Men’s Hockey Still Dancing
Team Heads to the Frozen Four for the Fifth Time in Program History
By Scott Jarosz ’21
The Providence College Men’s Hockey Team entered the NCAA Hockey Tournament as the fourth and lowest seed in the East Regional. The Friars were quite fortunate to be selected into the East Regional, which was hosted by Brown University within the friendly confines of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The region also consisted of Minnesota State, Northeastern University, and Cornell University. For its first matchup of the tournament, PC was paired up with #1-seed Minnesota State, who entered the regional semifinal having never won an NCAA tournament game in school history. Despite lacking a win at any point in its team’s history, Minnesota State entered its semifinal game against PC looking like a team that could make a deep run in this year’s NCAA hockey tournament.
On Saturday, March 30, PC men’s hockey took the ice at the Dunk to play Minnesota State in the first round of the East Regional. Although PC was technically the underdog, the team had the privilege of playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, just a few minutes away from its regular home at Schneider Arena. Despite practically playing a home game, the Friars had a poor start to the game. In just under 12 minutes of game play in the first period, PC conceded three consecutive goals to Minnesota State. Down 3-0 to the Mavericks, it looked as though PC had dug itself a hole which could not be escaped. However, after Josh Wilkins ’20 scored a power play goal towards the end of the first period to cut Minnesota State’s lead to 3-1, the Dunkin Donuts’ Center came back to life and the game felt brand new.
Entering the second period down 3-1 instead of 3-0, PC showed absolutely no signs of distress or panic. At 4:37 in the second period, Vimal Sukumaran ’20 scored on an assist from Ryan Tait ’19 to cut Minnesota State’s lead to 3-2 and excite the crowd at the Dunk even more. After this, the Friars scored another power play goal, this time by Kasper Björkqvist ’20. From that point on, the Friars continued its scoring run, adding three more goals by Tyce Thompson ’22, Wilkins, and an empty-net goal by Jason O’Neill ’21. PC beat Minnesota State by a final score of 6-3, and would go on to play Cornell University on Sunday in the East Regional final.
After what was a sluggish start to Saturday’s semifinal matchup against Minnesota State, the Friars made sure not to do the same against Cornell, who had beaten Northeastern 5-1 the previous day. In Sunday’s East Regional final, PC scored early and often, and combined an outstanding offensive effort with excellent defense and a great performance by goaltender Hayden Hawkey ’19. PC beat Cornell 4-0 with goals by Greg Printz ’21, Wilkins, Scott Conway ’19, and Brandon Duhaime ’20. With the win, PC advanced to the Frozen Four in Buffalo, New York. This year’s Frozen Four consists of PC, Hockey East foe University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the University of Denver. The first-round matchups are set to take place on Thursday, April 11 with PC playing Minnesota Duluth at 5 p.m. and UMass playing Denver at 8:30 p.m.
PC has a tough matchup ahead, as Minnesota Duluth is ranked the #2 overall team in the NCAA. However, PC has won in similar situations before. In 2015, PC advanced to the Frozen Four as a 4-seed and beat Boston University in the title game to win the National Championship. The other matchup features UMass and #4 Denver. PC and UMass are quite familiar with each other, as the two teams have met three times this season, and PC has a 1-2 record against the Minutemen. If both UMass and PC advance to the National Championship, there is no telling who would prevail in the Hockey East battle for the national title.
PCI: Who Will Win The NCAA Frozen Four?
By Sam Scanlon ’19
After patiently waiting to see if they had squeaked into the NCAA Tournament field, the Providence College Friars are headed back to the Frozen Four. The adversity that they have had to overcome this season, especially throughout the playoffs, is a large reason why no one is going to be able to take them down. They have gone through too much, they have an incredible amount of momentum, and soon they will have another championship trophy.
The explosive 10-goal regional weekend was led by the dynamic top line of Josh Wilkins ’20, Kasper Björkqvist ’20, and Jack Dugan ’22. With three important goals in the two regional contests, Wilkins was named Most Outstanding Player and continues to stay hot at the perfect time. He now has 10 goals and six assists in his last nine games entering the Frozen Four in Buffalo, New York. Not a bad time to be scoring at this rate. His offensive spark is going to be pivotal in putting the Friars past University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Massachusetts Amherst/University of Denver.
The offensive depth that the Friars provided this weekend is a great step toward a National Championship as well. Every line produced goals throughout the regional tournament, including the entire second line of Tyce Thompson ’22, Scott Conway ’19, and Brandon Duhaime ’20. Greg Printz ’21 and Vimal Sukumaran ’20, third and fourth liners, respectively, also joined in on the scoring parade. With every line producing at this point in the year, the Friars are becoming increasingly dangerous to opponents as they continue finding the back of the net and winning games.
However, everyone knows defense wins championships and it starts with goaltending. The Friars may have the best goalie remaining in the tournament in Hayden Hawkey ’19, who now leads the country in shutouts. He has not let in a goal since the first period against Minnesota State University in the opening round matchup. A solid goaltender who has recently found his rhythm will prove to be a key factor to the Friars’ championship run.
Lastly, the experience of the players and coaching staff will lead the charge to hoisting another trophy. Nate Leaman brought his team to glory in 2015, and each player on the current roster has played in the NCAA tournament. The senior class has been to four straight tournaments, so they and the coaching staff know what it takes to get the job done, and they will. The National Championship will come back to Friartown.
PCI: Who Will Win The NCAA Frozen Four?
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
By Eileen Flynn ’20
This particular season of hockey has been very competitive; however, there is one team that has had a difficult season and has proven their talents. I believe the University of Massachusetts-Amherst hockey team will win this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. With a very tough schedule, UMass gained respect and attention throughout the season as they beat out teams like Providence College, Boston University, and the University of Maine. They have an impressive 30-9 record this season, making them a top four team in the nation all year. Maybe even more impressive is their 18-1 home record at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen came up short in the Hockey East semifinals against Boston College, and I believe this is exactly what they needed to push them harder in the weeks leading up to the NCAA tournament. This acted as a wake-up call to the Minutemen and helped them realize what needed to change before they took on stronger and more talented teams at the national level.
They have a star studded roster, with solid depth behind them that is ready to go the distance in the NCAA. The defensive end is held down by Hobey Baker Finalist and generational talent, Cale Makar. The sophomore captain was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft and has led the team with 48 points in 39 games so far this season. On the front end, the trio of Jacob Pritchard, Mitchell Chaffee, and John Leonard have put up a staggering 125 points combined this season. This is all tied together with the second-ranked keeper in the nation, Filip Lindberg, who has a remarkable save percentage of .939.
The team demonstrated their ambition to prove they are the best team in the nation when they dominated Notre Dame University in the West Regional game. UMass came out fast and furious, determined to get the first goal of the game. After one came another, and then the rest was history. Once UMass starts rolling, it is very hard for any team to stop them. In the games versus both Harvard and Notre Dame, UMass led in scoring opportunities and completely controlled the game. They outscored their opponents by a total of 8-0, while also outshooting them by a large margin of 70-30.
UMass is headed to face the University of Denver next. If UMass continues to play like they have been this entire year, they should secure a spot in the National Championship game. The tough schedule UMass faced throughout the season has prepared them to take on a strong team like Denver.