it was 48 to 11 with one abstaining — to oppose the legislation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Brian Kelly says Saturday night’s five turnovers like ‘leaving runners in scoring position’

11.22.15 at 3:24 am ET
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Maybe it was his homecoming to Boston or maybe it was the fact that he just felt relieved that his team didn’t spit the bit on a golden opportunity at a place at the four-seat national championship table. Whatever the case, following a 19-16 nailbiting win over the 3-8 Boston College Eagles at Fenway Park, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found a very fitting metaphor for surviving five turnovers and three in the red zone on the way to a 10th win of the season.

“Well, it’s like anything else. I’ve been trying to prepare for this moment,” Kelly said. “It’s like leaving runners in scoring position (laughter). Pretty good?”

After making the baseball reference he had been planning, he admitted that there’s no planning – or excuse – for not converting points when you get the chance against a team like BC.

“You can’t go down there and not come away with points, especially — that’s a really good defense, and for us to come up empty every single time, you know, we saw that almost sort of against Temple, too,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to score points when you’re down there. We’re moving the ball fairly effectively most of the night, and just to keep stubbing our toe down there becomes concerning, obviously, and it made it a lot closer in my perspective.

“I thought Boston College did a great job of ripping it loose. Great job on CJ Prosise. They ripped that one loose. And I really couldn’t tell on Josh Adams’s fumble. It looked like one he should have secured. That was the second one.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston College, Bostonc College Eagles, Brian Kelly, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Steve Addazio finds loss to Notre Dame ‘exciting, heartbreaking, frustrating’

11.22.15 at 2:53 am ET
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Saturday was a heck of a way for a young team to go through the growing pains.

But the 19-16 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame at Fenway Park was filled with plenty of learning experiences for the men of Boston College coach Steve Addazio.

“This is going to come back to us,” Addazio said of the growing moment. “It’s exciting. It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. But it’s exciting. It’s not like we’re going to be all fixed right away. We’re still a young team, but we’re going to get better and better and better. To watch Jeff compete out there, to watch John Fadule compete out there, to watch Thaddeus Smith compete out there, to watch Elijah Robinson compete out there, to watch Mike Walker compete out there, to watch Tom Sweeney compete out there.”

Boston College’s attrition rate this season has been remarkably high, starting with the loss of quarterback Darius Wade to a broken ankle and star running back Jon Hilliman to a broken foot.

“I’m just rattling off some really young guys, guys that are freshmen or redshirt freshmen, to watch Chris Lindstrom and to watch Aaron Monteiro and John Baker, wow,” Addazio said. “I’ve been coaching a long time and haven’t seen a list that long of that kind of youth before, but it’ll come back.”

Addazio’s Eagles have lost seven straight to fall to 3-8 on the season. They will try to head into the winter on a winning note when they face Syracuse at the Carrier Dome next Saturday.

Read More: Boston College, Notre Dame, Steve Addazio,
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