Providence Preview; Sullivan Heading To UMass HOF

Massachusetts Minutemen 6-8-4 (2-6-3) Hockey East 9th


Providence College Friars 8-8-1 (6-4-0) Hockey East 5th

Let’s face it, tomorrow’s game against Providence could not come at a worse time.  It has trap game written all over it.  Any reasonable collegiate hockey player would be looking straight past the date with the Friars to the once in a lifetime (unless you play for Boston College) opportunity of playing an outdoor game at Fenway Park less than 48 hours later.  Hell, I’m making the trek down to Schneider and my mind is already on Saturday’s festivities.  The alarming part is that the Minutemen desperately need to get two points from the Friars to try to propel themselves up in the Hockey East standings and pull even at 1-1 against Providence on the season.  Unfortunately, this probably isn’t a Providence team UMass should be overlooking either.

We know UMass shouldn’t be overlooking them since these teams met in the second weekend of the season in a game which the Friars won.  It was perhaps the ugliest game for the team on the season outside of the debacle at Durham.  The Minutemen scored two power play goals which doesn’t sound too bad unless you consider the fact that they had nine opportunities.  Oh, and did I mention they let in a shorthanded goal?  The real story of that game though was goaltending.  It was easily the worst game of what has overall been a positive start of Kevin Boyle’s collegiate career.  He let in five goals on 13 shots and was yanked in favor of Jeff Teglia in the third.  A couple of the goals were extremely soft.  That said, I really hope Coach Cahoon plans on starting Boyle tomorrow.  He has come a long way since that challenging night in October and deserves the chance to return to the Schneider ice and redeem himself.  Offensively the Minutemen did well, scoring four goals on Friar goaltender Alex Beaudry.  It would be nice to see a couple of the goalscorers from the night make it a repeat performance.  Danny Hobbs netted two in that game but has only scored one in the games since.  Adam Phillps scored his lone goal of the season that night.

Providence has had an up and down season so far, but considering how they were expected to fare that’s pretty good.  While their 8-8-1 record is filled with wins over teams like Alabama-Huntsville and Vermont, they also swept #1 Merrimack in December and beat Boston University to start the season.  They are coming off a 5-2 loss to crosstown rival Brown in the annual Mayor’s Cup match.  The Friars have been much better in conference games, where they currently lead all Hockey East in scoring at 3.70 goals per game when taking on their league foes.  They also have the best in-league power play at 24.2%. Junior Tim Schaller is leading the team with 9 goals on the season while sophomore Tim Army and freshman Ross Mauermann have chipped in with 6 each.  They’ve also gotten production from the blueline in the form of Myles Harvey who has five goals and six assists so far.

In addition to their strong power play in conference, the Friars have also done well on the penalty kill.  Overall their kill is stopping their opponents 84.4% of the time but if you look at just conference games they’re tops in the league with 90%.  When you talk about the Friars defensively you have to start with goaltender Alex Beaudry.  While not as dominant as he has been in year’s past, he still presents a challenge.  Beaudry comes into the game with a 2.93 goals against average and an .898 save percentage.

As I opened, the most important thing for UMass isn’t to improve their penalty kill or get solid goaltending, though both those things would be great.  The most important thing is for them to realize how essential these two points are and the need to get back the tiebreaker from Providence.  It’s easy to look past the humble environs of the Coffin to the cathedrals they’ll be playing in on Saturday but they absolutely cannot allow it.  All the pomp and circumstance of Saturday will not make up for two points lost Thursday.  In the first half of the season this team has proven that they can be absolutely dominant on the Mullins ice and that they can beat some of the best schools in the country, going 3-2-1 against ranked teams.  What they haven’t proven is that they can beat the middle of the pack teams in Hockey East, like 5th place Providence, or win a true road game.  For the sake of the season, hopefully that starts tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
I’ll be heading to Providence straight from work so a pregame beer is out of the question.  If I have time, and perhaps reason to celebrate, maybe I’ll stop at the British Beer Company in Walpole on the way back up 95.  I haven’t been to all of them yet, but this is my favorite location of the chain, besides the tiny yet character-filled original.  If their beer list is up to date I recommend the Left Hand Fade 2 Black or the Cisco Santa’s Beered.  I believe Cisco changes the recipe every year.  My favorite was the spruce version they had a couple winters ago.

Former DII All-American Brian Sullivan will be inducted into the UMass Hall of Fame next month.  Sullivan captained the 1971-72 Massachusetts Redmen that went on to win the ECAC DII Championship boasted three All-Americans.  He’ll be joining the two other stars from that team already in the hall of fame, forward Pat Keenan who is still the all-time leading scorer in school history, and goaltender P.J. Flaherty who is third in all-time wins.  Other high profile inductees include Marcel Shipp who led the football team to the 1998 I-AA Championship and the late Greg Menton.

ps – tell me those sweaters wouldn’t look amazing under the Fenway lights!

Congratulations are also in order for Matt Irwin, AHL All-Star.

This year’s squad will not be the first team to hit the outdoor ice this season as former Minuteman Gerry Cahill was part of the Boston Police Department squad that faced and beat the Philly PD at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend.  The team was set to face the Boston Fire Department this afternoon.   Cahill was part of the original triangle-clad freshmen who helped reboot the program in 1993.  He scored 14 goals his senior year.

Toot is looking forward to Saturday’s game at Fenway, where he was present for Ted Williams’ legendary last at-bat.

UMass’ performance down south helped them move up a spot in the College Hockey News Hockey East power rankings.