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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hockey Log

Visits from old skippers highlight 08-09 schedules
A few new customs ahead as well

Both the Providence men's and women's hockey 2008-09 regular season schedule have been pinned on each program's respective official webpage, listing a friendly twig-lock with the Brampton Junior Thunder as the women's traditional pre-season exhibition on Sunday, September 28.

The following weekend, Bob Deraney's pupils welcome old Friar friend Jackie Barto and her Ohio State Buckeyes for a two-game set at Schneider Arena, part of PC's four-game homestand to break in the season.

Barto, a 1984 alumna, will pay just her second formal business visit to the Divine Campus since she broke off from the program as head coach in the middle of the 1998-99 season, ultimately opening the door for Deraney the subsequent autumn. The Buckeyes' only other drop-in was on November 18, 2001, a 4-3 OSU triumph.

It will only be another month before Paul Pooley -Tim Army's predecessor at the men's helm- brings his defending national finalist Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a November 8 non-conference bout. Pooley, now Jeff Jackson's sidekick in South Bend, will get his second -and, barring any spontaneous tournament encounters, final- look at the recruiting class he never coached in PC's seniors. The Friars previously hosted the Irish on October 21, 2006, submitting to them decisively by a 6-1 count.

Both sides of the program are slated to break in the Hockey East sect of their schedules on the weekend of October 17-18 against Northeastern. The men host the Huskies on Friday in their altogether season opener while the women will visit Matthews Arena on Saturday.

That won't, however, be before the Skating Sorority has gone through the aforementioned OSU series and its unofficial custom of battling St. Lawrence and Colgate. In both cases, the Friars will break with the strict norm of Saturday-Sunday matinees, instead going for an old-fashioned 7:00 Friday face-off followed by a 4:00 Saturday draw.

In total, the PC women will skate under bright lights on campus for seven after-dark affairs, six of those on Fridays. They also have two 7:35 starts in a venture to Robert Morris November 7-8, a post-Thanksgiving Saturday outing at Brown for the Mayor's Cup, a Friday-Saturday commitment with Maine the following weekend, and a mid-week night trip to Dartmouth January 13.

With the WHEA's new six-team playoff bracket primed for use this coming year, the regular season will end February 22 against Boston College with preliminary round action (seed #3 vs. #6, #4 vs. #5) set for February 28 on campus sites. The championship host has not yet been declared.

The men's schedule cites a smooth string of 33 consecutive 7:00 starts (with no mid-season tournaments to be found, a first occurrence since 2002-03). The season finale, a March 8 journey to Boston University, will be a rare 2:00 Sunday bout, a routine that the female counterparts are well-familiar with.

Rounding out the remainder of the non-conference schedules, the PC men will host Bowling Green (October 18) for the second time in three years; return the favor to Holy Cross with a Worcester outing (October 25) after the Crusaders entertained last year's home opener; bring in Dartmouth and then take off after Union (November 28-29); visit Quinnipiac (December 6); and renew the ol' Divine City Dance over at Brown December 9.

The women are slated to meet every interleague adversary that they did last season, save for Harvard. They will also ring in 2009 with a two-night stay at Cornell, whom they last faced two seasons ago, January 4-5.

Miscellany: The Robert Morris and Cornell excursions will be the women's team's only two journeys beyond New England borders...The women will have played a total of six home games come the end of October versus none last season. Conversely, Schneider Arena will see no home action for either team in the never-so-busy month of December...Saturday, January 10 and January 31 will see virtual doubleheaders. In the former case, the women's team hosts rival New Hampshire at 1:00 before the men mark up against UMass-Lowell at 7:00. Three weeks later, it will be a women's matinee versus Connecticut and a men's bout with Merrimack, same times and place...For the second straight season, neither Friar Puck team will cross beyond the Eastern/Central time boundaries.

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