by Sam Scanlon ’19
It’s tourney time! The Hockey East is one of the most exciting and competitive conferences in the NCAA and is home to names like Adam Gaudette of Northeastern, 2018 Olympian Jordan Greenway of Boston University and, of course Providence College’s very own Erik Foley ’19. This year’s Hockey East Tournament is shaping up to be a good one.
Boston College, the 2017-2018 Hockey East regular season champion, has been playing extremely well against conference opponents, as they have won their last five Hockey East matchups. The No. 2 seed the Northeastern Huskies, fresh off of their first Beanpot Tournament Championship in 30 years, are finding a way to win games, which is vital in this tournament. However, the No. 3 seed Providence College Friars have an excellent chance to win the Hockey East Tournament, and they are my pick to go all the way.
Led by Foley and captain Brian Pinho ’18, the Friars are unstoppable on offense. Despite suffering an uncharacteristic 1-0 loss last weekend to UMass Amherst, expect the high powered Friars offense to find the back of the net plenty of times throughout the tournament. Kasper Björkqvist ’20 and Josh Wilkins ’20 have more than contributed to the Friars’ offensive onslaught this season, posting 13 goals each. Jacob Bryson ’20 has complimented the top goal scorers all year long, especially on the power play, and has notched 20 assists. With the top lines scoring goals, the Friars’ offensive is difficult to stop, making them an early favorite to take down some of the dilapidated defenses across the league.
Defensively, the Friars have a young core, with two freshmen and two sophomores carrying the bulk of the weight, along with a junior and senior. However, Ben Mirageas ’21 has found his place in the Friars lineup. The smooth skating, sizable D-man has held his ground and helped the Friars defense keep pucks out of their net and limit opponents’ scoring opportunities.
A significant reason why the Friars are able to limit shots on net from opponents is Vincent Desharnais ’19. The 6’6” 224 lbs. defenseman is virtually impossible to get around and has been able to shut down opponent’s top scorers with ease. Defense wins championships, and with Bryson, Desharnais, and Mirageas on the blue line for the Friars, a Hockey East Tournament Championship is surely within reach.
However, the backbone of every good team lies in its goaltender. Hayden Hawkey ’19 has carried the Friars so far this year, and a tough goalie is imperative for making a deep playoff run. Hawkey, who posted four shut outs this year, is 2nd in goaltending in the Hockey East, so he has proven to be one of the league’s best coming into the tournament.
Offensive firepower, a shutdown defense, and a top goalie are keys for the Friars to take home the Hockey East Tournament trophy. Their run starts March 9 at Schneider Arena.