The Friars are looking to rebound after a rollercoaster season in which they barely edged out New Hampshire to claim the last seed in the Hockey East playoffs. CCM All-American Jack Dugan, who signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, carried the Friars with a team-high 52 points, 42 of which were assists. Fellow sophomore Tyce Thompson also had a productive year, leading the team with 19 goals and earning a second team all-conference nod.
Outside of the conference, Providence was very strong, going 6–1–3 with a big-time tie against No. 2 Cornell and a win over No. 14 Clarkson. But the Friars failed to make an impression on an extremely competitive division. Teams like Maine, UMass Lowell, and Merrimack — usually deemed “easy outs” for a team of Providence’s caliber — all took games against the Friars.
In the all-Hockey-East 2020–21 season, the Friars look to fare better than they did last year. Last season the only statistic that the Friars led in was power-play goals (34). After losing firepower with Jack Dugan’s jump to the NHL, they are looking to replace a points machine on the power play.
The Friars will look to capitalize on a strong freshman class that includes two draft picks: Brett Berard (134th to the New York Rangers) and Chase Yoder (170th to the Pittsburgh Penguins). Tyce Thompson will also look to have an even bigger 2021 as one of Hockey East’s premier scoring threats.
Bottom Line: With about two dozen returning players and a couple of NHL draft picks joining the squad, the Friars have a chance to jump a couple of spots over their 2019–20 finish. But they’ll need to tighten up their play against Hockey East middlers and significantly develop multiple forwards to make that jump.
BOSTON — An extra week off of the ice usually results in one of two things.
Either the team returns rested and with fewer injuries, or they look sluggish
came off their 12-day break with nothing but benefits. They were rested, and the
return of Julian Kislin after a four-week absence gave the Husky defense added
against Providence was critical in determining Northeastern’s destiny in Hockey
East and NCAA as a whole. The Friars are always a fierce opponent, and they entered
Matthews Arena with only one road loss. That the loss came by four goals
against Northeastern guaranteed nothing for Friday night’s game.
sat tied for second in the Hockey East; the Huskies, while only three points
behind, sat tied for sixth. If the last few weeks of Hockey East action have
taught us anything, it’s that nothing, nothing, is certain. With bottom
feeders like UConn and UNH surging, and previous leaders like Northeastern and
BU faltering against easier opponents, Hockey East is as wide open as ever.
started off slowly for both teams, with no fantastic chances for either side.
After about 10 minutes, the Huskies found their footing in the dynamic of the
game, and their forward check came into full swing. Northeastern, with the help
of Matt Filipe and Zach Solow, put considerable pressure on Providence and its
goaltender Mike Lackey. The puck rarely made its way to Northeastern’s side of
the ice, and Providence began to tire. That fatigue became most apparent when
Tyler Madden forced a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck all the
way to the goal, putting the Huskies up 1–0.
Huskies continued to dominate the physical and mental tempo of the game. Only
four minutes after Madden’s breakaway goal, Matt Filipe and Matt DeMelis found
themselves in a two-on-one rush, and netted another goal for the Huskies.
The period ended with both teams receiving penalties, resulting in a four-on-four that only saw more Northeastern dominance over the puck. The period ended with the Huskies holding onto their 2–0 lead.
as the start of the first period was, the second period was insane. Providence
came out with some good looks on net, but Craig Pantano had absolutely none of
it, making some difficult saves look trivial.
When two quick Northeastern penalties gave Providence a five-on-three, Mike Kesselring displayed his spectacular stick skills on the penalty kill and willingly put his body on the line. He took a scorching shot high off the arm and was clearly in considerable pain, but fought through until the best opportunity for him to make a change.
did not return to the ice for the duration of the kill, and that is perhaps
what led to Providence breaking through and putting themselves on the score
sheet. Tensions ran high between the two teams, with forwards Greg Printz and
Zach Solow exchanging pushes and what could only have been the most pleasant of
physicality of the game skyrocketed, with both teams exchanging savage stick
slaps and brutal body blows. This culminated with Biagio Lerario’s massive
check against Printz right in front of the Providence bench, which drew a five-minute
major penalty against and Lerario’s ejection.
Northeastern penalty kill took the ice and took no prisoners. It didn’t even
feel like a penalty kill, as they held Providence to a grand total of zero
shots for the first 4:40. The whole PK unit skated their butts off, beating
every Friar they could to the puck and making Pantano’s job between the pipes
easier. This momentum carried into five-on-five play after the penalty, as
Aidan McDonough netted his ninth goal of the season less than a minute later.
goal only made the Friars upset, as they played most of the rest of the period
on Northeastern’s side of the ice. Patrick Moynihan forced a turnover right in
front of the goal on the forward check, spun, and slipped the puck past
Pantano. The tumultuous second period concluded with the Huskies leading 3–2.
Providence dominated the beginning of the third period. The only thing keeping the Friars from tying the game was an admirable performance by Pantano, who went so far as to lay across the ice to keep the puck out of the net. But Jack Dugan made the most of a Providence faceoff win on their offensive side, pounding the puck past Pantano to tie the game.
soon went to the power play, but unlike those earlier in the game, the top line
of McDonough, Madden, and Jozefek was unable to get things done, and almost
allowed a shorthanded goal. The unceremonious power play resulted in the return
of Providence dominance, and more amazing saves from Pantano.
a quarter of the period remaining, Providence’s Parker Ford was sent to the
penalty box for hooking. This Northeastern power play began much like their
last, but about halfway through it, they worked the puck into the offensive
zone. This kicked off a beautiful sequence of about 20 passes where the power play
unit methodically broke down the Friars’ defense, slowly applying pressure and
working the puck closer and closer to the net.
the breakthrough came. Zach Solow found himself, and more importantly, the
puck, right in front of the net, after a precise pass by McDonough right to his
stick. Solow’s job was made easy and he executed perfectly, placing the puck
into the bottom left of the cage, giving the Huskies the lead with only five
game, Providence head coach Nate Leaman expressed his displeasure with his
team’s physicality, saying that it “hardly felt like [they] checked anybody all
night.” On the flip side of the hockey coin, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan
expressed his pleasure with his team’s approach to the game.
can’t sit back and wait for goals to happen,” he said. “You have to go out and
earn them against a team like this.”
head to TD Garden this Monday to face Harvard in the first game of the Beanpot.
Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Dale Desantis will call that one, with
coverage beginning at 4:45 PM EST.
BOSTON —Providence coach Nate Leaman summed up tonight’s game the only way
he could: “We got our butts kicked. That’s my opening statement.”
had been three years since the Huskies had last beaten Providence, and it
looked like that streak would continue tonight. After falling to the Friars in
Providence last night, 3–2, Northeastern knew it had to pull off a win at
Matthews Arena, especially given the muddled landscape of Hockey East early
night I thought that we weren’t physical; we let Providence dictate
the game and their space, and we didn’t respond,” Northeastern head coach
Jim Madigan said after the game. “One of the things we said here tonight,
‘let’s punch them in the mouth before they punch us in the mouth,’ because they
are a heavy, hard team to play against, and I thought we were a little too
passive last night.”
O’Neill got the scoring going for the Friars 17 minutes into the first period
with a weak attempt that slid underneath Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano.
The Providence lead did not last long, as just 38 seconds later, freshman
defenseman Mike Kesselring netted his first collegiate goal to level the score
at one. After a nice juke from the blue line, Kesselring slid a shot through
the legs of Providence goalie Michael Lackey. Madigan praised the goal after
the game, saying “I liked how we responded immediately after that first goal.
It was important to make sure they didn’t get too comfortable.”
the first-period stalemate, the Huskies came alive in the second frame, putting
together their best period of the season. Grant Jozefek began the period by
finishing off an excellent feed from sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris.
was not done yet, as a minute later he fired a power-play shot from the blue
line past Lackey to give the Huskies a two-goal lead.
forward Matt Filipe extended the Husky lead to 4–1 soon after with an
impressive breakaway finish off a neutral-zone feed from freshman defenseman
Jayden Struble. The goal forced Lackey out of the game, as Leaman let junior
goalie Gabe Mollot-Hill finish the game for Providence.
got one back toward the end of the second frame with a Patrick Moynihan goal,
but the Huskies didn’t panic. With two minutes remaining in the period, freshman
defender Jeremie Bucheler put away his own blue-line shot for his first goal of
the season, giving the Huskies a 5–2 lead. Northeastern scored four
second-period goals, more than they’ve scored in all but one of their 11 games this
rebounded nicely to begin the final period, pulling within two goals after a
nice finish from forward Vimal Sukumaran. The Friars pushed forward during the
first ten minutes of the frame and got two power play chances to bring the game
within one goal. Despite numerous close calls, Northeastern killed off both
power play chances. The second penalty kill of the final period turned out to
be the difference, as the Providence players were visibly deflated after failing
to cut the lead to one.
Northeastern continued its physical play for the final ten minutes, eventually earning a 7–3 win after empty-net goals from Tyler Madden (his eighth of the year) and Filipe (his second of the game and third point on the night).
entire penalty kill unit was tonight’s MVP. The Huskies killed all four
Providence power plays, including two in the third period.
worked on that a lot in practice, and we’ve tried to build our identity on the
penalty kill,” Filipe remarked. “We have a lot of guys who want to be out there
on the kill, and it’s nice to be able to rotate guys throughout.” Filipe also
complimented Pantano, who had two nice games this weekend.
was a big night for Northeastern’s impressive freshman class, with two defensemen
getting their first goals of the season and two more adding assists. Madigan
noted that “[Struble, Bucheler, and Kesselring] have been incredible recently. [Providence]
are a heavy team, and they’re a fast team, so we knew that some of our younger
guys would have to step up.”
Huskies also got important contributions from a significant second year player.
In addition to his goal and assist, Jordan Harris made several key defensive
plays, logging the best game of his career in arguably the Huskies’ most
important early-season contest. Harris
was key to stopping Providence’s Jack Dugan, the nation’s points leader. When
asked about Dugan after the game, Madigan explained, “He’s such a good
player, and they use him a lot. He’s coming over the boards, [it seems like]
every shift there, and then with the TV timeouts you can really use that to
your advantage. It’s kind of like how we used Gaudette and Sikura a couple
win boosted the Huskies to 6–4–2 (3–3–1 HEA) and sets the team up nicely for
next weekend’s home series against Maine. WRBB will cover both contests,
starting with Friday night’s game at Matthews Arena.
Jonathan Golbert and Mack Krell will call the action, with coverage starting at
6:45 PM ET.
Last Season: 24–12–6 (14–7–3 HE, second place); lost in HE quarterfinals to Boston College; lost in NCAA semifinal to Minnesota Duluth
Head Coach: Nate Leaman (eighth season)
Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Third
G Hayden Hawkey
D Jacob Bryson
F Scott Conway
F Bryan Lemos
F Ryan Tait
F Brandon Duhaime
F Josh Wilkins
F Kasper Björkqvist
F Jay O’Brien
G Jake Kucharski
G Michael Lackey
(transfer from Harvard)
D Max Crozier
D Luke Johnson
D Cam McDonald
F Garrett Devine
F Jamie Engelbert
F Parker Ford
F Jerry Harding
F Patrick Moynihan
F Craig Needham
F Albin Nilsson
F Caleb Rule
By Matt Neiser
The Providence Friars continued their run of success in
2018–19, finishing second in the Hockey East standings and earning their sixth
consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The Friars pulled off two straight upsets
over No. 3 overall seed Minnesota State and Cornell to advance to the Frozen
Four, where they were defeated by eventual champions Minnesota Duluth.
The squad’s going to look a little different in 2019–20
though. Much of the talent that brought Providence so far last season has left
the program. Hockey East All-Stars Josh Wilkins (first team), Jacob Bryson
(second team), and Brandon Duhaime (third team), all juniors last season,
forewent their last season of NCAA eligibility to sign NHL contracts. Star goaltender
Hayden Hawkey (.921 SV%, 1.88 GAA) graduated — taking with him arguably the
best name in the sport.
A host of other important names graduated or left
early for the NHL as well. The top four goalscorers and five of the top six
point-getters from last season won’t be on the squad this year, including Wilkins,
their leader in both categories. The Friars lost 78 of the 133 goals (about 60
percent) they scored as a team last season.
But enough about who isn’t here. Head coach Nate
Leaman has plenty to work with this season. The roster includes seven NHL
draftees, five of whom were chosen in the first five rounds of their respective
The standout of the group is sophomore forward Jack
Dugan, who notched 10 goals and a team-leading 29 assists en route to a Hockey
East All-Rookie Team selection. The 6’ 2” Vegas Golden Knights prospect has
plenty of opportunity to shine this season, and he’s primed to take full
advantage. A physical wing with excellent distribution, Dugan is the perfect
player for Leaman’s system.
Besides Dugan, look for sophomore New Jersey Devils
draftee Tyce Thompson (8 goals, 17 assists) and junior Greg Printz (11 goals, 7
assists) to step into bigger roles on offense this season.
Leaman has turned Providence into a perennial
defensive powerhouse. His squad allowed just two goals per game last season,
tied for fifth best in the nation. The Friars are physical, smart, and
well-drilled on the blue line, led by senior Spenser Young, junior Ben
Mirageas, and sophomore Michael Callaway.
The departure of Hawkey left many concerned about the Friars’ goaltending situation — netminders not named Hayden Hawkey played just 54 minutes last season for Providence — but the addition of graduate transfer Michael Lackey has allayed worries. Lackey posted a 14–8–3 record in his senior year with Harvard, compiling a 2.34 GAA and .918 save percentage while backstopping the Crimson to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Bottom Line: Providence lost A LOT of talent this offseason, but the Friars have reinforcements waiting to step up and fill the holes. If Nate Leaman can maintain the defensive excellence that has become the trademark of his teams, Providence should be right back in the mix for a top-four spot in Hockey East.