PC Adds Four Hockey Recruits

The Providence College men's hockey program recently announced the completion of their recruiting for the 2007-08 season.

Since I had last spoken with the coach after the fall signing period on this subject, the Friars have added four more players. With the spring announcements finalized I had another opportunity to get a little information about these players from the coach and how they will fit into his plans.

In general terms, which included his thoughts on his previous six signees, this group will bring a new attitude to the program. Coach Army did not make note of it, but next year's team, while still having two classes of Paul Pooley recruits, will have only one class who ever played for Pooley. That class is made up of the four seniors on next year's team. What the coach did point out was three common traits among all the players that did not seem to have been sought previously. The new players have a creativity to their game, which should improve the offensive aspect of the game, a grittiness, that will help them find ways to win tight games, and flat out speed, which clearly is the hallmark of the Friar offensive system.

Getting down to specifics the last four recruits to join the Friar program are all forwards. They are Ian O'Connor and Matt Germain from the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Ben Farrer from the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and Paul Golden, who played for former Friar Larry Rooney, at Thayer Academy in Braintree.

Ian O'Connor was the captain of the Monarchs. That program just completed a successful season winning both the EJHL title and the Junior A championship. O'Connor's leadership is one of the traits Coach Army seems to value in this recruit. Actually it seemed like it was the little things that O’Connor does that attracted the coach to him. O'Connor seems to epitomize the grittiness the coach is seeking, he consistently wins the little battles that go on during the game, has good instincts, and will make an excellent penalty killer. Finally he is the type of player who goes out to win, Coach Army related a story where late in their championship game and with the Monarchs sitting on a safe lead, the Monarchs were forced to kill off several 5 on 3 short handed situations. O'Connor was on the ice playing these situations just like he would if the Monarchs had been up by a single goal.

The other recruit from the Monarchs, Matt Germain, is also a very similar players and likewise was playing those defensive situations as if the game was still on the line. Germain is a bit more of an offensive threat, while O'Connor's offensive game is still evolving, Germain's is more developed. The coach sees him as a natural playmaker with good instincts and is adept at moving the puck around. Often Germain would drop back from his forward slot and play the point on the power play allowing the Monarchs to take advantage of his playmaking skills. Germain played two seasons for the Monarchs following a successful career at Northfield Mt Hermon. Germain has an older brother who will be a senior on the Yale University hockey team.

At the moment, early in the coach's planning for next year, he does envision both O'Connor and Germain remaining as line mates and being teamed with Jordan Kremyr, another freshman, to form a solid checking line. Down the road the trio should be able to contribute more to the offense. As a starting point though all three have shown an ability to win small battles and take away the ice from other team's top forwards and limit their scoring chances. They all have displayed good puck pursuit and when they have the puck retaining possession, all elements to stopping another team from scoring, while at the same time not surrendering the initiative.

The player the coach seemed to think would be the biggest surprise is Calgary native Ben Farrer, Outside of the fact that he comes from western Canada and locals have not seen him play, Farer seemed to slide under most team's radar screen. He was coming off a season hampered by injuries and he played on a team that was not a quality team. Those factors seemed to have kept him hidden from view. However he quickly turned up on the coach's radar screen. During Coach Army's first visit to Canada in 2005 his speed and scoring ability was noted. Later when Assistant Coach Stan Moore was out there he made similar observations without benefit of Coach Army's input. When opportunity knocked for PC to pick him up, the coaching staff swooped in. In the Friar system the coach believes Farrer will blossom, beside his quickness, he has good size (somewhere in the 6'1 to 6'3 range) and should fill out over the next couple of years as he will turn 19 just before he arrives at Providence. He also possesses good puck skills, a desire to battle for the puck and has excellent range.

The last player brought on board is Paul Golden, who the coach called a complement player. His style was compared to present Friar and another former Thayer Academy standout Greg Collins. While not a flashy star, Golden does a lot of little things well. The coach listed skills such as strong fore checking, stick control, a good nose around the net, and a good hockey mind as strong points. His role will be to give PC depth they have not had the past couple of seasons and to push some of the more veteran players.

With this year's recruiting class now in the books, I asked the coach what type of players were on his shopping list for 2008. At the moment he is seeking to sign a goalie, two forwards, with one being a skilled forward, and the other more of a power forward with good size. He is also seeking a pair of defensemen, one he is looking for is a high end defensemen, which means someone who has a complete game like a Mark Fayne or Cody Wild does and one who is a bigger more stay at home type defenseman. Due to his restrictions he could not give any indications what direction he was looking to in order to fill these slots. However through other sources it is known PC has a commitment from a goalie from Rhode Island, who played at Lawrence Academy and finished the year with the Monarchs as back up goalie, Justin Gates. They also have a skilled forward lined up who played last season at Tilton Academy in New Hampshire named Chad Johnson.

Lastly the coach talked about the upcoming season's schedule. Beside the 27 game Hockey East slate there are seven out of conference games. One is a home game against Brown, which will be followed up just before exams the following weekend with a game at home with Union. Two other non-conference games will be the opening weekend when PC takes to the road and plays at St Lawrence and Clarkson in upstate New York. The following weekend the Friars open their home slate, they will begin with an early conference game against Northeastern and then host Holy Cross the next night. Finally this year PC is invited to play in the Great Lake Invitational tourney during Christmas Week.

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