By Sam Scanlon ’19
After patiently waiting to see if they had squeaked into the NCAA Tournament field, the Providence College Friars are headed back to the Frozen Four. The adversity that they have had to overcome this season, especially throughout the playoffs, is a large reason why no one is going to be able to take them down. They have gone through too much, they have an incredible amount of momentum, and soon they will have another championship trophy.
The explosive 10-goal regional weekend was led by the dynamic top line of Josh Wilkins ’20, Kasper Björkqvist ’20, and Jack Dugan ’22. With three important goals in the two regional contests, Wilkins was named Most Outstanding Player and continues to stay hot at the perfect time. He now has 10 goals and six assists in his last nine games entering the Frozen Four in Buffalo, New York. Not a bad time to be scoring at this rate. His offensive spark is going to be pivotal in putting the Friars past University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Massachusetts Amherst/University of Denver.
The offensive depth that the Friars provided this weekend is a great step toward a National Championship as well. Every line produced goals throughout the regional tournament, including the entire second line of Tyce Thompson ’22, Scott Conway ’19, and Brandon Duhaime ’20. Greg Printz ’21 and Vimal Sukumaran ’20, third and fourth liners, respectively, also joined in on the scoring parade. With every line producing at this point in the year, the Friars are becoming increasingly dangerous to opponents as they continue finding the back of the net and winning games.
However, everyone knows defense wins championships and it starts with goaltending. The Friars may have the best goalie remaining in the tournament in Hayden Hawkey ’19, who now leads the country in shutouts. He has not let in a goal since the first period against Minnesota State University in the opening round matchup. A solid goaltender who has recently found his rhythm will prove to be a key factor to the Friars’ championship run.
Lastly, the experience of the players and coaching staff will lead the charge to hoisting another trophy. Nate Leaman brought his team to glory in 2015, and each player on the current roster has played in the NCAA tournament. The senior class has been to four straight tournaments, so they and the coaching staff know what it takes to get the job done, and they will. The National Championship will come back to Friartown.