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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hockey Log

Minor credits

PC alumnus Schaefer among six HEA products-turned-AHL All-Stars

Since collecting his degree at the Dunk in 2003, former Friars’ goaltender Nolan Schaefer, like the forgotten majority of elite professionals, has had his licks, sips, and free samples of The Show in his young career. But for players of this upper-middle class caliber, an NHL roster spot is generally tougher to get a permanent grip on than a Zdeno Chara slapper.

Save for a dozen-game appetizer in the ECHL to start, seven credited regular season appearances with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06, and a near-miss with the Minnesota Wild at training camp this season, Schaefer’s conventionally itinerant saga has spotted him in five AHL cities in as many years. Playing under the watchful front offices of four different NHL organizations, he has shaved the bulk of his blue paint everywhere from Cleveland to Worcester to Hershey to Scranton to Houston.

To his credit, though, Schaefer slithered to the restrictive Wild bench –more than affluent with rotating the young firm of Nicklas Backstrom and Josh Harding- for two games in October. And while he waits for the door to reopen, he will scoop up another reckonable dish of ice creds this weekend at the AHL All-Star Classic –an event that is, for all intents and purposes, one or two stripes away from being the more formal cousin to the NHL Youngstars’ Game.

With a 2.12 GAA as of Friday, behind only soon-to-be Team Canada associate Michael Leighton and recent BU grad John Curry, Schaefer will be one of six Hockey East products to partake in the Binghamton, N.Y.-hosted showcase.

Just by being there alone, for whatever historical data is worth, Schaefer has an A-minus chance of attaining eventual NHL job security. The AHL proudly, though legitimately, boasts that 93% of its All-Star alumni –dating back to when the event snapped out of a 35-year coma and made a 1995 stop to the then-Providence Civic Center- have also penned regular NHL entries in their bios.

The likes of Schaefer’s fellow Canadian Jason Krog –a more distant New Hampshire alumnus, 1999 Hobey Baker recipient, and a brief P-Bruin in his first pro campaign- already has 198 games with four NHL franchises to his credit, but himself has yet to stamp a full-time mortgage on that front. His most favorable stretch was when he joined in on the Anaheim Mighty Ducks’ vain venture to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003 and followed up the next year with a solid 80 games in Orange County.

After a lockout detour to Austria and Switzerland that extended into the 2005-06 season, though, Krog is now a mainstay with the Chicago Wolves’, Atlanta’s development team. On the other hand, he just so happens to come into the break with an AHL-best 64 points over 44 games played.

Only two slots below is Manchester Monarch Teddy Purcell, fresh off an equally glittering rookie year at Maine and more immediately fresh off a fulfilling recall to the parent LA Kings. Purcell has kindled 54 points in 40 Manchester games.

In Sunday’s skills showcase and Monday’s formal fixture, the aforementioned three will confront another Hockey East-seasoned trinity on the PlanetUSA roster, which will be directed by P-Bruins’ skipper and one-time Boston College goaltender Scott Gordon. Fellow Eagle alumnus Peter Harrold, a Manchester associate of Purcell’s who has likewise sniffed authentic bits of action with the Kings, and former Maine teammates Greg Moore and Jimmy Howard sum up that sphere.

Stud spuds

If by “most anticipated giveaway” they meant enticing double-digit numbers to the Schneider Arena gates before the doors even opened, then PC’s PR personnel had a valid foresight.

More than an hour prior to Saturday night’s face-off with Northeastern, a rough head count of sixty fans –at least eight of them students- lingered outside the main entrance, peering in at the Skating Friar Potato Heads that were to be distributed to the first 1,500 patrons by members of the Providence College Dance Team.

And another round of shipment from Virtual Idaho –or, rather, Pawtucket- is primed to arrive in another three weeks. The PC women will offer 500 Potato Heads of their own when they host the same Northeastern franchise on Sunday, February 17.

Fresh four confirmed for PC men

Midway through last week, friars.com confirmed the NLI signings of four PC prospects for the 2008-09 season: goaltender Justin Gates of Cranston, forwards Chad Johnson and Robert Maloney, and defenseman Danny New.

According to insidecollegehockey.com, Providence still has its eye on forward Chris Rooney –currently of the EJHL’s Bridgewater Bandits- to also hop on next autumn. Meanwhile, Warwick resident Connor Moore –a New Hampshire Junior Monarch teammate of Gates’- and defenseman Alex Velischek are slated to join the Friars in 2009.

Quick Feed: A conspicuous, energetic sampling of Northeastern’s Dog House Dwellers filled Section J for Saturday’s contest and, regardless of the momentum scale, endlessly volleyed verbal grenades with the Friar Fanatics seated 85 feet right across from them. Even in the final minute of the third period, when the PC students suggested that their guests “Warm up the bus!” the quick-witted Husky fans flaunted their car keys

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