After run to national championship, Providence has a mindset of depth

Nick Saracino led Providence with 38 points in its national championship season (photo: Melissa Wade).

In case you just crawled out from under a rock, Providence defeated Boston University last April to win its first national championship.

It’s a euphoric moment for any program, but one that sometimes leads to an NCAA title hangover a year later. That, of course, is a problem that every coach dreams to face and one already addressed by Providence coach Nate Leaman.

“The past is the past,” he said. “It’s a great past, but it’s the past. We’re beyond that now.

“We had a meeting after we won it last year to talk about some things: About remembering what we did the summer before to put ourselves in that position, about how hard we had to work to get the [appropriate] mindset. Then the first day this year they were on campus, we had a short meeting, again all about that mindset.

“We’re fortunate that we have a lot of upperclassmen this year, and those are the guys that are going to be able to set the tone for the team. Last year was last year. It’s on to pursuing the next national championship for our program. I’m not saying we’re going to win the national championship this year, but we’re back in that mindset.”

All-everything goaltender Jon Gillies has moved on as well as several top forwards, but Leaman remains optimistic.

“It’s not always the goaltender,” he said. “The goaltending numbers are also a reflection of how your team’s playing.

“I [also] don’t think last year we had a first line, a second line, a third line. The key to our team was down the stretch we had 11 forwards I could put out in just about any situation.

“We’ve got [players returning] who’ve scored a lot of points in their careers, but we’re going to be a team that’s more about depth.”

Last season

26-13-2, 13-8-1 (second) in Hockey East. Won the NCAA championship.

Names to know

Nick Saracino led the team last year with 38 points and Trevor Mingoia (31), Mark Jankowski (27) and Brandon Tanev (23) weren’t far behind. Those four seniors will look to finish their careers strong.

Three questions

1. Whatcha gonna do for an encore?

2. Who’s going to fill Jon Gilles’ shoes?

3. Will the team defense again be exceptional in front of its goaltender?

Crystal ball

Jim Connelly (fourth place): The defending national champions should be out to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke but will have to do so without the team’s backbone goaltender Gillies.

David H. Hendrickson (fourth place): This team isn’t going to repeat as national champions and it’s hard to see it atop Hockey East, but it’ll be a contender.

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