by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Tim Army
2006-07 record: 10-23-3 (9-15-3 Hockey East)
Key Returnees: Jon Rheault F SR., Kyle Laughlin F JR., Nick Mazzolini F JR., Cody Wild D JR., David Cavanaugh D SO., Mark Fayne D SO.
Key Losses: Colin McDonald, Tony Zancanaro, Chase Watson, Jamie Carroll, Bryan Horan, Dino Stamoulis
After the 2005-06 season, there was a lot of promise for the Providence Friars. Expectations were high as some pundits predicted Providence to finish in the top five in Hockey East.
Unfortunately, the team did not live up to its preseason billing, winning only 10 games in coach Tim Army's second season.
"We didn't win the games as expected but we've got to look beyond wins and losses," Army said. "I liked the way we played; it was better than the year indicated."
Providence will try to build on the momentum generated at the end of last season. In the last five games, the Friars had a record of 3-2. This included a huge 7-1 victory over New Hampshire on Feb. 24 that helped the Friars get into the Hockey East playoffs.
Going into this season there will be some competition in net. This is different than last season where it was a lock that Tyler Sims would be the starting goaltender.
Two years ago, Sims had a terrific sophomore year, with a record of 17-14-2, a 2.32 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. This past year though seemed like a nightmare for Sims. The once reliable Sims was pulled out of four games and his goals against average ballooned to over three goals per game.
Chris Mannix replaced Sims during those four games. When he got onto the ice, he proved that he was a capable backup. Not only did he fill in nicely, but he stole a couple of games from the opposing team.
Now going into 2007-08 it looks like he could be the No. 1 goaltender.
"Mannix improved this past year," said Army. "He played very well against New Hampshire and Merrimack, and played the rest of the playoffs."
However, Army does not doubt Sims' abilities.
"Sims had a good sophomore year, and he has done well in the past," Army said.
There is a third goaltender in the mix as well. Ryan Simpson, who started four games for the Friars (1-3 in those four games), will also be in the hunt to be the starting goaltender this upcoming year.
"The best guy is going to play," said Army.
Over his past two years at the helm, Army has been very pleased with the ability and leadership of Jon Rheault. As the team leader in goals in his previous three seasons, Rheault has earned his ice time and proves that he can be a leader. An assistant captain last year, Rheault will have a bigger role as he will be a co-captain with Kyle Laughlin in 2007-08.
"I am really pleased with Jon (Rheault)," said Army. "His development on and off the ice is a big factor for this team."
Although Rheault only scored 12 goals last year, it was still a big year for the co-captain.
"Jon was a little frustrated, but he handled the situation well," said Army of his leading scorer. "He was a big factor in the last four, five weeks of the season as he scored some key goals including four goals in three games."
Whether its Rheault, Kyle Laughlin, Cody Wild, or any other Friar player, you can expect a turnaround from 2006-07.
"Our goal is to continue to build as a team, establish a culture around the rink, an d to be ready each and every night, while improving on a game to game basis," Early season prediction: Around fifth through ninth in Hockey East.