Hockey Friars Top BC

With a stretch of 3 games in 5 days the Providence College men's hockey team was able to work out some of the kinks they had experienced in the early going. The Friars gained 3 of 6 league points including what is to this point, the signature win of the Tim Army era at PC, a 5-3 win over BC.

The low point of the three games was the Friday contest against a struggling Merrimack team. When the final horn had sounded PC had dropped the contest 3-2 and was deeply mired in a 3 game losing streak.

However there were positives in that game. First PC was able to grab an early lead. One of their major troubles seemed to be they have had to play from behind and not having true snipers they struggle when teams pack in the defense. Second they got a power play early in the game and they moved the puck nicely setting up Tony Zancanaro who slipped into the slot to take a Jon Rheault pass for the goal. PC did not appear to settle back and sit on the lead. Midway through the second period they increased the lead when Dinos Stamoulis scored his first goal on a blast from the point set up by strong checking work by Pierce Norton and Nick Mazzolini. Another positive of the game seemed to be Providence was more aggressive on the forecheck and that lead to the Friars equaling their season high for shots on goal.

On the downside, shortly after getting the 2 goal lead the Friars began frittering it away. First Merrimack freshman Pat Kimball rushed down wing, fired a shot that PC goalie Tyler Sims made a kick save on, but in doing so had the puck glance off a backing in Friar defender and into the net. The second Merrimack goal was even worse. Dinos Stamoulis took the puck behind the net and decided he needed to ice the puck to relieve the pressure. Once he cleared the net he fired his clearing shot, however it hit a PC defender squarely in front of the net and bounced back at a very surprised Sims, who could not react fast enough to fall on it.

In the third period PC seemed to falter. They were out shot by Merrimack, limited to but 7 shots. They also looked out of sync again on the power play as they failed to capitalize on either of their chances in the final period. In the end the backbreaker came midway through the period when Chris Kane got free in front of the net and got a shot past Sims.

The following evening the Friars traveled on the road for the first time this season. Once again the Friars played well enough to win, but were unable to salt the game away. Again there were positives. After playing a scoreless first period PC again scored the first goal of the game. They also retook the lead with just over a minute to go in regulation play. They also converted another power play chance though the percentage still remained slightly below what a team needs to convert to win.

Overall the first two periods of the game were controlled by the Friars. The first saw PC outshoot Lowell 13-6 and the second period ended with PC on top 1-0. Jon Rheault netted the Friars first tally when after collecting a pass from the point on wing he drove to the slot and fired a shot that Lowell goalie Carter Hutton blocked, but did not corral, and it continued to roll into the net.

In the third things again unraveled a bit. Two Friar power plays were short circuited by penalties on Providence. Then just beyond the midway point Lowell's top gun Jason Tejchma tied the score. PC positioned itself for the win when Colin McDonald notched his team leading 5th goal with just less than 90 seconds remaining. McDonald made a determined drive to the net as he drove down the wing and powered a shot over the River hawk netminder. Unfortunately with their goalie pulled Lowell responded just under a minute later and with less then 30 seconds left in the contest as they too crashed the net and forced a shot past Friar goalie Tyler Sims.

On the eve of All Saints day the Saints finally did come marching in. Boston College arrived at Schneider Arena with their All Americans and blue chip recruits, with a number 3 national ranking and a pair of road wins over defending national champions Wisconsin. PC had only picked up 1 point against the two teams generally thought to be the teams on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Certainly BC might have had a let down after their games with Wisconsin, but getting themselves ready for a league game that actually might be more important then the Wisconsin wins is their problem. For PC this victory is a launching pad for the team to build on. While the hero of the game, Greg Collins, is of one of the lesser known rookie members of the team, it is clear that some of the first year players who have been playing regularly are beginning to be very consistent in their play. The biggest standout in the freshman class appears to be Mark Fayne who now is taking not only a regular shift on defense, but also on the point of the power play, during penalty kills, and at crunch time with the game on the line.

In this game the early indicators did not look good. By the end of the first period PC was trailing 2-0. They were forced to kill a 5 minute major penalty which cost them the services of Pierce Norton. That in turn meant that they had to play with only 11 forwards for about 80 percent of the game. The track record said PC does not do well once they have fallen behind. When BC scored their second goal it was the result of some quick passes which caught the PC defense flat footed and again looking out of sync. Finally PC was out shot by BC in the period with most of the Friar's shots looking pretty harmless.

During the first intermission it is fair to say most fans were not expecting what would happen over the next 40 minutes. From the opening face-off of the second period PC began to carry large portions of the play as they took the play right at BC. The Friars got on the scoreboard when Jamie Carroll scored his first goal of the season doing what he has to do to be of value to this team. After getting off his shot on net he crashed the net and flipped his own rebound home. BC got a chance to reopen a two goal lead when Tony Zancanaro was sent to the penalty box. The Friars successfully killed the penalty though, with the Friars gaining possession of the puck as the penalty expired. Showing the poise that takes time to develop Mark Fayne, instead of driving the puck down the length of the ice for what would have been an icing call, banked a pass, which even if Zancanaro was not able to collect would have avoided the icing. In this instance though Zancanaro streaked across ice, behind most of the BC defense, took the pass and led the pursuit into the offensive zone where he beat BC's All American Corey Schneider to knot the score at 2. Late in the period the Friars grabbed their first lead when Nick Mazzolini with the help of passes from his two line mates, Jon Mori and Jamie Carroll, found an opening and made a strong move to the net resulting in a backhanded flip over Schneider.

The final period saw PC even build a wider margin in shots on net, 19-9. The team had only one letdown. About halfway through the period PC was a bit lackadaisical in cutting off a BC thrust into their offensive zone. Once in the zone BC was able to work the puck around the boards and get PC running around, finally Brett Motherwell come from behind the net and beat Sims to the post to score the equalizer. About 5 minutes later and with less then 2 minutes left in the game that breakdown was forgotten by all in attendance. PC attempted to connect on a long pass to freshman Greg Collins which ended up ahead of him, but close enough that goalie Schneider decided he had to do something to break up the scoring threat. Schneider came out of his crease and attempted to flip a pass to his defense. However in doing so he flipped the puck into Collins, who dropped it onto his stick and got off a quick shot before Schneider could get fully back into position.

Having learned from the Lowell game about being burned by a team with an extra attacker on the ice PC kept the pressure on forcing Schneider to stay in net far longer then BC would have liked. With time ticking down to the final half minute they finally lifted him for the extra attacker, but in doing so created enough confusion on their own bench that they sent not one but two extra attackers on the ice which caught referee Dave Hansen's attention. BC left their goalie out though even with the extra attacker the penalty left them playing 5 on 5 hockey as they pressed for the equalizer. This time though the puck slide to Matt Taormina who used the boards to beat both the BC defense and the clock to score the open net goal.

As mentioned above one of the stars due to his strong play was Mark Fayne. Combined with a more mobile Cody Wild and suddenly what had looked like a porous defense only a week ago began to look far more solid. For Fayne this game was a match up with BC's highly regard freshmen Carl Sneep, who like Fayne is a big player and who has already been drafted by the NHL. In this game Fayne outplayed him. The game also saw what Coach Army was talking about when he said it would be John Mori who would replace Nate Meyers. While not as strong as Meyers, Mori true to the coach's word proved to be far more mobile and quicker as he gave PC several good chances due to his play. He got his second assist of the season on the Mazzolini goal. Freshman John Cavanagh also got on the score sheet with his second assist of the season and he too played a tenacious game using his speed and stick handling ability to PC's advantage. Finally while being stoned on his break in attempt Chris Eppich also looks ready to emerge and help the team.

The victory marked the first time in the Army era that the Friars have knocked off a team that was a top 10 team. Last year when they defeated UNH, Maine, and BU all of them while ranked were outside the top 10. The victory marked the first victory over a top 10 team since PC upset UNH in the second game of the playoffs in 2004. UNH was ranked number 10 at the time.

This weekend PC has a pair of games against surprising Massachusetts. The Minutemen are 2-1-1. Their tie was against Clarkson the night after Clarkson defeated PC and one of their wins was over Hockey East power UNH. On Friday PC will travel to UMass, where they will use the Olympic ice at the Mullin center. The larger surface has always proven a challenge to the Friars. On Saturday night the team returns home to complete the home and home.

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