by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team has played 16 games thus far in the 2017-18 season, posting an overall record of 9-6-1. The Friars are 6-4-1 against conference opponents, good for third place in the Hockey East behind only Boston College (9-2-0) and Northeastern University (7-3-0).
Nationally, the team is ranked ninth overall by USCHO.com. At the top of the list are the University of Denver, St. Cloud State University, and Clarkson University. The Friars dropped both decisions against Clarkson this season, 4-0 back on Oct. 21, and 4-2 on Nov. 25 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as part of the 2017 Friendship Four.
This past weekend, the team faced off against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, first at home on Friday, December 1 and then again Saturday night at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire. Providence split the two games with UNH, taking a 5-2 victory at home before being shut out 1-0 on the road by the No. 13 ranked Wildcats, according to USCHO.com.
There was a lot to like about the Friars’ effort at home on Friday. They saw goal scoring from three different players. Erik Foley ‘19 had two for the night including one goal on a nice shot from the right circle. Kasper Bjorkqvist ‘20 opened the scoring just 1:01 into the game, streaking down the left wall before charging to the front of the net to beat UNH goaltender Danny Tirone with a shot up high.
Foley is a 2015 draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets (78th overall), and he leads the team in scoring with nine goals and 18 points in 14 games on the season. Bjorkqvist, a 2016 draft selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins (61st overall), is fifth on the team in scoring with six goals and eight points.
Tied with Bjorkqvist in points on the season is Vimal Sukumaran ‘20, one of the Friars’ undrafted players who has been stepping up for the team in a big way, scoring two goals Friday night in convincing fashion. Sukumaran would score the game-winning goal on the night, along with the Friars’ fifth goal to solidify the win after a late push by the Wildcats to cut the lead to two points.
Looking ahead at the men’s hockey schedule, there are still many important games to be played. On Jan. 13 the Friars travel to Agganis Arena to take on the Boston University Terriers, who are currently in fourth place with a record of 5-5-1. In late January the Friars will participate in a home-and-home with the Northeastern Huskies, who sit directly above them in the standings. The Friars will take on the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks in mid February, toward the end of the regular season. The River Hawks are currently fifth in the Hockey East with a record of 5-5-0 in the conference.
With still a significant stretch of games ahead, leadership and perseverance will be key. Garrett Gamez ‘19 now plays the role of student assistant coach role with the team after abruptly retiring from hockey following an incident on March 11 where he collapsed on the bench during the first period of the second game of the Hockey East Quarterfinals against the Univesity of Notre Dame. When asked about how he feels the team has played in the first two months of the year, Gamez referenced the ability of the younger players to step into key roles as part of the team’s success thus far.
He also mentioned the role of leadership on the team as an important factor saying, “You always look up to the guys that are playing before you or ahead of you. Guys like Brian Pinho, who is our captain now.” Gamez went on to say more about Brian Pinho ’18 commenting, “I’ve always looked to guys like him who know the situations, and as time goes on you grow a close bond with those guys and they are able to lead you and help you regardless of if it is on the ice or in school.”
The team has raised the expectations of fans after taking home the National Championship in 2015. While they have returned to the tournament in both years since, they have failed to make it past the first round. Currently the Friars are on track for another appearance in College Hockey’s championship contest, as they attempt to repeat their success from the past three years previous.
The Providence College Women’s Hockey Team has seen success this season as well, with a record of 10-5-4 overall. The team boasts a record of 7-1-2 in the Hockey East, good for second in the conference, behind the 7-0-3 Boston College Eagles.
With 15 games left in the regular season, the Friars still have two games to play against UNH on Jan. 19 and 20, who sit at third in the conference with a record of 5-3-3. The following weekend of Jan. 26 and 27 the women’s team faces the first place Eagles for a home-and-home. The Friars lost their only game against Boston College thus far back on Nov. 3 in a 7-4 decision.
This season’s early results already bring hope for a Friars team that put up an overall record of 17-17-3 in the 2016-17 campaign, finishing fourth in Hockey East with a record of 11-10-3.
This year Christina Putigna ‘19 and Cassidy MacPherson ‘19 lead the team in scoring with 17 points each. Maureen Murphy ‘21 leads the team in goals with 12. Look for these three to continue their point-producing ways as the team enters the back-half of the season.