Boston College senior defenseman Patch Alber missed out playing in his final Beanpot tournament and Senior Night because of a knee injury.
But the Clifton Park native was determined not to miss the Hockey East tournament.
Alber was back practicing with the Eagles this week, and he should be in the lineup tonight when BC hosts Vermont in Game 1 of the Hockey East tournament quarterfinals.
“It feels really good,” Alber said about coming back. “I skated for the first time [Monday] in a full-contact practice. That was really good. There was no pain, so I decided to get back at it.”
Alber suffered a freak injury. He tore the meniscus in his right knee prior to BC’s game against Alabama-Huntsville in the first round of the University of Minnesota’s Mariucci Classic Dec. 29. Alber’s injury occurred while kicking a soccer ball with teammates during pregame drills.
Alber had surgery on New Year’s Day to repair the meniscus. The original diagnosis was that he would be out for at least the rest of the regular season, and maybe he wouldn’t return until the NCAA tournament regional round.
Alber didn’t want to wait until the regionals to return. He wanted to be back by the time the Hockey East tournament started.
“It was more frustrating toward the end,” Alber said. “The better I felt, the more frustrated I was not playing. We were going up and down [in the standings], and we were around .500 for most of the time while I was out. It was definitely frustrating for me to watch.
“But at the same time, I had all the faith in the world in the guys on the team, and they would find a way to win games.”
The Eagles, the defending NCAA champions, finished second in Hockey East.
Alber wasn’t surprised that he came back sooner than what was predicted.
“I figured, at the beginning, the estimates were going to be a bit long,” Alber said. “There was no way they were going to keep me off the ice for 12 weeks. They were going have to chain me to a bed.”
Alber will be excited to get on the ice tonight. But he knows he must not get over-excited and try and do too much.
“For me, it’s about playing smart,” Alber said. “I’ve had to do that since Day 1 of getting here. I’m not the biggest guy. For me, it’s just going to be easing myself on. I know they’re counting on me playing some big minutes, so it’s one of those things where I work on my conditioning, just making sure I’m doing the proper things on and off the ice to ensure I’m 100 percent ready to go.”
Jack Parker announced Monday that he will step down as Boston University’s hockey coach at the end of the season. It will mark an end to a 40-year coaching career, all at BU.
Parker won three NCAA titles and 21 Beanpot championships. He takes an 894-471-115 career record into this weekend’s Hockey East tournament quarterfinal series against Merrimack.
Union coach Rick Bennett played and coached against Parker’s teams while at Providence College. Being a Springfield, Mass., native, Bennett had hoped to be recruited by Parker, and by BU rival Boston College, for that matter, but it never happened.
“There was always a little bit something when I was at Providence to go into those teams and prove a point,” Bennett said.
But Bennett got to know Parker well while at Providence.
“I was fortunate enough to play at a sports festival for him [in the late 1980s],” Bennett said. “I learned a lot from him. Then when I was in recruiting as a coach, just going on a couple of trips, I was in the same plane as him. We talk about coaching.
“He was always a class act. He’s one of the sharpest guys I’ve ever met.”
RPI coach Seth Appert believes all of college hockey will miss Parker.
“He’s just first class all the way,” Appert said. “He gets a little bit of a rap, sometimes, because he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He isn’t afraid to rant and rave and scream at officials. But I’ve had very good fortune of getting to work with him and getting to know him, mostly on some college hockey incentives over the last five years. I couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of the man, and the program he ran and how much he cared for the good of college hockey, not just Boston University.”
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet was a goalie for the Big Green, and he played against Parker’s teams when BU was in the ECAC.
“Jack’s an incredible coach, but he’s also an incredible guy,” Gaudet said. “We actually played BU in Boston Garden when Jack was coaching [during] my sophomore year in 1979 just before those guys, Jim Craig, [Jack] O’Callahan and [Dave] Silk, went on to win the gold medal in 1980 with the U.S. team. We go way back from my playing days, but as a coach, I’ve respected and admired Jack Parker for all these years. He’s become a really good friend.”
MINGOIA TO PROVIDENCE
Former Union forward Trevor Mingoia will be re-starting his college career next season for the coach who recruited him to the Dutchmen.
Mingoia, now playing for the U.S. Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm, announced that he will join Providence College and its head coach, Nate Leaman. It was Leaman who convinced Mingoia to come to Union when Mingoia was playing for the Berkshire School, where he had 20 goals and 28 assists in 29 games in 2010-11. But Mingoia didn’t get to play for Leaman because Leaman left Union to become Providence’s head coach following the 2011-12 season.
“I couldn’t be happier with my decision,” Mingoia said in a statement on the Storm’s website. “When I had to choose a second time around, it was about where I’m going to be happy and where I feel comfortable. Providence ended up being that best choice and a program I think I can contribute to.”
Mingoia appeared in 18 games for Union last season, collecting three goals and three assists. He had a two-goal game against Dartmouth on Jan. 7, 2012.
Mingoia didn’t play in any of Union’s first three games this season because he had been injured in a skill session prior to the season-opening game against Merrimack on Oct. 6. He left Union in late October and joined the U.S. Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm. Mingoia is the Storm’s fifth-leading scorer with 12 goals and 26 assists in 41 games.
He will have three years of eligibility at Providence.