By Sam Scanlon ’19
What a winter break it was for the Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team.
After being shutout on home ice by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the Friars went undefeated with a record of 5-0-1 over winter break and brought home some hardware while they were at it.
First and foremost, the Friars welcomed a new member to the squad, Davis Bunz ’21, a defenseman hailing from Middleton, Wisconsin. Bunz joined the team in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania shortly after Christmas as they were a part of the Three Rivers Classic Tournament along with Arizona State, Robert Morris University, and Lake Superior State University.
The Friars opened up the tournament against Arizona State, a relatively new Division I program that has impressed in recent years. However, the Friars handled the Sun Devils with a 6-0 win with six different goal scorers, including Erik Foley ’19 and Brian Pinho ’18. Scott Conway ’18, Greg Printz ’21, Josh Wilkins ’20, and Ben Mirageas ’21, also provided offense for the Friars, and all three goaltenders made appearances in the combined shutout, including Jake Beaton ’18 who made his collegiate debut. With continued offensive production, Mirageas is seemingly filling the defensive goal scoring void left by the departure of Jake Walman at the conclusion of last season.
With the win over Arizona State University, the Friars were set to face off against Robert Morris University in the Three Rivers Classic Championship Game. Goaltender Hayden Hawkey ’19 impressed in the cage yet again, while Conway added another goal, and Kasper Björkqvist ’20 provided the game winning tally late in the second period allowing the Friars to scrape by RMU to claim the Three Rivers Classic Tournament title with a 2-1 win.
Due to his impressive performance, Pinho was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, which also landed him a spot on the All-Tournament team where he was accompanied by Conway and Jacob Bryson ’20.
Hawkey was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week as he stopped 38 of 39 shots over the tournament.
The Friars returned home to Schneider Arena to claim yet another trophy to add to the case as they faced Brown University for the 32nd Annual Mayor’s Cup. This game went a lot like the Arizona State tilt as the Friars skated past Brown 5-0. Pinho tallied a goal and an assist in this game, notching career point 100 on his assist to Wilkins in the second frame.
Next up, the Friars welcomed Merrimack College for a big Hockey East matchup. Brandon Duhaime ’20 started off the scoring with a goal of the year candidate for the Friars. Pinho and Foley stayed hot and provided goals, as well as two goals off the stick of Björkqvist which lifted the Friars over the Warriors 5-2.
While Pinho’s name keeps appearing on the scoresheet, he earned Hockey East Player of the Week Honors as well as National Honors as college hockey’s third star of the week.
This past weekend was an extremely crucial one, as the Friars traveled to Boston to face both Boston College and Boston University in back to back nights. Björkqvist and Duhaime scored within eight seconds of each other, while Pinho and Wilkins provided empty net insurance as they defeated the Eagles 4-1.
Saturday night at BU was a typical game between the two teams. Foley and Wilkins struck the back of the net in this one, but were unable to break the 2-2 tie in the end, as the Friars go 1-1-1 against the Terriers this season.
With Foley’s team-leading 13th goal and Pinho’s dominance of late, the two Friar stars have earned Hobey Baker Award Nominations for the Friars in the preliminary stages.
Foley, Pinho, and the rest of the 10th ranked Friars are back this weekend with a series against University of Connecticut.