Welterweight arm wrestling
Friars, Minutemen vie for respective HEA breakthroughs
The PC men have mastered the bitter beginning/appeasing finish stage act, as evidenced by their first two weekends of intercollegiate activity. They have fastened two can’t-hurt victories in as many tries over their schedule’s petite nonconference sector.
They have thawed out each of ideal starting stopper Ryan Simpson’s indefinite stand-ins for a win apiece and they have all but solidified at least one offensive trinity in Ian O’Connor, John Cavanagh, and Matt Bergland. And, save for a few long-term inhabitants of the IR ward, they have allowed all members of Hockey East’s most populous dressing room to break in their game attire and seen at least one point credited to 17 out of 25 rostered skaters.
Now for the task of hatching the goose-egg in their Hockey East win column, an order of business which should come into more prominent focus with this weekend’s home-and-home series versus Massachusetts –commencing tonight up in Amherst.
The Friars, 2-2 overall, have yet to articulate a credibly congenial Friday night fight, having handed a shaky 4-0 decision to Northeastern in their home opener two weeks ago and grudgingly gnawing the butt end of a 4-1 decision at UMass-Lowell, easily the most lopsided upshot with the Riverhawks in recent memory.
For what it’s worth, it still being the small hours of everyone’s season, the Minutemen are in a similarly scrappy state, brandishing a 2-1-1 transcript and nothing but a 1-1 knot at New Hampshire to speak of on their conference log. To their credit, they have left the crease in the hands of a primordially consistent Dan Meyers, who has succeeded an ailing Paul Dainton with a slim six goals against, one shutout, and a 40-save gem against North Dakota in the Icebreaker tournament.
Meyers’ shielding strike force, though, has yet to hit its full throttle knob, packaging but 11 goals worth of support.
Déjà vu and a second chance?
When the Friars and Minutemen engaged in a back-to-back weekend series about this time last year, it was ultimately the personal peak for the likes of then-juniors Kyle Laughlin and Chris Mannix.
On October 26, 2007, Laughlin charged up a goal-assist value pack –including a rather snoopily executed game winner- en route to a 3-1 triumph, compressing the lesions of PC’s infamous 0-4 overall start. He duplicated that output the following evening at the Mullins Center as part of a 3-3 draw. The co-captain in effect enhanced his early 2007-08 scoring totals to 5-3-8 in a mere six games.
Meanwhile Mannix, standing in for a scorched Tyler Sims at the time, claimed all three points on that weekend through a 20-save and 37-save performance.
Afterwards, though, Laughlin’s radiant twig gave out and allotted him only nine more points in the 28 games that followed. And Mannix, upon authorizing a few strikes too many in a 5-2 nose-dive before Boston University, immediately handed the crease back to the senior Sims.
Quick Feeds: The Friars’ two most recent visits to Amherst have been 3-3 draws. Back on February 10, 2007, a night that saw bouncer Mark Fayne submit a rare two-point performance, PC let the lead slip with a mere 40 seconds to spare in regulation, authorizing an equalizer by the Minutemen’s Mark Matheson…Since Tim Army assumed the whistle here, the Friars and Minutemen have never shared victories in a single season series. PC swept the whole three-date deal in 2005-06, bowed before UMass 0-2-1 two years ago, and reversed that equation last season…Minutemen senior co-captain Cory Quirk, who has four goals and two helpers to his credit in nine games against Providence, has played in all 115 possible games over his collegiate career…UMass boosters will be conducting a Best Halloween Costume contest for all of tonight’s attendees.
Friday Quick Hits
PC’s top scorers: Matt Bergland (1-4-5); John Cavanagh (2-2-4); Matt Taormina (1-2-3)
UMass top scorers: James Marcou (2-1-3); Chase Langeraap and Topher Bevis (1-2-3); Cory Quirk and Alex Berry (0-3-3)
Projected goaltending matchup: Chris Mannix vs. Dan Meyers
Site: Mullins Center; 7:00 face-off
Media: Gametracker; online audiocast
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org