Men’s Hockey: Geragosian proves difference-maker

Men’s Hockey: Geragosian proves difference-maker

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For Tyler Sims, the organized mayhem that usually unfurls around his goaltending colleagues was close to nonexistent this past week.

Sims, the Providence men’s hockey team netminder, was generally allowed to rest and observe in a two-game set against Northeastern as his teammates’ overwhelming penalty kill talents – and resulting shot totals – did all the work.

The Friars, who were edged by the host Huskies on Thursday, 2-1, while taking a 2-1 victory the following night at Schneider Arena, set back a committed NU offense and played skillfully to the point where the possibility of commanding leads seemed to be much more than an afterthought.

PC (16-12-2), with shot totals of 38 and 39 in successive nights, ran into NU goaltender Adam Geragosian (37 saves on both nights), who dodged PC’s attack and, while being peppered with opportunities from the Friars, skillfully put the Huskies (3-21-6) back into the contests on both nights.

“I’ve said all along, [the goaltender] is the difference-maker on the ice,” NU coach Greg Cronin said. “It’s like a pitcher in baseball or a quarterback in football. He can change the dynamic of the game, and Geragosian did it.”

The first periods of both games were exact representations of NU’s struggles all year. On both nights, the Huskies did not come out of the gate well and were outshot 12-4 on Thursday and 18-5 on Friday.

It continued into the second period, but the team’s offensive stagnation was all-pervading for those in attendance. On the power play, at even strength and on the penalty kill, the chances were few and far between for the Huskies. In stepped Geragosian.

“[Geragosian is] in a pretty good zone right now,” Cronin said on Friday. “[Friday is] a game you have to win with your goaltender making that many saves. It’s amazing what a goaltender will do for a team and it’s amazing that with the game that he had, that we didn’t try and help him out.”

At Matthews, the Huskies were down 1-0 at the six-minute mark when what will likely be considered one of the biggest surprises of the season happened. Shorthanded, NU tied the game behind a great individual effort by freshman forward Joe Vitale, who whacked the puck into the PC net.

Just over four minutes later, fellow freshman forward Dennis McCauley scored the first of his two goals of the weekend when he moved the puck around Sims and shot it past the goalie for a 2-1 lead. PC’s Jon Rheault scored with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

“I wasn’t worried about it,” Geragosian said of the team’s opening frame on Thursday. “It was similar to Harvard in the Beanpot. We came out as flat as can be in the first period and in the second two periods, we battled back. For some reason, we have a tendency to do that.”

At Schneider, the heroics of the previous night could not be repeated. Cody Wild scored for PC six minutes into the contest, while Kyle Laughlin made it a 2-0 lead 1:27 into the second frame. McCauley, who had a physical presence all evening, tallied his goal 7:30 into the second period but, as the minutes passed, PC’s lead seemed increasingly intimidating.

“The bottom line is that it was a 2-1 game. We had three power plays in the third period and we didn’t do anything,” Cronin said. “Give PC’s penalty killing credit, but you’ve got three power plays in a 2-1 game and you’ve got to find a way to get a goal.”

PC coach Tim Army saw a more urgent attitude in his team Friday after a testing loss the night before.

“[NU] had that one goal, but generally we killed the power play really well,” Army said. “We did really well in the third and we need it in those situations. You’ve got to play well at this time of year.”

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