Team of the Week: Providence
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Tim Army didn't believe his team's 1-5-1 start was as bad as it looked, nor was it an indication of his team's true abilities. And last weekend at Maine, his team proved it.
With a two-game sweep at Maine, the Friars earned CHN Team of the Week honors.
"We were doing good things. We had 12 freshmen and sophomores playing significant minutes," Army said. "It's just a matter of guys getting more aware of each other, playing off each other. We just had to go out and compete better than we did, and that was the focus going in. We had a good start Friday night, getting a 2-0 lead, and I think the rest of the weekend fell in line with that.
"We kept encouraging them to stay with it, working hard," Army said. "There were no major adjustments. We tweaked a couple of things, looking to refine a couple of areas, but nothing was overhauled."
Providence started the season with losses against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, nothing to be too ashamed of. Then came an overtime loss to Northeastern, and a loss to Holy Cross, where the team allowed four goals.
That's when Army decided to make a move away from Tyler Sims, the senior goaltender who was presumed to be the rock solid No. 1.
"He struggled against Holy Cross and switched it up," Army said. "We went to Chris Mannix, and he managed the game against Amherst at home really well (a win), then down there performed wonderfully (a tie). We stayed with the hot hand. We didn't give him the support he needed (against BU)."
Providence lost the BU game to go to 1-5-1, then decided to go back to Sims.
"Tyler's played up there (at Maine) and shut them out up there a couple years ago," Army said. "We felt he had experience and was comfortable in that setting. We planned to lead with Tyler, and he played very well so we came back with him on Saturday.
"I think it was real good for him (the layoff). He probably needed a couple weeks, too, with a lot of practice time. We were able to spend a lot of time with him, and it gave him a time to refine his game, and it settled him down mentally."
Providence still has a ways to go to dig out of the hole, but the offense kicked into gear Friday, and that was a good sign. Of note, however, is that junior defenseman Matt Taormina had two of those goals, and leads the team with five goals and 10 points.
"We've got a pretty talented group back there with speed and skills and sense," Army said. "It's a bit of an oddity (that a defenseman leads the team) but it doesn't surprise me either.
"Matt's really played well. He had five goals last year, but one was an empty netter, and he didn't score until after Christmas. ... He's a very intelligent player and his poise continues to develop. His shot's gotten a lot better, and you see the general progression of his game. And the way we encourage our 'D' to get active, it doesn't surprise me a player of Matt's talent is leading our team."
Providence has a tough road ahead, including games this weekend against Massachusetts-Lowell and New Hampshire. But, of course, there are few, if any, weekends that aren't tough.
"I haven't seen this kind of depth amongst the teams in all my years in Hockey East," Army said. "All 10 teams are really well prepared and have depth and talent and goaltending."