Saturday, October 27, 2007

Men's Hockey 3, UMass-Amherst 1

To commence Weekend No. 3 of their season, the Providence College Friars reran the Friday Night First Period Jumpstart Act, laying it out for the first time before their home fans and even augmenting the output, save for the scoreboard.

Yet again, the momentum scale went on to creek smoothly and consistently the opposition’s way, allowing the nightlong suffocated Massachusetts Minutemen to renew their hopes by the third period. But what had worked most soundly for St. Lawrence two weeks back in a 4-1 Friar falter, and exhilaratingly for Northeastern in a 3-2 overtime final, did not come to full pass this time.
Instead, the cliché about a third whirl around that needs no introduction came true for the Friars, who pulled through 3-1 before 1,918 at Schneider Arena in Part I of a home-and-home tilt with the Minutemen.
By all counts, the opening twenty minutes was the most lopsided frame to tilt PC’s way as they dispensed fifteen shots compared to UMass’ three, eight of those bids spacing out over four power plays. Minutemen freshman Paul Dainton’s dynamics that ultimately earned his second star of the game honors were good enough to withstand fourteen of those stabs, but the illicit habits of his peers tripped him up early.
Two and a half minutes after the opening draw, at which point the Friars led the shooting gallery 2-1, Scott Crowder went to the bin for elbowing. On their first man advantage, Providence meticulously cycled the puck for about a minute before the Men finally tipped it out of their end.
But on a quick return trip, forward Greg Collins hung back in the slot slowly creeping towards Dainton whilst waiting out his associates in a scrum at the far hash marks. Jon Rheault emerged and forwarded it to Collins, who proceeded to spoon a backhander upstairs for the icebreaker.
PC ran the shot clock after that, with the aid of three more power plays, including a five-minute, three-stab spree with Minuteman Alex Berry’s head check to Mark Fayne. And they would carry the gush, though tone it down a grade, into the middle frame, outshooting their adversaries 11-8.
Amherst exponentially thawed out over that span, cleaning up their play whilst taking their first two power plays on the game, though they registered no shots on those. It didn’t hurt them, either, to have a play called back after one of the Friars’ last major blizzards of the game around the halfway mark. Post-whistle suspicion that one shot may have reached home compelled referee Dave Hansen to consult video replay before confirming it no goal.
That notwithstanding, in the other crease, junior goaltender Chris Mannix counteracted everything in his first forty minutes of action this season, including a dying seconds sugar rush that spotted two shots against and an obstructive, too-close-for-comfort mirage of bodies nearly ramming him into his net.
Providence temporarily rekindled its touch to simultaneously attain two milestones at 0:25 of the final period, those being their first multi-goal lead of the season and their first even strength connection out of their last six. Near point patroller Trevor Ludwig froze the disc and looped it along the walls to Pierce Norton, who strolled behind the net for a hand-off to Nick Mazzolini, who was coasting in the opposite direction. Mazzolini thrust the puck out in front for a wizardly Kyle Laughlin –who was credited with an assist on Collins’ tally- to sneak through the legs of Dainton.
It was right then and there that the Minutemen woke up for real. The PA announcer was nowhere near through disclosing the niceties of the Friars’ insurance goal when Jordan Virtue lured Mannix to a distorted sprawling position and set up Matt Burto to flick one in at 0:41.
Nine minutes later, in the midst of another man advantage and after his club had piled up four unanswered tries, Chris Davis thought he had poked an equalizer through Mannix’s skates from behind the cage. Obscured sight, however, sent Hansen back to the phones, and after a particularly prolonged conference with the video judge and ice level judge, his ruling melted the Mass perk-up.
With 2:09 remaining, Providence, working its first power play since the opening frame, restored the two-goal edge for good. Monitoring their own chosen post, wingers John Cavanagh and Mazzolini each took their stabs before Cavanagh, at the left side, left it up to John Mori in the slot. Barely keeping his blades in order as he collected the shipment –it had, after all, been a shaky stretch drive to the evening- Mori nailed a low flyer to the left of Dainton.

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Holy Cross 6, Men's Hockey 4

Down on his iced knees, the cage dislodged, and his head tilted downward, Providence defenseman Mark Fayne was doing all that was logically imaginable to acknowledge his final fate and that of his associates.
Right at the final buzzer of the Friars’ hosting of Holy Cross, Fayne lost a footrace with Peter Lorinser, who poked the puck into the vacated cage to solidify a 6-4 Crusader triumph in an earthquake of a season opening game at Schneider Arena.
In most every way, the forces of nature appeared present and at their stormiest, especially by contrast to PC’s first three road tilts, in which a fair number of allotted slots throughout the scoresheet had been left free of ink. This time around, an offense that previously did not seem to have its net-whacking code nearly as well memorized as their dorm room codes exploded for four second period goals.
But once again, there was a flipside for the still winless Friars. Holy Cross, despite thrice allowing PC to pull a knot during that middle frame, was able to keep their pace after sculpting a 2-0 lead within the first five minutes of action thanks to a checking from behind major to Ben Farrer.
Before Farrer was whistled, the Friars’ incentive to unhesitatingly get on task was there, whether or not they took the time to read their invitation when Crusader Marty Dams went off for cross-checking at the 0:38 mark.
A predictable representation of the bound up PC gun rack, their power play, suddenly lashed out four shots on their first opportunity and constantly thrust their bodies on the penalty killers in their clearing attempts. But seconds after Dams’ release, Farrer was caught going too far in his effort to keep the Friar attack flowing.
Turning to the back page of their special teams leaflet, the Friars were pucky dory until Trevor Ludwig joined Farrer in the cell at 4:07. Within another fifteen ticks, Holy Cross broke the ice as Ryan Driscoll, perched at the back door, snuck home left pointman Rob Forschner’s rebound.
And, with the five-minute all-you-can-score buffet still valid, Driscoll struck again thirty-two seconds later, this time squirting out of a right corner scrum, catching up to the fugitive disc, and tipping it through a kneeling netminder Tyler Sims.
The elements generally neutralized both ways from that point until intermission, but it didn’t accurately presage the subsequent forty minutes. PC started to break loose in the shooting gallery, which was 10-apeice through the opening frame, and the top power play unit finally proved to rinse off a little rust when given the chance to start the second.
At 2:53, Eric Baier, holding the puck at the far outer hash marks, forwarded it to fellow blueliner Matt Taormina on the center point. Taormina’s straightaway low rider had a brush with Kyle Laughlin’s stick before it went in for the beaconing junior’s second goal in as many games.
It was but two and a half more minutes before the same unit pulled the Friars even. Baier was in the same position as before to accept Greg Collins’ feed and promptly wrist it into the upper right shelf.
That prodded the Crusaders well enough for them to restore their edge on the game’s first even strength conversion at 7:34. After Sims booted away his initial shot, Forschner stayed his course, vacuumed the rebound whilst looping around the walls and handed things over to Brodie Sheahan. Sheahan likewise shipped the puck to Dewey Thomson back in the slot and he nailed it to the left of Sims.
The Friars starting line countered that on another man advantage four minutes later. John Mori was behind the cage to collect his team’s umpteenth wide attempt on the night and nudged it in front to Laughlin by the near post. Laughlin ultimately set up Jon Rheault, who also shanked on a grand three shorthanded breaks, to tip home another equalizer.
But in less than another minute, the equally persistent Crusaders caught Sims on a smooth rush, Lorisner carrying a feed from Matt Werry in from the neutral zone and zipping it top shelf from the far alley.
Long before that point, it was apparent that the toughest task for anyone between the boards was to settle a play. That didn’t stop Holy Cross from trying to lay down a breakout within the final five minutes, nor did it stop PC’s Pierce Norton from pouncing when it broke down. Norton couldn’t finish his spontaneous one-on-one encounter with a jammed goaltender Ian Dams, but a trailing Laughlin was there to roof it, sending things into the closing frame four-all.
The roles that allowed PC to hit the board to start the second period reversed at the same point of the third to give the Crusaders the ultimate game winner. Captain Matt Burke lateralled the puck to right point patroller Mark Znutas, whose rocket was tipped in by Dale Reinhardt.

Sims faced but two more shots afterward, but his skaters could not chip the Crusaders’ defense shield despite near endless possession in the last seventeen minutes.

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press