Regular Season Ending Hockey Look

As a result of their play last week both Providence hockey teams are now finding themselves boxed into a corner when it comes to the playoffs. Both teams do control their own destiny but the options are becoming limited.

For the men the bigger immediate problem is the fall in the Pairwise rankings, which determines NCAA bids. One of the components of it is RPI, and the Northeastern games were going to hurt even if they swept, dropping one of the games makes it appear that Providence will be on the outside looking in unless they put on a strong streak taking them to the Hockey East playoffs in Boston. In the bid for home ice Providence got little help last week. Besides hurting themselves with their loss to Northeastern, they saw Maine sweep top ranked Boston College. Maine has now pulled ahead of PC by a point and has a very easy end of season schedule. PC is tied with UNH for the last home ice slot as play begins this week. UNH kept pace with Providence by splitting with BU. Now PC and UNH face each other in a showdown beginning Friday at Providence and continuing Saturday in Durham. PC has a leg up on earning the tie breaker having won the first game of the season. So the key is win one game this weekend and sweep Merrimack the final week. If PC loses two games to UNH their bid for home ice will have ended.

The situation is direr for the women. Most of the events of the past weekend followed the worst case scenario. Unless PC wins the Hockey East playoffs there is no way they finish high enough in the Pairwise rankings to qualify for the NCAA tournament. They have also been eliminated from finishing first or second. At the present time they have a 2 point lead on Maine and a 4 point lead on Connecticut. They face Connecticut in a home and home series with a playoff spot on the line. As a result PC is best served by taking at least one game from UConn this weekend. Lose both and they lose the tiebreaker to UConn leaving only beating out Maine as an option. That would require BC to take at least one game from Maine. Providence does hold the tiebreaker against the Black Bears.

Thursday in the opener of the Northeastern series, the men got themselves involved in a defensive struggle. For the better part of 2 scoreless periods PC got the better of play, but were unable to capitalize. As has been their trademark the Friars came out smoking in the first and dominated play. However Northeastern goalie Adam Geragosian stood on his head at times and denied the PC. During this stretch Geragosian stopped several odd man rushes by Providence. Also Providence seemed to continue to be content to get the initial shot, but not to crash the net and try and capitalize on loose pucks. The scoreless tie continued through the second, but Northeastern, who has been playing better of late, seemed to sense that with the Friar's failure to put the game away, they had a chance. In the third period, Providence finally got on the scoreboard. While on the power play Jon Rheault scored his 13th goal of the season. Captain Tony Zancanaro set up the play by winning a face off outside the zone which Torry Gadja picked up and moved the puck into the corner where Rheault picked it up, skated by a Husky defender and scored. The lead held for less then two minutes. PC went back on the power play, but this time it was Northeastern who capitalized. A breakdown on the power play allowed the Huskies to break into the zone with a 3 on 1 rush with all three players coming attacking the net made nice plays to allow Joe Vitale to knot the score. With just over a minute and a half in the game the Huskies fired the puck on net where it bounced from one player to Dennis McCauley who moved the puck around Sims to give Northeastern their first lead. Providence tried to tie the score pulling Sims for most of the remainder of the game, but were unable to score. A secondary negative of the game was the injury suffered by Nate Meyers. Meyers pulled a groin muscle, but is expected to try and play on Friday.

In the rematch Providence came out flying once again. The Friars applied relentless pressure throughout the first period. However all they had to show for it was a power play goal that Cody Wild scored. Wild came off the point and picked up a loose puck from a Colin McDonald shot and fired his own shot into the net.

Soon after the second period began PC suffered a serious blow. James Pemberton went down hard when it appeared he missed a check. The initial report was a dislocated elbow, but it appears it was a severe shoulder bruise. The affect of this loss and the loss the previous game of Meyers coupled with the fact Trevor Ludwig has missed the last 4 games, is that Providence presented a very small lineup.

Early in the second period the Friars kept up the pressure and with the help of his line mates, Tony Zancanaro and Colin McDonald, Kyle Laughlin was set up to lift a shot by Geragosian. However the momentum quickly faded due to a pair of PC penalties. On the second NU converted to close the gap to 1 goal. By the third period PC's lack of size was telling as the Huskies were able to win a lot of the one on one battles. The game actually became a tight checking game as the scoreless last period and low shot total would indicate.

For the women's team it was two lethargic efforts. Both games with BC played out fairly similar. Neither team could generate a lot of offense. PC was held to 18 and 21 shots which were a pair of the lowest totals they had all season. On the other hand they held BC to 20 and 28 shots. The disappointing fact about that was they surrendered four goals in both games.

In both games PC dug themselves a first period hole. On Saturday they found themselves down 2-0. The worst part of that was they surrendered a short handed goal with two seconds remaining on the clock to send BC into the locker room with the momentum. The following day BC scored two soft first period goals, the second breaking the 1-1 tie with just over a minute in the period.

Finally it seemed in both cases for most of the final two periods BC had total control of the game. On Saturday PC showed only a little life on a late 3rd period power play where they also pulled their goalie to add further weight to their offense. As a result Sonny Watrous was able to control a loose puck and move out of the left wing corner and fire a hard wrist shot to end the shut out bid. However what momentum PC could have gained for the return game was quickly lost when PC gave up BC's fourth goal 20 seconds later.

In the second game BC's lead was lengthened to two early in the second period. Once again Watrous got Providence back in the game. Watrous got into position by coming down her wing to receive a pass from behind the net by Katy Beach, who had received the puck from Katelynn Laffin. Catching the BC defense out of position, Watrous got off a quick shot for the score. Once again though poor play on their own power play allowed BC to score a short handed goal to wrap up the scoring.

PC mounted little offense in the final period, taking several ill timed penalties. They also could not score when they pulled the goal for almost two minutes.

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