Friday, January 10, 2014

Previewing the Providence College Friars

The date was March 4th of last year. A Monday. If I remember correctly, it was pouring rain and felt like it was ten degrees out. I walked into school, made my way up to class, and ran into one of my best friends in the hallways. I've known him for a long time and unfortunately for him, he was raised a Providence hockey fan so not once in the time we have known each other had he had any bragging rights over this hockey rivalry. I was expecting a bit of a celebration because let's be real here, how awful must it have been to be a PC hockey fan over the course of the last 10-15 years ? They never even came to play @ Conte Forum they were so bad. Then they won. So at least every week since that game, even though it was regular season contest six months ago, my friend and his father have been all over me about Providence Hockey. They're coming on strong, whether you want to admit it or not.

The whole point of that story ? Tonight has to be about pure pride. The Friars are winless in their last three games and are coming off an OT loss to Northeastern in which they gave up the tying goal with 40 seconds left only to give up the game winner just twelve seconds into overtime. It was their second home loss of the season. The first thing that jumps out to me about Providence is their toughness. They like to throw a lot of dirty hits but only so many of them can be called. They don't really play with a lot of speed but they certainly have some big guys on both the front and back ends. Not to mention a 6'4 goaltender that was a second team All-American as a freshman. Without a doubt, they're the deepest team, top to bottom, that BC will face all season in Hockey East.

I don't often call a non BU game the biggest game of the regular season but up to this point, tomorrow night is the biggest contest the Eagles have played in all year. Not only is Providence just two points back in Hockey East, they're sitting comfortably at 7th in the pairwise standings. No one comes in to Kelly Rink and beats BC on senior night, let alone beat them by a 5-1 score. Well, Providence did that last year and I bet that if you asked any player/coach/fan they would tell you it's the most embarrassed they've been after walking out of the home locker room @ Conte (besides maybe Holy Cross). Providence manhandled us last time we played. It was a beat down of epic proportions and I hope BC keeps it in memory when they take the ice.

The team we see tomorrow is going to be pretty similar to the one we saw the Eagles defeat @ Fenway Park on Saturday night. They've got guys like Mauermann, Saracino, and Army that can really be explosive in the offensive end. To go along with that dangerous forward group, they've got a couple of big and strong defenseman like Gilmour and Hart to go along with the smooth skating guys like Shamanski and Florentino. If you've seen them play this year, you would know that the key to their club is the play of goaltender Jon Gilles. They had only lost two games with him in the pipes before he left for Sweden but in their last three games, they lost to Air Force (No Gilles), tied Merrimack (No Gilles), and lost to Northeastern (Yes Gilles). The biggest thing BC has to do is create traffic on front of this guy. For a big guy, he moves exceptionally well and takes up pretty much the whole net because of his size. If BC is going to score tomorrow, it ain't going to be from lousy shots from the point that no one tries to deflect. Let's just try and keep things buzzing within his vicinity and try to make him guess where the puck is going to end up next. Bad shots are not going to beat this guy.

Scouting the Friars- 

Pairwise rank- 7th

Best win- Vermont on the road (x2)

Worst loss- Boston University

Leading scorers- Ross Mauermann (14-14-28), Shane Luke (6-7-13), Nick Saracino (3-11-14)

Offense- 3.24 goals per game (15th)

Defense- 2.00 goals per game (4th)

Power play- 13 % (49th)

Penalty kill- 86 % (8th)

Keys for BC- 

1. Get out to an early lead. Haven't lost a game this year in which we scored the first goal.

2. Power play. I'm done talking about it. They practiced it a lot this week. A lot.

3. No stupid penalties. Get it to G.


1. BC is 107-46-13 all time vs PC

2. BC is 5-0 when scoring a PP goal, 11-0 when leading after two. They also tied Minnesota in both those games.

3. Pat Brown is playing in his 100th game tomorrow.

4. Billett in goal. Doherty out.

Go Birds.

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