Wednesday, February 29th - Sunday, March 4th
Another trip to one of our favorite cities, Boston! This trip's primary reason was so that Jill could attend the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, enroute to finishing her Masters degree in Sports Management. A byproduct? Three days in Beantown, and lots of sports going on!
My fear that the weather would hamper our travel plans, we headed out in the evening on Wednesday, driving as far as Albany. Found a Red Roof Inn on Wolf Road to stay at, and had a late dinner at Recovery Sports Grill. Perfectly good eats for a late night bite.
Woke up Thursday morning and found that in fact it had snowed, but thankfully the highway's were clear. Grabbed a couple of yogurts at a grocery store near the hotel, and made our way across the Mass Pike. We arrived in Boston, at Northeastern University, around 11:30. Jill got her student ID, and we bought some stuff at the university store. From there, found a Best Buy (in search of a keyboard for her iPad), which proved a waste, and from there went to a mall in Cambridge where we found an Apple store (and the keyboard) as well as a couple of other stores we wanted to find.
With a little time to kill, we made our way to east Boston. Here, our intent was to have an early dinner at 'Rino's Place', a locale we had previously seen on 'Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives'. Unfortunately, it was all of about 2:15 at this point, and they didn't start serving from the dinner menu until 4:00. To waste a bit more time, we found Kelley's Square Pub where we had a couple of pints, some fresh popcorn shrimp, and a homemade bowl of New England clam chowder - just a light snack before our dinner! Having exhausted our dining and beer options at Kelley's (and wanting to be closer to Rino's when 4:00 hit), we made our way back over 'there', found a parking place, and hit up the little bar across the street - Prima E Dopo! Rino opened up this little place to have somewhere for those waiting for a table could have a pre-dinner drink. We had a few, and a great conversation with the bartender (who played hockey for HVCC, and remembered playing at BCC!). At 4:00 sharp we headed over to Rino's Place. Ever since the first moment we saw this restaurant on Triple D we had wanted to go there. In previous trips to Boston we were a bit gun shy to try and get in here because the place is famous for a two hour plus wait, and in the past we didn't have that much time to wait around. Today's schedule gave us more latitude to do so, plus at 4:00 there were lots of tables to be had (but the place was full by the time we left). Two specials were featured on the show, and we each had one of them - Jill had the lobster ravioli, and I had the 'Rinos Special'. Both were very tasty, and compared to the Italian food we've had in Boston in the past, much better than elsewhere. That being said, it didn't knock our socks off, more than likely a result of all of the great Italian restaurants we have in Binghamton.
After dinner, we made our way to the Courtyard by Marriott - Copley Square, where we would be staying while in Boston. This was our second time staying at this hotel, and it has fast become our favorite. Well positioned in the middle of everything it seems.
On Friday morning, we were up and out early - I walked Jill to her conference and then was off on my own to explore Boston. After a quick stop back at the hotel, I walked to Fenway to tour that classic old ballpark. From there, walking back to the hotel, I made it halfway before stopping at McGreevy's for a couple of pints and lunch (bangers and mash!). The afternoon I hung out and warmed up, and then went and met Jill after her conference.
Friday night was our first trip to the TD Garden to see the Boston Celtics play the New Jersey Nets. A nice enough facility, not a lot of bells and whistles, just a place to go and watch a game which is fine by us! Back to the hotel after the game.
Saturday, Jill was back to the conference again, and I was off to the TD Garden...again. This time, it was for the Boston Bruins versus New York Islanders game. Garden was the same as the night before, except the tickets were more than double what I paid for the Celtics game - more than likely a result of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup the year before.
Saturday night, another opportunity for a sporting event! This time, Jill and I headed to her school, Northeastern University, to watch the Huskies play their in town rivals the Boston University Terriers. The game was at historic and storied Matthews Arena, probably our favorite venue of the two we were at this weekend! Northeastern took BU to overtime, and won the game much to the delight of the 'OT, No T' crowd! After the game, we took the "T" back to the hotel, and grabbed a late night bite to eat at (a very loud) Solas Irish Pub. Back to the hotel afterwards for a good nights sleep.
Sunday rolled around, and it was race day for us! Jill found a great 4-Miler in Lawrence, Mass. It was held at the Claddagh Pub, had a great tech shirt, medal at the finish, and a free beer! All that, and a large Irish pub with a band as well - we had a great time, and wished we lived closer so we could complete the three race series! After hanging at the Claddagh Pub for a bit, we headed out of Lawrence, driving as far as Lowell for a solid meal. Garcia Brogan's is an Irish/Mexican Cantina, Pub, and Restaurant, and just because of its unique nature we couldn't pass up seeing it! Food was good, beer was as well. After dinner, we hopped in the car and headed back to Binghamton, arriving home around 9:00 or so on Sunday night.
Boston Celtics 107, New Jersey Nets 94
BOSTON (AP) The Boston Celtics found their way to the right side of a rout for the first time in more than a month.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo both had double-doubles and Paul Pierce came close to joining them as the Celtics beat the New Jersey Nets 107-94 on Friday night. "We're athletic all of a sudden," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "The defense is good. We're rebounding and we're running. And that's good."
Garnett had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Rondo finished with 14 points and 13 assists, and Pierce added eight assists to go with his team-high 27 points as the Celtics won by more than 10 for the first time since beating Toronto 100-64 on Feb. 1.
Boston had been on the wrong end of several blowouts since, including three in a row during a five-game slide into the All-Star break. The Celtics have returned with three straight wins and the latest was hardly ever in doubt. The Celtics held a 26-point lead in the second half before New Jersey's reserves got the score slightly closer to respectable in the fourth quarter.
By then Pierce, Rondo and Garnett, who had his second straight double-double and third in four games, were enjoying a nice, relaxing view from the bench.
"We were mentally kind of worn down going into the break those last couple of weeks. Playing so many games and having so many inconsistencies," Pierce said.
"It just gave us a chance to go into the break, refresh ourselves, and come back with a positive outlook on the second half. And it's showing out there on the court."
The Celtics were playing without Ray Allen, who was sick Friday night, but still controlled nearly the entire game and had five players score in double figures. Boston also had assists on 35 of its 45 field goals and topped 100 points for the third time in four games.
Boston also shut down All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who scored 10 points in the first quarter and just two the rest of the way. Williams also had eight assists, but could never get New Jersey's offense in synch.
New Jersey is still trying to recover from an eight-game losing streak last month. The Nets had gone 3-2 since the skid, including a 93-92 road win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, but slipped back to their old form on Friday night.
"We've had a history of having a really good win and then following it up with a very bad loss," Williams said. "We're very inconsistent as a team right now." Brook Lopez had 28 points and MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green scored 11 apiece for New Jersey.
The Celtics shot 50 percent in the first half, taking a 58-40 lead into the break after committing just two turnovers. Boston controlled the lane, outscoring New Jersey 32-18 inside and running for 14 fast-break points while holding the Nets to none.
"This is a veteran team," New Jersey coach Avery Johnson said. "Garnett looked like he was 21-years-old tonight."
Mickael Pietrus scored 11 and reserve Chris Wilcox had 14 points and seven rebounds while playing 27 minutes, 41 seconds - the longest night for any Boston player. Most of his teammates were enjoying a rest at the end after shutting down a brief rally by the Nets.
The Nets continued to unravel in the third quarter, as Garnett scored eight early in the period, then Pierce converted a three-point play to put the Celtics up 73-49 with 6:27 left in the period. New Jersey was playing a man down because Lopez was still at the other end complaining his shot that was blocked by Brandon Bass should have been called goaltending.
There was no whistle and Rondo found Pierce under the basket for an easy layup as DeShawn Stevenson committed the foul.
The Celtics' lead grew to 26 before the Nets rallied to make it a little interesting near the end of the third with a 15-4 run. Green scored on three straight dunks, including a towering alley-oop from Brooks, during the surge, but the Nets still couldn't get closer than 14.
Garnett opened the fourth with a long jumper for the Celtics, who didn't allow the Nets to threaten again.
After the game, Rivers repeated an earlier comment he made about not expecting any big moves before the trade deadline - despite the near-constant chatter that Rondo doesn't get along with the coach and is the player most likely to leave Boston in a deal.
"I think there'll be a lot of talk about something happening and I just hope we have the strength to block it out," Rivers said.
Notes: Pierce missed the final minutes of the second quarter, heading to the locker room to be treated for cramps. He was back on the floor for the start of the third quarter. ... The Nets committed 20 turnovers while losing their fourth straight in Boston. ... Lopez scored eight of his 28 points from the foul line, where he went 8-for-10.
New York Islanders 3, Boston Bruins 2
BOSTON (AP) - Struggling on the road and playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano knew what most were likely thinking before this late-season matchup.
"If you look at the standings, a lot of people were probably not giving us a chance," Capuano said after the Islanders beat the Bruins 3-2 on Saturday to snap a five-game, road-losing streak.
John Tavares tipped in Matt Moulson's shot for the late tiebreaking goal, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 32 shots as New York, 0-4-1 in its previous five away games, completed a 1-2-1 trip.
"It's always nice to come home and sleep in your own bed after a win," Moulson said.
Josh Bailey and Moulson also had goals for the Islanders, who won for the second time in six games.
New York (27-29-9), which entered with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, had dropped the previous two meetings - both in November - to the Bruins. They lost 6-2 in Boston and 6-0 at home.
But Nabokov bounced back from allowing five goals on 29 shots in a 6-3 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday with a strong outing.
"It all started in the back with Nabby," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said.
Tyler Seguin tied the game for Boston with his 22nd goal early in the third period. Milan Lucic also scored his 22nd, converting on a first-period power play.
The Bruins have dropped five of eight and hold a three-point lead over Ottawa atop the Northeast Division. Boston has played three fewer games.
Tim Thomas took the loss in relief of injured starter Tuukka Rask, who left the game with an undisclosed injury midway through the second period. Thomas stopped 11 of 13 shots after Rask gave up one goal on 12 shots.
Rask got hurt when he kicked out his left pad to try to stop a shot that went wide. He dropped to the ice in pain and was helped off by two players holding his arms as he skated off the ice. Thomas was already expected to start Sunday when the Bruins visit the New York Rangers.
Boston coach Claude Julien said Rask wouldn't make the trip, but elaborated little on the injury.
"It is what it is," he said. "You want to be able to use two goaltenders in this stretch, but it's not what it is."
The Bruins will play nine games in the next 16 days.
"It's obviously not great when you see him not able to get up after making an effort to make a save," Lucic said. "He's been a big part of our team this year."
After the game, the Bruins recalled goalie Michael Hutchinson and forward Lane MacDermid from Providence of the AHL.
The Islanders will play their next three games against New Jersey, beginning Sunday at home.
New York grabbed the late lead when Moulson fired a shot from the top of the right circle that was tipped by Tavares. The puck dipped and slid between Thomas' pads with 4:39 left.
The Bruins pulled Thomas for an extra skater with 1:20 to play, and Lucic had a good chance on a rebound during a scramble in the closing seconds.
"It sure looked like the bounces were definitely not on our side today," Lucic said. "For myself, it was a quick reaction. He got his paddle down, and I wasn't able to beat him."
Boston was held to two goals or fewer in eight of 13 games in February and was shut out five times. The Bruins rebounded with a 4-3 overtime win over New Jersey on Thursday - the first day of March - but were shut down again by the Islanders until Seguin tied the game at 2 at 7:29 of the third.
The Bruins had taken a 1-0 lead on Lucic's power-play goal 15:10 into the game before New York tied it on Bailey's score 2:26 later. Bailey got the rebound of Frans Nielsen's backhander and tucked the puck past Rask's right pad for his fourth goal in three games.
The Islanders made it 2-1 on Moulson's power-play goal against Thomas with 4:25 left in the second. Moulson, positioned at the top of the crease, netted his team-leading 28th when he slid a shot under Thomas just 28 seconds after defenseman Adam McQuaid was whistled for tripping.
Lucic scored when he lifted a shot over Nabokov from just outside the crease. Brian Rolston, acquired from the Islanders at the NHL trade deadline on Monday, set up the goal with a soft pass.
NOTES: Boston D Andrew Ference didn't play because of an undisclosed lower body injury sustained Thursday against New Jersey. D Johnny Boychuk returned after missing two games with a concussion. ... Bruins D Mike Mottau, acquired from the Islanders on Monday, was a healthy scratch. ... New York had given up 14 goals in its previous three games, all losses.
Northeastern Huskies 5, Boston University Terriers 4
Junior Vinny Saponari provided the overtime heroics for the second time to cap the Huskies' 2011-12 season in uplifting fashion by defeating No. 4 Boston University in overtime, 5-4, on Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Saponari found the back of the net off of sophomore Luke Eibler's rebound 2:35 into overtime to force the Terriers to take the No. 3 seed in the 2012 Hockey East Tournament.
Four Huskies posted multi-point performances in the thrilling victory, including juniors Garrett Vermeersch, Alex Tuckerman, Steve Quailer and sophomore Braden Pimm. Pimm, Tuckerman and Vermeersch joined junior Drew Ellement as the goal scorers in regulation.
Northeastern's season finale yielded a total of 54 combined penalty minutes as each club went 1-for-7 on the power play.
Sophomore goaltender Clay Witt earned his first victory of the season in his third start of 2011-12 by stopping 36-of-40 shots, matching a season from the Harvard contest in the Beanpot (Feb. 13). BU's Grant Rollheiser was dealt his first loss of the season in his fourth start.
The special teams' units were put to were from the get-go when Boston University gained a 48-second 4-on-3 advantage at 2:15 after junior Vinny Saponari was sat down for a hooking call. Witt withstood the BU barrage and kept the Terriers off the board during the man-advantage.
BU's defense was sturdy in the beginning, keeping Northeastern's shot total at a dull roar until junior Drew Ellement registered the first shot at 5:04 of the first period. The Huskies kept it in the zone, forced a faceoff in front of Rollheiser and Pimm drew first blood on a tip at 6:15.
Pimm won the draw out to Quailer in between the circles and quickly kicked it up to sophomore Anthony Bitetto on the blue line. Bitetto blasted it towards Rollheiser and Pimm was waiting on the near post to redirect the puck over Rollheiser's mitt for the 1-0 lead.
The Huskies could not convert on power play opportunities and Sean Escobedo knotted it up, 1-1, on a wrister from the left side at 18:39. Chris Connolly took in a feed from Matt Nieto and Escobedo put it by Witt on the give-and-go play.
Thirty-five seconds into the second stanza, Connolly duped Witt on a tip-on similar to Pimm's tally for the 2-1 lead. Adam Clendening provided Connolly with a dish from the blue line to generated the scoring play at 00:35.
Northeastern wasted no time cinching it back up off another successful faceoff play at 2:16. Pimm won the draw in the low zone to Rollheiser's left and pushed the puck up ahead where Tuckerman got good lumber on it and swept it through Rollheiser's pads to make it 2-2.
Ellement recouped the lead for the Huskies on a long-range wrister from beyond the blue at 3:43. Quailer dumped the puck into the near corner and Tuckerman fended off his man to connect up top with Ellement on the pass. Ellement corralled it, skated across the zone and tossed it past Rollheiser to make it 3-2.
At 4:11, Bitetto was whistled for boarding and it proved costly as Garrett Noonan roofed the equalizer at 6:02. Connolly accepted the disc from Alexx Privitera and sent the cross-ice feed to Noonan for the one-timer on the near post lock it at 3-3.
Northeastern gained a 5-on-3 opportunity for 1:13 after Privitera and Ryan Ruikka went off, respectively, at 9:29 (slashing) and 10:16 (holding) of the second frame. The Huskies were stopped up, but on their next power play chance, Vermeersch went bar down to push ahead once again.
Casey Hohmann was assessed for tripping at 16:20 and Vermeersch capitalized with an absolute sniper from between the circles at 18:06. Junior Drew Daniels carted the puck around the near corner and released up to Vermeersch to trigger the power play marker.
Boston University struck early in the third to force the fourth tie of the contest at the 3:14 mark. Patrick MacGregor initiated the play behind Rollheiser and shoved the puck out to Connolly at the half boards. Connolly raced through the neutral zone with Noonan flanking to his left. Connolly connected with Noonan in stride to beat Witt with a hard snap shot to sew it up, 4-4.
The Huskies penalty-killing unit staved off a huge 5-on-3 for the Terriers starting at 11:17 of the third stanza. D. Daniels took a hold at 10:04 and Ellement followed him into the box at 11:17 for obstruction interference. Witt deflected rubber from all angles and Pimm nearly benefitted from a botched puck behind BU's net, but after wheeling around, Escobedo sprawled out to deny the open net.
After killing off the two-man advantage, the Huskies gained the extra man when Alex Chiasson was hauled away from a trip at 13:38. NU could not break through and eventually, Boston University picked up 1:11 of 5-on-3 after junior Steve Morra (17:27 – boarding) and sophomore Luke Eibler (18:16 – high-sticking) went to the bin.
Witt made one big save on the doorstop and NU's penalty killers did a steady job of minimizing any other grade-A chances to close the two-man advantage on the Terriers. BU could not end the game in regulation on the power play and as the Huskies forced the extra session.
Two minutes into overtime, Northeastern sustained heavy pressure and Saponari ended the game off of Eibler's rebound at 2:35 to cap the season with a 5-4 overtime victory. Vermeersch won a battle on his own blue line and chopped it over to Eibler. Eibler triggered on Rollheiser and the puck jutted back out to Saponari on the near post. Saponari backhanded it to the back of the net for the walk-off marker.
Northeastern finishes its season with an overall mark of 13-16-5 and a Hockey East record of 9-14-4. The Huskies tied for eighth place in the league with Massachusetts, but by virtue of the third tiebreaker (wins over the first-place team: Boston College), the Minutemen move on to the Hockey East Tournament.
We stayed at the Red Roof Inn, 188 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12205; our room rate was $74.99, for a total of $85.49.
Our seats for the Celtics game were in Section 319, Row 10, Seats 1-2
My seat for the Bruins game was Section BL328, Row 6, Seat 9