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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Prospectus particulars
Tackling Friar Puck’s odds and ends

With the annual golf tournament conducted on Monday and the release of the 2008-09 prospectus Tuesday, the PC men’s hockey program made a regular boom-boom launch to sports’ pre-advent season; the equivalent of running jingly, snow-and-pine-tree commercials before it’s even Halloween.

Sure, the Friars still have a couple of weeks before their practice pond is flooded once more. And it’s even more outlandish of the program to think so far ahead when their opening game is slated for Friday, October 17, still another eight weeks from now. By then, all of their conference cohabitants will have chewed at least one date off their schedule and their female counterparts will have already hosted five games at Schneider Arena.

But what’s out is out, so there seems to be no sense in letting the earliest pre-season appetizers exhaust their flavor for a fan base now five months removed from a statistical crash-and-burn playoff run. With that in consideration, here is a puckbag of Friar facts and factoids:

Scanning the 31-man roster, which ties Providence with Northeastern for Hockey East’s most populous dressing room, there is again a three-way tie for the tallest member of the team between defensemen Mark Fayne, Joe Lavin, and Ben Farrer, all logged in at 6-foot-3. Conversely, senior goaltender Chris Mannix stands in solitude as the shortest Friar at 5-foot-8.

Fayne, PC’s now two-time top blueliner, will again lead the team in the weight category with 220 lbs. to work with. Meanwhile, flashy centerman John Cavanagh weighs in at 170.

As a whole, the average 2008-09 Friar skater amounts to a profile of about 6-foot-even, 190-pound.

PC’s eldest skating statesman for the coming year will be Nick Mazzolini, whose 24th birthday falls on September 7. (Mazzolini will also return as PC’s most sizeable forward at 6-for-2, 210 lbs, though fans would hope last year’s season-ending biff from Boston College fireball Benn Ferriero doesn’t presage an Eric Lindros-like spell in his senior year.)

The youngest player, freshman forward Matt Bergland, only turned 18 three months ago, followed immediately by fellow “90s” Bryce Aneloski and Chad Johnson, all among the first of their age group to break into the collegiate ranks. But, of course, it can’t be a freshman class without a couple of guys who took their sweet time to foster in the junior ranks, and Shawn Tingley, a 1987 birth with two EJHL seasons in his rearview, beats five sophomores in the way of age.

The left-side versus right-side shot ratio amongst the 28 rostered skaters: 16-12, advantage left. That seems to draw a rough parallel to the distribution of a whopping 20 forwards, nine of whom are listed as left wingers, seven centers, and just enough righties to fill four lines.

After a season lacking in alumni of the United States Hockey League, Aneloski comes to the Friars on the heels of a year with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, the same program that produced a trinity of 2007 graduates –Jamie Carroll, Bryan Horan, and Chase Watson.

Tim Army’s coaching/recruiting staff welcomes its first three products of the rather alien powerhouse that is the Minnesota State High School Hockey League: forwards Matt Bergland and Rob Maloney and defenseman David Brown, though Brown still cites Centennial, Co. as his hometown. This first-time admittance of State of Hockey citizens underscores Army’s most geographically diverse roster to date, with 13 states and two provinces represented.

Speaking of new territory, Army’s track record as the Friars foreman bears experience with all but two opponents on the 2008-09 schedule, omitting Dartmouth, which drops in on campus the night after Thanksgiving, and Quinnipiac, whom the Friars will visit December 5.

The Reds are coming
An updated PC men’s schedule on the Hockey East website has the Russian U20 team –presumably the squad that will represent that country in the World Junior Championships- lined up for an exhibition with the Friars on Wednesday, February 4, 7 PM face-off. Curiously, no other matchups of this nature have been reported, but this will presumably mark the Friars’ first extra-collegiate game since the New Brunswick-based St. Thomas University came over in October 2006.

Rocky wishing in Colorado
Colorado State University graduate Brett Tatman, a former participant in CSU’s club hockey program, has slightly slackened his fervent endeavor to bring a Division I program to his alma mater after a one-on-one with that school’s athletic director convinced him such programs cannot be planted anywhere at will. But, naturally, the ambitious online petitioner won’t drop this puck all the way. “I am not very easily dissuaded from the task at hand and I will be working on a strategy moving forward,” Tatman wrote in his latest statement on the petition’s official website (http://ramhockeypetition.weebly.com/). “We also will be determined to keep our momentum and our cause in front of the Athletic Department,” he adds, “so that when the time is right for adding a (varsity) sport, ice hockey will be at the forefront.”

Momentum? To be fair, scanning the list of signatures proves it was no joke when Denver Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky signed the petition himself –assuming that signature has more legitimacy than the recent Southern Sasquatch discovery. But if there is any fertile ice in this movement, Rams fans should be tutored on the WCHA’s fastidious competitive standards. After all, Minnesota-based Bemidji State, now approaching its tenth anniversary as a D-I program in College Hockey America, has a pending intangible partnership with the bigwig conference that would promise nothing beyond twelve nonconference contests beginning two seasons from now.

The Rams best bet, if anything, is to come down as the potential knights in shining CCMs for the brittle CHA conference –if there’s still time when and if this program becomes convincingly feasible. Either that or CSU may have a shot at translating the rigid gridiron rivalry with nearby Air Force to the rink, thereby giving Atlantic Hockey its own Battle of the Rocky Mountains.

Roy aims to strike out paralysis
Famed former Boston University forward Travis Roy stopped in with Tom Caron at the NESN studios prior to last Monday’s Red Sox broadcast primarily to announce a series of raffle drawings for his spinal cord research foundation to be held on Monday. The tangiest items offered: tickets to last Red Sox visit to Yankee Stadium, which will be a 1:05 matinee this Thursday, and dinner with catcher Jason Varitek the preceding night.

The exceptionally good-natured Roy’s analysis of the historic event: “The Yankees have kind of fallen off, but I don’t think we ever count them out, so the game will still have meaning no matter what happens.”

At the conclusion of the segment, Caron –the network’s Hockey East broadcaster by winter- hurried in a query on the current Terriers’ outlook for this season. Roy replied keenly and fairly accurately, “We’re good. Colin Wilson’s back, and if we get a (reliable) goaltender we can go a long ways.”

Quick Feeds: Fresh New Hampshire graduate Mike Radja, who snuck in two games and three assists as an AHL walk-on in Syracuse last spring, has signed a more concrete deal with the Rockford Icehogs…BU graduate Elizabeth Paige Fierman, who devoted her extracurricular energy to working as the Terriers’ communications intern and team manager, has been tabbed for an internship in the Hockey East offices…Maine alumnus and 12-year NHL veteran Bob Corkum accepted his first collegiate coaching job Friday, returning to Orono as Tim Whitehead’s new associate…A recent feature article in the New Richmond (Wisc.) News briefly mentions former PC women’s two-way connoisseur Carrie Holldorf (later a transfer to St. Cloud State) and how she had “played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Providence…” What the puck?

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