Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 18

1994: A 2-for-5 night on the power play gives the host P-Bruins 14 consecutive games with at least one man-up strike and a 5-2 win over the Adirondack Red Wings, which grants the defending Northern Division champions a supra.-500 record for the first time all season. Defenseman Darren Stolk pilots the offensive cause with two assists and the game-winning goal.

2000: The P-Bruins blow a 4-2 lead late in the third period, but end their four-game pointless streak by tying the Saint John Flames, 4-4, at Harbour Station.

2011: The P-Bruins snap a seven-game losing streak by edging the Portland Pirates in a shootout at The Dunk. Michael Hutchinson stops 47 shots, including six in the five-minute overtime, plus four in the one-on-ones.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 17

1993: Tim Sweeney tallies a hat trick within the first period as the P-Bruins pace themselves to 9-4 home win over the Baltimore Skipjacks.

1995: New Bedford resident Donna Abaray becomes the one-millionth spectator to enter the Civic Center for a P-Bruins game. She is rewarded with a prize pack and a 3-2 P-Bruins victory over Portland.

2000: Two power-play goals by Cameron Mann and a 40-save shutout by Kay Whitmore highlight a 4-0 road win over the Saint John Flames.

2008: After Providence blows a 3-1 lead in regulation, Aaron Slattengren sets up Matt Hendricks for an overtime goal that beats the Lowell Devils, 4-3, at The Dunk.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top 12 Highlights in PC Women’s Hockey Class of 2012’s Careers

The Providence College women’s hockey team will conduct its annual Senior Night on Friday with no assurance of bonus home ice for its seven seniors, one of the most touted and still one of the most unfulfilled bunches in the Bob Deraney era.

Still lacking a Hockey East pennant and concomitant bid to the NCAA tournament, next weekend will begin the class of 2012’s last call for a delectable topping on their college careers. But even if they whiff on their last swing, it will be hard to cast off the rest of the legacy of Kate Bacon, Ashley Cottrell, Jen Friedman, Abby Gauthier, Christie Jensen, Genevieve Lacasse and Laura Veharanta.

The six skaters have combined for 166 goals, 219 assists and 385 points in anywhere between 121 and 137 games-played. As a group, they have averaged 131 career appearances coupled with a 27-36-63 scoring transcript. The four forwards have collectively averaged 36 goals and 77 points.

Lacasse has pitched in nine helpers herself while raising new bars in her day job, turning away a program-record 3,289 shots and pitching a record 17 shutouts in a record 122 games and 7,282-played. Her career goals-against average (2.02) and save-percentage (.931) are both on pace to surpass those of Jana Bugden and Sara DeCosta.

Before the Friars try to extend their three-game guarantee for the balance of this class’ tenure, here is a brief backcheck to the 2012 graduates’ top 12 moments up to this point.

January 10, 2009
In the class’ first-ever tangle with New Hampshire’s Granite State Goddesses, Lacasse repelled 43 out of 43 shots-faced while 11 different skaters pen their name to the scoresheet for a 5-0 victory at Schneider Arena.

Bacon and Friedman chipped in a goal apiece, Cottrell notched and a playmaker and Veharanta charged up a playmaker hat trick to pilot PC’s first win over the Wildcats since Jan. 29, 2005.

February 6, 2009
In the first installment of the Lacasse-Florence Schelling rivalry, Providence deleted Northeastern’s 2-0 lead in a matter of 22 seconds around the halfway mark of regulation.

Gauthier set up Jean O’Neill’s equalizer and later collaborated with Cottrell to feed Mari Pehkonen for the clinching strike in overtime.

November 8, 2009
Although Cottrell’s icebreaker could not hold up, Lacasse and an unlikely scorer in Jensen would salvage the two-point package in a historic, 2-1 shootout decision versus Northeastern. The three-inning lightning round extended to 10 extra frames as Lacasse and Schelling each repelled 11 of the opposition’s first 12 bids, only slipping in the seventh stanza.

But in the bottom of the 13th, with three unused skaters left on the Friars’ injury-shortened bench, Jensen made a long swoop around the left lane and roofed the winner over Schelling’s left shoulder.

November 15, 2009
The besieged Friars were lacking a regulation win in eight consecutive outings before they unleashed their carbonation on Boston University in the backend of a home-and-home series.

Lacasse’s 41 saves and Cottrell’s playmaker hat trick were the prime highlights in a redressing, come-from-behind, 6-2 victory at Schneider. Cottrell and Veharanta set up then-rookie Nicole Anderson to complete her hat trick at 5:05 of the third period before Cottrell inserted her own dose of insurance for a four-point day.

October 29, 2010
Bacon capped off a breakout month to a breakout year (seven goals and 10 points in nine games) with a hand in both goals as part of a 2-2 tie with a celestial Boston University team.

Bacon and Gauthier collaborated to set up freshman Rebecca Morse’s icebreaker and Lacasse recovered from two unanswered Jenn Wakefield goals to repel the other 40 shots she faced while Bacon inserted the equalizer with 8:25 to spare in regulation.

November 26, 2010
Patrolling the straightaway point, Friedman slugged home the first equalizer before Bacon converted Gauthier’s feed to give Providence a 2-1 lead and Cottrell snapped a 2-2 knot in the final minute of regulation to take the Mayor’s Cup from Brown, 3-2, at Meehan Auditorium.

January 21, 2011
As part of a 51-save night, Lacasse swallowed 33 out of 33 shots-faced in the third period while Gauthier deleted a 1-0 deficit and turned the tables en route to a 3-1 home win over Boston College.

February 13, 2011
A member of the junior class accounted for every goal and seven of PC’s 11 points in a 4-3 win over Connecticut at Rentschler Field.

Friedman opened the scoring with a trademark slapper from the straightaway point, Cottrell expands the lead to 2-0 and Veharanta nails the last two strikes. In addition, Bacon amassed a playmaker hat trick.

March 5, 2011
Lacasse broke Schelling’s hours-old record for most saves in a WHEA postseason game and surpasses Bugden for the Friars’ career-saves lead in regulation. A power-play goal via Friedman (assist to Cottrell) and go-ahead strike by Gauthier briefly had the Friars leading Boston College, 2-1, although the Eagles rallied to render Lacasse’s valiant, 58-save day moot in a 3-2 overtime decision.

November 1, 2011
After a vinegary, 1-6-2 run in October, the Friars kickstarted a redemptive 5-0-1 unbeaten hustle with a 9-3 romp over Yale. Cottrell chipped in three points while Bacon and Veharanta tallied two goals apiece and Jensen logged a goal-assist value pack.

February 4, 2012
Fueled by Cottrell’s first career hat trick, the Friars averted a season-series sweep and potentially redressed their outlook in the Hockey East playoff landscape with a 6-2 road rout of Boston College, who is in a footrace with Northeastern for first in the league.

February 12, 2012
Lacasse joined four classmates on the scoresheet with the secondary assist on Corinne Buie’s eventual game-winner, finishing a two-game weekend sweep at New Hampshire and giving her class a 4-2-0 lifetime record at the once-notorious Whittemore Center.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 16

1996: Rob Tallas sets a franchise single-game record with 55 saves in an eventual 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Worcester IceCats.

2000: Portland Pirates goaltender Martin Brochu halts 44 out of 47 shots to help the visitors steal a 5-3 decision at the Providence Civic Center.

2001: Kay Whitmore’s 34 saves bolster a much-needed 2-1 win in Lowell against a Lock Monsters team featuring future Boston Bruin Joe Corvo.

2007: A 3-2 win over Springfield gives the P-Bruins a four-game sweep of their homestand.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Friars Puckbag: An Assortment Of Observations On PC Men’s And Women’s Hockey

How fitting is it that PC’s Genevieve Lacasse and Northeastern’s Florence Schelling will each have their respective Senior Nights this weekend prior to a game against one another?

The PC women’s senior class played their first Hockey East regular-season game against the Huntington Hounds at Matthews Arena back on Oct. 18, 2008. Their last Hockey East regular-season game will involve the same adversary on the same site this Sunday.

Matthews Arena will actually have three Friars-Huskies bouts in as many nights this weekend, the first two being men’s tilts Friday and Saturday.

And by the way, not to prematurely stimulate long-suffering Friartownies, but if Nate Leaman’s pupils can sweep Jim Madigan’s Huskies this weekend, that will clinch PC’s first Hockey East playoff bid in four years with four regular-season games still to come.

PC assistant coach Karen Thatcher is among the 27 finalists for a Team USA roster spot at this spring’s Women’s World Championships. The team’s strength and conditioning coach will be the renowned Mike Boyle, whose recent Friar-related connections have included Mark Adams, Abby Gauthier, Kyle Murphy and Arianna Rigano, just to name a few. Boyle previously trained seven Providence alumnae en route to the first women’s hockey Olympic gold medal in 1998.

What exactly has Tim Schaller done since returning from a month-long, mononucleosis-induced absence? In four games, he has thrust 16 shots on goal and tallied a 3-2-5 scoring log, including back-to-back goal-assist value packs as part of the Friars’ first set of back-to-back wins since the first week of December.

Speaking of Schaller, the junior forward has played 13 fewer games than last year and is one point away from a new career high. Sophomore forward Derek Army, junior blueliner Myles Harvey, senior defenseman Danny New, senior striker Andy Balysky, sophomore Kevin Hart and senior defenseman David Brown are among the notables in the same arena. And there is still time for junior Chris Rooney to set himself a new bar by season’s end.

The PC women were shut out in four of their first six games this season, but have not been blanked since. Fair warning, though: If anybody can turn that trend back in the other direction, it’s Schelling, the Henrik Lundqvist of Hockey East.

Perhaps more than anything, Bob Deraney’s pupils want to spruce up their discipline and/or penalty killing between now and the postseason. The Friars have allowed a power-play goal in each of their last four games and four of the opposition’s last seven strikes have been cultivated during a special teams’ segment.

NESN recently added next Saturday’s PC-BC game at Conte Forum to its Hockey East telecast slate, meaning the Friars will have played at least three games this season on the regional network, all against one of the Comm. Ave. schools. In fact, since the start of the 2007-08 season, Providence has engaged no one but Boston College or Boston University when Tom Caron is on hand to call the action.

Still, you know times are changing when Providence plays as many televised games against Merrimack as it does against the two Green Line programs combined. Just look at the schedule and count them up for yourself.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 15

2002: Eric Manlow sets up Andy Hilbert’s equalizer, then inserts the go-ahead goal himself en route to a 3-1 win in Albany.

2004: With a come-from-behind, 3-1 win over Manchester, the P-Bruins splash a three-game winning drought.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 14

1993: Defenseman Dominic Lavoie pitches in four points as part of a 7-4 road win over the Capital District Islanders.

2002: Andy Hilbert nails two goals and an assist for PlanetUSA, but Jonathan Girard contributes two helpers to a winning cause as the Canadian All-Stars claim a 13-11 victory in St. John’s.

2005: Patrice Bergeron chips in two assists as the Canadian All-Stars sculpt an initial 4-0 lead. But Andy Hilbert, playing in his third AHL mid-season classic, tunes the mesh twice as PlanetUSA roars back for an eventual 5-4 shootout victory at Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena.

2009: Brad Marchand and Zach Hamill each record a playmaker hat trick while Mikko Lehtonen scores three goals and assists on Marchand’s strike in regulation. In the subsequent shootout, Lehtonen inserts the clincher to beat the host Portland Pirates, 6-5.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bruins Puckbag: An Assortment of Observations on Boston and Providence

Unless he is back in the organization for an unheard-of fifth season and spends a substantial amount of that season in Providence, Andrew Bodnarchuk’s inadvertent endeavor to become the P-Bruins’ all-time career games-played leader was terminated with Monday’s recall to Boston. The 23-year-old blueliner needed to suit up for all but one of the remaining games on the schedule to reach 279 and surpass Jay Henderson at the top of that list, but will inevitably miss a few so long as he is going along on Boston’s upcoming road trip.

The timing of Bodnarchuk’s promotion to the parent club, only the second of his four-year career and first since April 2010, makes this author wonder if general manager Peter Chiarelli is hoping to dangle another trade deadline commodity.

It is certainly surprising that the P-Bruins drew their greatest crowd of the season (11,235) to a Sunday afternoon game, namely this past Sunday versus Albany. But if it was going to occur at any point, it is no shock it happened on the Sunday after the Super Bowl and one of the few remaining weekends before spring training and March Madness pick up.

The two crowds from both weekend games allowed Providence to pole-vault from fifth to second on the AHL’s attendance leaderboard within three days. But there’s no catching the top dog from Hershey, whose average audience eclipses that of the Bruins by 2,352.

With 53 games behind and as many as 29 still ahead, Patrice Bergeron has already equated his power-play scoring totals of 3-8-11 from 80 appearances in the 2010-11 regular season.

One reason the Bruins can reassert themselves with a win over the New York Rangers Tuesday night: The Rangers’ divisional cohabitants from Philadelphia have now dropped five out of five meetings with the first-place Blueshirts.

Providence has not tallied a shorthanded goal since Zach Hamill inserted the team’s only strike in a 4-1 loss to Connecticut Dec. 2. And as a team, Bruce Cassidy’s pupils have as many shorthanded points (six) as former P-Bruin Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque have each singlehandedly collected as members of the Hershey Bears this season.

Captain Trent Whitfield’s unsuccessful penalty shot against Albany Sunday afternoon was the first such play awarded to a P-Bruin since none other than Whitfield was stoned by Worcester’s Harri Sateri on March 18 of last season. The last P-Bruin to capitalize on a free one-on-one was Brian McGrattan, now the Nashville Predators’ resident enforcer, precisely one year ago today against Connecticut’s Dov Grumet-Morris.

Bergeron, Joe Corvo, Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg and Shawn Thornton are the five remaining Bruins who have seen action in every game up to this point. Kelly has dressed for all 82 games in a regular season three previous occasions with the Ottawa Senators (2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09) while Corvo did the same with last year’s Carolina Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, on the farm, Craig Cunningham is the lone P-Bruin to have dressed for all 51 games to date.

Benoit Pouliot started his first season in Boston with an eight-game production drought. If he fails to put his name to the scoresheet against the Rangers Tuesday night, he will match that season-high skid. This coming after he had surged to charge up 6-9-15 totals in 25 games between Nov. 26 and Jan. 22.

It might just serve the common good if re-concussed forward Nathan Horton were simply shelved for the balance of this season, giving him eight-plus months between now and the next training camp to thoroughly recover. Bergeron from four years ago and Marc Savard from two seasons all but represent the two extremes on the historical barometer.

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 13

1994: In their final confrontation at the Providence Civic Center, the P-Bruins tie the Moncton Hawks, 5-5.

1999: Initially trailing, 2-0, the P-Bruins roar back for five unanswered goals and cement a home victory over Hartford.

2002: Representing the Canadian All-Stars, defenseman Jonathan Girard takes first place in the skills competition’s fastest skater and hardest shot contest.

2003: Matt Herr’s go-ahead power-play goal proves to be his 11th game-winner of the season as it finalizes a 3-2 home win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

2005: Andy Hilbert wins the shooting accuracy event at the AHL All-Star Skills Competition in Manchester.

2008: Matt Hendricks and Aaron Slattengren (game-winner) each insert two goals to beat the visiting Manchester Monarchs, 6-4.

2010: The P-Bruins win their fourth consecutive game and their sixth in a span of seven tries, edging the Springfield Falcons, 3-1, at MassMutual Center.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

This Date In Providence Bruins History: February 12

1993: The P-Bruins score six goals in the first period-including four within 92 seconds via Jozef Stumpel, Darren Banks, Andrew McKim and Dominic Lavoie-en route to an 8-7 home win over the Springfield Indians.

1995: Scott Bailey backstops a 1-0 shutout of the Worcester IceCats at the Centrum.

1999: Landon Wilson’s hat trick stokes a 7-2 win over the visiting Portland Pirates.

2005: Hannu Toivonen’s shutout streak ends at 237 minutes and 27 seconds, less than 13 minutes short of a league record. But Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes both convert in a shootout to beat the host Springfield Falcons, 2-1.

2010: Five multipoint outings―Jordan Knackstedt’s goal and playmaker hat trick, Mikko Lehtonen’s two goals and a pair of assists apiece for Zach Hamill, Brad Marchand and Trent Whitfield―highlight a 7-1 battering of the Hartford Wolf Pack at The Dunk.