The Cats head south to Providence to take on the Friars this weekend. The Friars are in good form, but have been abysmal within Hockey East. Which Providence will we see: the one that took a win and a tie from current #1 Denver, or the one that got thwacked 5-2 by Merrimack and lost to Holy Cross?
To say that Providence has been up and down is an understatement. They sit at 9-7-4, which seems solid…until you get to their awful 1-5-2 record in Hockey East, tied for second last with Northeastern. They’ve benefit from a nonconference schedule that, Denver aside, has been quite easy (only one team is in the tournament zone of Pairwise, and that’s St. Lawrence). However, they’ve managed to be confusing in this schedule, losing to Holy Cross but taking a win and draw from Denver.
Providence’s starting goalie is probably John Buccigross’s favorite: Hayden Hawkey. The sophomore has played every game so far and has been…meh. He’s got a .911 save percentage, which while not Ryan Ruck bad, isn’t bad enough to regularly cost games.
Defensively, the Friars are a very good shot suppression team, allowing the ninth-fewest shot attempts against in the nation. They’ve also good three defenders who are very good at playing the puck and producing points. Jake Walman leads the way with 14 points, while Anthony Florentino and Josh Monk have 12 each, and Jacob Bryson has 11. A defense that can both move the puck well and stop opposition players from even getting shots is one that is very dangerous.
And that’s good, because Providence’s attack really isn’t. They’re 32nd in the nation in goals per game, and they only have four forwards with 10+ points (for comparison, UVM has 9). Brian Pinho leads the way with 19 points, while Erik Foley, recently returned from the World Juniors, has 15 in 18 games.
Long story short, Providence is what they’ve been in recent years. Solid defensively, not the best offensively. The latter has hurt them this year, as they’ve gone from 3.26 goals per game to 2.9. The Cats’ D has been struggling lately; is this the game where they recover?
Games are Friday at 7 and Saturday at 5. Providence has pay streams. We’ll be tuning into the radio.