Team of the Week
Providence Selected After Back-to-Back Shutouts of Lowell
CHN Staff Report
Providence coach Tim Army is quoted as saying he'd rather win or lose high-scoring games than low-scoring ones.
But that doesn't mean he wants his teams to forget there's a defensive side of the ice sheet.
That was evident this past weekend, as the Friars (2-2, 2-0 HEA) held Massachusetts-Lowell (1-4, 0-3 HEA) to just 43 shots in two games, recording back-to-back shutouts.
"I want to stress the offensive side of the game, challenge (the players) and push themselves offensively," said Army. "I want them to think, I want them to skate, I want them to make a play. I want to become an attacking team. But with that, when you don't have the puck, I want to be a pursuit team. So the approach goes hand-in-hand. How we play when we have the puck is the way we want to play when we don't. It's not giving up the defensive side of the game, it's we should be playing with that kind of tempo on both sides."
The games against Lowell were filled with timely scoring, great goaltending from Tyler Sims, and no letdowns. They were both 0-0 games into the second half the game, before Providence scored and then dug in and chipped in a couple more.
"We were able to stay on it and extend the lead," said Army. "I really liked that about our team."
The wins over Lowell, coming in Army's first two Hockey East games as a head coach, came on the heels of two losses in New York's North Country. It's a place known as a cauldron to opponents back when Army played for Providence in the early-to-mid-'80s — when Clarkson, St. Lawrence and Providence were all ECAC members — and it proved to be the same now.
But despite allowing 50 shots to St. Lawrence in the Saturday loss, and allowing five goals to Clarkson, Army didn't think his Friars played that poorly. Four of Clarkson's goals came on the power play, and against the Saints, his team allowed 15 power plays and only had three themselves.
"In some ways, I felt we really played well in the North Country," said Army. "Sometimes you have to look beyond the scores, look at the particulars. We outshot Clarkson 43-25 on Friday night. We didn't capitalize — they scored at the right moment, we didn't. Our penalty killing let us down. That's a rhythm thing. Your penalty killers have to react off each other. That first weekend, we were introducing new concepts, they might not be right on top of it.
"We had to address the penalty issue (against Lowell). And our penalty killing was much better. We're beginning to establish a rhythm. When heading into the weekend, I felt there were a lot more good things than there weren't."
Providence plays at Merrimack and Boston College this weekend.
(Also see: Tim Army feature)
Other teams to note: Vermont clobbered Minnesota-Duluth in two games at Gutterson Fieldhouse, one of the more raucous places to play in the East. The fans there are particularly jazzed about their new surroundings in Hockey East, which is going well despite not having played a league game yet.
Also ... Miami swept Nebraska-Omaha on the road, and North Dakota went 1-0-1 at New Hampshire.