October 22, 2002
East Notebook

Forgetfulness helps DiSalvatore, PC

By Nate Ewell

Providence senior forward Jon DiSalvatore and his teammates made a promise to each other last spring – and they'd appreciate it if everyone else would honor it as well.

"Why does everyone want to talk about last year?" he says, when asked to compare the team's mindset through this year's 4-0-0 start to last season's 1-3-0 beginning.

That 1-3-0 became 5-8-1, and the team picked to take second in Hockey East tumbled to a seventh-place finish, with an 0-7-2 record in its last nine.

Jon DiSalvatore, Providence

DiSalvatore and the six other current seniors decided to put the nightmare behind them as they entered 2002-03, ignoring last season instead of using it for motivation.

"Even though we have a lot of the same guys, we're a new group," DiSalvatore says. "We try not to think about last year, but people keep bringing it up."

That's because Providence is fulfilling expectations – albeit a year behind schedule. DiSalvatore (4-6—10) and Peter Fregoe (5-6—11) have led the offense, while senior Nolan Schaefer and freshman Bobby Goepfert, who have matching 1.50 goals-against averages, share the netminding duties.

The opposition has admittedly been lacking – vs. Union, Iona, and two against MSU-Mankato, all at home – which makes Friday's meeting with UMass Lowell all the more appealing. It's the first true test for the team trying to surprise the rest of Hockey East, the way the Riverhawks did last season.

"When we play against Lowell, our teams really kind of mirror each other," DiSalvatore said. "We both pride ourselves in working hard. When our teams play, it's a battle of wills – whoever is tougher and works harder will win."


Yeah, What He Said

"Someday soon, you're gonna have families of your own. And if you're lucky, you'll remember the little moments like this, that were good." – Tony Soprano

For generations, kids have been leaving home to go to college and, once they get there, defying their parents wishes.

But what's happening at Conte Forum Friday night borders on the ridiculous.

Boston College's Ben and Patrick Eaves will team up to take on their father, Mike, as he coaches Wisconsin during the Badgers' visit. This is no one-on-one game in the driveway – there are RPI points at stake.

Ben told INCH before the season, "It’s going to be a fun night for everyone when we play Wisconsin – the Eaves family in one place, which hasn’t happened too often with my dad’s schedule and Patrick and I always playing games. We’ll have people from all over flying in for that game."

Hard to think this will be as much fun for dad. As a coach, his focus will be on stopping Ben and Patrick. Both have been on fire to start the season, combining with linemate Tony Voce to score nine goals in the Eagles' first three games. Patrick is the lone non-senior among Hockey East's top six scorers and has a de facto official sponsorship of the league's Rookie of the Week honor, winning it three times.

1. Wild weekend at the Whit – New Hampshire ascended to the No. 1 ranking this week, a just reward for scheduling Minnesota and playing a great weekend of hockey at the Whittemore Center.

The top line of Colin Hemingway, Lanny Gare and Josh Prudden led the way, and have combined for 40 percent of UNH's offense through three games. Funny how easy it is to refer to the trio as the top line in the wake of Darren Haydar's departure – clearly they are up for the challenge.

"It was great to play at home
against a strong team like Minnesota,” said goaltender Michael Ayers. “It gets
you ready for everything early.”

UNH also seems ready for the No. 1 ranking – as it should be, after finishing last year's regular season in the top spot.

"Nobody even talked about it around here today,'' said Ayers, who made 44 saves in Saturday's win. ''We don't get caught up in the whole No. 1 thing too much. We just take care of what we can take care of and work on getting better at it.''

Even the one bit of bad news for Wildcat fans turned out okay; by mid-week, sophomore Sean Collins was listed as probable for Friday's Hockey East opener against Northeastern. Collins suffered a fractured right index finger in Friday night's game against the Gophers.

2. Join the fun – The six Ivy League teams begin exhibition play this weekend, a prelude to the start of ECAC league play next weekend.

It's just an intrasquad game, but there's already bad news for the rest of the field from Lynah Rink: the two goals scored in regulation of the Red-White game were tallied by freshmen (Daniel Pegoraro and Chris Abbott).

3. Conference king – There's little doubt that Hockey East – with five teams in the top ten of the INCH Power Rankings – boasts the most strength of any conference, not only in the East, but in the nation. Need more proof? Check out each league's cumulative non-conference record through last weekend:

Winning Pct.#
Hockey East
# includes tournament games between league teams not designated as conference games

Those numbers can be incredibly misleading for some conferences – especially the ECAC, where preseason favorites Cornell, Clarkson and Harvard haven't played yet. But it demonstrates the top-to-bottom strength in Hockey East, which has played a balanced and challenging schedule.

Three Great Weekend Getaways
1. UMass Lowell at Providence
Both teams have passed the tests to this point. With conference play starting, the grades count now.
While You're There: Relive some memories from the 2000 Frozen Four. For us, that would mean a trip to Federal Hill's Old Canteen restaurant, where we met then-Mayor Buddy Cianci and the late Anthony Quinn. If it's your first trip, PC's Jon DiSalvatore suggests Mediterraneo for a nice Italian meal, or campus favorite Roma for something quicker.

2. Wisconsin at Boston College (Fri.) and Northeastern (Sun.) – Don't let the family affair (see above) overshadow what should be an excellent game on Friday. And in Wisconsin's last trip to Matthews, the No. 1-ranked Badgers left with an OT loss.

3. Quinnipiac at Mercyhurst (Sat.) – An early-season meeting for the MAAC's 2002 co-finalists and 2003 co-favorites. The Bobcats bring a 3-1-0 record and last weekend's Q Cup title into the weekend.

4. Pipe fitters – Head coach Rick Gotkin felt confident turning to junior Matt Cifelli to take over for Peter Aubry this season after Aubry led his team to the regular-season MAAC title last season.

"We have great confidence in Cifelli," Gotkin said. "He was in a tough situation being behind somebody who was as dominant as Peter, but in the limited chances he's had he has proven himself as a quality goaltender."

Now it seems the Lakers have two quality goaltenders. After Cifelli's 35-save, three-goals against effort on Friday at Lake Superior State, Gotkin started freshman Andy Franck on Saturday. The rookie responded with a 23-save, two-goals against performance of his own.

Goaltending appears to be one area where the other leading MAAC challengers – Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart – hold a significant edge over the Lakers, at least in terms of experience. And while Sacred Heart's Eddy Ferhi (0-0-1, 0.92, .977) and Quinnipiac's Jamie Holden (2-1-0, 1.34, .965) sit atop the league's goaltending statistical charts as expected, Cifelli and Franck look like they could close the gap.

5. Regrouping at Rensselaer – A week after beating Wisconsin in Madison, Rensselaer turned in two disappointing performances in losses to UMass Lowell, 8-4, and Massachusetts, 4-3.

Asked if he would threaten to sit players, head coach Dan Fridgen responded, "I don't think you threaten, you do (it). I'm not a big believer in threatening. I'm proactive."

The Engineers have a chance to regroup against a pair of MAAC teams this weekend, Iona and Army.


Boston Bruins: Recalled goaltender Tim Thomas (Vermont) from Providence of the AHL.

Los Angeles Kings: Signed general manager Dave Taylor (Clarkson) to a three-year contract extension; assigned left wing Derek Bekar (New Hampshire) to Manchester of the AHL.

Philadelphia Flyers: Assigned center Patrick Sharp (Vermont) to Philadelphia of the AHL.


• Ray Bourque was in the Whittemore Center crowd for Saturday night's UNH-Minnesota game. Get used to the legendary defenseman in Hockey East rinks – his son, Chris, has verbally committed to play for Boston University.

Three Stars
3. The schedule makers at UNH, BC and Northeastern
Thanks for providing some great early-season hockey. And the teams get thanks for holding up their end of the bargain.
2. Ron D'Angelo, Connecticut
D'Angelo scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, in Connecticut's 5-4 victory at Colgate, the Huskies' first win over an ECAC team as a Division I program.
1. Merrimack
Posted the biggest upset of the early season Tuesday night, stunning BU for its first win of the season.

• Maine hosts Western Michigan Saturday and Sunday after honoring the late Shawn Walsh on Friday. Walsh will be inducted to the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame.

• UMass Lowell senior Ed McGrane has multiple-point games in all four outings this season. Classmate Baptiste Amar returned to the Riverhawks' lineup Friday after an NCAA eligiblity question was resolved.

• If you missed Kevin Paul Dupont's Sunday notebook in the Boston Globe, shame on you. He's the most entertaining hockey writer you'll find. Among the gems in this week's offerings, a note about Calgary Flames linemates Chris Drury (ex-Boston University) and Chuck Kobasew (ex-Boston College). Said Drury: ''Sometimes I wonder if I should pass to him.'' KPD suggests they find "another Comm. Ave. kid to fill out the trio, (and) they could call it the Green Line."

• Vermont goaltender Shawn Conschafter earned raves for his 42-save effort in the Catamounts' 1-1 tie with Boston University. "That was as good a goaltending performances as I've seen since he beat Clarkson up there in the playoffs two years ago," head coach Mike Gilligan said after his team bounced back from its 10-0 loss to UNH. Also impressive for the Catamounts was freshman Joey Gasparini, who scored his first goal on Sunday at BC.

• I'm not naive enough to suggest that there's no place for sponsorship in college sports. But perhaps the folks at New Hampshire could find a better spot for the "Waste Management" ad looming behind head coach Dick Umile and associate Scott Borek as they patrol the Wildcats' bench.

• The UMass Lowell-Providence game marks the Riverhawks' fifth-straight road game and the Friars' fifth-straight home game.

• St. Lawrence alum Bill Wilkinson will coach against his alma mater as Wayne State hosts the Saints for two this weekend.

• Boston College has won eight straight non-conference games entering Friday's meeting with Wisconsin.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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