By Sam Scanlon ’19
Last week, the Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team took a journey across the pond to participate in the 2017 Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Over the course of their weeklong trip, the Friars toured Dublin, Ireland, as well as Belfast Northern Ireland, including Northern Ireland’s Parliament building and Crumlin Road Gaol, an old prison in Belfast.
The Friars also made a visit to Dondonald Primary school where Head Coach Nate Leaman addressed the student body and some players answered questions in classrooms. It was a great week for the team to engage in various community service opportunities as well as experience foreign cities’ culture and learn the history behind them. With last names like Foley, Kavanagh, and O’Neill on the Friars’ roster, the team’s Irish history is deeply rooted.
However, there was still business to be taken care of. In their first game of the tournament, which served as the tournament semifinal, the Friars took on the University of Maine Black Bears in a Hockey East tilt. From the start of the game, the Friars controlled the play. Although the team generated several key scoring opportunities in the first period, they were unable to capitalize until the final five minutes of the second frame, as Ryan Tait ’19 buried a wraparound feed from Bryan Lemos ’19 after a battle in the corner to set the Friars up 1-0.
From there, the Friars did not look back. Captain Brian Pinho ’18, who had been wreaking havoc all game in the offensive zone, finally struck the back of the net on a power play off a great look by Erik Foley ’19. Foley and Pinho have been impossible to stop together on the power play once they get time and space to set up.
Goaltender Hayden Hawkey ’19 impressed in this contest, steering aside all 24 shots he faced to preserve his second shutout of the season. This performance was essential to restore his confidence after being pulled at the start of the second period the weekend before against Merrimack College.
The game was finally put out of reach as Tait registered his second goal of the game on an empty net tally from a long pass from Jacob Bryson ’20, who impressed all weekend with his playmaking ability. The Friars 3-0 score would stand as they moved on to face the fifth ranked Clarkson University Golden Knights in the Friendship Four Championship Game.
In the Clarkson game, the Friars jumped out to an early lead off the stick of Foley, for his team leading seventh mark of the season. His line, along with Pinho and Brandon Duhaime ’20, played extremely well in this tournament, leading the Friars offensively. Duhaime was a nuisance for defensemen and goaltenders throughout the tournament, making his presence felt down low in the offensive zone, helping goal scorers like Foley and Pinho to find more opportunities.
However, the next four goals all belonged to Clarkson, as they beat Hawkey twice in the second period and twice more in the third. However, Duhaime’s hard work in the offensive zone finally paid off as he snuck one into the back of the net from right in front. This effort was too little too late as the Friars fell to the Golden Knights and Clarkson University was crowned 2017 Friendship Four Champions as they hoisted the Belpot Trophy.
Despite falling short in the championship game, the Friars still played their style of hockey. The top line provided most of the offense, and spent the majority of their time on ice in the offensive zone. On top of that, the entire roster played their role, all the way down to the physicality of the fourth line and a game one shut out from Hawkey. Although they did not come out on top, the ninth-ranked Friars took a step in the right direction as they look forward to a home-and-home series the weekend against the University of New Hampshire.