With ranked Dartmouth, PC opponents not letting up
Now deep into a seven-week recess from its altogether lurid Hockey East slate, the PC men shall commence a petite, four-game itinerary with ECAC satellites for the next week-and-a-half before the December decelaration kicks in.
Tonight’s home tussle with Dartmouth –the last time Schneider Arena lights up for either of its inhabitants before Yule Trees light up in countless worldwide homes- will fall a good 34 days since the Friars (2-9-1 overall) last celebrated an authentic, tangible W –back on October 25 at Holy Cross. It has now been 41 days since PC’s last and lone home triumph –a 4-3 squeaker past Bowling Green.
Hacking through a menacing forest of patchiness ever since, they arguably came closest to clearing their fan base’s collective sinuses last weekend when they at least gave a hibernating New Hampshire team a helpful third period pulse check.
But tonight, Providence will serve as the barricading subject of a gut check for the Big Green, newly admitted to the national polls in the #20 slot this week. Dartmouth (5-3-0 overall) had only seen a five-game winning streak halted last Saturday when mighty Cornell wrested away a 3-1 final.
After a delayed, dawdling start to their season –absorbing a 4-1 biff from Harvard on Halloween and a 3-2 overtime falter via Vermont November 2- the Green have ostensibly stabilized with at least some symbolic aid from freshman goaltender Jody O’Neill, whose lone sit-down to date was the Vermont game.
Since then, O’Neill has bolstered the breadth of the aforementioned five-game rampage before he took a second shortcoming at Cornell. Overall, he has compiled 224 saves on 238 total shots faced in seven ventures, thus bolstering an altogether unremarkable offense that has averaged exactly 3 goals per game while authorizing 2.25 in their own end.
Tale of Two Knights
The top guns on both of tonight’s contesting clubs –freshman Matt Bergland of PC and sophomore Adam Escolet of Dartmouth- are products of the Minnesota high school powerhouse Benilde-St. Margaret’s. They had each transferred prior to their respective junior campaigns and played simultaneously for the Red Knights in 2006-07.
Other ex-collegiate prep teammates reconvening tonight as adversaries: Danny New (PC) and forward Paul Lee (Dartmouth), both freshmen straight out of Avon Old Farms; Ben Farrer (PC) and Rob Smith (Dartmouth), both alumni of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks; PC’s Eric Baier, Justin Gates, Matt Germain, Austin Mayer, Ian O’Connor, and Dartmouth’s Jimmy Gaudet, all claimed from the talent factory that is the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
Dusty Dartmouth scorebooks
Tonight will break a nearly nine-year-old fast from Friar-Big Green get-togethers. These programs last crossed paths here on December 10, 1999, when Boyd Ballard pushed away 30 shots and Mike Farrell and Jay Leach both tuned the Dartmouth mesh in the second period towards a 2-0 victory.
Dating back to 1953, the Friars lead the all-time series, 14 games to eight.
Could have been theirs
PC sophomore defenseman Eric Baier of North Kingstown, who has battled mild unspecified ailments off and on this autumn, snapped a four-game hiatus away from action in last weekend’s two-stop excursion to Lowell and New Hampshire. Assuming he suits up again tonight, he will have a chance to confront the program he had initially committed to before converting to the more local Friars.
· PC’s top scorers: Matt Bergland (3-9-12); Matt Taormina (3-5-8); John Cavanagh (4-3-7)
· Dartmouth’s top scorers: Adam Escolet (4-8-12); Joe Stejskal (6-2-8); Doug Jones (1-7-8)
· Projected goaltending matchup: Justin Gates (PC) vs. Jody O’Neill (Dartmouth)
· Media: Cox Sports TV, WOON AM 1240, Gametracker, online audio streaming
Quick Feeds: Ironically, the current incarnations of the Friars and Green are getting their programs reacquainted only four days after Dartmouth hockey’s latest gem, Lee Stempniak, was dealt by the St. Louis Blues to the Toronto Maple Leafs, coached by none other than PC’s all-time points leader, Ron Wilson…Dartmouth’s lone current NHL draftee: sophomore blueliner Joe Stejskal, a 2007 fifth-rounder to Monreal...From here, the Friars will bus off tomorrow night to renew their animosity with Union for the second straight season. It will be PC’s first visit to the Achilles Rink since drawing a 4-4 knot on November 20, 2001…Longtime Boston Garden staple Rene Rancourt’s annual Christmas Carol regional rink tour makes its Providence stop tonight.
Al Daniel can be reached at email@example.com