Bruins Rally to Eliminate Leafs
By Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The Boston Bruins failed to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second-straight game Monday night, as the team from the hub of Canada’s hockey world forced Game 7 with a 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
The final game of the best-of-seven series headed back to TD Garden Wednesday night, drawing eerie similarities to a first-round meeting between these two Original Six rivals five years ago.
In 2013, as most Bruins fans remember, Boston had a 3-1 series lead over Toronto in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The B’s went on to lose the following two games and were forced to face the Maple Leafs in Game 7, similar to their matchup this postseason.
In that game, two goals from Cody Franson, followed by goals from then-teammates Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, propelled the Leafs to a 4-1 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in the third period.
As the saying goes, the rest is history. Goals from Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron brought the game back to even with 51 seconds remaining.
Bergeron would go on to score an emotional game-winning goal 6:05 into overtime to propel the Bruins into the second round. From there the team would defeat the New York Rangers in five games and sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins in four, before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks on home ice in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Now, many hockey-educated fans are quick to point out that this Toronto Maple Leafs team is not the team of 2013. Sure, they were the underdog team coming into this series, as they were back then, but their current roster looks dramatically different.
Then goaltender James Reimer has since moved on to Florida, and Frederik Andersen has won the starting role for Mike Babcock’s Maple Leafs. Kessel, after the organization spent years trying to build a team around him as their star player, has moved on to Pittsburgh, where he has won two Stanley Cups in a supporting-cast role to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Drafting Auston Matthews first overall in 2016 has been the biggest improvement for the Maple Leafs over the last two years. In his freshman and sophomore seasons Matthews lived up to the hype, recording 69 and 63 point seasons, respectively.
The Scottsdale, Arizona native and Toronto phenom remained mostly silent throughout the series, recording only one goal (albeit a beautiful one) and an assist leading up to Game 7, where he would be held off the board yet again.
That was perhaps the most troubling fact for Bruins fans, heading into the final game of the series. While it felt at times like Toronto had narrowly escaped destruction with at least two of their three victories in the series, they managed to do so largely without the help of their star player.
William Nylander, largely considered to be Matthews’ right hand man, as he literally played right wing on a first line centered by No. 34 for most of the season, went through a similar drought of postseason success. He recorded only one goal and one assist over the first six games of the series, which bounced him down to Toronto’s fourth line for games five and six. He would add two assists to his resume in Game 7.
Players noticeably absent from the scoresheet for the Bruins during those same two games when Nylander was on the fourth line, were David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Bergeron, who are better known as the components of Boston’s first line.
To put it even more into perspective as to how important these three are, in the Bruins’ first three wins of the series, they combined for 23 points. In the team’s three losses, they had zero.
Enter, Game 7.
The Bruins and Maple Leafs combined for five goals in the first period alone, as veteran Patrick Marleau opened the scoring with his third goal of the season just 2:05 into the game.
Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk would tie the game before Marleau would put his team back ahead with his second of the night with a wrist shot from the right circle.
Two goals from Danton Heinen and Bergeron would give Boston a 3-2 lead heading into the second frame.
Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs 13-6 in the second period, the Bruins would allow the only two goals of the period, one to Travis Dermott, and another, a heart-breaking short-handed goal to Kasperi Kapanen.
Heading into the third, Boston’s season was on the ropes.
Only 1:10 into the period, Torey Krug fired a shot from the center of the blue line off the faceoff that rocketed past Andersen and into the net, tying the game 4-4. Just 4:15 later, DeBrusk would power to the net with a strong cut to the inside, sliding another puck past the Toronto netminder to give Boston the go-ahead goal.
From here, the rest is history.
Pastrnak would add another from the slot off a smart feed from Bergeron, and Marchand put the icing on top with an empty-net goal from center ice.
Boston would cruise to a 7-4 Game 7 victory, with seven points from its first line and six from its second line of DeBrusk, David Krejci, and Rick Nash.
And, for at least a night, the Bruins have reason to celebrate. After all, this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Tampa Bay Lightning wait rested at home as they open the second round against Boston Saturday at Amalie Arena.
Stay tuned, and if the regular season matchups were any indication, hockey fans should be in for another electric series between the B’s and Bolts.
PCI: The Boston Bruins Will Win the Stanley Cup
By Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The first round of the National Hockey League playoffs is underway, and as opponents have begun to compete in eight different best-of-seven series, it is starting to become clear as to which teams are be poised for a long postseason run.
Favorites heading into the first round of action ranged from the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference, to the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in the East. Each of these teams has lived up to expectations early on in the first round, as all four teams are leading their respective match-ups through three games.
However, one of these teams stands out among the rest.
No other team has managed to put forth an on-ice performance equal to that of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins won Games 1 and 2 of their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs by scores of 5-1 and 7-3 respectively.
In Game 2, 21-year-old Boston winger David Pastrnak recorded a point in six of his team’s seven goals, capping off the night with a hat trick and three assists.
Also in Game 2, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made huge saves to keep the Maple Leafs from mounting a comeback, stopping 30 of 33 shots en route to victory.
While Rask’s save percentage of .917 and goals against average of 2.36 appear to be, well, average over three games, the quality of the big saves he does make at key times in games is a large part of the reason why Boston finds themselves up 2-1 in the series heading into Game 5 Thursday.
Toronto is notoriously a high-powered offensive team lead by generational talent Auston Matthews. It speaks volumes that it took Matthews until Game 3 to record his first point; a goal that ended up becoming a game-winner in the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 victory Monday night.
While the Bruins took a step back in their third meeting with the Leafs, it is important to notice that the other Stanley Cup favorites that rival Boston have struggled as well.
After winning Games 1 and 2 of their series, Winnipeg traveled to Minnesota only to drop Game 3 by a score of 6-2. The Jets had only allowed three goals to the Wild in their first two games.
Nashville defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 and 5-4 at home before traveling to the Mile High City to lose 5-3 to an Avalanche team that only managed to qualify for the playoffs in their final game of the regular season.
After it looked as though Tampa Bay would cruise to an easy series win over the New Jersey Devils, taking the first two games of the series by scores of 5-2 and 5-3, the Eastern Conference Champions, the Lightning traveled to Newark only to surrender four third period goals en route to a 5-2 Devils win.
Boston arguably has the hardest match-up of any of the powerhouse teams mentioned above, yet they have managed to score in big numbers, while maintaining reliable goaltending at the other end of the ice.
If the Bruins are able to sustain a steady scoring pace, and at the same time remain sound on the back end, then they should be a shoe-in to win the Stanley Cup regardless of their opponent.
NHL Playoff Preview
By Jeremy Perrigo ’18
Christmas has befallen the National Hockey League, as the 2018 playoffs have officially arrived. For those who follow the NHL with any sort of consistency, April marks the beginning of two and a half months of pure joy and entertainment, as 16 of the league’s best teams embark on a grueling journey in a quest for the crowned jewel of the hockey world: The Stanley Cup.
Part of the great allure of the NHL playoffs is the fact that every series is played in the best-of-seven format, where teams can play no fewer than four games per round. The physical endurance required for this style of competition makes the on ice performance of its participants that much more impressive.
While other sports, such as basketball, conduct their postseasons in a similar seven-game format, the unpredictable nature of hockey allows for more variance in the results of each series. Therefore, it is not incredibly uncommon for an “underdog” team to beat an opponent that is heavily favored.
In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings, who entered the tournament as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference, famously defeated first place Vancouver Canucks in round one, the second place St. Louis Blues in round two, and the third place Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes in round three. This was all before the Kings went on to defeat the New Jersey Devils in the final and claimed their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Just last season, the Nashville Predators, the 16th out of 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs, swept the Western Conference Champion Chicago Blackhawks in four games. Nashville would continue their run through St. Louis and Anaheim, where they would eventually fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins, two wins short of the Stanley Cup.
Nashville has returned with a vengeance this season, claiming the league’s Presidents Trophy for the team with the most points in the regular season at 117. This marks a dramatic turnaround for the Predators from a year ago, where they went from never having the opportunity for home ice advantage in the playoffs, to being guaranteed that privilege all the way through to the final, should they return again this year.
While the club from Music City is a favorite for many to win the Stanley Cup this season, formidable opponents such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and the divisional rival Winnipeg Jets may stand in their way.
While Tampa and Boston are both in the Eastern Conference and only have the potential of encountering Nashville in the final, a team like Winnipeg could present a roadblock as soon as the second round.
The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are the first round opponents for Nashville and Winnipeg, respectively. While both the Avalanche and Wild have had strong seasons in their own right, there are few that see either roster as capable of eliminating the Central Division powerhouses that have been their demise throughout the regular season. If these two matchups go the route of the statistician, a second round clash between the Predators and Jets is all but a lock.
Other notable series include the Kings and the new addition Vegas Golden Knights, who sarcastically tout themselves “proud member of the league’s original 31” teams. Vegas and L.A. have sized up well this season, each team winning two of four meetings, with an overtime victory each way.
Some doubt the Knight’s ability to hang with some of the NHL’s best (even after they clinched the Pacific Division title). Others see this uncertainty as just another opportunity to prove the hockey world wrong, as the team was widely expected to take up residence in the cellar of the NHL standings heading into its inaugural season.
Local interest will likely be focused on the Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who last met up in the postseason back in 2013, where Boston memorably mounted a comeback in the third period of game seven, erasing a 4-1 deficit and winning the series off a shot from Patrice Bergeron in overtime. However, the Maple Leafs facing the Bruins this time around is a much newer and faster model than the version remembered from five years ago, and Boston is sure to have their hands full.
For fans, any first round series you decide to watch has a high chance of being worth the time spent, as the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are shaping up to be one of the most exciting displays of athletic prowess that hockey has to offer.
PC Beats UMaine and Rolls into the Semis
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The first two rounds of the Hockey East Tournament have come and gone in exciting fashion. Four teams remain heading into the final weekend of the competition at TD Garden on March 16 and 17.
Despite the fact that 12 of the first 15 games of the tournament were decided by only one goal, with six of those 12 games ending in overtime, there were relatively few upsets.
The only team to take down a higher seed was Merrimack College. The tenth seeded Warriors defeated the seventh place University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks in two overtime decisions, 2-1 in game one and 3-2 in game two.
The eighth seeded UMass Minutemen took on ninth seed University of Vermont in the only series of the first round that needed a third game to decide the victor. UMass decisively won the final matchup by a score of 5-1, moving on to face Northeastern University in the quarterfinals.
There was no lack of excitement in week two, as the top five teams jumped into action. First seed Boston College narrowly defeated Merrimack in two games, the first by a score of 1-0 and the second in overtime by a final score of 4-3.
Northeastern made quick work of UMass, winning both games by scores of 3-2 and 7-2. Senior forwards Dylan Sikura and Nolan Stevens combined for six of the Huskies’ 10 goals over the two games.
Providence played a tightly-contested series against the University of Maine Black Bears. Despite finding themselves down twice in game one, goals from Erik Foley ’19, Bailey Conger ’21, Scott Conway ’19, and Josh Wilkins ’20 propelled the Friars to victory. Wilkins scored with 3:10 left in the third period to give Providence their first lead of the night, one that would hold until the final buzzer. On night two, the Friars got up early with goals from Conway, Brandon Duhaime ’20, and Wilkins in the first period. The team never looked back, despite a two-goal push from the Black Bears, winning the game by a score of 3-2.
Fourth place Boston University faced off against Fifth seed University of Connecticut in a series that saw the Terriers squeeze out a 5-4 victory in overtime in game one, before winning game two in regulation by a score of 2-1.
Only the top four seeds remain heading into the final weekend of action, with BC taking on BU at 5 p.m. and Northeastern facing off against PC at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16. The winners of each game will play in the championship game on Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
Both of these matchups are expected to be closely-contested competitions, meaing fans will likely leave the TD Garden Friday night feeling they got their money’s worth. Boston College and Boston University have faced each other twice this season in back-to-back games on Dec. 1 and 2. BU took game one by a score of 7-4 while BC bounced back the night two to win 4-1. Keep an eye out for BU forward Brady Tkachuk (younger brother of current NHL player Matthew Tkachuk and son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk) who has a goal and assist in the tournament.
Northeastern and PC also played back-to-back on Jan. 26 and 27. Game one ended in a 4-4 tie after an overtime session, while the Friars took game two, also in overtime, by a score of 2-1.
Northeastern forward Adam Gaudette led all of Division 1 with 59 points in 36 games for the Huskies this season, and has a goal and two assists in the tournament thus far. Look for him and teammate Sikura, who is two places behind Gaudette in points with 52, to be key contributors if their team has success in this game.
Regardless of which teams move on, due to the high level of competition between all of the four remaining schools, the championship game will not disappoint. There is particular interest if BU and Northeastern advance, as that would create a rematch from the Beanpot final, which Northeastern won by a score of 5-2. Look at this as the potential for the Terriers to exact revenge on their inter-city foe.
PCI: Northeastern Will Win Hockey East Tournament
Huskies Look to Continue Strong Season
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
March is here at last, and with its arrival comes the beginning of the Hockey East Tournament. This year, the Hockey East Association announced it would be reverting back to a playoff structure which was last used in 2014.
In this structure, all 11 Hockey East teams are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, with the top five teams getting a bye to the second week of competition. Seeds four and five are guaranteed to play each other in the second week, while the teams seeded in first, second, and third await the results of the bottom six seeds in week one.
The first week of action will feature seeds six, seven, and eight, who will host seeds nine, ten, and eleven respectively. The teams will be reseeded for week two depending on the outcomes of each best-of-three series.
This means No. 1 Boston College, No. 2 Northeastern University, No. 3 Providence College, No. 4 Boston University, and No. 5 University of Connecticut all have a week to rest before they face competition.
While all three top-seeded teams have had impressive seasons, the Northeastern Huskies are thus far the team to beat. With a record of 15-6-3 against Hockey East opponents, the Huskies have put together a strong campaign in a year that saw them win the Beanpot Tournament for the first time since 1988, taking down Boston University by a score of 5-2.
Northeastern is backstopped by rookie goaltender Cayden Primeau, a seventh-round pick for the Montreal Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In 30 games this season, Primeau has a goals against average (GAA) of 1.85 and a save percentage of .933. Against conference opponents his numbers are even more impressive. His GAA drops to 1.79 and his save percentage rises to .937 over the span of 22 games.
On offense, Adam Gaudette leads the way with 56 points (29 goals, 27 assists) in 34 games. The 2015 fifth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks leads all of Division I in points, averaging 1.65 points per game.
Second on the list of Division I top scorers is Gaudette’s teammate, Dylan Sikura. Sikura has scored 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 31 games played. The Aurora, Ontario native is in his final year of collegiate hockey and is likely looking to become a full time member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization in the near future. The Blackhawks drafted Sikura in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
With impressive goal-scoring up front and a rock solid goaltender in net, Northeastern presents a challenge for any team that is forced to face off against them come March 9. On March 2-4 No. 6 University of Maine will host No. 11 University of New Hampshire, No. 7 University of Massachusetts Lowell will take on No. 10 Merrimack College, and Univserity of Massachusetts Amherst (8th) challenges University of Vermont (9th) for the rights to advance to the semifinals. Keep an eye on these matchups as each team battles it out for a chance to face off against the best Hockey East has to offer.
PC Swim Gets ready for Big East
Swim Team Heads to Ohio to Face-Off Against Big East Rivals
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
February has come at last, and for the Providence College Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Team, this marks the end of a rigorous six months of training and competition that began back in early September.
The Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams travel to Geneva, Ohio on Feb. 21 for four days in the pool in a six-way battle against Big East conference rivals Seton Hall University, Georgetown University, Villanova University, Xavier University, and Butler University for the Big East Championship.
For a few Friars, this competition marks the last of their collegiate career. Alexandra Kartsounis ’18 shared her thoughts on what it will take to find success in Ohio, “Definitely working together, staying together, keep each other in a positive situation because it is a four-day-long meet and we have prelims in the morning, finals in the afternoon. It is just a lot going on and chemistry I think is really important.”
Leadership is an important aspect of any sports team, and as freshmen go on to become seniors, their roles change. When questioned about how her responsibility on the team has changed, Kartsounis had a few words to add about her fellow teammates, saying “It definitely puts you in a leadership position. I am not captain this year. My captains are Erin Cunningham ’18 and Katie Fallon ’18 and they both do an excellent job leading the team.” She went on to note that leadership can be found across the board, “I think it is important for all the seniors to kind of take that leadership role, and I think everyone does a pretty good job doing that. Mostly just lead by example and keep a positive attitude, I think is really important.”
The Friars are trying to use the championship to rebound from a disappointing loss in their last competition, a tri-meet against Georgetown and Seton Hall, “We all raced pretty well, but we lost to both teams. I think that meet is pretty difficult for our team just because it is so close to our championships so we have all been beaten down by training really hard. But overall I think everyone pulled through and had some pretty good times.”
When asked if a single team stood out from the rest going into the competition, Kartsounis, who specializes in backstroke and butterfly, pointed to one school in particular. “Butler is our closest competition; all the other schools are pretty strong but we always go and race our hardest.”
She also mentioned a group of Friars that she believes do not get enough credit for the boost they add to final scores: the divers. “The divers are super important to us because they contribute to the pointing scales.” She mentioned one teammate in particular. “Kendall Jerzyk ’18 made Big East and she is one of the top [divers] on the diving team and I do not think people give her enough credit. She gives us a bump up in our pointing scale,” Kartsounis said.
While cohesion amongst teammates is important, coaching plays just as integral a role, and good coaching is essential for any team that hopes to be successful. Kartsounis elaborated on the impact her coaches have had on her swimming career. She began with the man in charge, saying, “Our head coach John O’Neill is great, he has led our team through some good wins and tough losses but definitely kept us going through.”
Not forgotten is the impact of assistant coaches. “I also want to give note to Ken Reall, we got him my sophomore year I believe and he has a great swim background, great resume, and overall just a really good person and great motivator. I definitely think he has had a big impact on my swimming career here,” Kartsounis added.
The Friars have high hopes for the week ahead. For some athletes, the event marks the beginning of more to come. For this group of seniors, it presents the opportunity to put an exclamation point on an eventful four years.
PCI: Hockey is the Best Intramural Sport
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
Providence College has a host of intramural sports for students to play all year-long, no matter the season. Those sports include ping-pong, five-on-five basketball, water polo, and ultimate frisbee to name a few. However, one intramural sport stands out among the rest: intramural hockey.
If you have been looking for a place to show up your buddies with some sweet dangles, look no further.
Maybe you dabbled in junior hockey, or simply got by as an Average Joe on your high school team. It could be that you just decided to strap on a pair of skates last week thinking to yourself “Hockey looks easy, let me give it a shot.” Sign up, there is a place for you.
Over the span of four to five games, PC’s finest are given the opportunity to blur the line between the glory days and men’s league as they compete against fellow classmates (both male and female) for the chance to win a coveted intramural T-shirt.
Whistles are blown infrequently, giving players the ability to expand their creativity, or simply realize that they should probably go to the gym one or two more times a week to work on cardio.
Goaltenders, be ready to face a barrage of shots, as offense is prioritized over defense. This means lots of two-on-ones, three-on-ones, and straight up breakaways.
There are few feelings as satisfying as gliding over a freshly resurfaced sheet of ice in Schneider Arena. As you float seamlessly over the reflective surface, you begin to imagine thousands of fans roaring your name from the stands as you cut through opposing players from one end to the other, all while doing your best impression of Bobby Orr.
Playing intramural hockey at PC means getting a glimpse into the exhilarating life of a perennial NCAA Championship men’s hockey team which won it all back in 2015.
You may not have what it takes to dangle, snipe, and celly with the best of them. You might not even be one of the top three fastest players on your team. But those 40 minutes of running clock tick by ever so slowly when you find yourself alone on a breakaway with a goaltender you know has been giving you an earful all night long. You are living in the moment.
In short, it is a great idea to be a well-rounded athlete that finds enjoyment in a variety of different sports and athletic activities. Just do not pass on the opportunity to lace up a pair of skates with a few of your closest puck junkies. Be sure to participate in PC’s intramural hockey league.
The Pacific Wins NHL All-Star Game
By Jeremy Perrigo ’18
Since its inception in 1947, the National Hockey League All-Star Game has pitted the league’s best players against one another in an attempt to display hockey’s prime talent on a national stage.
Since then, the rules of the game have changed. Originally the All-Star Game would feature the defending Stanley Cup champions against a team of All-Stars from other teams in a winner-take-all format. Since those early years, there have been various changes to the way the game is played. The event has expanded as well, developing from simply an All-Star Game into a more extensive All-Star Weekend.
The new changes also included the idea to schedule the All-Star Game on the weekend. Under the modern format, the game is played on a Sunday with a skills competition taking place the Saturday before.
Since 2015, the league has expanded the number of All-Star teams from two to four, with one team representing each of the four divisions. Keeping with its more recent tradition of pitting the Eastern Conference against the West, the league has the two division rivals (Pacific vs. Central / Metropolitan vs. Atlantic) play first, before the winners of each game played each other after.
This All-Star Weekend, which took place on Jan. 27-28 in Tampa, Florida, the Central Division took on the Pacific in a 20 minute game of three-on-three hockey separated into two 10-minute halves. The Pacific Division won by a resounding score of 5-2 with highlight reel goals from the Vancouver Canucks’ rookie Brock Boeser, Los Angeles Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty, and Vegas Golden Knights’ sniper James Neal.
Boeser has been absolutely sensational for the Canucks in his first pro season. He led Vancouver with 47 points (24G, 20A) in 46 games going into the weekend and sat at second in rookie scoring overall behind only the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal who has accrued 51 points in 50 games.
Boeser ended up being named MVP of the All-Star Game for his outstanding performance. He also won the Accuracy Shooting Competition the night before, hitting five targets in 11.136 seconds.
The Atlantic Division defeated the star-studded Metropolitan by a definitive score of 7-4. At one point the Metro Division team of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and John Tavares had a 3-1 lead on the Atlantic before the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand tallied a goal and an assist, helping his team advance to the championship game.
Marchand, who was handed a five-game suspension earlier in the week for an elbow to New Jersey Devils’ winger Marcus Johansson, was still eligible for All-Star festivities despite having served only one game of the five heading into the weekend.
Boo-ing could be heard just about every time Marchand touched the puck, which made for an interesting scenario when he finally scored a goal. Despite the fans’ apparent disdain for the Boston winger, he was in fact playing for the home team in Tampa. Marchand was skating alongside four Tampa Bay Lightning players and Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper was in charge of the Atlantic Division team. So when the so-called “Little Ball of Hate” found the back of the net, you could hear the boos transform into cheers inside Amalie Arena.
The Pacific Division would go on to defeat the Atlantic in the championship game by a score of 5-2 in the battle of East Coast vs. West Coast. Despite this loss coming as somewhat of a disappointment to the Tampa fans, the displays of pure talent that were showcased over all three games were something any hockey fan could appreciate.
The NHL All-Star Game has been acknowledged before as the most entertaining contest of its type in professional sports, and Sunday’s action did nothing to put that claim into question. From tic-tac-toe plays, to incredible shots, and supreme goaltending, this All-Star Game was thrilling and downright entertaining.
Bruins Go on Mid-Season “Hot Streak”
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
In a National Hockey League season full of feel-good stories and teams that have played above expectations, the Boston Bruins have made a name for themselves once again as one of the league’s best.
In 46 games, Boston has accumulated a record of 28-10-8 and sits in third place overall. The Bruins have gotten at least a point in their past 17 games (13-0-4) and won their most recent match up last Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2.
The team’s success cannot be attributed to just a handful of players. Up and down the lineup, the Bruins have received strong play from nearly every single forward, defenseman, and goaltender on their roster.
Brad Marchand leads the team in points with 50 (21G, 29A) while linemates David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron follow closely behind with 45 (20G, 25A) and 40 (20G, 20A) points, respectively.
Rookie forward Danton Heinen has been a pleasant surprise for Boston. He sits at fourth on the team in points with 32 (10G, 22A) and plays alongside veteran David Backes and 28-year-old Riley Nash. While the trio acts as a third line, they have had few difficulties providing scoring for the team in timely situations. The line has combined for 41 points during the team’s 17-game hot streak.
Boston’s fourth line, which is centered by former Miami University of Ohio forward Sean Kuraly, has also seen success this year. Kuraly is flanked on either side by Providence College alumni: Noel Acciari ’16 on the right and Tim Schaller ’13 on the left. This line is less known for its scoring, though it does have 26 points this season and more known for its ability to provide depth and stability. This line also gives the top lines the ability to catch their breath while not becoming a liability for the team defensively.
On the back end, Boston has seen a rejuvenated Zdeno Chara lead a young defensive core to success early on in the regular season. Rookie Charlie McAvoy has stepped in and become everything the Bruins have expected him to be and more. The former Boston University star has found himself right at home on the right side of Chara.
The veteran’s defensive style has allowed McAvoy to take advantage of his offensive tendencies. This stability has also permitted McAvoy to work through growing pains that come with jumping into the NHL at only 19 (now 20) years of age.
Unfortunately, the team announcd Monday that McAvoy has undergone a procedure to “treat an abnormal heart rhythm,” and the expected time of recovery is two weeks. McAvoy has 25 points (5G, 20A) in 45 games and his absence on the blue line will undoubtedly be noticed.
Perhaps no other position has received more attention for the Bruins this season than their goaltending. To start off the season, Boston suffered a variety of injuries to key players such as Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, Acciari, Ryan Spooner, and David Krejci, and that is just to name a few. This created struggles for the team early on both offensive and defensively. Defensively the team played poorly at times in front of their own net, and often players were unable to clear out loose pucks, resulting in bad goals.
When bad goals start to go in on a regular basis, the goaltenders are typically the first players to blame, whether that be with or without actual fault.
This was the case for the Bruins early on in November during a California road trip where backup Anton Khudobin temporarily won the net from starting goaltender Tuukka Rask after a poor performance against the Anaheim Ducks.
Khudobin won four consecutive games before eventually forfeiting the net back to Rask. After a loss to Edmonton in his return, Rask has posted a record of 15-0-2 with a goals against average (GAA) of 2.16 and save percentage of .923.
Overall, the team has seen more success over 46 games than most would have predicted. Fans look to see how Boston adjusts without McAvoy in the lineup. If the Bruins are as good a team as their play over the last month and a half has indicated, they should be able to find a way to forge onward until his return.
Hockey Mid-Season Review
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team has played 16 games thus far in the 2017-18 season, posting an overall record of 9-6-1. The Friars are 6-4-1 against conference opponents, good for third place in the Hockey East behind only Boston College (9-2-0) and Northeastern University (7-3-0).
Nationally, the team is ranked ninth overall by USCHO.com. At the top of the list are the University of Denver, St. Cloud State University, and Clarkson University. The Friars dropped both decisions against Clarkson this season, 4-0 back on Oct. 21, and 4-2 on Nov. 25 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as part of the 2017 Friendship Four.
This past weekend, the team faced off against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, first at home on Friday, December 1 and then again Saturday night at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire. Providence split the two games with UNH, taking a 5-2 victory at home before being shut out 1-0 on the road by the No. 13 ranked Wildcats, according to USCHO.com.
There was a lot to like about the Friars’ effort at home on Friday. They saw goal scoring from three different players. Erik Foley ‘19 had two for the night including one goal on a nice shot from the right circle. Kasper Bjorkqvist ‘20 opened the scoring just 1:01 into the game, streaking down the left wall before charging to the front of the net to beat UNH goaltender Danny Tirone with a shot up high.
Foley is a 2015 draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets (78th overall), and he leads the team in scoring with nine goals and 18 points in 14 games on the season. Bjorkqvist, a 2016 draft selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins (61st overall), is fifth on the team in scoring with six goals and eight points.
Tied with Bjorkqvist in points on the season is Vimal Sukumaran ‘20, one of the Friars’ undrafted players who has been stepping up for the team in a big way, scoring two goals Friday night in convincing fashion. Sukumaran would score the game-winning goal on the night, along with the Friars’ fifth goal to solidify the win after a late push by the Wildcats to cut the lead to two points.
Looking ahead at the men’s hockey schedule, there are still many important games to be played. On Jan. 13 the Friars travel to Agganis Arena to take on the Boston University Terriers, who are currently in fourth place with a record of 5-5-1. In late January the Friars will participate in a home-and-home with the Northeastern Huskies, who sit directly above them in the standings. The Friars will take on the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks in mid February, toward the end of the regular season. The River Hawks are currently fifth in the Hockey East with a record of 5-5-0 in the conference.
With still a significant stretch of games ahead, leadership and perseverance will be key. Garrett Gamez ‘19 now plays the role of student assistant coach role with the team after abruptly retiring from hockey following an incident on March 11 where he collapsed on the bench during the first period of the second game of the Hockey East Quarterfinals against the Univesity of Notre Dame. When asked about how he feels the team has played in the first two months of the year, Gamez referenced the ability of the younger players to step into key roles as part of the team’s success thus far.
He also mentioned the role of leadership on the team as an important factor saying, “You always look up to the guys that are playing before you or ahead of you. Guys like Brian Pinho, who is our captain now.” Gamez went on to say more about Brian Pinho ’18 commenting, “I’ve always looked to guys like him who know the situations, and as time goes on you grow a close bond with those guys and they are able to lead you and help you regardless of if it is on the ice or in school.”
The team has raised the expectations of fans after taking home the National Championship in 2015. While they have returned to the tournament in both years since, they have failed to make it past the first round. Currently the Friars are on track for another appearance in College Hockey’s championship contest, as they attempt to repeat their success from the past three years previous.
The Providence College Women’s Hockey Team has seen success this season as well, with a record of 10-5-4 overall. The team boasts a record of 7-1-2 in the Hockey East, good for second in the conference, behind the 7-0-3 Boston College Eagles.
With 15 games left in the regular season, the Friars still have two games to play against UNH on Jan. 19 and 20, who sit at third in the conference with a record of 5-3-3. The following weekend of Jan. 26 and 27 the women’s team faces the first place Eagles for a home-and-home. The Friars lost their only game against Boston College thus far back on Nov. 3 in a 7-4 decision.
This season’s early results already bring hope for a Friars team that put up an overall record of 17-17-3 in the 2016-17 campaign, finishing fourth in Hockey East with a record of 11-10-3.
This year Christina Putigna ‘19 and Cassidy MacPherson ‘19 lead the team in scoring with 17 points each. Maureen Murphy ‘21 leads the team in goals with 12. Look for these three to continue their point-producing ways as the team enters the back-half of the season.