by Ethan Ticehurst ’18
Fans of Providence hockey have been treated to some very successful seasons in recent years. Upperclassmen will always remember where they were the night the national championship was won two years ago. Last year, the team spent a large part of the year ranked as one of the best hockey programs in the country, which made their quick exits in both the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments all the more surprising. This year, the team got off to a slow start, befuddling fans everywhere. Luckily, they picked it up near the end of the season and earned a spot in the upper echelon of college hockey once more.
This is the position that they entered the Hockey East tournament in last week. A home ice series against UMass was the first on the docket. Thanks to stellar gameplay and a supportive home crowd, the Minutemen were quickly sent on their way back to where they came from. After such a successful series, the Friars seemed to be ready for whoever stood in their path next. Out of the shadows rose the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, the newest members of the Hockey East. The Irish, who also happen to be leaving the Hockey East after this season, played a solid season and looked to be somewhat of a challenge for the Friars. Those looks were not deceiving, as the Friars were taken down in two games this weekend.
The Friars’ hope for the Hockey East championship may have ended in South Bend, Indiana, but fans should have nothing to fear. This team may not be at the exact level that they were two years ago, but they have enough raw talent to possibly make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Since they finished the season ranked in the top 20 in the country, they have a chance of making it into the tournament. However, with only 16 teams allowed in, there is a chance that they don’t make it at all. For fans that are worried about their team’s chances, make sure to watch the rest of the Hockey East tournament play out. If Notre Dame manages to pull off any more wins, they will most likely take up a spot in the tournament that would otherwise have gone to Providence.
Assuming that the Friars do make it to the tournament, however, let’s take a look at some of the teams that they should hope to avoid until the later rounds. The number one team that we would hope to avoid would be the top ranked team in the country, Denver. With only six losses on the season, it would take a monster of a game from the Friars to win against the team from Colorado. Also high on the avoidance list is our neighbors from the north, Harvard. Following shortly after them are any teams that come out of the Upper Midwest, such as Minnesota University and Minnesota University-Duluth. Overall, though it looks as if the Friars are on the bubble to even get into the tournament and if they do get in, they will need a large amount of luck to win in the tournament.