by Liam Tormey ’22
Although there will be a delay to the start of Hockey East play, the Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team is excited to welcome seven new faces to the 2020-21 roster. The list consists of four freshmen and three transfer students. Included in the list of seven players are Brett Berard ’24, Anton Martinsson ’21GS, Nick Poisson ’24, Uula Ruikka ’24, Jaxson Stauber ’23, Matt Tugnutt ’21GS, and Chase Yoder ’24.
The first player on the list, Brett Berard, is a 5-foot-9-inch, 163 pound forward from East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Berard played for the U18 USA Hockey National Team Development Program in the 2019-2020 season, and recorded 16 goals and 18 assists in 41 games. He has also been ranked No. 45 by the NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters in preparation for the 2020 NHL Draft. Although it did not occur this summer due to COVID-19, Berard was one of 44 United States players named to the 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase.
Berard is the son of PC alums David Berard ’92 and Lynne Berard ’93. David played men’s hockey and is currently the head coach of the College of the Holy Cross Men’s Ice Hockey Team. He has also spent time at PC on the men’s hockey staff as an assistant coach (1994-96 and 1998-2011) and the director of hockey operations (2013-14). Lynne starred at field hockey while at PC and is the current President of Samsonite LLC North America.
When pressed on his small stature in an interview, Berard noted that, “As an undersized guy, I’m trying to play like Brad Marchand. He doesn’t take anything from anyone, no matter how big they are, and he’s a great offensive player.” Friar fans certainly hope Berard replicates the play of the Bruins’ forward.
Anton Martinsson is the next name on the list. Martinsson, from Klippan, Sweden, is a 6-foot-1-inch, 175 pound goalie coming off a full four years at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Martinsson had a career-best year last year with a 2.51 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Most notably, he had a 35-save shutout on the road against the No. 8 ranked team in the country, Penn State University. With Michael Lackey ’20GS having graduated last year and the transfer of Jake Kucharski to American International College, Martinsson will be up for the starting job alongside Gabe Mollot-Hill ’21 and Jaxson Stauber.
Indeed, Stauber is another goalie transfer. Last season, Stauber appeared in just one game for Minnesota State University, but showcased a 1.00 GAA and a .933 save percentage. He was also a part of the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League, where he led all goaltenders with a .918 save percentage in the 2019-2020 season. Stauber was instrumental in leading Sioux Falls to the 2019 Clark Cup title. In 12 playoff games, he posted a 1.46 GAA and a .941 save percentage, securing him the 2019 Clark Cup MVP.
Stauber’s coach in the USHL, Scott Owens, had nothing but praise for the new Friar goalie. “First you can see that his fundamentals and technique are so much better than the average goaltender,” said Owens. “And then you can see a little bit of it in the genes. He moves well, he’s athletic. He understands the position very well.”
Nick Poisson, from Vancouver, British Columbia, is a 5-foot-11-inch, 185 pound forward. He played for Prince George in the British Columbia Hockey League before coming to Friartown. During his time at Prince George, Poisson put up better numbers each year. Last season, Poisson led Prince George in scoring with 21 goals and 26 assists in 49 games played. He also led the team with five game-winning goals while serving as an alternate captain.
Uula Ruikka is the lone defenseman on this list. Hailing from Oulu, Finland, Ruikka last played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Last season, he posted four goals, 21 assists, and a +17 rating for the Steel. “On the ice, he is a team-first guy with a lot of skill to go along with his great skating ability,” said Steel general manager Ryan Hardy. Ruikka will be one of nine defenders on PC’s active roster.
Matt Tugnutt is another graduate student transfer for the Friars. The forward transferred from Sacred Heart University where he served as the alternate captain for the Pioneers. Over the course of his career, Tugnutt has earned himself 30 goals and 42 assists in 97 career NCAA games. He finished with 14 goals and 16 assists last season.
Last on the list is another forward: Chase Yoder. Yoder, 5-foot-11-inches, 185 pounds, comes from Fairview, Texas and last played in the U.S. National Team Development Program. Last season, Yoder produced 10 goals and 10 assists for the U.S. U18 Team. Yoder grew up as a two-sport athlete, starring in baseball as well. “There are definitely some similarities between the two sports, especially when it comes to having a short memory,” Yoder said when questioned about how his upbringing translated to his current success. “Whether you strike out in baseball or have a bad shift in hockey, you just have to let it go and focus on your next play.”
With four forwards, two goaltenders, and one defenseman, the Friars appear to have a deep class of newcomers to add to an already talented team. All players hope to showcase their skills sooner rather than later, as all eyes are on the status of the Hockey East.