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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hockey Log

PC Men on fence, but chances still abound

The old brief-but-fatal menace struck the Friars midway through last Saturday’s bout with Maine, and as an immediate result, they endured a hemorrhaged third period and yet another half-and-half weekend. And, compared to previous weeks, some of the hot off the press data is somewhat wince-inducing for those who live by the Skating Friar emblem.

“The biggest thing that maybe plagued us on the weekend was our power play, which has been very good over the first half of the year,” mused head coach Tim Army, recalling missed opportunities to put an earlier stamp on the UMass-Amherst victory Friday and to seize the upper hand over Maine. “In the six games since we came back from Christmas break, we haven’t been as efficient on the power play.

“It wasn’t the springboard to our offense that it needed to be and I think that was critical in both games.”

A byproduct of the aggregate zilch conversions over nine consecutive man advantages is a current goal drought of 90:03, carrying over from the halfway mark of Friday’s 3-2 compression of UMass. It is PC’s second longest such plague of the season behind a 114:50 empty window that ranged over part of October.

And coming away with only half of the four allotted points for the standings, the Friars now hold sole possession of sixth place at 6-5-2 in conference action. Fourteen cumulative points have them five knobs below co-leaders New Hampshire and Boston College, though they are the exact same distance above the cellar-dwelling Merrimack.

But stats are stats, and when they all go into the pot, Army stressed, there is enough to work with from a chins-up standpoint. For instance, having consumed only thirteen of their twenty-seven Hockey East contests, Providence has at least one game in hand on all of its current superiors, including two on Northeastern, which is lined up for a home-and-home series this weekend.

“It’s certainly tightly contested,” Army observed. “There isn’t a lot of space that separates 1 through 10. We’re right in the middle of the pack, and we’ve got a couple of games in hand on some teams. There isn’t a great differential in the points from ourselves and looking at the leader of Hockey East and not a great deal of difference from us to the last place team in the league.

“We are in a pretty good position over the stretch. We’ve gotta take care of our own destiny, in a sense. We’ve gotta play well, put some wins together, and we’ll have an opportunity to compete for a home ice berth (in the Hockey East quarter-final round mid-March).

“I recognize where we stand, and the most important thing for us is that we play the best possible hockey we can play, be ready for Northeastern on Friday night, take it one game at a time, and see where that takes us the rest of the season.”

Scoring Wealth Spreads: The last time the Friars were lighting the lamp, they left off on a few fun size milestones for the younger half of the depth chart.

Freshman forward Matt Germain –already with five helpers to his credit- inserted his first collegiate goal last Friday, in the process granting defenseman Joe Lavin his third helper in as many games. Meantime Jordan Kremyr, who last season stood opposite his faster-acclimated classmate Kyle MacKinnon as one of the top twenty beacons in the British Columbia League, finally kindled his first point in 19 collegiate games.

And with three points in four January outings, sophomore John Cavanagh is suddenly a notch shy of equating his rookie total of 11.

“It’s good,” said Army. “It’s our first two recruiting classes as a staff. We’ve had great production from our sophomores in their two years here and our freshmen have begun to really find their range a little bit.

“They were brought here for a reason, so it’s nice to see them get rewarded and make an impact because I think it illustrates their capabilities and the direction that they can move this program.”

Quick Feeds: The Friars held a commanding 48-22 edge over Maine in terms of face-off wins, led by Nick Mazzolini’s sound 13-3 ratio and MacKinnon’s 12-5 transcript…Hailed as the program’s “most anticipated giveaway” this season, Saturday’s home date with the Huskies will feature the Skating Friar Mister Potato Head toy for the first 1,500 spectators. As advertised on the friars.com introductory page, the time-honored spud is decked in the full PC hockey uniform and bearing a conventional gap-toothed grin…Cox Sports will carry Saturday’s tilt, slated to commence at 7:00.

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