Joseph Quirk ’23
There have been a lot of impactful events that have happened in Providence College Athletics this year, but few are as impactful and program-defining as the PC Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s run to the NCAA tournament. The Friars made the national tournament for just the second time in program history, and their first appearance since the 2004-2005 season when they lost to the University of Minnesota 6-1 in the first round.
That year, the Friars, led by Bob Deraney, went 21-11-5, finished second in Hockey East, and won the Hockey East Conference Championship. But that was then, and now the Friars are under the tutelage of head coach Matt Kelly. In a shortened season caused by COVID-19, Kelly’s squad boasted a 12-8-1 record. The Friars had a fantastic season all around, highlighted by the performances of forwards Bailey Burton ’23, Sara Hjalmarsson ’22, and Caroline Peterson ’22, defenseman Brooke Becker ’24 and Claire Tyo ’24, and goaltender Sandra Abstreiter ’21.
They would ultimately reach the Hockey East Championship game against Northeastern University. The Friars would fall in that game 6-2, but luckily their season would not end there.
The second-place finish at the hands of an elite NU squad would earn the Friars the No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The women’s ice hockey tournament is only eight teams deep, making it incredibly difficult for teams to qualify, and the Friars were just able to edge in at the seven spot. The Northeastern team that had defeated them in the Hockey East Championship would earn the number one seed, and Boston College, who had been upset by the University of Connecticut in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, would round out the Hockey East representation at the tournament. The Friars would match up with the number two seed, and the eventual champions, the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
Unfortunately, the Friars would be blanked 3-0 by the Badgers, who would go on to defeat Northeastern in the National Championship 2-1. While the outcome was not much different than the last time they qualified for the tournament, making the tournament under this new coaching staff and fielding a team capable of doing so is not only the biggest moment of the year for PC Athletics, but also a vital building block for the program for years to come.
With COVID-19 affecting so many sports on campus—limiting teams’ preseasons, practice, and travel, as well as cutting games out of the schedule—many teams struggled to find consistent success this season. However, the women’s hockey team rose above, having one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory, attaining a goal that had only been accomplished once before in program history.
Ben Bilotti ’23
Providence College Friars guard David Duke Jr. ’22 has always had a bright future ahead of him. The 21-year-old already has a very impressive resume and is looking to add one more accolade to his growing list. Concluding this year’s college basketball season, Duke declared for the NBA Draft. Overall, Duke’s performance this year and subsequent entry into the NBA Draft is the highlight of the year for Friars athletics.
Duke’s first season for the Friars was not one to scoff at. Heading into the 2018-19 basketball season, Duke was named the Preseason Big East Co-Freshman of the Year. In 34 games he averaged 7.1 points and made 38.7 percent of attempted field goals, an impressive line for a freshman. Concluding Duke’s inaugural season, he earned the team’s Coca-Cola Most Promising Prospect Award.
David Duke’s success continued in his sophomore campaign. On top of being awarded the team’s Ryan Gomes Most Improved Player Award, and being named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District I team, Duke also competed as a member of Team USA in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where he helped the squad earn a bronze model. During PC’s season he improved his field goal percentage to 40.9% while making 42% of his threes.
Duke’s success peaked in his final season. The junior ranked first in the Big East in minutes played, averaging 37.1 minutes per game. He ranked second in the league in assists and finished second on the Friars for scoring. On Feb. 24, Duke scored his 1,000th career point. On that day he became the 52nd Friar to reach the 1,000-career-point mark. He earned USBWA All-District I honors again and was named to the All-Big East Second Team.
Despite all the success on the court, what makes David Duke’s looming selection in the draft so special is that he grew up right in Providence, RI and has always given back to his community. This past February, Duke helped to publicize a GoFundMe that he and his classmates made for a class project, with the goal of raising $5,000. The money donated would go to Crossroads Rhode Island, the leader in homeless services organizations in Rhode Island. Duke and his classmates surpassed the goal of $5,000 with ease, raising over $14,000.
The NBA Draft will take place on July 29. Many suspect Duke will be selected in the 60-player, two-round draft, and coming off a breakout junior campaign, Duke certainly has much to look forward to in his basketball career. Friar fans will be glued to the TV, waiting to see where Duke lands next as he leaves behind a substantial legacy in his city.