DI preview: Providence leads pack seeking conference titles, auto bids
Providence is back in the Hockey East semifinals for a program-record third consecutive season under head coach Nate Leaman. When the Friars take the ice on Friday at the TD Garden in Boston, they'll find a familiar opponent waiting for them.
Providence and New Hampshire will be meeting in the Hockey East playoffs for a second consecutive season following last season’s quarterfinal series win by the Friars (two games to one).
Providence has won its past six games, matching its longest winning streak since winning six in a row from Dec. 2, 2005 to Jan. 6, 2006 (Providence last won seven in a row in 2002-03 when it opened the year on a seven-game winning streak). The six-game winning streak is also the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.
During the past eight games, Jon Gillies has posted a 1.86 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage to go along with a 6-1-1 record. In eight career games against New Hampshire, Gillies is 5-1-1 with a .930 save percentage and an 2.85 goals-against average.
The Friars will be making their 13th appearance all-time in the Hockey East semifinals, Providence advanced to the championship in 1985, ‘95, ‘96 and 2001 and went on to win the inaugural title in 1985 and also in '96.
The other Hockey East semifinal features seventh-ranked Massachusetts-Lowell going against No. 10 Notre Dame. The River Hawks took both regular-season games from Notre Dame, who is in its first year in the conference.
Other conference tournaments:
ECAC Hockey: The two semifinals feature second-ranked Union (N.Y.) facing No. 13 Cornell, and fifth-ranked Quinnipiac playing No. 14 Colgate. The Dutchmen won the title last season against Brown, while Quinnipiac and Yale also advanced to the semifinals.
WCHA: Fourth-ranked Ferris State plays Alaska-Anchorage for a spot in the tournament final. On the other side of the bracket, Minnesota State-Mankato plays Bowling Green.
Big Ten: The first Big Ten tournament title will be awarded this weekend. Top-ranked Minnesota plays the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 12 Michigan and Penn State. Sixth-ranked Wisconsin is also waiting to find out its opponent in the semifinal, which will be either Ohio State or Michigan State.