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VIP Flashback (8 Yrs. Ago): Da Costa at Worlds, Saponari Booted from BU

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Exclusively for our VIP supporters, The Mack Report will bring you bi-weekly Flashback posts, where we take a trip in Doc Brown’s time machine and see what we were covering here at TMR four and eight years ago.

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Da Costa, Kreider faceoff at Worlds

Stephane Da Costa and Chris Kreider (Boston College) will faceoff Tuesday afternoon (2 p.m.) when France and Team USA meet in an exhibition at the IIHF World Championships.

Da Costa has been training with Team France for nearly a month in preparation for his second World Championships. This will be Kreider’s first World Championship tournament, but he was a member of Team USA’s gold medal team at the World Junior Championships in January.

Kreider is the only collegiate player on Team USA’s roster, and one of just three players not on an NHL roster this season.

Da Costa will be joined on Team France by his older brother, Teddy, who plays in Poland, and former UMass Lowell standouts Yorick TreilleBapiste Amar, and Laurent Meunier.

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Victor Saponari to be kicked off BU hockey team after incident, others could be suspended

Vinny Saponari is one of four BU hockey players who could face disciplinary action after an alcohol-related incident less than 48 hours before the HE semifinal.

Scott McLaughlin of Boston University’s Daily Free Press, citing sources, reports that junior forward Victor Saponari will be released from Boston University’s hockey team and his brother, Vinny Saponari, as well as Corey Trivino will be suspended following an alcohol-related incident that took place just 48 hours before the Hockey East semifinal, a 5-2 BU loss to Maine.

Goaltender Adam Kraus could also face disciplinary action, including suspension.

Trivino and Vinny Saponari are both underage. Victor Saponari and Kraus are both of legal drinking age, but the Terriers have a long-standing rule of not allowing players to drink on any night other than Saturday.

According to McLaughlin’s sources, there were several other incidents that occurred during the season that factored into the punishments. WTBU Sports is reporting that Victor Saponari skipped a practice.

The report states that BU is expected to send out a press release on Tuesday.

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Both Saponari brothers kicked off BU hockey team

In an update to a story first reported this morning by Scott McLaughlin of The Daily Free Press, both Victor and Vinny Saponari have been released from the Boston University hockey team following an alcohol-related incident that took place less than 48 hours before BU played Maine in the Hockey East semifinal, according to College Hockey News.

Victor was slated to be a senior and played just three games this season but Vinny, a sophomore, was third on the team with 30 points (12g, 18a) this past season.

Corey Trivino was suspended for an unspecified number of games next season.

“Over a period of time, there have been cumulative instances in which Victor and Vinny Saponari have displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “In a related issue, Trivino will be suspended for the early part of next season.”

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Saponari: “I’m pretty shocked”

Vinny Saponari (above) and his brother, Victor, were dismissed from the BU hockey team on Tuesday.

The Daily Free Press, Boston University’s student newspaper, has done an exceptional job covering the dismal of Vinny Saponari and his brother, Victor, from the BU hockey team on Tuesday. This afternoon, the paper posted a story by Jake Seiner with reaction from from Vinny Saponari, who scored 30 points for BU in 38 games this past season and was third on the team in scoring.

“I just found out today, like all of you, and I’m pretty shocked, just as shocked as everyone else,” Saponari told the paper. “I didn’t see this coming. I know I’d made some mistakes as far as rules go, but I really didn’t think it would lead to this.

Saponari was dismissed after a the coaching staff learned of an incident that occurred on St. Patrick’s day, according to Scott McLaughlin, reporting for The Daily Free Press. Vinny is underage – as is Corey Trivino, who was suspended for an undisclosed amount of games next season – and though Victor is of legal drinking age, the team has a rule that of-age players are only allowed to drink on Saturday nights.

The incident reported took place less than 48 hours before the Hockey East semifinal against Maine, a 5-2 loss for BU which ended its season.

“[Parker] said that he didn’t feel like he wanted me on the team anymore,” Saponari said. “I didn’t really have a chance to argue back or give any feedback. I didn’t really have a choice. Our meeting was pretty short, didn’t last very long.”

In a statement, Parker said: “Over a period of time, there have been cumulative instances in which Victor and Vinny Saponari have displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player.”

Saponari was confused by the dismissal.

“There was a drinking rule that was broken earlier during the year, and then I was late to a bike ride, and that was pretty much it really,” Saponari said.

Saponari also said he thought Parker was making an example out of him.

“I guess what better example to your team that you’re serious than to kick off a player who’s played a lot of games.

“To me, do I think it’s justified? No. I love this team, and I wasn’t ready to leave. I made a mistake or two since I’ve been here, but I didn’t feel like I was a bad thing for the team, or any kind of bad influence. To me, it’s unjust, to [Parker], maybe not.”

Last week, a controversial video surfaced on Youtube which featured Saponari and Trivino singing a rap song they titled, “Party Like a Puckstar” with questionable lyrics. The son was sung to the tune of the 2007 song “Party Like a Rockstar” by the Shop Boyz.

“[Parker] said that wasn’t a factor in his decision,” Saponari said. “I can’t imagine that being true because the only other two things I’ve done was when I went out on a night we’re not supposed to and was late to a bike ride. I can’t understand how that didn’t play a part.”

Saponari said the video was recorded for personal use, but was shared with a teammate.

“I think the teammate we shared it with shared it with other people, and me and Corey weren’t aware of that,” Saponari said. “It wasn’t the teammate who posted online. I know they wouldn’t do that. Unfortunately for us, it happened that way, and really blew out of proportion from being something we were doing while we were bored in our dorm room to people taking offense to it. We’re definitely sorry about that.”

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Boston among four finalists for 2013/14 Frozen Four

According to multiple (unrelated) reports, Boston is one of four cities in the running for either the 2013 or 2014 Frozen Four. Boston hosted the 1998 and 2004 tournaments at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics.

Other finalists appear to be St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

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Report: Saponari among 13-15 BU players breaking team alcohol rule

Kudos to The Daily Free Press, who is all over the BU story that broke this week, which led to the dismissal of Victor and Vinny Saponari as well as the suspension of Corey Trivino.

According to a report by Jake Seiner, filed on Friday, the three disciplined players were among 13-15 players drinking at a bar near BU’s West Campus around 1 a.m. on March 18th, one day before BU lost to Maine, 5-2, in the Hockey East semifinals.

BU has a long-standing team rule that players of drinking age can only drink on Saturday nights.

The report went on to read:

Sources said when Parker heard about the St. Patrick’s Day incident, he put into place mandatory punishment bike rides for the team, which took place on either Saturday or Sunday mornings each weekend until April 24.

At the first bike ride, Parker told the team, “If you miss [a bike ride], don’t bother coming back because you’re off the team,” according to multiple sources.

At one of the bike rides, a player showed up about three minutes late and was forced to do extra riding.

Then, at the last bike ride, Vinny Saponari and Trivino showed up very late, essentially arriving as the team was finishing its ride. The players were told not to ride and were suspended from team workouts immediately.

The press release announcing the dismissal and suspension came about a week and a half after the incident.

Sources said Victor Saponari was released from the team by Parker on April 22, while The Daily Free Press reported Tuesday that Vinny Saponari was not informed of his dismissal until Tuesday morning.

Additionally, sources confirmed that another player will be suspended at some point next season for a separate incident that occurred earlier in the 2009-10 season.

There has been no indication as to who the second suspended player will be.

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Collins, Vipers in RBC Cup final today

After a 2-0 win on Saturday night, the Vernon Vipers will play in the RBC Cup final on Sunday at 3 p.m. EST against the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Vernon is looking for its second-straight RBC Cup. A Vernon win would make it two straight championship teams that would have Merrimack connections. Karl Stollery and Jesse Todd were both members of the runner-up at the 2008 RBC Cup for the Camrose Kodiaks. Collins and Kyle Bigos won the title with the Vipers last season and Collins returned to the Vipers for a final season of junior hockey before heading to Merrimack this fall.

With a win, the Vipers would be the first team ever to win back-to-back RBC Cups. The last time a team won back-to-back Junior A championships, it was the Vernon Lakers – the named was changed to Vipers in 1996 – in 1990 and 1991. At the time, it was called the Centennial Cup.

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Report: Minor injury to Da Costa

According to a French report, a minor lower-body injury kept Stephane Da Costa out of Sunday’s game against the Czech Republic, a 6-2 loss for the French, at the IIHF World Championships being held in Germany.

Da Costa has been removed from France’s official roster in order for an injury replacement to be named. I’m not sure of IIHF rules regarding whether or not he could be added to the tournament roster mid-tournament. If not, then he will not play in any of France’s games.

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Men’s LAX wins NE-10 championship

With 0.8 seconds left in first overtime, sophomore and tournament MVP Brad McAdam rifled a top-shelf blast past #1 Le Moyne College’s Matt Krupka to give #7 Merrimack a 12-11 win and the school’s second ever Northeast-10 Championship Sunday afternoon in Syracuse.

For Merrimack (13-3), it was the first Northeast-10 Championship since 2000 when head coach Mike Morganplayed for the Warriors. Merrimack defeated Le Moyne 12-7 in 2000 and has since made four trips to the title game, including the last two seasons.

“It’s hard to describe how proud I am of these guys,” said a near-speechless Morgan on the sidelines following the overtime victory. “I could tell our guys had a different sense of purpose coming into the game. Even when Le Moyne made their run, we hung tough and did what we needed to do. All in all, I couldn’t be happier for our team.”

For Le Moyne, it was their first loss of the season and second in the last 43 contests at home. The last was against Bryant in 2008 when the Dolphins fell in the Northeast-10 Championship.

With hopes of making the NCAA Final Four, the seventh-ranked Warriors await the unveiling of the selection show tonight at 10:00pm on the CBS College Sports Network.

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Parker sticks to his guns, but questions remain

When you have as much success as Boston University or any other national power, a sense of entitlement is to be expected. It’s not that I agree with it, but it’s there, and it’s fine. When you win, you can do pretty much what you want. Just like the best player on any team can do, pretty much whatever they want. Right or wrong, it’s just the way it is.

And when you win, normally there are some rules that don’t apply. But Jack Parker deserves some kudos for sticking to his guns in regards to the situation that broke last week, resulting in the suspension of Corey Trivino and the releases of both Victor and Vinny Saponari.

Rules were broken, bottom line. But Saponari, who scored 30 points as a sophomore, could have been immune to such rules. He was slated to be BU’s top returning goal scorer next season, certainly one of the Terriers’ top line forwards.

If the reports are accurate, the BU roster was being punished for a drinking incident, and were being forced to go through extra bike rides on weekend mornings – BU has a rule where of age players can only drink on Saturday nights. Parker was reported to have told players that if they miss a bike ride, “don’t bother coming back because you’re off the team.”

And Saponari, along with Trivino, reportedly showed up so late for the last ride that they in essence arrived as the rest of the players were ending their workout.

As a result, Saponari was booted from the team, while Trivino was suspended an undisclosed amount of games next season. There are reports that another suspension will come down as well.

Naturally, my first thought is why Saponari? It certainly seems as if he and Trivino broke the same the rules.

But instead of sweeping the situation under the rug – which let’s be honest, would have been easy in this case; it’s a team rule – Saponari, one of BU’s biggest offensive threats, is gone.

Make no mistake about it, this hurts BU. It’s a move that negatively impacts the BU hockey program.

But I can’t help but go back to asking why Saponari? Was he being made an example of? Were there other offenses?

Saponari wasn’t being punished for drinking less than 48 hours before the Hockey East semifinals – if the reports are accurate, that’s what the bike rides were for. If he was only being punished for showing up late, wouldn’t Trivino be off the team as well? That’s what would seem to make sense.

We’ll never know what actually happened between Parker and Saponari, or the events that led to his dismissal. These are college kids we’re talking about, they’re going to drink, that’s to be expected. But if rules are broken there needs to be consequences, and Parker did the right thing.

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Several rule changes could be on the horizon

Every two years, the NCAA ice hockey rules committee meets to debate changes to the rulebook. This year, the committee will converge in Indianapolis from June 8-11 to discuss possible rule changes. Some of the changes they are considering include (my take is below, in red):

– Changing the penalty for “contact to the head” penalties. One change could see the rule go to a five-minute major with a game misconduct or disqualification attached (similar to a hitting from behind).
Not a bad idea, but I think they’ll need to do a better job defining what is true contact to the head. Too often do larger players get punished for hitting a 5-foot-8 forward who is turtling in preparation to taking a hit. When you’re 6-foot-5 and they’re 5-foot-8 and crouching, you’re going to hit their head.

– It’s not likely to happen this time around, but there has been a call to go to half-shields instead of full face masks. The idea behind it is that players show more respect when it comes to making contact to an opponent’s head or face when they know there is less protection there.
I would support this change 100 percent. Not many are with me, but I’d love to see the NCAA allow fighting as well (which by the way, will never happen). A lot of the muck that gets started would never happen if there were to be consequences. The players can police themselves.

– A consideration to reduce ties by changing the overtime format. Proposals are abundant and include going to the NHL model (5-on-5 for 5 minutes, followed by a shootout) but also going to five-on-five for 10 minutes; five-on-five for five minutes, then four-on-four for five minutes; four-on-four for five minutes; four-on-four for 10 minutes; five-on-five for five minutes, then a shootout.
I’m not a big fan of ties. but I wouldn’t mind if the format stayed the way it is now, with one minor addition – a point being awarded to both teams at the end of regulation with the OT being played for a second point. That avoids teams “playing for the tie.”

– Changing the officiating system. USCHO.com reported that the CCHA was the only league to come out against the two-referee, four official format.
I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate the two-referee, four official system. Did I mention I hate it?

– Changing the way icing is called, including potentially adopting a hybrid icing, where the call would be waved off if an attacking player reaches an imaginary line between the faceoff dots before the defender does.
Seems a little complicated to me, and I’m not sure it adds much. Seems like a dumb rule to change, at least if that’s the solution.

– Staying on the topic of icing, the committee will consider eliminating a shorthanded team’s ability to ice the puck.
This actually makes sense. I’ve always wondered why when you commit a penalty, you’re then allowed to ice the puck. If you’re shorthanded, you’re shorthanded. Teams can still ice the puck if they wish, it just means they’ll have the draw in their own end.

– Considering a change where all goals off a skate are allowed, as opposed to only goals that are deflected and not directed.
Probably the biggest cluster in the entire rulebook. There is actually a point – and I’ll have to lookup the reference – where the rulebook contradicts itself on this scenario (I looked it up after Stephane Da Costa had a controversial no-goal called back in Maine this past January). Either allow them all or disallow them all. It’s one or the other.

– Whether to penalize a team with a “delay of game” penalty if they send a puck out of play.
This isn’t a penalty already? Brandon Brodhag was given a penalty for doing this exact thing in the playoffs against Boston University. He apparently knew the rule as it currently exists, and the officials did not.

– Whether to continue to allow hand passes in the defensive zone.
Like the icing, seems like a pointless change to me. Don’t really care one way or the other.

– Punishing shorthanded teams by not allowing them to make player changes before the start of the penalty, and forcing them to kill the entire length of the penalty.
What is this, torture? Often times, players commit penalties (especially stick infractions like hooking etc.) because they’re tired. So you’re going to take a tired group of four players and force them to remain on the ice to kill a two minute penalty. Not icing the puck I get, this I don’t.

– Requiring a team that has a delayed penalty to clear the puck of the defensive zone rather than just gaining possession in order for the whistle to blow.
Another one I don’t get. This seems like a change merely to make a change.

– Eliminating the player from diving, jumping or sliding to block a shot.
What? So now completely exhausted players who are forced to kill entire penalties after already skating an entire shift can’t even get down to block a shot? Why not just award a goal every time someone commits a penalty.

– Keeping the faceoff in the offensive zone after a puck hits the crossbar and goes out of play.
Finally, one that makes some sense again. It always irked me when one team was completely dominating the play, a defenseman uncorks a drive that gets through, misses scoring by an inch, and the puck sails out of play and the defensive team is rewarded by getting a neutral-zone draw.

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Da Costa plays vs. Sweden

After missing France’s first game at the IIHF World Championships, Stephane Da Costa played against Sweden on Tuesday, registering the primary assist on Luc Tardiff‘s third-period goal. France lost to Sweden, 3-2.

Da Costa played 14:15 on 18 shifts (0:47 per shift average) and was a plus-1. He took one shot.

He started the game on France’s second line alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Kevin Hecquefeiulle, settling into his first game action since March, when Merrimack lost to BU in game three of the Hockey East quarterfinals. Da Costa played 2:46 in the first period, followed by 4:43 in the second and 6:46 in the third period.

Sweden boast NHL’ers Carl Gunnarson (TOR), Jonas Gustavson (TOR), Rickard Wallin (TOR), Erik Karlsson (OTT), and Victor Hedman (TBL).

France has Wednesday off and will play Norway on Thursday in a must-win situation to keep their hopes of advance to the qualification round.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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