GOOD MORNING! The driveway has been cleared and here’s where we’re headed, in chronological order:
• Tonight, Stan Spirou Field House, Manchester.
• Saturday, the Whittemore Center, Durham.
Let’s start with Saturday’s Providence College-UNH hockey game.
The Wildcats are getting there, little by little. They don’t have a lot to show for it, but over the past five games, Mike Souza’s club has:
• Lost to Boston U. in overtime, 3-2, on a bad bounce over a defenseman’s stick leading to a breakaway short-handed goal. UNH was the aggressor over the final 30 minutes of the game.
• Played well at Boston College for two periods before settling for a 2-2 tie.
• Stayed close at UMass before losing 4-2. That’s the UMass team that humbled UNH 15 days earlier and is looming as a top seed in the NCAA tournament. (It’s not too early to think that).
• Scored with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to tie then-No. 19 Miami of Ohio, 3-3.
• Submitted perhaps their finest effort of the season, from start to finish, and scored three goals in a 5:32 span in the third period to knock off the RedHawks 4-1.
Saturday’s game was a team effort. Goalie Mike Robinson, of Bedford, stopped everything except an odd-man rush that generated one of the RedHawks’ few Grade A chances. The penalty killers provided a needed spark in the third period, firing up the crowd. And that led to sophomore Patrick Grasso’s power-play goal at 11:05, a backhander off a rebound.
It was Grasso’s first goal since Dec. 10, which just happened to be his last of 2017-18 after missing the rest of the season with an injury. That goal had to feel good.
So the Wildcats bring a bit of momentum into the Providence series — the teams play Friday in gambling-happy Rhode Island, too — and they’ll need it. The Friars are ranked 10th nationally and have nine NHL draft picks. And PC may be a bit hungry, too, because it’s coming off an 0-1-1 weekend at No. 7 Denver that dropped its record against ranked teams to 0-4-1.
Now, to tonight’s hoop games, Southern New Hampshire hosting Saint Anselm College (women at 5:30 p.m., men at 7:30).
The four teams are a combined 21-3, meaning they’re all pretty good so far. The Hawks men are unbeaten and ranked fourth nationally in Division II; the SNHU women are 6-0.
All four teams have marquee players: SNHU’s Kylie Lorenzen, averaging 20.8 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game, the Hawks’ Shannon Ryan (19.2 ppg/13.5 rpg), and on the men’s side, SNHU’s dynamic Daquaise Andrews (23.2 ppg/7 rpg/5.8 assists per game) and Saint Anselm’s Tim Guers, the Northeast-10 Conference’s reigning player of the year, who is averaging 18.5 points per game.
The Hawks are hardly a one-man show, though. Aside from Guers, opponents need to cover Chris Paul (17 ppg) and Londonderry’s Cody Ball (16.5 ppg), who seemed like he was leading the Lancers to the state title only yesterday.
And then there is the coaching contrast: Keith Dickson, in his 33rd season on the Hilltop, facing Jack Perri, who will be coaching his first SNHU-Saint Anselm game.
As they say at the UNH and SNHU ticket offices, good seats are still available for all the games.
Some other tidbits:
• Derryfield School product Gabi Brummett, a sophomore soccer player at Duke, scored her first college goal in the Blue Devils’ 3-0 victory over Lipscomb in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Duke was eliminated by Georgetown, 4-1, in the next round.
• UNH’s football team next season plays three of the 16 teams still alive in this year’s FCS playoffs: Maine and James Madison in CAA play, and Duquesne of the Northeast Conference. Duquesne, a smallish (5,942 undergrads) Catholic school in the heart of Pittsburgh, once was known for having a decent basketball team. Last week in the first round of the football playoffs, the Dukes crushed Towson of the CAA, 31-10. Next up is No. 5 South Dakota State on Saturday, on the road.
• It’s here. The high school basketball season begins on Friday with a full slate of girls’ games in divisions III and IV. Defending Division III champ Conant opens in Jaffrey against Belmont, and Division IV champ Hinsdale visits Sunapee.
Staffer Joe Duball is working hard on the basketball previews, which will run in the New Hampshire Sunday News on Dec. 2 (girls) and Dec. 9 (boys). Joe will also handle the weekly high school basketball columns during the season. His email is email@example.com.
• Hey, golf fans, who else would you like to see go 1-on-1, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson last Friday? Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy? Dustin Johnson against somebody? (Sorry, but a rematch of Judge Smails vs. Danny Noonan is impossible. The great Ted Knight died in 1986.)
If, say, Spieth played Rory, you wouldn’t pay 20 bucks for it, though, would you? You probably wouldn’t pay five bucks.
Customer refunds notwithstanding, a lot of viewers last Friday agreed to the $19.95 pay-per-view price — which simply reinforced the continued popularity of Tiger.
Oh, and Mickelson, too. A little bit.