Hometown captain Acciari guides Providence to a long-sought Frozen Four appearance

Noel Acciari has collegiate highs for goals (14) and points (30) this season for Providence (photo: Melissa Wade).

Not too many players can say they captained their hometown team to a Frozen Four berth. Providence captain Noel Acciari will be one of them.

Acciari played a tremendous role in boosting his team to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1985.

2015 Frozen Four

Follow all of USCHO's coverage at Frozen Four Central.

Acciari is from Johnston, R.I., a mere 10-minute drive west of Providence. As luck would have it, Providence was sent to the East Regional in Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center for the NCAA tournament, and it was through there that the Friars punched their ticket to Boston.

“It was a great feeling drawing Providence,” Acciari said. “It wasn’t really a home game for us, though. We don’t practice or play here at all.”

Before last weekend’s matchups, Providence hadn’t played a game inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center since 2004.

“It was great to have our fans here,” Acciari said. “They all bussed over from school; they were wonderful.”

The Dunkin’ Donuts Center serves as the home to the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate. Pee-wee intermission games have always been a common sight in the arena, and that was Acciari’s introduction to the rink.

“Coming here when I was little, watching games, playing in between the periods and stuff,” he said. “It’s a great feeling getting these two wins and making it to the Garden.”

During pregame introductions last weekend, the crowd in Providence roared for its hometown captain. He didn’t let the fans down, recording two goals and one assist and being named to the all-regional team.

That’s a long way from where Acciari and the Friars started the season.

Providence won just once in five games in October before catching fire and going on a 20-8-1 tear to finish the regular season.

Despite their solid play for much of the second half, the Friars were ousted from the Hockey East playoffs in the quarterfinals.

The well-rested Friars group barely held on to an at-large NCAA tournament spot, becoming the first Providence team to make the field in two straight years.

The Friars really found their offense in the second half of the season, and that continued in the East Regional. They ousted top seed Miami 7-5 in the first round.

The fourth-seeded Friars continued their improbable run on Sunday evening against Denver. A controversial major penalty on Denver’s Joey LaLeggia midway through the third period gave Providence the opportunity it needed, and Tom Parisi broke a tie with five minutes remaining.

Two empty-net goals later, the Friars had a 4-1 win and a trip to the Frozen Four.

Acciari, the junior captain, has suited up for 113 games in Friars black and white. None has been bigger than the one he’ll play against Omaha on the TD Garden ice in Boston next Thursday.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I didn’t do it myself. I had a great team around me. We knew the feeling of last year against Union and not winning that game.”

A year ago, Providence made it to the regional final but lost to the eventual national champion.

The feeling was quite different as time ran down Sunday. The Friars bench could be seen exploding with joy as each empty-netter was scored.

The celebration, however, was subdued. After a few loud minutes around the Providence locker room, it was all business again for the Friars.

Leaders like goaltender Jon Gillies, defenseman Parisi and Acciari assured the media that they weren’t happy with just making the short trip to Boston.

“The job isn’t done yet,” Acciari said. “We still have two more games to try and win. We have a bigger goal left in our sight.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. Those who don’t actually play the game may not understand the fact that what Noel Acciari said in this article rings true. Playing in the Dunkin Donuts Center is not much of a home rink advantage, if at all for Providence College. Obviously, it was easier for their fans to get to the games but as a player, there is a totally different feel on the ice, pucks off the boards, lighting, sound, bench area, etc. than the Providence College actual home ice arena.

    • True, but the same logic would apply to UND playing in Fargo. It’s not just the rink, it’s the energy from the fans. Although I would venture to say UND had a lot more of their fans in Fargo than PC did in Providence. I don’t know the attendance numbers off hand but I watched most of both Providence games and they didn’t have the same feel (watching on TV anyway) that the Fargo games had.

      • Purely from a player’s perspective (see Noel Acciari’s comments in the article), UND was not on home ice in Fargo. While I am not a fan of UND, nobody can deny what a great job they have done in embracing and growing their rabid fan base over many years. Some people think UND had an unfair advantage by playing in Fargo because the place was standing room only, filled with UND supporters. This is not an unfair advantage at all. It is the dedicated work of a great program over decades. They have a large and loyal fan base because they do all the right things to embrace their fans and put a winning program on the ice every year. It that means they fill the building, good for them. They deserve it.

        • McIntyre played in that arena in his USHL days so that probably helped him more than anyone else, as far as being familiar with the ice, boards, bounces, etc.

          Since you’re not a fan of UND, who is your team?

        • Fargo wasn’t standing room only. Standing room was behind both goalies but there were seats everywhere else. Also, there was a section of mostly SCSU fans that were drowned out by the UND students every time they tried to start a chant. I almost felt bad for them… emphasis on ‘almost’ =)

    • Providence College had very little fan support at the Dunk, no home ice advantage at all. Final game filled with many dark seats that the BC fans had abandoned. This made the arena even darker than Saturday. The lighting is the worst I have ever seen for a hockey rink. Must be horrible to see Bruins play their AHL games. It would take a lot of guts to buy season tickets to watch them play at the Dunk.

        • I’ve been to P-Bruins games there and it’s a good place to see hockey. It just looks bad on TV. Heck, there are NHL arenas that don’t look very good on TV. We’re spoiled watching Boston Bruins games as the Garden is well lit for TV, but even rinks like Detroit don’t look good on TV. Still, the Dunk is the worst. It simply isn’t lit well for TV because they never show hockey games on TV that are played there. At least not many. Odd thing is basketball games look fine as they show plenty of Big East games from there (it’s PC’s home arena for basketball).

  2. “As luck would have it, Providence was sent to the East Regional in Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center for the NCAA tournament”.

    That wasn’t luck that was a gift from the NC$$. They should’ve been sent anywhere but Providence. I don’t care if it wasn’t their home rink they still got to stay at home. Pretty sweet for a number 4 seed don’t you think?

    • You could think about it this way: if Prov had been the host school, they would have been in that regional, regardless of being a 4-seed.

      So, aside from not having to do whatever work is needed to host a regional (none of which would have fallen on the team itself), it’s just like they were the host.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here