Lake Tahoe: Hockey in the Great Outdoors
NHL Heads West For Outdoor Games
By Ryan Carius ’21
On Feb. 20, the NHL returned to its roots: hockey on an outdoor stage. That stage was Lake Tahoe, the United States’ largest alpine lake, in close proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event was a two-day matchup featuring two top opponents in the MassMutual East Division and two cup contenders in the Honda West Division.
The first game of the two matches, on Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday, occurred on Feb. 20 and featured the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche. The Vegas Golden Knights started the season red hot and continued to maintain a top spot in the West Division leading up to puck-drop, but faced a very talented Avalanche team that was only a few games behind the Golden Knights for first place.
The anticipation for this game ensured an exciting first period filled with breathtaking views. Upon completion of the first period, though, the NHL called for a delay to protect players and referees from the hazardous condition of the ice, as the heat made it difficult to maintain a smooth surface. Several holes appeared throughout the rink, causing multiple players to trip and fall.
The NHL decided to delay the game until midnight, giving the players about an eight-hour break between the first and second periods. Once the game restarted, the teams arguably played in the greatest outdoor setting and on ideal conditions. The true masterpiece of a setting was a dream for hockey players and fans alike. Ultimately, the Avalanche were victorious, but it was a close game that showcased the talent of both teams and some of the most highly skilled players in the NHL.
The next matchup, on Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday, was also pushed back to a later time in the day to ensure that the NHL could repair the ice and avoid the conditions experienced the previous day. The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers both wore their retro jerseys to honor this distinct opportunity. David Pastrnak started off red-hot, scoring within the first minute, demonstrating why the Boston Bruins offense is a force to be reckoned with.
Even against a formidable Flyer defense and a young star goaltender in Carter Hart, the Bruins offense was too much to handle. As the game carried on, Philadelphia seemed to unravel and the Bruins were able to net an additional six goals, dominating the Flyers 7-3. Although this second game was not as close as the previous matchup, the conditions of the ice were at least not problematic.
Over the previous years, the NHL has been able to push the limits of where ice hockey can be played. This year, the NHL certainly gave the fans an experience like no other. Although this game was unfortunately not able to allow fan attendance, some spectators were lucky enough to watch from Lake Tahoe on their own boats. Even so, the aesthetic between the ice, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada background created an unconventional yet amazing viewing experience for the fans watching from their couches at home.
Despite the delays, the two games were successful, and the NHL can certainly learn from the weather conditions of this experiment with outdoor hockey. One can be optimistic that once hockey returns to normal, the NHL will increase the number of outdoor games at various locations. These Lake Tahoe games displayed that the NHL has evolved past just one annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic, to a league featuring multiple matchups at breathtaking locations.
Former Friars Make History as First Female NHL Scout
A True Trailblaxer, Cammi Granato ’93 Is No Newcomer to Breaking Barriers
by Liam Tormey ’22
Cammi Granato ’93 has been the first to achieve a lot of things in her life. She was one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, she was the first to captain the United States Women’s Hockey Team to an Olympic Gold Medal, and now, she is the first female scout in National Hockey League history.
Growing up in Downers Grove, IL, Granato was one of six siblings. Her household was hockey-centric, as her entire family loved the sport.
“My family had a direct impact on who I was as a person and an athlete. I grew up in a team environment. Everything was family first,” Granato said while describing her upbringing. Her brothers were very influential in shaping the hockey player she would become. Tony Granato would go on to have a very successful career in the NHL and is now the head coach of the University of Wisconsin’s Men’s Hockey Team. Her other brother, Don, is now an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabers in the NHL.
Although it was never easy having to play with her brothers all the time, Granato admitted, “I followed my three older brothers everywhere they went. They never took it easy on me, I always had to keep up if I wanted to play.” When they started to give her a hard time, she recalls her brothers saying, “Do not tell mom.” When she was halfway up the basement stairs, ready to express her frustrations to her mother, she realized, “They will not let me play again if I do this.”
The hardships of being a woman in a male-dominated sport never made Granato back down. Her brothers helped shape her into a player who was confident enough in herself to play at the highest level. Granato says she is most appreciative of “the standard they set for me.”
Her journey came with challenges, however. As a teenager, Granato was “the only girl. [She] never played against a girl until [she] was 18.” Playing with her brothers for a club team, she had to deal with constant whispers and snickers from a whole host of people. Granato recalls getting to the rink one day only for the figure skaters to “turn off the lights on me in the bathroom and call me weird and giggle at me.”
This was only one of the many obstacles she met in the rink. Granato remembers getting intentionally blindsided on the ice one time and suffering a concussion as a result. Another time, a coach told her before the game that he would break her collarbone if she played. A teammate’s father even told Granato’s coach his son would not play if a girl was playing.
“At the same time, I was shielded by all of the noise,” said Granato. “My coach was terrific, I had my family behind me, and they all accepted me.”
Granato’s path to Providence College was one she never thought possible. It all started when another PC graduate caught her eye. Cindy Curley ’85 was Granato’s first inspiration as a woman in hockey; Curley quickly became her role model. “I knew about her when someone sent me a pamphlet in grade seven. My mom said, ‘Did you know girls played hockey in college?’ In Illinois, we had no idea that women played.”
Granato came to PC in 1989 and admitted she was homesick the first month because she was so close with her family. Everything changed when she was able to get on the ice and be with her team. “Once hockey started,” Granato said, “I realized I had this instant team and the friendships started to form. The memories for me were formed within the day-to-day.”
The records show Granato found her home at Schneider Arena. During her time at PC, she won Rookie of the Year, ECAC Player of the Year three times, and helped PC win back-to-back conference titles. She still leads the program in points (256), goals (139), and remains second in assists (117). She was inducted into the PC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. “Those four years were amazing,” recalled Granato.
In the 1998 Winter Olympics, there was a women’s ice hockey competition for the first time in history. Granato got the opportunity to captain the inaugural USA Women’s Hockey Team. The result: a gold medal.
“Being able to participate was surreal and being able to compete for a gold medal, who would have thought it was even possible?” Granato said. She sees playing on the Olympic team as one of her biggest accomplishments. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. “The pinnacle for me, playing in the Olympics and winning the gold was incredibly memorable. It is something I am very grateful for.”
In 2010, Granato was one of first two women to ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was never her goal while playing to get into the Hall. She admits, “I never thought about that, about getting into it. I had never aspired to do it because I didn’t know it was possible.”
When the opportunity finally arrived, it meant more for her than just being inducted: “I was humbled and honored. I knew it was not just about me, it was about women. I knew there were women before me who deserved it. It was a representation for women, and I see it as a day of recognition of women. It was special.”
Granato is now the first female scout in NHL history. While living in Vancouver, she heard that Seattle was the destination for the new NHL expansion team and immediately thought it would be the perfect fit.
Rob Francis, the general manager for the Seattle Kraken, played with Granato’s husband, Ray Ferraro, and asked for Granato’s number. “He offered me the position and I just thought it was a great fit,” she recalled.
After Granato was named one of the Kraken’s scouts in 2019, Francis spoke to the media and told them that, “I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her résumé is why she got the job— not because she’s female.”
Currently, Granato is scouting the professional players in the NHL, specifically in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. “The position itself was super natural to me,” she said. “I love analyzing the game and that has come from being in a family of coaches and brothers who love watching game tape.” She added that “sitting up in the press box with ten other guys is not something I’m not used to.”
Granato is very excited for the opportunity to continue to be involved in the game of hockey. She says for the future, “I definitely want to stay in the game and be at the level I am at. It is really enjoyable being a part of an organization especially like Seattle. The environment is great.”
After all, hockey has been a part of Granato’s life since day one. “Hockey in general is just a part of me. I don’t know life without hockey. It’s second nature to me.” Granato says she has more goals for the future, ones she wishes to keep to herself, but for now she is happy with the balance between her family at home and her team in Seattle.
A trailblazer in every sense of the word, one can only wait and see what barrier Granato will break next.
Three Future Friars Taken in NHL Draft
Two Freshman and One Future Friar Taken in Final Rounds
by Thomas Zinzarella ’21
With the Tampa Bay Lightning still celebrating their recent Stanley Cup victory over the Dallas Stars, it is already time to look to the next generation of hockey players. Many potential stars were selected in the 2020 NHL Draft that took place on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7.
Two current Friars and one future Providence College player were selected on day two of the 2020 NHL draft. Brett Berard ’24, a native of East Greenwich, RI, was the first Friar off the board. Berard was drafted in the fifth round at the 134th overall position by the New York Rangers. He was ranked 45th by the NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters going into the 2020 draft.
Prior to coming to Friartown, Berard spent two years playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP). For the U18 team last year, he scored 16 goals and recorded 18 assists while also recording the highest points per game average of any United States Hockey League skater to play in 10-plus games last year (1.38). He played in the exhibition game between the USNTDP and the Friars last year at Schneider Arena. PC won the game 2-1 in overtime.
Berard’s father, David Berard ’92, played for the Friars and is currently the head coach at The College of the Holy Cross. The Friars split a home and home series with the Crusaders the last two years. David also spent time behind the Friar bench over a period of three different stints with the program. He was an assistant coach from 1994-1996 before returning from 1998-2011, and then was the director of hockey operations for the 2013-2014 season.
The next Friar selected was Chase Yoder ’24, a forward from Fairview, TX. Yoder was selected in the sixth round with the 170th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yoder also hails from the U18 USNTDP along with Berard. He posted 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2019-2020 season. The shifty forward was ranked 92nd on the NHL Central North American Skaters ranking list coming into the draft. He has been compared to former Friar and current Penguins player Brandon Tanev ’16. Yoder may eventually join Tanev in Pittsburgh as the former Friar recently signed a six-year, $21 million deal.
The final Friar selected was Riley Duran, a future Friar to watch. Duran hails from Woburn, MA and was drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins with the 182nd overall pick in the sixth round. Duran compares his game to that of current Bruins center Charlie Coyle. In 27 games last year, Duran recorded 22 goals and 22 assists for Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA. Duran was ranked 95th on the NHL Central Scouting North American Skater list. He will join Friar head coach Nate Leaman’s squad in 2021 after he spends this upcoming year with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
Under the tutelage of Nate Leaman, Friar fans have become accustomed to seeing NHL draft picks fill the line sheet. Since 2011, 28 players have been drafted under Leaman. Just two years ago, the Friars had nine NHL draft picks on their roster, one of the highest tallies in the country. When they made the Frozen Four in 2019, Providence held the most draft picks out of any of the other three teams in Buffalo.
The Friars will look to get back to the Frozen Four this year after their previous season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hockey East is currently working on plans to start the season in late November, so hopefully Friar fans will soon get to catch a glimpse of these new and exciting NHL prospects.
Playing Through a Pandemic
Leagues Successfully Navigate COVID Crisis
The NBA in Orlando
by Joseph Quirk ’23
Back in March, the NBA suspended its season following increasing concerns over the onset of COVID-19, along with the first player to test positive, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. The NBA, more than 75% through their 2019-2020 campaign, needed to then find a way to finish its season properly and safely. They did so by investing millions of dollars into creating a fun and entertaining, and most importantly secure, “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The bubble started with 22 teams, all either within striking distance of a playoff spot or already in one. The format was simple: each team would play eight seeding games in order to officially name those who would move onto the playoffs, which gave the outside teams a chance at the eighth seed. The Phoenix Suns, an afterthought heading into the bubble, went 8-0 in the seeding games as star shooting guard Devin Booker played some of the best basketball of his career. However, they would just barely miss out on the eighth seed to the Portland Trail Blazers, who used the bubble to revive a tumultuous season filled with underachievement. With a squad of Hassan Whiteside, Jusuf Nurkić, C.J. McCollum and, of course, bubble MVP Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers were able to capture the Western Conference’s eighth seed thanks to a victory over Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in game.
The playoffs brought a batch of equally exciting games. Two young, up-and-coming teams in the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz went to seven games in a historic first round series. Denver would defeat the Jazz and move on to face the Los Angeles Clippers, a title contender led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Nuggets mounted a furious comeback to beat the Clippers in seven games before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. In the East, things unfolded as expected until the Milwaukee Bucks, led by back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, were knocked off by Jimmy Butler and a scrappy Miami Heat team. Butler and the Heat went on to beat the Boston Celtics and advance to the Finals where they would fall to the Lakers.
It always seemed inevitable that the Lakers would win the Finals. Not only were they one of the most talented teams in the world, featuring generational stars such as Lebron James and Anthony Davis, but they also had strong veteran players such as center Dwight Howard and point guard Rajon Rondo. The title significantly helps the legacy of James, who now has four NBA titles and four Finals MVPs on his resume. Important to note is that the Lakers were also playing in honor of franchise icon Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in a helicopter accident earlier this year.
Indeed, the fact that anyone was crowned a champion at all in this year of turmoil is something that the NBA should be proud of.
The NHL in Canada
by Ryan Carius ’21
On Sept. 28, the Tampa Bay Lightning shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0, ending a six-game series in an unprecedented yet entertaining Stanley Cup matchup. Tampa Bay’s victory completed a two-month playoff bubble, which began on Aug. 1 and included 24 out of the 31 National Hockey League franchises. The Lightning skipped the qualifying rounds and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay avenged last year’s shocking defeat against the Columbus Blue Jackets, dominated the Boston Bruins, and then skated past the New York Islanders on the way to their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in five years.
The Dallas Stars fought relentlessly, especially goaltender Anton Khudobin, but the Tampa Bay offense proved too much of a challenge for the young Dallas defenders. Tampa Bay centerman Brayden Point netted 14 goals and assisted on 19 other goals, a monumental performance for the young and rising star. However, it was Victor Hedman who took home the hardware awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hedman became the first defenseman to win the Conn Smyth trophy since Duncan Keith in 2015, when the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning. In just 25 games, the 6-foot-6-inch skater recorded 10 goals and 22 points, setting franchise records for both total goals and points by a Tampa Bay defender.
Besides the championship, the most important outcome of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the success of the NHL bubble that occurred in two cities. The NHL became the first of the four major North American sport leagues to complete a postseason in the COVID-19 pandemic. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the two Canadian cities, Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta, created an environment that ensured the safety of the players and staff. All personnel involved in daily bubble activity were divided into categories based on their roles and the people to whom they were exposed.
The NHL conducted 33,174 tests with zero positive cases among category one and category two personnel. Players, medical officials, and team and league staff members made up these first two categories. However, there were a few positive tests among category three and four personnel, which included individuals who had little exposure to the players but still participated in the bubble as hotel staff, cooks, and security officers.
The NHL and the NHL Player’s Association implemented Jan. 1, 2021 as the start of the next season. Bettman is optimistic for a “full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.” However, if the NHL needs to return to a bubble, Bettman can follow the success of this season to provide fans with entertaining and competitive hockey.
A Decade of Success: PC in the Pros
By Cam Smith ’21
Sports Assistant Editor
The 2010s produced a slew of immensely successful Providence College athletic teams, cementing the College’s status as a major player in the Big East conference and beyond. However, collegiate success is not the only thing that PC produced last decade, as the College also churned out a bevy of professional players who are currently finding success at the highest levels of their respective sports.
Three players that exemplify this wealth of Friar talent are Julian Gressel ’17, Noel Acciari ’15, and Kris Dunn ’16.
Gressel wrapped up his historic college career for the men’s soccer team in 2016, a season in which he scored a whopping 15 goals, placing him in the top four in scoring in the country. Following a two-goal performance against the top-seeded University of Maryland in the 2016 College Cup, Gressel was drafted by Atlanta United with the eighth pick of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
The sure-footed midfielder wasted little time adjusting to the big leagues, as he registered nine assists, third-most all time for a rookie, to go along with five goals in a first-year campaign that landed him the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year award. Since then, Gressel has only continued his success, tallying a total of 15 goals and 35 assists across three seasons for an Atlanta United team that he has helped turn into one of the best expansion teams in recent history.
Acciari, too, found collegiate success prior to entering the professional ranks. His final season with the Friars featured the first national championship in men’s hockey history, a season in which Acciari tied for most goals scored on the team with 15.
After spending four solid seasons with the NHL’s Boston Bruins to begin his pro career, Acciari signed a three-year, $5 million deal with the Florida Panthers this off-season. The deal has immediately paid dividends for both sides, as Acciari has already set a career high in goals with 17, a number boosted by a remarkable two-game stretch in December that featured back-to-back hat tricks.
Dunn, perhaps the most well-known recent PC alumni, also finished his PC career strong, leading the men’s basketball team to a NCAA tournament victory over the University of Southern California in the first round. The Big East player of the year for 2016, Dunn was drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2016 NBA draft.
Though shooting woes have marred the start of his promising career, Dunn has found his stride this season with the Chicago Bulls on the defensive end. The fourth-year point guard has locked down some of the best offensive players in the league, and trails only Philadelphia 76ers’ star Ben Simmons in total steals, all while playing almost 400 minutes less than Simmons.
‘‘I’ve been guarding my whole life,’’ said Dunn on his defensive prowess. ‘‘I know when somebody is kind of fearful. I can see it, I can smell it, and I just try and act on it.’’
Indeed, the past decade has shown that PC can produce world-class athletes, ones who can succeed against the toughest competition in their respective sports. Players like Gressel, Acciari, and Dunn will continue to serve as inspirations to the next generation of Friar athletes.
Already this year, Jack Dugan ’22, a Vegas Golden Knights 2017 draft pick, has shined for the men’s hockey team. In addition, a pair of men’s soccer players, Austin Aviza ’20RS and Danny Griffin ’20, were both taken in the second round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft and will hope to follow in the footsteps of Gressel. The triumph of these players and many more bodes well for another decade of success beyond Friartown for PC athletes.
Former Friars Ready to Go Pro
Six Players Sign Entry-Level Contracts
By Cam Smith ’21
Sports Assistant Editor
The success of the Providence College hockey programs continued over the offseason as six former Friars signed professional hockey deals. Four of these came from former men’s squad members, as Josh Wilkins, Brandon Duhaime, Kasper Björkqvist, and Jacob Bryson who secured entry-level deals with National Hockey League clubs.
Two contracts went to former women’s team players Christina Putigna and Cassidy MacPherson; both reached terms to join teams in the National Women’s Hockey League.
Wilkins will make his way down to Tennessee, joining the Nashville Predators’ program on a two-year, entry-level contract. The silky-smooth forward is coming off an absolutely dominant year for the Friars, posting the best offensive season by a PC skater in over 15 seasons. Wilkins put up 46 points last season, good enough for ninth in the entire country, on 20 goals and 26 assists. He also owned the nation’s longest point streak last season, putting together a stretch of 13 straight games.
Duhaime agreed to his two-year, entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild. The crafty forward joins a Minnesota program that selected him with the 106th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. Duhaime had a strong final season in Friartown, tallying a career-high 34 points with 11 goals and 23 assists. As a result, he was named to the Team Hockey East All-Star Third team. He then proceeded to play a pivotal role in the Friars’ postseason run, tallying five points in PC’s three tournament games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will see Björkqvist join the organization, as he too agreed to a two-year, entry level deal. The forward finished his illustrious PC career with 36 total goals and 26 assists. Pittsburgh assistant general manager Bill Guerin had high praise when asked about the signee, saying, “Kasper was able to produce in big games throughout his college career… playing for an outstanding program in Providence allowed him to go far in the NCAA Tournament each season, so he received a lot of great experience.”
The 99th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, Bryson signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The sure-footed defenseman amassed an astonishing 73 points over his career at PC, recording 11 goals and 62 assists. In his final year with the Friars, Bryson dished out 24 assists on his way to Second Team Hockey East All-Star honors.
His dominance on the ice also translated over to the classroom, as the defenseman was a Chi Alpha Sigma inductee, an honor given to student-athletes who maintain at least a 3.40 grade point average though their first five semesters.
Putigna will be staying in New England, as she agreed to a contract with the Boston Pride. The Pride will be picking up a prolific scorer in Putigna, the star forward accumulated a whopping 110 points in her collegiate career. As a senior assistant captain last season, Putigna registered 15 goals and 15 assists while leading the Friars to the Hockey East semi-finals.
“It’s exciting and humbling to have this opportunity to sign with the Pride,” said Putigna. “It means a lot to me to get the chance to remain in New England and pursue my hockey career.”
The final Friar to sign, MacPherson, signed her deal with the Buffalo Beauts. The forward recorded 78 points in her college career, netting 25 goals and 53 assists.
Beauts head coach Pete Perram lauded MacPherson’s skill with the puck, saying “[MacPherson] is a smooth and speedy skater with exceptional hands.”
MacPherson expressed her excitement with her signing, saying, “It has been a dream of mine to play in the NWHL, and I’m looking forward to a great season ahead in Buffalo.”
What People Can Learn From Patrice Bergeron’s Career
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Over the past week, the entire hockey community has been celebrating Patrice Bergeron as he reached yet another milestone in his career—playing in 1,000 games. Former players, coaches, family members, and fans have expressed their gratitude for all that Bergeron has done on and off the ice in a series of interviews and videos shared by the Boston Bruins organization. Upon reflection, these videos have brought to mind not what Bergeron has given of himself, but what people, athletes and non-athletes alike, can take and learn from him over the course of his 16 year career.
1. In the face of adversity, never give up.
In October 2007, Bergeron’s career almost ended when he suffered a grade-three concussion after a hit from behind during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers—there is no grade-four. His injury was so severe that in the months following the hit, the question was not “will he be able to recover and return to the game?” but “will his life in general ever be the same?” There was serious doubt that he would ever be able to play hockey again. Yet, Bergeron put all those doubts to rest when just over a year later he was back and scoring goals. Three more serious (but not as major) concussions later, Bergeron proved time and time again that when people think his career is finished they need to think again.
2. “We” not “Me” because selfishness gets you nowhere.
According to Boston Bruins announcer Jack Edwards, the media joke surrounding Bergeron is to see what it takes for them to get him to once refer to himself in the first person. It never happens. Bergeron’s main focus has always been, and always will be, his teammates and their contributions. It is a true sign of his leadership perhaps, or just his character in general, but Bergeron’s unselfish attitude is one that is known throughout the league and it is the one thing that players commented most about him. And to Bergeron, even when asked about his latest accomplishment of being the fifth Boston Bruins player to make it to 1,000+ games, he stated, “My best memories are always what we’ve accomplished as a team, and the friends I have made. It’s honestly that’s what I’m most proud of.”
3. Have courage to persevere in any situation.
Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks ended with the Blackhawks as the victors, but Bergeron a legend. Against medical advisement, Bergeron played alongside his teammates with a plethora of injuries: torn rib cartilage, broken rib, separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. On his more recent injury that would take Bergeron out of the game for a month, teammate Brad Marchand commented how he would not succumb to his injury until the final buzzer went off, “Essentially, his whole body was broken, the whole upper half. And he still comes back to play. It’s incredible.” His toughness has become a staple on his résumé as a player and proves time and time again why he is considered the best of the best.
Former Friars: Where Are They Now
Noel Acciari is Making His Presence Known on the Boston Bruins
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Before fans entered Schneider Arena to watch the Friars skate to a 4-1 win over Northeastern University, they were gifted with free bobbleheads of former Providence College men’s hockey player and current forward for the Boston Bruins Noel Acciari ’15. Captain of the NCAA National Championship winning team (a first for PC), Acciari is one of the few former Friars who have made a statement within the National Hockey League as a solid fourth-liner.
A Rhode Island native, Acciari has played in 150 games with the Bruins over the course of his four years with the team. Originally undrafted, the Bruins picked up Acciari at the end of his junior year just after PC ousted Boston University for the National Championship with a 4-3 win. Acciari left PC to begin his professional career and on June 8, 2015 he signed a two-year entry-level contract as a free agent. However, Acciari would not see the NHL until March of 2016 as the Bruins assigned him to the Providence Bruins to develop his game.
Acciari’s NHL debut took place on March 1, 2016 against the Calgary Flames. For the remainder of that season, he would go on to play 19 games with the Bruins, totaling a single assist and a -4 plus/minus rating.
In his second season with the Bruins (2016-2017), Acciari appeared in a total of 29 regular season games, racked up two goals and three assists for a total of five points, and had a +3 plus/minus rating. His first NHL goal was scored on March 28, 2017 against the Nashville Predators, just over a year after his NHL debut.
It was at the end of this season that the Bruins re-signed him with a two-year contract extension.
Acciari saw an increase of playing time over the course of his third season with the Bruins, totaling 60 games played. Over the course of 2017-2018, he scored 10 goals and notched a single assist during regular season play. And despite his -6 plus/minus rating, his presence was surely felt on the ice.
Acciari’s third season influx of goal-scoring caught his former college coach’s eye.
“He takes the puck to the net hard, stays on the rebound and scores. That’s Friar hockey,” PC men’s hockey Head Coach Nate Leaman commented on his former player in 2018.
Over the course of his first three seasons with the Bruins, and even going back to his days as a Friar, Acciari gained the reputation of being a hard hitter along the boards.
“He can turn the tide of a game with the physicality part…You have to match [teams] hit for hit…and the Kevan Millers, Charlie [McAvoy], Noel, Z [Zdeno Chara]…give us some of that counterpunching we need,” Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy once commented on Noel’s physical style of play.
Of the 50 games played so far this current NHL season, Acciari has played in 42 of them; the eight missed games were due to healthy scratches. Unfortunately, Acciari’s scratches stem from the fact that he is not producing as much as the Bruins’s coaching staff would like. In the 42 games he has played, he has only notched one goal and three assists and has a -9 plus/minus rating. Yet, despite being scratched from multiple games and his low numbers in terms of points he is posting, Cassidy acknowledges that Acciari’s line, which usually consists of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, has been playing great and “working hard” in both games and practices.
The start of 2019 marks the last year of Acciari’s contract with the Bruins before he will once again become a free agent up for grabs. While the Bruins have made no indication on whether or not he will be offered another extension, going forward Acciari will need to start producing more on the ice and adding a bit more consistency to his game.
Boston Bruins Start Off Season With Devastating Loss
By Sam Scanlon ’19
October is finally here and the quest for the Stanley Cup is officially underway.
The Boston Bruins finished last season with a 50-20-12 record, but the year was abruptly ended by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This season, the Bruins have added several new faces to complement their veteran core and boost their young talent. Chris Wagner, a Walpole, Massachusetts native, and Joakim Nordstrom are the Bruins’ new acquisitions up front, who will fill the fourth line role left by Tim Schaller. Wagner is an undersized powerhouse who thrives in physical situations, and he will fit the Bruins’ style of play perfectly.
The Bruins have also picked up two new defensemen to fill the void left by long-time Bruin Adam McQuaid’s departure. The most crucial acquisition was John Moore. Moore’s ability to skate with the puck was especially attractive to the Bruins. His role will be similar to that of Torey Krug, who will be out for the first three weeks of the season due to another ankle injury. Moore will play an extended role in the absence of Krug and McQuaid.
Tuukka Rask has been the Bruins’ franchise goaltender for just about a decade. The 31-year-old is quickly approaching 500 games played, and with that in mind, the Bruins have brought in Jaroslav Halak from the New York Islanders. Halak will serve as a backup goalie to Rask who can be comfortably relied on when Rask takes time off.
With the core of the team still in tact after last year, the Bruins are still in a great position to make yet another deep postseason run. Boston is home to one of the NHL’s deadliest offensive lines in Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand, who are capable to combining for well over 200 points this season. Veteran center David Krejci will begin the season playing in the middle of two sophomores, Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. Along with Ryan Donato, Heinen and DeBrusk broke out in the second half of their rookie seasons and will look to continue production through the start of this season.
Charlie McAvoy is another Bruins young stud. His offensive prowess as a defenseman is a main reason why top forwards are able to produce. As he skates with the 6’9” captain Zdeno Chara, he is able to make plays for the Bruins offensively. He will play a large role on the power play during the first month while Krug rehabs his injury.
The Bruins looked to put all of their summer transactions and training to the test in their first game on Oct. 3 against the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Washington Capitals. It was also Opening Night for the Caps and the Cup holders were celebrating with their June victory one last time with their city by raising their very first Stanley Cup Champions banner. However, they were unable to take away from the celebratory night for the Caps—the momentum of the night was just not on their side.
Rask was put to the test right away and not even 25 seconds into the game, T.J. Oshie was able to snipe one past him. And from there, the flood gates opened wide for the Captials and while the Bruins did all that they could to stay afloat, it was just not enough.
They headed into the second period down 2-0 after Evgeny Kuznetsov snuck one in 1.23 minutes after Oshie. Not even five minutes into the second, Rask let three unanswered goals hit the back of the net within a span of just over three minutes. Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, and Kuznetsov all rallied their team to a 5-0 lead not even halfway through the second period.
Head Coach Bruce Cassidy decided to take action then and yanked Rask from the net to give newcomer Halak a chance. However, not even he could stop the Caps, as John Carlson fired one right over his shoulder from the top of the face-off circle, making the score 6-0 Caps.
The third period consisted of a single goal scored by Lars Eller, giving the Caps a 7-0 win over Boston on Opening Night. However, despite the obvious defeat on the score board, Boston did not end the night totally defeated; they out hit the Caps 28-16 and dominated in the face-off circle 41-19.
Obviously the Bruins still have a lot of work to do in preparation for the season based off of their lack of defense and offense against the Caps and they will have to recover quickly for their Oct. 4 game against the Buffalo Sabres.
PCI: The Best Moment of Summer 2018
By Sam Scanlon ’19
For the first time in history, the Washington Capitals are at the top of the hockey world after defeating the Las Vegas Golden Knights in five games to win the Stanley Cup. The sheer fact that Las Vegas reached the Stanley Cup final was in itself an outstanding moment. Seeing Alexander Ovechkin and the rest of the Washington Capitals reign as champions is undoubtedly the best sports moment of the summer.
Ovechkin, one of the highest NHL goal scorers of our generation, has been criticized for never winning a Stanley Cup. Until now, some experts have discounted Ovechkin when considering best players of all time; therefore, seeing him raise the Cup for his team was special to watch.
It seemed as though the 2016-2017 “super” team would capture the organization’s first title. When they fell short and subsequently lost Justin Williams, Nate Schmidt, and Kevin Shattenkirk, the 2017-2018 team was certainly battling against the odds.
However, the Capitals still maintained the rights to powerhouse forwards Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Evgeny Kuznetsov as well as a top 10 NHL defenseman, John Carlson who led all NHL defensemen with 68 points last season.
Although the Capitals appeared solid on paper, it takes more than a good roster to win the Stanley Cup, a trophy which is often referred to as the hardest trophy to win in professional sports. The Capitals’ “Big 5” carried out their roles as they finished top five in team scoring for both the regular season and postseason. However, they had another underdog story of their own.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals found themselves down three games to two in the best-of-seven games series to the Tampa Bay Lighting.
With their backs to the wall and the potential for another season to fall short of the Finals, Washington dominated Game 6, winning 3-0 to force a decisive Game 7 in Tampa Bay.
In Game 7, Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game giving Washington control and momentum on the ice.
Despite playing in a hostile crowd, Washington dominated and won on the road for the third time in the series, winning 4-0 to seal a trip to the Finals.
After dropping the first game in the finals, Washington came back to win four games in a row to seal their first title.
Lars Eller, the first Danish player to bring home the Stanley Cup, had a career year as he finished his season ranked sixth on the team in points. His late goal in the third period broke a 3-3 tie to top the Golden Knights 4-3 to clinch the title.
After the final horn buzzed, Ovechkin reflected on how big the moment was. “We did it. That’s all that matters. Look at the smiles on my teammates. This is something you’ll never forget. This moment, I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable.”
With Ovechkin and Washington winning their first Cup, Eller scoring the winning goal and bringing the Cup to Denmark, and watching Oshie share a special moment with his ill father on the ice after lifting the Cup, it is hard not to tip your cap to the Washington Capitals.