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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dartmouth 4, Men's Hockey 2

Oh No-vember
Delayed reaction costs Friars against Dartmouth

Report based on Gametracker

Ryan Simpson’s return date to the Providence College crease, like the take-off time for umpteen hundred holiday weekend flights, is not ceasing to augment its delay at the last minute.

In the tantalizing interim, freshman Justin Gates, the solitary symbol of PC’s long-term goaltending hopes with Chris Mannix now glancing ahead to his final semester on the Divine Campus, continues to faithfully lug the better load of the rucksack.

Last night, for all but about three-and-a-half minutes of play, Gates kilned one of his smoother, more soothing, more collected performances, charging up a grand total 28 saves on the night –half of those being recorded in the first period.

But upon returning from the subsequent respite in the locker room, the Dartmouth Big Green caught Gates under the influence of a brief but fatal hibernation trance reminiscent of a turkey dinner’s drowsying aftermath. They whipped home three quick goals before five minutes were gone from the middle frame and in effect paced themselves to a 4-2 victory before a sub-average sized audience of 1,492 at Schneider Arena.

The Friars, whose home white game time suits will now be stashed away for a long (as in six-week-long) winter’s nap, have thus curtained a once savory-looking November home slate at 0-5-1. Their final shot to avert a winless month altogether lies at Union’s Messa Rink tonight.

Leading up to the decisive Dartmouth cyclone, and even in the 35 minutes they had to work with after the fact, Providence dispensed its rabid starvation productively, keeping pace –ultimately pulling a few ice chips ahead- in the shooting gallery and keeping their discipline intact.

Meanwhile, the Green’s Jim Gaudet singlehandedly slipped a pair of written invitations under the Friars’ bench door in the opening frame, claiming the period’s only two citations from the officiating crew at 5:38 (hooking) and 15:01 (interference). But goaltender Jody O’Neill (35 saves) was kept cold throughout his first PK while Andrew Owsiak discharged one registered shorthanded stab at Gates.

During PC’s second power play swing, O’Neill got his hands on three-quarters of a fruitful onslaught while another shot –off Pierce Norton’s tape- dinked off the post.

Although, the period threats of tempest around the other cage was neutralized just as effectively –for the moment. Gates withstood the whole of 14 Dartmouth shots within the first 20 minutes last night while his praetorian guards kept their slates clean.

But Gates gave out at a harrowingly swift pace to start the second, letting the second shot he faced in the period hop by off the twig of Adam Escolet at the 0:51 mark.

Precisely one minute later, Joe Lavin was flagged for hitting from behind while Gates was soaking in a bid from Scott Fleming to summon a whistle. Thirty-five ticks later, the Big Green were 2-for-2 when a man-up and bearing a 2-0 edge courtesy Owsiak.

Gaudet, who would take yet a third no-harm-done trip to the bin for holding at 14:50, capped the outburst at 4:22 for the eventual game-clincher, and only after O’Neill had simmered a four-shot sugar rush on the suddenly frenetic Friars’ part.

Providence –which went empty on a night’s total of 10 shots over five power plays- did gradually come to escalate its output on the board, simultaneously pulling even in the way of SOG and hatching O’Neill’s goose egg with 5:41 left till intermission. First line winger Ian O’Connor tuned the mesh for his second point in as many games, awarding season-long centerpiece John Cavanagh and new fellow wingman Austin Mayer with a helper apiece.

Freshman Rob Maloney would saw the deficit to 3-2 through his first collegiate goal at 5:09 of the third. But O’Neill uncompromisingly fused his borders afterward, pushing away nine more shots and inducing spillage on two more Friar power plays before Matt Reber laced him an empty netter with 24 seconds to spare in regulation.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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