— Tonight, approximately 50 miles from Providence at Boston University's Agganis Arena, one of the most storied rivalries in collegiate hockey will play out as the Terriers take on their Commonwealth Avenue nemesis Boston College Eagles.
Meanwhile, down in Rhode Island a former BC captain, Tommy Cross, is expected to make his 2012-13 American Hockey League debut in Providence joining former BU Terriers Chris Bourque, David Warsofsky, Colby Cohen, and Justin Courtnall, when the AHL Bruins take on their rival, the Connecticut Whale, in the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
"It was good," said Cross of his experience with the South Carolina Stingrays. "It was a good six, seven weeks down there."
Cross made the most of his time with the B's ECHL affiliate. He appeared in 22 games for South Carolina since being assigned to the Stingrays on October 11. During his, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman led the squad in scoring with a 6-11-17 line.
"I played a lot of games, and played against some good teams, and we started to win some games pretty consistently toward the last couple of weeks," said Cross. "But it was good, I got to play a lot of minutes, and work on a lot of different things."
Cross, a member of two NCAA championship squads on the Heights, said that being sent down to the ECHL didn't faze him, even though he had enjoyed such success on a top flight team like the Eagles during college.
"I wasn’t caught off-guard," said Cross with his characteristic poise. "I know it’s part of professional hockey, and you just go wherever they tell you, and try to play your best.
"That was kind of my attitude going down there, was to earn a call back up, and now that I’m up I want to play well enough to stay here."
As a unit, the Providence Bruins have struggled to score goals, and with Cross' success with the Stingrays in mind, the P-B's are excited to see what the defenseman can do.
"He did a great job in South Carolina," said Cassidy. "He leads his team in scoring, so a little offensive punch from the back-end we could use.
"Even though we have some guys in the lineup that have had opportunities — David Warsofsky’s game is coming around offensively, and Torey Krug — it’s just not getting in the back of the net.
Warsofsky, one of Cross' former Beanpot antagonists, said he was looking forward to seeing Tommy back in Black & Gold.
"He went down there and he put up points," said Warsofsky. "So, it’s obviously a big plus for us when we call him up. He’s just one of those guys that’s reliable.
"You know what you’re going to get out of him," added the former BU assistant captain. "He’s consistent, and he brings it every night. Hopefully he can bring a little jam to the lineup, and get us going again."
Fellow defenseman Torey Krug, who said he played against Cross just once while he skated at Michigan State, was in agreement with Warsofsky.
"You understand why he’s on the ice," said Krug. "His pedigree speaks for itself.
"When he’s on the ice, he’s going to be smooth, he’s going to be calm, he’s going to be collected, so you can expect that from him."
Cross wasn't sure if he would be nervous when he hit the ice in Providence this evening.
"It’s a good question, we’ll find out," he said. "It is a jump from the 'Coast, so I think the first couple of shifts, keep my feet moving, and hopefully settle into a groove."
But Tommy said the vote of confidence from his former college rivals certainly didn't hurt.
"The biggest thing I want to bring out there is just being reliable," said Cross. "That kind of leans to what Torey was saying as far as knowing what you’re going to get.
"That’s a characteristic that I want to have, and I think I’m still getting there, still working on that where you know what you’re going to get every night, but I’m happy he said that."
Cross also said he'd be happy to see former a familiar face on the Connecticut Whale bench — former BC forward, New York Ranger prospect Chris Kreider.
"I spoke to Kreids last night, and I haven’t seen him in a while, so it will be nice to see him tonight," said Cross, a Connecticut native. "I grew up going to some — it was the Wolfpack games when I was growing up. But the Connecticut Whale; so it will be good to play against them."