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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Northeastern 4, Men's Hockey 0

No method, all madness
Dazed-and-confused Friars drop season opener

The gradual PC student exodus from Schneider Arena to Mullaney Gymnasium that began in the second intermission –the latter venue hosting the Late Night Madness basketball bash- had been subconsciously arranged weeks in advance. But with the turn of events on the ice and the discrepancy in partisan moods, the bite-sized visiting Dog House legion eventually looked like dramatic come-from-behind victors in a dodgeball grudge match.

Bowing and graciously handing all of the quantity glamour to the Friars, the Northeastern Huskies in turn cashed all of the quality play last night, stamping a 4-0 win highlighted by two Tyler McNeely strikes and a playmaker hat trick by Steve Silva and slapping PC with its fourth choppy opening night loss in as many years.

Providence, which allotted the Huskies a mere three power plays, won a stark majority of the night’s face-offs (39 out of 63) and grew to run up a final shot count of 35 –led by senior Matt Taormina’s five stabs- hardly kindled a single enthralling buzz and egregiously spilled seven power play opportunities, concocting but three man-up shots all evening.

A week’s difference of game experience, at the time when it could be most evident, was. Northeastern, building on a two-game (1-0-1) excursion to Alaska last weekend, initially exploited the numb, untested Friars, hammering the game’s first five shots at freshman stopper Justin Gates (20 saves) within the first 2:13 of play. By intermission, they led the shot category 11-9 and had grated the PC power play force three times, authorizing only two shots on three unanswered man advantages.

The jumpy Friars were finally flagged with 1:59 to spare in the opening frame, vital junior bouncer Mark Fayne taking his first of three hooking citations on the night. Only seconds after the carry-over kill was complete, a would-be PC rush was zapped on a high-stick misdemeanor, bringing the face-off down to their end.

In only four seconds, Silva won the draw in the far circle, one-timing a magnetic parallel feed back to Denis Chisholm on the far point. Chisholm wasted no time letting an ice-kisser trickle home through Gates’ pads.

Fayne was incarcerated once more at the 3:20 mark, effectively inviting the Huskies second strike at 4:53. In regroup mode, Silva strolled the disc back into Friar territory and handed it over to Strathman at the straightaway point. Strathman’s blast thrashed through a screening collage and found the mesh with the help of McNeely’s tip of the twig.

Perked up, PC instantly took constricting command of the shooting gallery, discharging an unanswered seven attempts and rolling up an 11-4 edge in the latter 15 minutes of the period. But Brad Thiessen (35 saves) and Friends were simply the supreme smotherers of the night. They all but facilely nursed the two-goal well into the depths of the closing frame while the Friars continued to shoot in hasty spurts and.

Within the final nine minutes of the game, the Huskies lashed out to make two insurance goals out of a few PC puck control meltdowns. Forward Alex Tuckerman watched an initial clearing attempt commandingly thwarted by far point patroller Bryce Aneloski, but persistently hustled to Heimlich it away from the rookie blueliner and prompt a two-on-one gush, opposite fellow first-line winger Wade MacLeod. MacLeod absorbed Tuckerman’s lateral feed in the near alley and leveled it into a gaping frame of the cage.

Less than three minutes later, in the midst of PC’s penultimate barren power play, Silva pried into the regroup attempt in the Friars’ half of the neutral zone and forwarded a crisp feed to McNeely. Virtually untouched the whole way through, McNeely broke loose to bury an in-your-face shorthanded connection, solidifying the 4-0 final.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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