Friars take on Omaha in Frozen Four

Providence College's hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four with a thrilling win over Denver and will take on Nebraska-Omaha in a semifinal matchup on Thursday, April 9, at 5 p.m. at T.D. Garden in Boston. It's the Friars first trip to NCAA hockey's final four since 1985.

For the 14th time in the history of Hockey East, the league will send two teams to the Frozen Four. Providence College and Boston University are each looking to bring home the league’s ninth national title in the last 23 years. Although only three league teams got into the NCAA’s, it was another strong showing by the league.

If both Providence and Boston University win their semi-final game, it would set up the third all Hockey East national final. The last time it happened was 1999 when Maine beat UNH in overtime. The Black Bears lost to Boston University in the 1995 national final. The Terriers are making their 22nd appearance in the Frozen Four while the Friars are making their 4th appearance and first since 1985.

Terreri and Gillies

With the Friars making their first trip to the Frozen Four since 1985, one of the focuses will be on goaltending. For those who watched Providence College’s run through the Hockey East and NCAA Tournaments in 1985, the one name that comes to mind is goaltender Chris Terreri. The Warwick, Rhode Island native had a junior season to remember. Terreri was named the Hockey East Player of the Year and the MVP of both the Hockey East and NCAA Tournaments. Terreri made 65 saves in PC’s 2-1 double overtime win over Boston College in the Hockey East title game. Two weeks later, he led the Friars past Boston College in triple overtime in the national semi-final game. He followed that performance with a 62 save effort against RPI in a 2-1 Friar loss in the national final.

Fast forward 30 years and another Friar netminder is putting up impressive numbers. Junior Jon Gillies has made his own mark at Providence College. In just three years, he has put his name all over the record books. Gillies shattered the old record for shutouts (7 set by Tyler Sims) with 13 and counting. His 58 wins rank second all-time and his career goals against average of 2.08 ranks first in school history. Gillies was solid against Denver making 23 saves and keeping the Friars even early on in the game. He will be a key component if the Friars are to win their final two games of the year.

Scouting Nebraska-Omaha

The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks are a relatively new program in college hockey. They started playing at the division one level in 1996 under head coach Mike Kemp and associate head coach David Quinn. (yes, the Rhode Island native who is now the head coach at Boston University) The Mavericks made one NCAA appearance under Kemp in 2006.

The program then hired Dean Blais as their head coach at the start of the 2010-11 season, and he brought with him instant credibility. Blais won two national titles at North Dakota and is taking the Mavericks to their second NCAA tourney in six years.

UNO is a young and talented team. Their top seven scorers are either freshman or sophomores. Sophomore Austin Ortega leads the Mavericks with 20 goals and set an NCAA record this year with 11 game winning goals. Fellow sophomore Jake Guentzel leads the team with 38 points and centers the top line with Ortega and freshman Jake Randolph. Senior goaltender Ryan Massa leads the nation in save percentage and allowed just one goal in the midwest regional in wins over Harvard and RIT.

The Friars and the Mavericks have only met twice with UNO coming away with two wins. The Mavericks beat the Friars in the Ice Breaker Tourney in 2001 and bested PC in the RPI Tourney in 2005.

Key notes:
Providence
24-13-2 (13-8-1, 2nd Hockey East)
Coach: Nate Leaman
Key Wins: at Boston U, Boston College, Vermont (2), Denver
Record vs. NCAA Tournament Field: 2-3-1
NCAA Record: 12-16 (11th appearance)
Last Appearance: East Regional Final (2014)
Best Finish: National Runner-Up (1985)

Nebraska-Omaha
20-12-6 (12-8-4, 3rd NCHC)
Coach: Dean Blais Key Wins: Minnesota St, Minn Duluth, Denver (2), St. Cloud (2)
Record vs. NCAA Tournament Field: 7-8-3
NCAA Record: 2-2 (3rd appearance)
Last Appearance: First Round (2011)
Best Finish: First Round (2006, 2011)

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