Boston College's hardest competition in this week's Ledyard National Bank Classic might be itself.
With two of its best defensemen suiting up for Team USA in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, the Eagles were somewhat worried, but still confident, in facing Colgate on Thursday and either Mercyhurst or Dartmouth on Friday. Beyond the absences of Patrick Wey and Brian Dumoulin, the Eagles were dealt another blow on the blue line on Wednesday when BC writer Richard Taylor reported that Patch Alber would miss six to eight weeks with a broken jaw.
Alber, a sophomore, had been one of BC's best performers this season, paired with Dumoulin on the top defensive pairing. BC will now go into a tourament they were locks to win with only three starting defensemen. Luckily for the Eagles, regardless of how deep Team USA gets in the World Juniors Tournament, they could have Wey and Dumoulin back for their next Hockey East matchup against Providence on Jan. 7 (the World Juniors end Jan. 5). Alber's timeline would have him back for the second round of the Beanpot on Feb. 14, at the earliest.
(For more on the Ledyard National Bank Classic, SBNation's BC Interruption has a detailed preview.)
Maine and Their Annual Travel Troubles
The University of Maine's hockey team got to escape the New England blizzard of this week to face Miami University in the Florida College Classic. But it wasn't easy.
According to Larry Mahoney of the Bangor Daily News, Maine canceled their scheduled Monday morning practice to get a head start to Boston's Logan Airport, where they were scheduled to take a Monday afternoon flight to Estero, Fla. The team was told that despite the snow, their flight was scheduled to depart on time. But once the team's bus reached Bangor, they were informed their flight was canceled.
The team took advantage of the delay by holding an impromptu practice in New Hampshire while their administration assembled contingency plans. Said Maine coach Tim Whitehead:
"There were no commercial flights for a group of 30 leaving any eastern city until Jan. 1. One plan had us busing to North Carolina, flying from Charlotte to Tallahassee and then busing from Tallahassee to Estero. We would have had to reach Charlotte by 9 a.m. Tuesday. There's no way we could have done that."
Maine finally was able to get on a Tuesday morning charter flight, and arrived in Florida safe and sound. Several of their players coming from visiting family over the holidays ended up arriving in Florida piecemeal instead of meeting the team in Boston and flying with the team.
The team is no stranger to travel difficulties during holiday tournaments - last year, some of Maine's equipment went missing on the way to the tournament. Despite the tournament's Florida location, Maine has acted as its official host since its start in 2000.
New England Leading Team USA's Stats
The World Junior Championships statistical leaders are dotted with current or former college hockey players with New England ties.
Boston University forward Charlie Coyle is second on Team USA and tied for sixth overall win scoring with 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). Coyle is tied with former Harvard forward Louis LeBlanc, who is playing for Team Canada. LeBlanc left the Crimson this past off-season to play major junior.
Boston College defenseman Brian Dumoulin leads Team USA in plus/minus with +3, and is ranked fifth tournament wide.