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Friday, November 16, 2007

Men's Hockey 2, UMass-Lowell 2

Mutual energy cancels; Friars knot Hawks

The increasingly evident parity in Hockey East, conspicuous by its absence most everywhere else in the conference Friday, was at its finest at Schneider Arena. The Providence College Friars, riding the smooth, pleasurable waves of a decisive sweep of Maine last weekend, were insidiously entangled by the of late masters of sister-smooching, UMass-Lowell.

As it happened, the Riverhawks, who already have both conjured up and endured compelling rallies this season, kept an inch behind the Friars and ultimately drew a 2-2 knot.

Incidentally, the most striking early season trends on both benches were to remain untouched. The sophomore-dominated Riverhawks, whose roster makes that of PC look like post-grads, kilned their third consecutive tie and have now earned all four of their conference points through 65-minute games. Then again, the Friars also have the hefty statistical, as well as spiritual leadership, of their petite upperclasses to thank for that mature comparison.

That didn’t change either. Junior Pierce Norton, the decider in last Saturday’s 1-0 pinning of the Black Bears, supplied both Providence goals Friday and received credited assistance from three classmates.

Come what may, Friar coach Tim Army’s presupposition of a “very competitive” game was validated as contesting goaltenders Tyler Sims of PC and Carter Hutton of Lowell faced their small, medium, and large workloads towards a roughly even final shot count of 35-29 in favor of the Hawks.

For all that rapid, boiling chemical activity between the boards, discipline was yet another striking feature in Friday’s contest, which was somewhat of a pity to the Friars since Army had made special teams the prime whetting post in the much more settled down preceding week of practice. Providence would only be sentenced to two minors on the whole night, Lowell one, and neither was flagged at any point beyond the second period.

Nevertheless, the Friars made meticulous, and as would be proven, pivotal use of their single man advantage late in the opening frame, breaking the ice on their one and only power play shot. The team’s of late heat gun boaster, Matt Taormina, withheld the puck at the brim of the attacking zone before sliding it to blueline associate Cody Wild by the near boards. Wild made a broad semi-circle stroll to the parallel post and lobbed a feed in front for Norton to one-time to the right of Hutton at 13:16.

In the middle frame, the Riverhawks uncorked their jolted bottles, and then some, running away with a shooting edge of 18-5 and getting just enough of their willpower’s worth to pull even and in effect solidify the final score.

Less than two minutes in, a PC turnover perked up Mark Roebothan and Mike Potacco, two-thirds of Lowell’s infinitesimal junior class. In a quick and easy, model two-on-one, Potacco set up Roebothan for a near-side sizzler through Sims.

Before tapering off for the remainder of the period, however, Norton renewed the Friar lead in another five minutes, also cashing in on a bobbled play in the other end. Linemate Kyle Laughlin, whose own hot streak had been ironically frozen to its core up in Maine, charged the disc into Riverhawk territory and tapped it to Norton on the far side. With Hutton oozing out of his crease to challenge, Norton nimbly curled the biscuit on his backhand and reeled it in behind Hutton’s back.

But not long after that did the Riverhawks reach full flight and before the halfway mark of regulation, they had made it 2-2. On a slippery swarm with most everybody tilted to the far alley, a duo of sophomores -defender Nick Schaus and forward Nick Holmstrom, managed to set up rookie Patrick Cey in the slot. Cey’s ice-kisser zipped home to the left of a scrunched-up Sims.

“They’re a year older, and a year more comfortable with playing at this level,” acknowledged Army of the opposing crop. “They certainly are a very good team, a year removed from a real learning year. I think they’ve really carried that growth into this year.”

Upon killing a carry-over charging penalty to co-captain Jon Rheault, the Friars reversed the roles of tempest for most of the third period. They also revived the trend from the younger minutes of the first period, constricting the Riverhawks to habitual icing.

During a potentially decisive fifteen-minute stretch, Providence commanded the shooting gallery 12-2, eight of those shots coming unanswered and a handful of over-the-net shanks not even making it to the board.

But Hutton had fused to spotless dynamics by then, as did Sims, who attentiveness was crucially revived in the waning moments of regulation and for two Lowell stabs in the extra five-minute window.

Quick Feeds: The PC Women faltered 2-1 to Ohio State, their third one-goal loss in four outings, in Part I of a two-night visit to Columbus…Junior netminder Danielle Ciarletta charged up a season-high 38 saves, including a whopping ten denials of Buckeyes top gun Tessa Bonhomme…The series concludes Saturday with a slated 4:07 start, likely to fall moments after OSU’s ever-so cherished gridiron tussle with Michigan.

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