2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Providence Friars

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Bob Deraney (17th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Lexi Romanchuk (C), Courtney Kukowski (A), Brittney Thunstrom (A), Lauren Klein (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 6-25-4 (5-15-1 WHEA/8th place)
Hockey East Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs

The Friars had a very rough start to the 2014-15 season, and didn’t pick up their first win until Nov. 15 against Northeastern. They went their first 13 games without a win, posting a 0-10-3 record over that span. They tied Syracuse, Union, and Connecticut, and then finally earned a 4-1 win over the Huskies to break the slide. After two more losses to Northeastern and Maine, Providence was able to secure a 2-1 overtime win against the Black Bears on Nov. 23.

The team then faltered in the Mayor’s Cup against Brown, losing by a score of 2-1, but bounced back the next day with a 4-1 win over the Bears. The Friars headed into the winter break after suffering losses to New Hampshire and Boston University, but began the new year on a three-game unbeaten streak, tying Rensselaer and defeating New Hampshire twice in a home-and-home series.

After a loss to Maine, Providence picked up a 4-1 win against UConn on Jan. 24, and that would prove to be the team’s last victory of the season. The Friars ended the regular season on an eight-game losing streak; they were able to push Northeastern in a 2-1 overtime loss but that was really their only result of note to end the year. In the Hockey East quarterfinals, they were swept handily by Boston College, losing by scores of 6-2 and 8-0.

After the season, senior forward Beth Hanrahan was named the winner of the Hockey East Sportsmanship Award. At the team’s end-of-year banquet, Hanrahan was named Providence’s Most Valuable Player, as well as the Captain’s Award winner. Junior defender Lexi Romanchuk took home Unsung Hero honors, goaltender Allie Morse was the recipient of the Seventh Player Award, and sophomore defender Lauren Klein took home Most Improved Player honors. Senior Haley Frade was recognized with the Coaches Award, and Frade shared the honor of the Academic Award with Sarah Bryant.

Meet the Newcomers

G Madison Myers, Rice Memorial H.S.

Myers participated in five different USA Hockey national development camps, and earned four varsity letters at Rice Memorial (Vt.).

The coaching staff on Myers (via Friars.com):

“We look for Maddie to compete for playing time from the moment she steps for on campus,” says the coaching staff. “She adds additional skill to our goaltending position and solidifies us at this very important position.”

D Kate Friesen, Pembina Valley Female Hawks

Through 53 games last season with the Hawks, Friesen scored 21 goals and 42 assists while captaining the squad. They captured three league titles, as well as a Western Cup championship and Esso Cup championship in 2012.

The coaching staff on Friesen (via Friars.com):

“Kate is a smooth skating defenseman with really good offensive instincts,” says the coaching staff. “She will be expected to play important minutes on our blue line immediately.”

F Natasia Burzynski, Berwick Academy, East Coast Wizards

Burzynski was a six-year letterwinner at Berwick (Maine), tallying 41 goals, 38 assists, and 79 points in her career. She was a two-time EIL All-Star and a three-time New Hampshire Select Team honoree. She helped the squad capture four EIL championships, and attended the USA Hockey national development camp in 2014.

The coaching staff on Burzynski (via Friars.com):

“Natasia has a strong family connection to Providence,” says the coaching staff. “Her leadership position over her career at Berwick, coupled with her work ethic, will make her a good fit for our program.”

F Danielle Hardy, Pursuit of Excellence

Hardy earned MVP honors at Pursuit in 2012 and also skated with Team British Columbia for the past two years.

The coaching staff on Hardy (via Friars.com):

“Danielle gives us good size on the front end,” says the coaching staff. “She can play center and works hard to take care of both ends of the ice. She can shoot off the pass and will be a threat offensively.”

F Emily Landry, Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, Westside Secondary School

Landry was an assistant captain with Etobicoke in 2014-15 and a three-year letterwinner at Westside (Ontario).

The coaching staff on Landry (via Friars.com):

“Emily’s speed and skill will allow her to immediately make an impact on our offense,” says the coaching staff. “She is driven, hardworking and has a passion for the game.”

F Cassidy MacPherson, Oakville Jr. Hornets

MacPherson co-captained the Jr. Hornets in 2014-15, scoring five goals and 11 assists, after posting nine goals and 14 assists the season before.

The coaching staff on MacPherson (via Friars.com):

“Cassidy is an excellent two-way center,” says the coaching staff. “She has great instincts and plays physical in the defensive zone and then possesses the puck and creates offense at the other end.”

F Christina Putigna, Oakville Jr. Hornets

Over her three-year tenure with the Jr. Hornets, Putigna notched totals of 125 goals and 75 assists, leading the team in scoring in 2013-14, and earned Athlete of the Month honors in January 2015.

The coaching staff on Putigna (via Friars.com):

“Christina has a knack for putting the puck in the net,” says the coaching staff. “She protects the puck and makes smart plays at both ends of the ice.”

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Beth Hanrahan, F Haley Frade, F Brooke Simpson, D Victoria Virtue, D Liv Halvorson
Key Returners: F Cassidy Carels, Brooke Boquist, D Lexi Romanchuk, D Lauren Klein, D Kendra Goodrich, G Allie Morse
Key Additions: G Madison Myers, D Kate Friesen, F Emily Landry, F Cassidy MacPherson

The Friars have struggled for the past couple of seasons now, and that’s largely because of some ongoing issues in goal and the team’s inability to replace the scoring that they’re losing. They’ll have to answer to those same questions this year. They were outscored by nearly two goals per game last season, the worst margin in Hockey East, a result of shortcomings at both ends of the ice. They’ll need a lot of help this year if they’re hoping to improve, and it unfortunately doesn’t look like they’ll be getting what they need to be immediately better.

Up front, Providence is graduating its top two leading scorers in Beth Hanrahan and Haley Frade. That’s going to be a significant hit to the conference’s second-worst offense from last season, which only managed 1.71 goals per game. Cassidy Carels is far and away the team’s offensive centerpiece, and is coming off of a 21-point sophomore campaign; she’ll be relied upon heavily to produce. Sophomore Brooke Boquist is the other top forward for the team, after scoring 10 points as a rookie last season, but there isn’t really anyone lined up beyond those two who is ready for a scoring role. The Friars will look for freshmen Emily Landry and Cassidy MacPherson to step into the top-six right away, but scoring goals is going to be an uphill battle again.

On the defensive end, the team returns some important parts of its core, but they’re also losing a couple of bigger impact players in Victoria Virtue and Liv Halvorson. Lexi Romanchuk is once again going to be Providence’s leader on the blue line, and she’s the club’s most competent two-way defender. But while she’s a pretty good puck-mover for the team and is their most skilled defenseman, it’s difficult for her to generate much on her own. Juniors Lauren Klein and Kendra Goodrich are the team’s most solid defensive options after that, and rookie Kate Friesen is expected to contribute immediately in terms of providing quality minutes, but it’s going to be a thin group on the back end as well for the Friars.

As mentioned above, Providence has had trouble finding a capable starter in net for several seasons now. Allie Morse, who will be a senior this season, took over the starting role completely last season but could’ve fared better, with an .893 save percentage and a 3.29 goals-against average. The holes in the defensive corps don’t help things, but the Friars really need to see some better goaltending if they hope to become more competitive this season. Freshman Madison Myers could help things out, as she’s expected to challenge for time in goal right away, but I don’t think she’s going to be the answer right off the bat.

Unfortunately for Providence, the forecast doesn’t look so good this year after finishing in last place in the league in 2014-15. They’re losing several top players on both the blue line and at the forward position and don’t have a way to replace them right away. The talent that they do have isn’t enough to raise the level of competitiveness for the entire team, and the goaltending situation isn’t likely to be improved. This is going to be another year spent in the Hockey East basement, and the Friars will just have to do their best to start laying some stronger groundwork for future years.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 2-3 vs. Wisconsin (in San Jose, Calif.)
Oct. 17 vs. Colgate
Oct. 18 vs. Syracuse
Oct. 24 vs. Vermont
Oct. 25 at Northeastern
Nov. 25 at Boston College
Nov. 28 vs. Brown (Mayor’s Cup)
Dec. 9 vs. Boston University
Dec. 10 vs. Merrimack
Jan. 2-3 at Robert Morris
Jan. 13 vs. Northeastern
Jan. 23 at Boston University
Jan. 24 vs. Boston University
Feb. 6 vs. Northeastern
Feb. 19 at Boston College
Feb. 20 vs. Boston College

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