BOSTON — It’s not the best motivational tune, but nothing seems to fit Providence’s season better than “Lean On Me.”
In an offensively lean first semester, star goaltender Jon Gillies gave his teammates the confidence to play through their struggles without succumbing to “bunker hockey.”
“I think for us, it’s just been sticking with the process,” said senior captain Ross Mauermann. “Early on in the season against some tough opponents, we were working hard but just not getting the results we wanted. We knew we just had to keep working hard in practice and bringing it.”
Coach Nate Leaman agreed.
“I think we were pressing,” he said. “Ross probably hit five posts in the start of the season, and it just — for whatever reason — wasn’t going in for us. We were a little bit on the perimeter, we lost our identity a little bit as far as what makes us successful.
“We had some signs where it was starting to go for us: We won three games 1-0, Jon twice and Nick Ellis once in a shutout at UNH, so we were able to win some games, then the goals started to come a little more in the second half.”
Before Dec. 21, the Friars potted just 2.12 goals per game, 46th in Division I. On this side of the Christmas break, Providence averages 3.54 goals a game, sixth-most in the nation. Three of the strongest pistons in the engine have been juniors Noel Acciari (14 goals and 27 points since Dec. 28) and Nick Saracino (10-18–28) and the veteran Mauermann (19 points, after posting just seven in the first half).
“The biggest thing was making sure we were getting pucks to the net,” Mauermann said of himself and his team at large, “not trying to make the pretty play all the time, and early on we were trying to do that too much. It’s paid off for us in the tournament for sure, with a lot of second-chance goals.”
It’s been a second-chance kind of season for Providence, and the Friars are making the most of it.