Men’s Opening Weekend: A plus/minus breakdown
The Friars have officially broken out their 2007-08 share of play and began their kneading with an excursion to the ECAC’s hot spot, upstate New York. Prevalently declared by most critics, the Hockey East coaches’ panel included, a favorite to repeat their fate of last year and nab 8th place in their conference, PC ended up dropping 4-1 and 2-0 respective decisions to projected ECAC 1-2 giants St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Breakout weekend is merely all that is behind them, and the first conference tussle –a visit this Friday to fellow middleweight Northeastern- is still looming. But as they roll back to campus to mollify that common first night bodily soreness and retool, the Friars’ current superficial shape stands somewhere along these relatively half-full lines:
Plus: The opening period of Friday’s tussle with SLU saw the club’s promised padded out offense’s best expenditure of Rockstar and Powerade, chipping a whopping 15 shots at opposing netminder Justin Pesony. For a moment, at least, the more touted Saints were the ones playing catch-up, mustering 13 bids of their own, all of which senior goalie Tyler Sims handled.
To cap that all off, Pierce Norton broke the ice at 6:18 of the second period, with Sims jumping in on the equation with one of the assists (Matt Germain picked up the other).
Minus: That was it for the upfront spotlight. Within two-and-a-half minutes, the Saints had it knotted up, the Friars persistence was muted by Pesony (34 total saves), and St. Lawrence whacked a presto pair by Sims around the halfway mark of the closing frame, adding a last-minute empty netter.
Curiously enough, Providence was at its rushing peak in the latter half of Saturday’s match in the next village with Clarkson. On both nights, they thrust 11 shots on net in the closing frame, but unlike Friday, when they had already sweated out 24 stabs, it was their busiest session on Saturday. Nothing doing: Golden Knights keeper, an early sight for the critical eye, carried over his effort in a 2-1 overtime edging of UMass towards a 28-save shutout of the Friars.
Plus: Rarely does a team proclaim it can demonstrate enough discipline. PC endured an infinitesimal two nights’ total of 12 penalty minutes, two of those infractions overlapping with an offense by the opposition. The penalty kill confined each adversary to five power play shots –though St. Lawrence collected all of their within one 2:00 sequence- and got through that fully unscathed.
Minus: The power play, hand in hand with the depth chart in general, has yet to show its true colors. However, while it did not go down as an official conversion, Norton’s marker came the very second St. Lawrence’s Derek Keller was to have his jailbreak from a cross-checking sentence. Call it a start in both critical scoring areas, but the Friars assuredly hope it progresses in next to no time. It didn’t happen this time around, at least.
Plus: At the end of the day, it was more or less a pair of pre-season friendlies with proven non-conference powerhouses. A more critical measure-up lies in wait with Friday’s drop in to Matthews Arena, where the Northeastern Huskies are also preaching an enhanced, on-the-rise program and made their first impression Saturday with a 5-1 exhibition triumph of Prince Edward Island.
Opener in Orono
The PC Women will finally delve into the real-deal game slate this afternoon when they visit Maine in the only league game to be held this week. The Friars will be dishing out what they built in a particularly prolonged training camp, the only punctuation mark being their 10-1 exhibition drubbing of the Bluewater Hawks two weeks to date. The Black Bears, conversely, already own a 1-2-0 transcript on the year having surpassed Sacred Heart 6-1 in their only other home date and being annihilated by continuous head-turner Mercyhurst, 9-0, in two road games last week.
Re-Freshment for Eagles
Compared to the now two-layer Frozen Four heartache they left behind last spring, Boston College’s third-place finish at the Icebreaker Cup may just be a dollop of disappointment to start their new campaign. More importantly, the Eagle freshmen were conspicuous by their presence in Friday’s 4-3 OT falter to mighty Michigan and subsequent 4-1 consolation game thumping of Rensselaer. Cory Schneider’s aspirant successor, John Muse, turned aside 46 of 51 shots faced while classmates Nick Petrecki and Joe Whitney collaborated towards Whitney’s first goal on the Wolverines. Whitney went on to charge up two helpers in the third-place triumph. It was actually the second time a BC team had topped RPI in the span of a week as the women’s icers knocked off their Engineer counterparts in overtime last Sunday, 2-1.
New Hampshire’s James vanRiemsdyk made his own memorable first impression Friday night, blistering home two goals on a tireless six shots in the Wildcats’ home opener. But in an -at least- rare turn of events, UNH dropped its Canadian University friendly to New Brunswick 4-3. Visiting netminder Michael Ouzas swallowed up 32 of the characteristically loaded Wildcats’ shots.