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Game 7 was nice, but James van Riemsdyk’s first impression of the Garden was a bad one

Posted By DJ Bean On December 11, 2010 @ 2:49 pm In General | 1 Comment

Don’t get James van Riemsdyk wrong: he was plenty happy with the results the last time he was at the Garden, but that doesn’t mean the place has always been good to him.

Prior to Philadelphia’s morning skate on Saturday, van Riemsdyk’s most recent experience on the Garden ice was celebrating the Flyers’ 4-3 comeback victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, something he called a “surreal” experience. The 21-year-old scored perhaps the biggest goal of his career when he put the Flyers on the board in the first period with his team trailing, 3-0.

In the regular season last year, his rookie campaign, van Riemdsyk scored a goal in his two games in Boston. So what gives for the former second overall pick? His stats have been fine when playing in Boston and he won one of the biggest games he’ll likely ever play in there.

The bad memory for JvR dates back to college, when he was playing under coach Dick Umile at the University of New Hampshire.

“I know that in college, we played one game in this building and it wasn’t very nice to us,” van Riemsdyk said Saturday.

For van Riemsdyk, whose brother, Trevor, will play defense at UNH in the fall, it was certainly a memorable one. Unlike in last season’s playoffs, van Riemsdyk found himself on the wrong end of a three-goal comeback. With a trip to the Hockey East championship at stake, UNH jumped out to a 4-1 lead before relinquishing it in the third period and falling, 5-4, to Boston College [1] in triple overtime.

The game was one of the more dramatic college hockey contests in recent memory. Eagles forward Matt Greene appeared to win it for BC in overtime when Wildcats netminder Kevin Regan skated out to play a puck and had his mask knocked off in colliding with Benn Ferriero, leaving him well out of his net to set up the easy goal. Yet after an irate protest from Regan and a video review, the play was ruled no goal, as his mask was off seconds before Greene put the puck in.

Ferriero ended it for good in the third overtime when his shot from the point tipped off UNH defenseman Craig Switzer and in. It was the longest semi-final game in Hockey East history.

Of course, he was singing a different tune after Game 7 last year. After Milan Lucic [2] scored his second goal of the night to make it 3-0, van Riemsdyk recalls the Flyers’ attitude as being pretty atypical of what one might expect given the situation.

“It was kind of a weird thing, because usually you would think that everyone would be panicked and saying, ‘Oh no,’ but everyone was pretty calm. We knew that when we played our game, we were tough to play against, so we just regrouped,” van Riemsdyk said. “Coach [Peter Laviolette [3]] called a timeout, we regrouped, and started playing the game we knew how to play.”

What the team went on to do was something few thought possible. Though he was new to the league, van Riemsdyk could see that.

“That was a lot of fun for us, I’m sure not so much for them,” he said of the game. “We never quit, we gave ourselves a chance every night, and it’s just incredible to think about it.”

Things haven’t been stellar for the New Jersey native this season. After getting off to a disappointing start of four points — all assists — in his first 13 games, van Riemsdyk was benched for four games. Since returning to the lineup, he’s had seven points (4 G, 3 A) in 13 contests


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[1] Boston College: http://media.weei.com/ncaa/boston-college-eagles.htm

[2] Milan Lucic: http://media.weei.com/hockey/milan-lucic.htm

[3] Peter Laviolette: http://media.weei.com/hockey/peter-laviolette.htm

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