‘Soa-King it all in’: Lifelong LA fan Nieto drafted by San Jose

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

During the 2011 NHL Draft in St. Paul, Minn. last weekend, 211 young men saw a lifelong dream realized. And as far as Boston University rising-sophomore forward Matt Nieto is concerned, it was a long time coming.

“When I was really young, I made a little book for school, and it was a little hockey book with crayons,” Nieto said. “On the last page it said, ‘One day I’m going to play in the NHL,” and there was a picture of me in a NHL jersey.”

More than twelve years after making that book, he’s one big step closer: On June 25, Nieto was drafted in the second round and 47th overall by the San Jose Sharks.

Nieto prepared for those 12-plus years both on and off the ice – right through the night before his draft day. On the ice, Nieto most recently tallied 23 points (10 goals and 13 assists) in 39 games his freshman year for the Terriers.

Off the ice, Nieto has been doing everything from resting up – “The night before I tried to get a good night’s sleep knowing the next few days were going to be pretty long,” he said – to taking the time to pick out his all-important draft day suit.

“I already picked it out earlier in the summer,” Nieto said with a laugh. “I was trying to look good, so I picked out a nice shirt, nice shoes. I was trying to look a little unique, so I went with the baby blue shirt to add a little style to me.”

While the fact that he was drafted wasn’t quite surprising to even Nieto’s younger self, the team that took him was a shock.

“I had no idea they were going to take me,” Nieto said. “I met with them at the [NHL Scouting Combine], and that was about the only meeting I had with them. I was pretty surprised.”

Surprised or not, he’ll take it. The 6-foot, 180-pound Long Beach, Calif. native said he grew up rooting for the Los Angeles Kings, but he was happy to go to any of the NHL’s three California teams, likely because it means playing hockey in the Golden State for the first time since his early adolescence. Nieto chose to leave California when he was 14 years old to further his hockey career, playing his sophomore year of high school at the Salisbury School in Connecticut before joining the U.S. National Under-17 and -18 teams.

“I was happy going to any team, but just the fact that San Jose is in California makes it that much better,” Nieto said.

Nieto also kept his cool as he patiently waited for his name to be called. From Friday night into Saturday afternoon, 46 players’ names were called before Nieto’s, including childhood friend Rocco Grimaldi (33rd overall by the Florida Panthers) and BU teammate Adam Clendening (36th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks).

“I was just trying to have fun out there,” Nieto said. “I tried to keep an open mind because I know how unpredictable the draft can be, so I just tried having fun and soaking it all in.”

All the nervousness Nieto may have hidden beforehand revealed itself immediately after hearing his name called, but in a different form: pure excitement. Nieto was so eager during those first whirlwind moments after the Sharks selected him that he attempted to answer a question before the interviewee had a chance to ask one.

“It was just crazy. I remember I went downstairs to meet [the Sharks’ representatives] at the table, then I had an interview,” Nieto said, unable to recall specific details of the commotion.

In the hours after his selection, Nieto had an opportunity to catch up with Clendening, and the two reveled together in all their draft-day glory. Nieto said they were happy not only for each other, but also for the third Terrier to be drafted, rising-sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan, who was selected by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round (112th overall).

Nieto said he plans on attending the Sharks’ rookie camp on July 11, and lucky for him he already has an idea of what to expect: his BU teammate Charlie Coyle, San Jose’s 2010 first-round draft choice, has already given him the heads up. Coyle was traded to the Minnesota Wild during the first round of this year’s draft, but went through the same experience that Nieto will in two weeks.

“[Coyle] said it’s a tough camp. It’s pretty hard, and they keep you busy with on-the-ice and off-the-ice sessions, so it sounded pretty tough,” Nieto said.

After the post-draft madness, Nieto took the chance to spend some quality time with his parents, whom he had not seen for quite some time because he stayed in Boston to take classes for the first part of the summer. Now back in California, Nieto plans on reflecting on his personal milestone and taking it easy for most of the summer before revving up again come fall.

“I think just the whole weekend in general will be something I remember,” Nieto said. “It’s something that happens once in a lifetime, the draft, so it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Inside the 2011 NHL Draft with Adam Clendening

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

It was supposed to be one of the most exciting weekends of his life, but if anything, the 2011 NHL Draft started off a bit boring for Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defenseman was drafted in the second round (36th overall) on Saturday by the Chicago Blackhawks, but first he sat through a very long first round of the draft at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday.

“There was only one pick every fifteen minutes,” Clendening said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking as it got later because you think you might go, but my name didn’t get called.”

Clendening expected either his or teammate Matt Nieto’s name to be the first BU name called in the draft, but they were in for a surprise on Friday. Right before the 18th pick of the night, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that forward Charlie Coyle would be traded alongside Devin Setoguchi and a first-round 2011 draft pick to Minnesota in exchange for Brent Bruns and a second-round 2012 draft pick.

“We were all in shock,” Clendening said of hearing Coyle’s name first. “Me and Matt texted each other about it. I called Charlie to see if he had heard the news and stuff so I talked to him a little. He was pretty cool about it.”

The rest of the first round passed uneventfully for Clendening, who would have to wait one more night to hear his name called. Although Clendening had been a bit anxious Thursday night into Friday, the second day of the draft proved to be less nerve-wracking.

“You’re expecting to go as soon as you can, so on Thursday you’re thinking about the teams you have talked to and how your interviews have gone,” Clendening said. “Maybe they like you, maybe they don’t. Then on Friday you have to wait all the way until 7 o’clock just for the first round to get started. But on Saturday, you wake up and by the time you eat breakfast and put on your suit, the second round starts.”

Clendening did not have to wait long to hear his name called on Saturday morning. The Blackhawks picked Clendening with the sixth pick of the day. He was the first defenseman selected by Chicago, who seems to have more room at the blue line after trading veteran Brian Campbell to Florida on the first night of the draft.

“It was a blur,” Clendening said. “You put the jersey on, the hat on, and you meet all these people. You never really get a chance for it to sink in with all the stuff that is really rushed right after.”

After Clendening took the trademark picture on the podium with the Chicago brass, he was whisked away for interview, pictures, and autograph signings. He said he first learned that Nieto had been drafted (47th overall by the San Jose Sharks) when he was walking down a hallway and Nieto was coming the other way with a jersey and hat on. Clendening said the two yelled congrats to each other, but did not have time to reconcile until later.

Nieto was not the only BU representative in Minnesota. Coach Jack Parker also made the trip to the draft.

“It was the first time that he’s came in a really long time, so it meant a lot,” Clendening said. “He wasn’t even there when Colin Wilson was getting drafted and he went early in the first round. Just having the support there and knowing he was by your side, you weren’t by yourself.”

Clendening was also joined in Minnesota by his family, who kept him busy outside of the draft. They visited the Mall of America (“a little too much mall for me,” Clendening noted) and some of the shops and restaurants in the downtown area to keep his mind off the draft.

For Clendening, the best part of the weekend aside from getting picked was walking around in the jersey and hat and having people realize that he was an actual draft pick.

“People recognize you and they’re like, wow, you’re a part of the Hawks,” Clendening said. “I think that’s when it just kind of hits you there that you are part of an NHL team.”

Clendening plans to have a quiet rest of the summer before returning to BU in the fall. He said he will attend the Blackhawks development camp in about a week and will spend the rest of his time at home.

He’s working on becoming a more efficient skater so that he can take on a bigger role for the Terriers in the fall and will be able to handle more ice time. Clendening also said he is excited that he does not have to worry about getting drafted anymore.

“You always have that in the back of your mind, like oh, I’m going to get drafted, who’s here watching me tonight?” Clendening said. “The team still pops in once in a while, but it’s not like you’ll have 10 or 15 guys a night watching you play. I think just being able to be relaxed and go out there and play and not have anybody really focusing on you makes it a lot easier to go out and play not carefree, but with a more carefree attitude.”

But more than anything, Clendening said he is excited to get going again at BU after a disappointing finish last season.

“Hopefully we’ll do better this year,” Clendening said. “We got knocked out pretty early last year, so I think just to get started again would be nice.”

Coyle caught off guard by Wild trade

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

When Charlie Coyle sat down to watch the 2011 NHL draft, he expected it to be a relaxing evening. After all, Coyle had been drafted 28th overall by the San Jose Sharks the year before, and his only concern on this year’s draft night was sending the Sharks his flight itinerary for development camp, which was supposed to start on July 10. But somewhere near the 20th pick of the night, Coyle received a phone call.

“I literally had just sent the e-mail to them with my itinerary and they called me 15 seconds after I sent it,” Coyle said. “I was like what are you doing? Telling me to send it? I just sent it. And then they were like yeah, we’re trading you. We just wanted to let you know [NHL commissioner Gary Bettman] is going to announce it.”

The Sharks sent Coyle along with forward Devin Setoguchi and their first-round (28th overall) pick this year to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Brent Burns and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher noted in his press conference, “there is no way this deal gets done if Charlie Coyle’s not in it. We feel he’s one of the top power forwards in the game.”

Coyle is coming off a strong freshman season at BU, as he scored 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 37 games played and was named as the league’s Rookie of the Year.

Although Coyle’s post-college landscape now looks a little different, he does not expect the trade to change much about his immediate plans. Coyle said he will return to BU this season and will continue to work out this summer just as he had been before the trade. He has not had time to have a full conversation with Fletcher, but based on Fletcher’s press conference comments, the two appear to be on the same page.

“I’m not a big believer in pulling kids out of college,” Fletcher said. “It’s really up to the young man and his family to make that decision. We’ll certainly sit down and speak to him and we’ll speak to Jack Parker . . . the goal in trading him was not necessarily to get him in uniform right away.”

Coyle said his main focus at the moment is improving on his strength and speed. He has been working out since the end of BU’s season and is now back on the ice after taking two months off from skating.

Coyle also spent the spring following his teammates as they went through the draft process. Three Terriers – forward Matt Nieto and defensemen Adam Clendening and Garrett Noonan, were selected in this year’s draft.

Clendening, Coyle’s roommate, was at the draft on Friday waiting to hear his name called when Bettman announced the Sharks traded Coyle.

“Adam called me to say congrats on the trade or something like that,” Coyle said. “It was kind of a crazy moment. It was nice for him to call me and I got a chance to talk to him and give him a good luck too.”

Clendening was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday with the 36th overall pick and Nieto followed not long after when Coyle’s former team took him with their first pick of the draft (47th overall).

“It was pretty ironic,” Coyle said of the Sharks selecting Nieto. “It would have been fun to be a part of the Sharks with him and maybe go to camp with him. He’d know someone out there and it would be more comfortable for him probably, but that was pretty funny to see. Everything happens for a reason, so we’ll see how it goes.”

In addition to watching his teammates go through the draft this year, Coyle said watching the draft itself was different for him now that he been through the process.

“Even before my year, I remember watching the draft and it was just crazy because I knew I could be in that position,” Coyle said. “It was a cool experience for me, and then just watching it and relaxing, having gone through it . . . you sit back and watch and don’t have to worry about anything. Then I was traded.”

Cronin leaves NU for Maple Leafs

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced this afternoon that they have hired Northeastern University coach Greg Cronin as an assistant coach, ending Cronin’s six-year tenure at NU. The Boston Herald first reported the move this morning.

“Coaching in a city like Toronto, which is just dripping with hockey, I thought is a wonderful opportunity,” Cronin said during the Leafs’ press conference. “The timing of this opportunity is just perfect for me, and I’m thrilled to be here in Toronto.”

Cronin’s departure comes just four months after NU handed down a six-game suspension for recruiting violations.

This will be Cronin’s first position in professional hockey since serving as the head coach of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate, from 2003-05.

Cronin finishes his time at NU with an 84-104-29 record, highlighted by a 2008-09 campaign that saw the team tie a program record for wins in a season (25) and make it’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.

According to an official statement from NU, assistant coach Sebastien Laplante, who coached the team to a 2-2-2 record during Cronin’s suspension, will serve as the interim head coach.

The full statement from NU: https://www.gonu.com/news/2011/6/20/MHOCKEY_0620111451.aspx

Poulin stays busy after Frozen Four appearance

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

The Boston University women’s hockey team has not played a game since losing in the Frozen Four final to Wisconsin at the end of March, but freshman phenom Marie-Philip Poulin has been plenty busy. In the last three months, the Hockey East Rookie of the Year earned a silver medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s Championships and visited Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

In April, the rising sophomore joined fellow Terrier defensemen Catherine Ward and Tara Watchorn as well as forward Jenn Wakefield in Switzerland as a member of the Canadian National Team for the IIHF World Championships. Poulin previously played for Team Canada in the World Championships in 2009 and won gold in 2010 with the Canadian Olympic team. Poulin scored both Canadian goals in the gold-medal Olympic game, helping the Canadians top Team USA, 2-0. The Canadians earned a silver-medal finish in this year’s World Championships, and Poulin led the BU quartet in scoring with three goals and an assist through five games.

About a month after the World Championships, Poulin traveled to Greece with Jayna Hefford, a three-time gold medalist who played alongside Poulin in the Vancouver Olympics and TSN broadcaster Gord Miller.

During their time in Athens, the trio met up with Calgary Flames captain and two-time Olympic gold medalist Jarome Iginla to take pictures at the original Olympic Stadium. While there, the group spent time with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who asked the group to join him on a brief trip to visit Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“It’s got to be unbelievably exciting for her to be requested by the Prime Minister and the government to have her join on a trip over there,” BU coach Brian Durocher said. “I think any time that you can be brought back to the realization that there are great people that are fighting for our freedom and fighting for our country, I think you’re honored to go and assist and bring some cheer and bring some goodwill.”

So began a spontaneous trip that started with the group flying to Qatar and then transferring on to a military transport to Kandahar. During their visit, the group toured the boardwalk and hockey rink, attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Task Force Kandahar Headquarters and enjoyed a barbeque with the troops where the hockey stars posed for pictures and signed autographs.

Within seven hours the group was on their way back to Canada.

In her first season with the Terriers, Poulin had 47 points in 28 games. The freshman was second on the team in goals with 24 despite missing several games due to a fractured hand. Poulin also scored the only goal in BU’s 4-1 loss to Wisconsin during the Frozen Four championship game. Her first-year success garnered her recognition as a New England Division I All-Star, a designation which is decided by the New England Hockey Writers Association.

“I think everybody in our program knows how committed and hard working she is, on the ice and in her training,” Durocher said. “She has done a fantastic job here school wise. We certainly tip our cap to her as a student athlete and again anytime you have very good people and successful people in your program that shed a great light on it, it’s awful nice. It’s certainly something that we’re very proud of.”

Due to Poulin’s hectic schedule, she was not available for comment. To see a photo gallery of Poulin playing ball hockey with Canadian troops, follow this link.

Former Terrier Andrew Glass to continue hockey career at Canadian college

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Former Terrier Andrew Glass will begin the next chapter of his hockey career by joining the Carleton University Ravens next season.

Glass played in 54 games in his Terrier career and totaled 10 points before he was dismissed from the team in the middle of the 2010-11 season for “missing meetings and being late”, according to head coach Jack Parker.

Glass finished his junior year at BU and will complete the classes for his economics degree at Carleton University, which is located in Ottawa, Ontario. He will still receive his degree from BU, however, through a visiting student program.

“It’s a fresh start,” Glass said. “It’s a place where I can start over and get away from all of this, move on and just start pursuing a future with hockey and academics somewhere else.”

Glass chose to pursue Canadian collegiate hockey because of eligibility issues. If Glass transferred to an American college, he would have to sit out for a full season before becoming eligible to play. At Carleton, Glass will have two seasons of eligibility, although he is currently taking it year-by-year. Glass first heard of Carleton through his mother, who is from Canada and briefly attended the university.

“We started looking at what was available and what were some good options and Carleton looked like a good fit,” Glass said. “The coach there was a real good guy and my mother actually went there. It just made sense.”

For Glass, transferring to Carleton will finally allow him to put what has been a difficult year behind him. After his dismissal from the team, Glass remained at BU and continued to live with players from the hockey team while he finished the school year. He did not attend any men’s hockey games during the second half of the year. Glass stayed in shape while at BU by working out twice a week with a trainer.

“Obviously [second semester] was much different,” Glass said. “Clearly it was a change of pace. My routine through the past few years over the summer and before I came to BU pretty much was class during the day, hockey at night, workouts in the morning, the basic routine. It was a big change of pace and it was a lot different.”

The Wrentham native is currently taking a full load of summer courses at BU while working out four times a week with a trainer near his home. He said he is excited about his future and is ready to move on from BU.

“It’s something where I love the guys on the team for the most part, but the whole situation, it is what it is,” Glass said. “There’s no turning back now. It basically comes down to the fact that either way, I was going to have to change things up eventually. I have family and friends who have supported me throughout the whole process and that was very important. It was definitely a learning experience and I am trying to do the best I can with it.”

Glass’s decision was first reported on Twitter by Scott McLaughlin of the College Hockey News.