USCHO prediction: Eighth
Coaches’ prediction: Eighth
Last season: Eighth (6-25-4, 5-15-1 Hockey East)
Last year, I didn’t have much confidence in Providence, having failed miserably in picking them to finish an overly-optimistic second in 2014, so I slotted the Friars seventh. Even that proved to be too high.
“Last year was a transitional year for us for a lot of different reasons,” coach Bob Deraney said. “I think that first and foremost, this is probably going to be the youngest team that I’ve put on the ice in my 17 years at Providence College. A lot of people might think that that’s not a good thing, but we’re really excited about the energy, the excitement, the talent level of our young players, which is being supplemented and complemented by the leadership and the battle-tested upperclassmen. We have a really unique group and combination of players that I think will make us a very exciting team to watch this year.”
The Friars don’t figure to have the edge on paper in too many games, so they’ll have to rise above the sum of those parts.
“It’s going to come down to our five players playing as a unit that’s going to allow us to be successful,” Deraney said. “The only way you can do that is if you have a complete buy in. Our upperclassmen have a complete buy in, and they’ve helped our freshmen to transition very quickly.”
While nobody is expecting championships at Providence this year, the men’s team had similar low expectations from the outside before winning it all last season.
“I think the greatest thing that came out of our men’s team winning the national championship is that it shows that we are capable of doing it as well,” Deraney said. “It actually makes it tangible. You can talk about it all you want, but having it unfold the way it did — if I’m not mistaken, they were the 16th team selected into the national tournament. For the last selected team to go on and win the thing, just shows it’s possible.”
No matter where a team finished last season, it can’t win any titles in October.
“You’ve got to crawl before you walk,” Deraney said. “I think our goal right now is to try to attain home-ice position. You achieve home ice, and then see where you are as to possibly winning the regular season. It’s going to be a year-long process to try and gain home ice and make sure that you’re peaking at the right time.”
The scorers of only 21 of the team’s 60 goals (35 percent) return, and more than half of them came from junior Cassidy Carels (seven goals) and sophomore Brooke Boquist (five goals).
In another year, we might conclude that Providence lacks enough experience to escape the Hockey East basement, but next to Merrimack, the Friars look like seasoned veterans. However, if the offense or the defense doesn’t improve over last season, then Providence will just be a more seasoned squad that will be staying home when the playoffs start.