by Thomas Zinzarella ’21
With the Tampa Bay Lightning still celebrating their recent Stanley Cup victory over the Dallas Stars, it is already time to look to the next generation of hockey players. Many potential stars were selected in the 2020 NHL Draft that took place on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7.
Two current Friars and one future Providence College player were selected on day two of the 2020 NHL draft. Brett Berard ’24, a native of East Greenwich, RI, was the first Friar off the board. Berard was drafted in the fifth round at the 134th overall position by the New York Rangers. He was ranked 45th by the NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters going into the 2020 draft.
Prior to coming to Friartown, Berard spent two years playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP). For the U18 team last year, he scored 16 goals and recorded 18 assists while also recording the highest points per game average of any United States Hockey League skater to play in 10-plus games last year (1.38). He played in the exhibition game between the USNTDP and the Friars last year at Schneider Arena. PC won the game 2-1 in overtime.
Berard’s father, David Berard ’92, played for the Friars and is currently the head coach at The College of the Holy Cross. The Friars split a home and home series with the Crusaders the last two years. David also spent time behind the Friar bench over a period of three different stints with the program. He was an assistant coach from 1994-1996 before returning from 1998-2011, and then was the director of hockey operations for the 2013-2014 season.
The next Friar selected was Chase Yoder ’24, a forward from Fairview, TX. Yoder was selected in the sixth round with the 170th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yoder also hails from the U18 USNTDP along with Berard. He posted 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2019-2020 season. The shifty forward was ranked 92nd on the NHL Central North American Skaters ranking list coming into the draft. He has been compared to former Friar and current Penguins player Brandon Tanev ’16. Yoder may eventually join Tanev in Pittsburgh as the former Friar recently signed a six-year, $21 million deal.
The final Friar selected was Riley Duran, a future Friar to watch. Duran hails from Woburn, MA and was drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins with the 182nd overall pick in the sixth round. Duran compares his game to that of current Bruins center Charlie Coyle. In 27 games last year, Duran recorded 22 goals and 22 assists for Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA. Duran was ranked 95th on the NHL Central Scouting North American Skater list. He will join Friar head coach Nate Leaman’s squad in 2021 after he spends this upcoming year with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
Under the tutelage of Nate Leaman, Friar fans have become accustomed to seeing NHL draft picks fill the line sheet. Since 2011, 28 players have been drafted under Leaman. Just two years ago, the Friars had nine NHL draft picks on their roster, one of the highest tallies in the country. When they made the Frozen Four in 2019, Providence held the most draft picks out of any of the other three teams in Buffalo.
The Friars will look to get back to the Frozen Four this year after their previous season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hockey East is currently working on plans to start the season in late November, so hopefully Friar fans will soon get to catch a glimpse of these new and exciting NHL prospects.