by Sam Scanlon ’19
It is hard to think about the Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team without thinking of Brian Pinho ’18 and Erik Foley ’19. The two Friar superstars have been integral parts of the Friars’ offense since they joined the squad in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Their preliminary nominations for the Hobey Baker Award, which celebrates college hockey’s top player, should come as no surprise.
Senior captain Pinho, a North Andover, Massachusets native and product of the Catholic Conference’s St. John’s Preparatory School, has been a dominant force in all three phases of the game throughout his career. In an interview with New England Hockey Journal’s Jeff Cox, Foley spoke highly of his comrade Pinho, saying, “He’s a great player. He never makes a mistake. It’s hard to find a player like him.” A player like Pinho is certainly hard to find considering his roles on the top-line power-play and penalty-killing units, in addition to being the top line center.
As a sixth round draft pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft to the Washington Capitals and an offensive powerhouse, Pinho’s style of play is definitely a solid fit if he can work his way up to the big leagues after his graduation. His offense has been nothing short of outstanding over his four-year career; he recently surpassed the 100-point benchmark in his career for the Friars. So far this year, Pinho has notched 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists, trailing only Foley for the team lead.
Currently heating up, Pinho has registered 11 points in the first eight games of the second half of the season, dating back to their matchup against Arizona State in the opening round of the Three Rivers Classic. His efforts during this span have earned him national recognition as the Hockey East Offensive Player of the Week, as well as the third Star of the Week for all of NCAA men’s hockey players.
Friars Head Coach Nate Leaman told Cox, “Pinho is really going right now. There’s no doubt about it. He’s come back after break and he really has his legs going.” Having the senior captain and first line center playing his best hockey right now is crucial for the Friars to make a deep playoff run.
Pinho is the type of player who excels all over the ice by getting into the dirty areas, making plays, and scoring goals. Speed kills, a fact Pinho certainly knows. Perhaps the fastest skater on the ice at all times, his size and speed has allowed him to be recognized as one of the nation’s best players, so his nomination is deserved.
Foley, the Friars’ other Hobey Baker Award nominee, has emerged as one of the nation’s best goal scorers as he is in the midst of his junior season for the Friars, seemingly always appearing on the scoresheet. Another Massachusetts native, hailing from Mansfield, has slid into the top scoring role for the Friars with 29 points in 24 games. His 29 points are from his team leading 13 goals and 16 assists.
The Winnipeg Jets’s 2015 third round pick has a heavy shot and a knack for getting into positions that allow him to score. His quick first step and long strides enable him to elude defenders and get time and space to get off an open shot, which he rarely misses.
Like Pinho, Foley is a force all over the ice and in the dirty areas. He concurred in that same interview with Cox admitting, “I’m trying to be heavy down low, take pucks to the net, and use my shot. I just want to make plays.” A natural playmaker and goal scorer, Foley seems to be doing his job perfectly.
In the second half of the season, the same eight game span as Pinho, Foley has picked up eight points on three goals and five assists. With 82 points thus far in his career, Foley is well on his way to join Pinho in the 100 club.
Foley has been heavily relied on for offensive production for the Friars since his career started here at PC, and he has certainly stepped up to his expectations. When the two of them start picking up their play simultaneously, it is an absolute nightmare for opposing teams.
As the Friars face off against another offensive powerhouse in the eighth-ranked Northeastern University Huskies this weekend, Foley and Pinho will be heavily relied on to match their weaponry in Northeastern’s lineup. After a Friday night game at Northeastern, the Huskies come to Schneider Arena on Saturday night. Support our Hobey Baker Award finalists by coming to the game, and vote for them at voteforhobey.com.