Men's Hockey Continues Downward Spiral

On October 29th PC swept past the University of Massachusetts 6-2 in what was an impressive win. The win moved PC to 2 and 1 in league play. Further at that time UMass was seen as a strong contender for home ice in the Hockey East playoffs.

They were coming off an appearance in the league finals the previous year. However the first drops of rain in what would turn into a deluge fell on the Friar parade that night. Sophomore star Colin McDonald suffered an injury which would keep him out of the line up till after Christmas.

Since that last league win we have had elections in both the US and Iraq. We have inaugurated the President. We have seen most of the snow from the large mid January blizzard melt. We have celebrated not only Halloween, but Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Martin Luther King Day. Now Valentine's Day has come and gone and still the third league win has eluded the team.

The season has devolved into a collection of good efforts but efforts without a solid offensive plan. Ultimately each game sees PC fall short of the mark. All year PC has failed to establish their own game and only can hope solid defense, which they have displayed many times, staves off disaster... The effort is there, the don't give up spirit is there, and PC remains in these games to the end. However this year the Friars have always remained on the short side of the scoreboard.

This past weekend was no exception. On Friday night the Friars dropped a 4-2 contest to BU Terriers, Sunday afternoon they went down to defeat at the hands of Lowell 2-0. Their record dropped to 2-13-4 in the league and 7-18-4 overall.

The BU game was considered by many to be the worst officiated game in the past 20 years. It seemed all game PC not only had to deal with the Terriers but also the referee and his linesmen. After a penalty call on BU in the opening minute of the game the Friars then received 7 of the other 8 penalties called in the game. BU seemed to also be the beneficiary of several too many men on the ice non calls. The most blatant example came late in the first period at a time PC was playing their best hockey and could have used the power play.

In truth questionable officiating was the secondary cause. Providence has had great trouble getting back into games where they fall behind. The early power play would have been ideal to get the momentum shifted in the right direction. When they were short handed they gave up 2 quick power play goals (one took 22 seconds the other 11). Then once down they were badly out shot the rest of the game and they fell back into their defensive shell.

The Friars made one last bid to tie the game in the final minute. After killing off the lone penalty called late in the third period Chris Chaput found himself with a clear lane to the net. His shot got behind the BU goalie; the puck hung on the goal line, but then was swept away by an alert BU defender. PC retreated to regroup, allowing BU to break out and set up an open net goal sealing the game.

Sunday's game seemed to find the Friars spinning their wheels in neutral all game long. Again they dug themselves a quick hole giving up 2 quick goals. The first was allowed while PC was on the power play. The Riverhawk's Jason Tejchma got a clean break into the zone. PC goalie David Cacciola hesitated then realized his defense was not coming up to help and went out to challenge Tejchma's shot, he stumbled, but made the initial save but with no help coming Tejchma fired home the rebound. Three minutes later while killing a penalty the Friars allowed Elias Godoy to get off a clean blast which Cacciola never reacted to. At that point Cacciola was lifted in favor of freshman Tyler Sims. Sims went on to save all 29 shots he faced and garner 3rd star of the game honors.

Despite Sim's effort the team seemed lost as they tried to figure how to get on the scoreboard. The cycled without purpose, they failed to test the Lowell goalie, and they acted like they were protecting a one goal lead instead of trying to make up 2 goals.

The weekend also exposed the weakness of the special teams. They gave up 3 power play goals meaning they killed penalties at a 75% rate. They failed to score on their 6 opportunities and gave up a short handed goal. Providence with their tight defensive game plays in many low scoring games. It is essential you excel on the special teams in these type of games

Despite the weekend's twin setbacks PC maintains it 5 point lead on Merrimack. They did lose the game in hand as now both teams have played 19 league games. They also remain 4 points behind UMass for 7th and still have the game in hand. This weekend Providence hosts a Maine team hungry to move up in the standings for a pair of games. The following weekend Providence has a home and home series with Merrimack that might very well decide Providence's playoff fate.

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