Providence Looking Forward
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Writer
BOSTON Providence was facing arguably the hottest team in the country, one that has trailed in only one game in the past month and a half. The Friars were obviously not rattled, just as they weren't one week ago against third seeded Massachusetts-Lowell.
Despite giving up an early goal to the Eagles the Friars would run out to an early 2-1 lead in its Hockey East Semifinal against BC on Friday at the TD Garden. This lead would be short lived but Providence, as the Friars have done over the past two weeks, stayed in the game for longer than most would have expected.
"The guys showed a lot of character," said Providence coach Nate Leaman. "We obviously started a little slow tonight, but we showed a lot of maturity by coming back and regaining the lead against Boston College."
The season has been an interesting one for Providence, with a conclusion that only seemed fitting. Few predicted that the Friars would even advance to the semifinals given the lack of success in the past decade. Friday night's semifinal was the first for Providence since 2001, and this season's postseason entrance, as the No. 7 seed, was the first for the program since 2008.
"(Friday) was a proud moment for the program," said PC captain Daniel New. "We kind of got it back on track, and it was good for our younger guys. Obviously our goal was to go further than tonight. I think from the standpoint of the program, I think we made a lot of people proud."
Given the season's ending, paired with the inevitable expectation of more of the same, PC has every right to take pride in Friday's appearance at the TD Garde. In back-to-back defeats against UML to end the regular season, the Friars were outscored, 9-3.
Things changed in the first game of last weekend's quarterfinals as Providence took a 1-0 series lead led by Derek Army. Despite a setback in Game 2, the Friars put together a defensive gem against Lowell in Game 3 and secured the series defeating the River Hawks, 1-0. By advancing, the Friars became the first seven seed in the history of the Hockey East Tournament to advance.
The backbone of the Providence team over the past few years has been goaltender Alex Beaudry. His play is inconsistent at times, but, when on his game, he has been a star in net for the Friars in his career. His career at Providence has been noteworthy, and he leaves as the all-time leader in saves for the program. He has seen the highs and lows of the program of the Providence program in his three-plus years with the Friars.
"The records mean nothing, said senior goaltender Alex Beaudry. "It is the win column that has mattered to me."
The season as a whole was marred by injuries and Providence got healthy at the right time, but was unable to keep pace with the Eagles to earn a spot in Saturday's Hockey East Championship. The seniors showed great leadership through all the adversity this season, and Leaman was more than thankful in his first year.
"First of all I would like to thank my seniors," said Leaman. "We have to take it as a really good experience. "The seniors set the demeanor for us all season, and it was really enjoyable for me to come to the rink every day."
Looking forward Providence can take the experience in stride as it looks to resurrect its program that has been strong in the past. The Friars' first experience at the TD Garden in 11 years can be deemed successful despite the loss.
The experience gained in the Garden on Friday night for the Friars will be important going forward with their new coach, one that has given them a new direction. Getting back and being successful in coming years has become the new goal.
"It was a learning experience for us," said Leaman. "The big thing going forward is that we put ourselves in this position. We know that we need to get back and have some success here."