Odds and ends from here and there:
*** It doesn’t matter that Boston University is off to an 0-3 start under new head coach Albie O’Connell and has fallen out of the Top 20. Sixth-ranked Providence College expects a tough test, as usual, when the Hockey East rivals drop the puck at Agganis Arena on Friday night.
“We’ll get their A game, like we always do. That’s what makes our games with them great. We’ve had great games with them for the past four years,’’ said Friar coach Nate Leaman.
The Friars could be without freshman center Jay O’Brien, who was injured in last Friday’s win over UConn. He was listed as day-to-day by Leaman, but hadn’t skated as of Wednesday.
There were encouraging signs for PC last weekend, even if they let a win slip through their fingers by allowing a late goal to Sacred Heart and settling for a 2-2 tie on Saturday.
Josh Wilkins, who skated at center between Kasper Bjorkqvist and Jack Dugan in practice this week, potted his first two goals of the season. Bjorkqvist, at the top of the list in scoring chances for PC so far, scored his first when a puck bounced in off his pads against UConn. Dugan was impressive with a goal and two assists that night.
Freshman winger Tyce Thompson had three assists against UConn. “We’ve got to find a way to get that kid more ice,’’ Leaman said.
PC’s top four on defense — senior Vinny Desharnais and freshman Mike Callahan and juniors Jacob Bryson and Spenser Young – measure up with any quartet in the country.
*** Brown opens its season with home games against Yale at 7 p.m. on Friday and Vermont on Sunday at 5 p.m.
The Bears beat Princeton and tied Yale in scrimmages last Saturday.
Coach Brendan Whittet said this week that he is “constantly evaluating’’ his three goalies — junior Gavin Nieto, sophomore Luke Kania and freshman Gabe Vinal.
“Long story short? I don’t know who is playing on Friday,’’ Whittet said.
“Nieto played very well in the scrimmage against Princeton. Technically. he was very good. Made some good saves. Inhaled pucks. He looked confident.
“Vinal’s fine. He’s a freshman. We’ve got to keep working with him and help him grow. He’ll push the two guys.
“And then Kania has a lot of ability. He’s ultracompetitive. Technically, we’ve got to make sure he’s on top of it. We’ve got to make sure his competitiveness doesn’t lead to, on the mental side, where he’s taxing himself. Thnking about what happened on the prior play and not thinking about the next shot,’’ Whittet said.
Brown looks to have a smaller but quicker team this season.
“In years past we may have said that we wanted to play fast, but it was just wishful thinking. I think we can this year. We want to play aggressive, hard-nosed, uptempo, fast hockey,’’ Whittet said.
“I think we have the makings of a good hockey team. Where that team goes? I told the guys the other day – I’m here, I’ll help guide you, but it’s your team. What do you want it to be? How do you want to be remembered? Where do you want to go? I’ll help steer the ship, but it’s really in their hands. They’ve been great so far. We’ll know more after this weekend.’’
*** You may have seen pictures of Noel Acciari’s purple suit on Thursday night. I saw it in person and I’m here to tell you it was magnificent.
October is Hockey Fights Cancer month and Acciari had the suit made and wore it in honor of Drew Brown, his best friend and Providence College teammate, who died last November after battling Ewing’s sarcoma.
It’s a heartfelt tribute to a special member of the PC hockey family. “I think about him all the time,’’ Acciari said.
Brown “would be laughing at me right now’’ over the suit, Acciari said. “He’d be like, ‘What are you wearing?’ But, you know, that’s all right.’’
*** The home-and-home series between No. 16 UMass and No. 6 PC is still a couple of weeks away, but I’m already looking forward to it.
The Minutemen last weekend split a road series with Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the country at the time.
Under second-year coach Greg Carvel, UMass is primed to make some noise in Hockey East this season.
Stud defenseman Cale Makar has three goals and eight points in four games and has been Hockey East player of the week for two straight weeks.
Get out to see him while you can because he’ll be gone (to the Colorado Avalanche) after this season.
*** Two of the NHL’s brightest goalie prospects are struggling in the early going in their rookie seasons in the American Hockey League.
Lehigh Valley’s Carter Hart has a .865 save percentage in four games. Hershey’s Ilya Samsonov is at .859 through three games.
“In this league, stuff happens. It’s like the wild, wild west. Breakdowns occur and goalies see some crazy stuff. It’s not as simple as just being able to make the saves as they’ve been able to do in lesser leagues,’’ says P-Bruins coach Jay Leach.
Hart and Samsonov will get squared away, but their early struggles are a reminder that the AHL can do a number on young players.
*** After absorbing a 7-0 thrashing against St. Cloud at home on Thursday, Boston College is 0-4. Incredibly, the Eagles are 0-17-4 in its last 21 non-conference games.