Feb. 13, 2014
Providence, R.I. –
Notre Dame will make its final two-game road trip in Hockey East this weekend, Feb. 14-15, when the Irish travel to Providence, R.I., to face the Providence College Friars in a pair of games at Schneider Arena. Game time both nights is set for 7:00 p.m.
For the Irish, there are just five regular-season games remaining on the schedule – two at Providence, two at home versus Boston University (Feb. 21-22) and one at Boston College (March 1). They enter the weekend with a 16-12-1 overall record and are 5-9-1 in league play, good for 11 points. That ties Notre Dame with Massachusetts for eighth in Hockey East – three points behind seventh-place Vermont (14) and four behind sixth-place Providence (15). The Irish will look to finish in the top eight in Hockey East to get home ice in the first round of the league’s playoffs that start in the second weekend of March.
Providence enters the series with Notre Dame with a 15-8-5 overall record and is 7-6-1 in Hockey East. That gives them 14 points and sixth place in the standings. The Friars are just one point behind fourth-place Maine (16) and New Hampshire (16) and two behind third-place Northeastern (17) and have six Hockey East games remaining. This makes this weekend’s series important to both teams as they try to set themselves up as well as possible for the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the league standings as Hockey East enters the weekend of Feb. 14-15.
Team GP Record Pts. GR 1. Boston College 15 13-1-1 27 5 (2h, 3a) 2. UMass-Lowell 15 9-4-2 20 5 (2h, 3a) 3. Northeastern 15 8-6-1 17 3 (3h, 2a) 4. Maine 14 7-5-2 16 6 (4h, 2a) New Hampshire 16 8-8-0 16 4 (1h, 3a) 6. Providence 14 7-6-1 15 6 (3h, 3a) 7. Vermont 14 7-7-0 14 6 (4h, 2a) 8. Notre Dame 15 5-9-1 11 5 (2h, 3a) Massachusetts 16 4-9-3 11 4 (2h, 2a) 10. Boston Univ. 14 3-8-3 9 6 (2h, 4a) 11. Merrimack 14 2-10-2 6 6 (4h, 2a)
Both Notre Dame and Providence have struggled in the second half of the season. Since Jan. 1, the Irish are 6-5-0 overall and in Hockey East, they are just 2-5-0. The Friars are just 2-5-2, including a 1-4-1 mark in league action. PC has scored just 21 (2.33) goals in those nine games while giving up 27 (3.00). Notre Dame has scored 36 (3.27) in its 11 games while giving up 27 (2.41). It will be interesting to see which team can make up some ground this weekend.
“We have to take what we did in those six-on-five situations from both games last weekend and put that into our game five-on-five,” says Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“Just the grit and determination. Some of it has to do with the personnel on the ice but we need more of that from everyone. Right now, it’s tough to score and we have to way to grit it out in front of the net and get those opportunities. We are going into another tough venue against another top 10 team. We are going to have to bring our A game because we know we are going to get their A game. We need to bring that grit, especially on the road to be more successful.”
T.J. Tynan knows how important this weekend’s series is for both teams.
“They (Providence) have shown that they are great team this season,” says Tynan.
“Obviously they are struggling a little right now. Both teams are desperate. I think the intensity level is going to be very high on Friday and Saturday night. I expect a good weekend for both teams. It’s playoff time. These games are very important. We know what is at stake this weekend.”
IRISH VERSUS FRIARS
Notre Dame and Providence have met five times in the all-time series with the Irish holding a 3-2-0 advantage. At Providence, Notre Dame is 2-0-0, winning single games at Schneider Arena in `06-’07 and `08-’09. The last time the two teams met was Oct. 15-16, 2009 at the Joyce Center with the Friars winning the series opener, 3-2, and Notre Dame taking game two, 2-0. The first meeting between the two schools came at the 1999-00 Ice Breaker Tournament in Denver, Colo., with Notre Dame taking a 2-1 win.
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE 101
Founded as an all-male school through the efforts of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, Providence College’s early days were under the guidance of Matthew Harkins the bishop of Providence who sought an institution which would establish a center of advanced learning for the Catholic youth of Rhode Island.
PC opened its doors at the corner of Eaton Street and River Avenue in 1919 with only one building, Harkins Hall and 71 students and nine Dominican faculty members. Early success in basketball, football and baseball earned Providence College the nickname “Friars,” during the mid-30’s. The college has grown over the years and is now covers 105 acres in the city’s Elmhurst neighborhood at the top of Smith Hill, the highest point in the city of Providence. The campus is located in a residential urban neighborhood with three main gates to campus – one at Cunningham Square, one on Huxley Avenue and one at the southeast corner of the lower campus off Eaton Street.
The campus consists of 19 academic and administrative buildings, nine dormitories, five apartment complexes, three residences, four athletic buildings, a power plant, a physical plant and a security gate house. There are four athletic fields, a six-court tennis court, an artificial turf field and several parking areas.
On the athletics side of the ledger, Providence College was a founding member of both the BIG EAST and Hockey East conferences with volleyball competing in America East. The school has seen its basketball and hockey teams advance to the Final Four (1987) and Frozen Four (1985) while its women’s cross country program has won national championships in 1995 and 2013. The Friars have had their share of athletes go on to prominence on the professional level. Basketball has had names like Marvin Barnes, Ernie DiGregorio, Kevin Stacom, Otis Thorpe, Austin Croshere, Lenny Wilkens, John Thompson and Eric Murdock go on to NBA careers. In hockey, players like Ron Wilson, Chris Terreri, Chris Therien, Steve Rooney, Tim Army, Randy Velischek and Kurt Kleinendorst have played at the NHL level. Off the court and ice, former basketball coach and athletic director Dave Gavitt was one of the founders of the BIG EAST while hockey alum, coach and AD Lou Lamoriello was a driving force behind the start of Hockey East with the league’s championship trophy named after him. Lamoriello is the current president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils and has guided that NHL team to three Stanley Cup championships. Another Friar hockey alum, Brian Burke, has served as the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, the Toronto Maple Leafs and is currently running the Calgary Flames.
Current Friars’ hockey coach Nate Leaman is in his third season with the Friars and owns a 45-41-16 mark at PC. The Friars play in the newly renovated Schneider Arena on the Providence campus. Opened in 1972, the building now holds 2,978 fans.
Notre Dame senior goaltender Joe Rogers has been selected as one of five finalists for the prestigious BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. The five finalists were selected from a list of 18 nominees that was announced in January by the Hockey Humanitarian awards board of directors.
The Hockey Humanitarian Award, now in its 19th year, is presented annually to college hockey’s “finest citizen” and includes players from Divisions I, II and III and seeks to recognize college hockey players, male or female, who contribute to local and/or global communities in a true humanitarian spirit.
Joining Rogers among the five finalists are Cornell’s Alyssa Gagliardi, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., senior Danielle Rancourt from Vermont and Sudbury, Ont., Holy Cross senior student assistant coach Jeffrey Reppucci from Newburyport, Mass. and Colgate senior Jocelyn Simpson from Shorewood, Ill.
The award will be presented on April 11 at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia, Pa.
Rogers is one of the most respected players in the Notre Dame locker room as his teammates seek him out about academics, various community service projects and just about anything about life on the Notre Dame campus. While being involved with team community service projects, he also takes on projects of his own.
For the past three years, he has volunteered his time with the River City Sled Rovers, a sled hockey team in the South Bend/Mishawaka area and he has been with the group since it started.
Rogers also works with the local youth hockey organization, the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL), especially with the goaltenders, along with his teammates in his free time.
Recently, Rogers saw his biggest project of the year come to fruition.
During the 2012-13 season, Rogers got involved with a group called Hockey Saves, an organization that started near Fort Benning, Ga., that provides members of the military with funding to play hockey and provide equipment and backing for those who play the game.
During the summer of 2013, he was asked to join the Board of Directors of Hockey Saves and has become involved with the organization as a consultant and ambassador for the group as it helps unite the game of hockey and members of the military.
This season, for the weekend of Jan. 24-25, Rogers hosted members of Hockey Saves for Notre Dame’s series with Northeastern. Irish players wore specially designed jerseys – designed by Rogers – that were then available in an on-line auction with the proceeds going to Hockey Saves. This year’s jersey auction raised $17,942 that will benefit Hockey Saves. Members of the military group who traveled to Notre Dame for the weekend then had the chance to skate with Rogers and members of the Irish hockey team following the second game with Northeastern that weekend.
Rogers will be honored for becoming a finalist at the Feb. 22 game versus Boston University.
Senior right wing Bryan Rust had 24 seconds that he will never forget in the 3-2 win over Maine on Feb. 8. That’s because he scored twice in that 24-second span in the final 1:08 of the game to wipe out a 2-1 Black Bears’ lead and give the Irish a the crucial win at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
“He’s had some big-time moments like that since he’s been here,” says Jeff Jackson when talking about the come-from-behind win.
“I think back to that game against BC when he scored in the final seconds of overtime. He seems to come to the forefront in those situations. He wants to be a player and play at the next level. He works hard at it and takes advantage of the situation when given the opportunity.”
Confidence is a key for most players and Rust is no different.
“When Bryan gets his confidence going, there is no stopping him,” says linemate T.J. Tynan.
“You could really see it in the Maine game. In the last minute, there was no stopping him once he got the puck on that last shift. When he is going well, he wants the puck and he always seems to be around it. He’s a clutch player,” added the senior center.
Rust talked about the two big goals that helped salvage the weekend series against Maine.
“On the first goal, I have to give credit to my teammates. T.J. (Tynan) and Shayne (Taker) made great plays. T.J. won the draw and I tapped it back to Shayne. I just went to the slot and just waited to get a shot. T.J. found Shayne again and Shayne just tapped it over to me. I was wide open and just put one on net. It ended up being a pretty good shot – post and in,” says Rust
The senior from Novi, Mich., continues, “After that I had a lot of adrenaline going. I skated by the bench and said we are going to win this game.”
“On the final play, I knew I could make a play. There was just so much open ice. It was a matter of wheeling the puck. When I got the puck, they had four guys flat-footed at their blue line. I knew I had enough speed to make a couple of plays to get by them and hopefully get a good enough scoring chance and it worked.”
The talented right wing now has 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points on the year. He knows why he has had success on the ice the last two seasons.
“I just try to keep things simple. I try to stay even keel and play every moment the same way,” says Rust.
“I have learned how to relax and take things easily. I try to have high expectations but don’t get upset if things don’t happen right away. I just keep on playing.”
A SPECIAL GUEST
While players in the National Hockey League are either at the Olympics or on a two-and-a-half week break, the American Hockey League is currently on its all-star break. That means that former Irish left wing and team captain Anders Lee is on a short break before he returns to action for the New York Islanders’ affiliate – the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After spending a couple days at home, the All-American visited his former teammates on Wednesday at practice on his way back to his regular job.
Lee is having a strong season with Bridgeport, as he leads the Sound Tigers in goals with 18 and is second in points with 35 after 49 games. The talented left wing has also racked up 76 minutes in penalties in his first full pro season. He stopped by the Compton Family Ice Arena to check in on his teammates and the 11 seniors remaining from his graduating class.
“The season is going well for me. I am enjoying the pro game and making that next step in my career,” says Lee with that big Anders Lee smile on his face.
“It’s great to be back here to see everyone. Those guys in that room are my best friends. I miss them everyday and I miss them a lot. I definitely keep track of what they have been doing this season.”
Flashing back to last March, Lee was on a whirlwind after the Irish lost to St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. That happened on March 30. On April 1, the Edina, Minn., native signed with the Islanders and on April 3, he was scoring his first NHL goal.
“That was a crazy 24-48 hours for me, for everyone. It was exciting,” explains Lee.
“I went from being down after losing in the NCAAs to signing and being in New York and scoring that first goal. I still can’t believe that I scored in my first game. I knew all the guys were watching the game in one room and I got to talk to them afterwards. It was great to know that they still had my back.”
It was a crazy 24 hours last year. It was exciting. From being down after losing in the NCAAs to signing and being in New York and getting my first goal, it was definitely crazy. I knew the guys were watching that first game together in one room and I talked to them afterwards. It was great to know that they had my back.
Lee’s former coach, Jeff Jackson keeps an eye on what one of his prized pupils has been doing in his first year away from the program.
“He’s having a good year at Bridgeport. I hear from everyone how well he is playing in the AHL,” says Jackson.
“I have told the Islanders that nothing is going to hold Anders back from making it to the National Hockey League. He will out work people. The two areas that he needed to improve were areas that he probably couldn’t in college. One was to find a bit of that nastiness, add a mean streak to his game. He’s a big man and he will draw attention because of the way he plays. Getting that nasty edge and improving his skating are the two things. If he continues improving, he can go anywhere he wants to.”
For Lee, who will return to Notre Dame this summer for two classes he needs to graduate, the adjustment to the pro game has not been that difficult.
“It reminds me a lot of junior hockey, before I came to Notre Dame. In college, you are busy all the time,” says Lee.
“In the pros, you have to take care of your body all the time. You might be done at two in the afternoon and then you are on your own. You have to be careful with what you do, what you eat and how you prepare physically and mentally for the games ahead. As much as you want to take a mental break or a day off, it doesn’t come as often as you would like. It can be a grind, in that respect, but it is something that we all want to do.”