The Ties That Bind
Mingoia Just Another Connection Between Providence and Union
by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Providence's Trevor Mingoia smiles as he thinks of what he’s going to say when he skates against Shayne Gostisbehere.
“I don’t know yet,” Mingoia says. “I’m going to have to think of it right on the spot.”
Mingoia and Gostisbehere were roommates with Union in 2011-12, when they were both freshmen.
“We talk probably every week,” Mingoia says. “I can’t wait to give him a couple chirps tomorrow and have some fun with it, but it’s going to be a very business-like game.”
Gostisbehere is one of 12 Union skaters, including Mat Bodie, Daniel Carr and goalkeeper Colin Stevens, that Mingoia played with at Union. And that only begins to explain the ties the schools have to each other, as they get set to square off in Saturday's NCAA East Regional final.
“It amplifies it,” Mingoia said. “I’m extremely exited. When you leave a school you feel like you have something to prove so tomorrow’s that game for me and I couldn’t’ be more excited for it.”
The potential for a Union-Providence regional final jumped out as soon as the brackets were announced, because of all of the connections the schools share.
Mingoia was recruited to Union by current Providence coach Nate Leaman, who was the bench boss for Union at the time. Leaman, who coached the Dutchmen from 2003-11, left the season Mingoia arrived on campus.
After one season at Union, Mingoia left for Providence.
“[Partly] personal reasons,” Mingoia says of his decision. “Coach Leaman had recruited me initially to Union and having the chance to play for him a second time around was a chance that I didn’t want to pass up. That was a really big decision.”
He sat out the 2012-13 season and played in his first game for Providence this year on Nov. 27.
“I had a lot of fun at Union, I really liked it there,” Mingoia said. “And this experience with Providence is just completely different. It’s such a different school.
“I’m just having so much fun with it, so much confidence playing this year. Having a team behind you with a bunch of brothers that you just love playing for, it’s an unbelievable experience.”
Mingoia’s freshmen season at Union was the same year Rick Bennett took over as Union head coach. Bennett, who is in his third season with Union, served as an associate coach at the school from 2007-11. He served every season under Leaman.
Bennett also happens to be a distinguished alumnus of Providence College, where he played from 1986-90, scoring 50 goals in 128 games over four seasons. He served as a co-captain and was inducted into the Providence College Athletics Hall of Fame.
“Rick’s a hell of a coach,” Leaman said of his former assistant, who happens to be five years older. “The one thing you learn, there’s no such thing as a perfect head coach. There’s perfect staff.”
Providence assistant Ben Barr, who played at Rensselaer, also served under Leaman at Union. He was the program’s assistant coach from 2008-11, and became the Friars assistant coach when Leaman left for Providence.
Meanwhile, Providence goalie Jon Gillies played with Gostisbehere on this year's U.S. World Junior team. And just for good measure — Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll was once a 24-year old hockey coach at Union, for half a season.
When Leaman led Union, he helped the team to its first 20-win season and its first NCAA tournament berth. The Dutchmen, under Leaman’s former associate head coach Bennett, have made it to four straight NCAA tournaments.
For observers, it's hard to separate all of those connections. But for the participants, they believe it will be easy.
“Once the puck’s dropped I can tell you I don’t think anyone on the ice is going to think about it,” Leaman said.
“It’s about the game and an opponent that’s standing in the way for us to get the Frozen Four. I’m not thinking about it too much. I just want to go, want to play. I wish we dropped it in 60 minutes.”