Clarkson vS Providence Live Watch NCAA Hockey Tournament 2018 Stream: in an East Regional semifinal in Bridgeport, Conn. From Webster Bank Arena. Men’s Hockey Open Practice Recap from NCAA East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Providence College Friars hockey team fell to Boston University in the Hockey East Association championship game on March 17.
That loss stung North Andover resident Brian Pinho and his Friars teammates, but it also showed them how they have to approach the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
“I think the weekend at Hockey East [championships] was good for us,” said Pinho, the captain of the Friars. “We had a really good OT win Friday night, which helped our team grow a little bit. It was a tough game Saturday, but over the weekend, we got to see what it felt like to win and what it felt like to lose. That feeling of losing is going to light a fire under our team.
The Friars now stand at 23-11-4 overall, and they earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Regional of the NCAA Tournament. They will face Clarkson University who are 23-10-6 on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Bridgeport, Conn. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
“We’ve played Clarkson twice before, so we know what to expect. We’re very excited with the way we’ve been playing in the second half,” said Pinho.
“The guys have done a good job of taking [the Hockey East final] as a lesson and moving away from it, and setting the focus for Friday on Clarkson and the tournament,” added Pinho. “During this week at practice, I [wanted] to keep the mood light, but also energetic and focused.”
Pinho knows all about what it takes to win a championship. He won two straight at different levels in 2014 and 2015. The first was in junior hockey with the former Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, and the second was Providence’s first-ever championship in 2015 (won over Boston University).
“It’s been great, I’ve loved every moment of it,” said Pinho about these four years with the Friars. “Obviously, we won my freshman year, which was really cool. I’ve also been to the NCAA tournament every year. We’re one of the top teams, and that speaks volumes about what Coach [Nate] Leaman and his staff have been able to do here.”
This is indeed the Friars’ fifth straight trip to the NCAA tournament, a program record. Pinho has certainly put in the work since the 2014-15 season to help make that happen.
In fact, his efforts have netted him 2016-17 Team MVP honors, and this season, he won the Hockey East Gladiator Custom Mouthguards Best Defensive Forward Award. That latter award puts him into company with past Friars and current Boston Bruins Tim Schaller (who won the award in 2012-13) and Noel Acciari (2014-15).
“That was one of the goals I had from last season to this season, to win that award,” said Pinho, the 2017 runner-up for the same award. “I think a lot of it was working with my teammates. We had really good team defense last year and this year. For a guy on our team to win it so many times [four times in seven years], shows just how good our team defense is, and how good a job Coach Leaman does with our team.”
What makes a good defensive forward in hockey, you might ask?
“Winning faceoffs, being reliable in all three zones, playing a full 200-foot game,” said Pinho. “I play on the first line, so I kind of had some offensive responsibilities, but I think I always try to back-check, hit, block shots – I try to do all of that.”
He was also a member of the Hockey East’s Third All-Star Team this year. This award recognizes both his defensive abilities, as well as scoring 31 points in 38 games. Last year, Pinho led the Friars with 40 points in 39 games.
“I think coach has definitely made me more of a reliable and 200-foot player,” said Pinho, reflecting on how his game has improved since 2014. “You need to be ready to go for every practice and give your best effort day in and day out. The pro level looks for guys who are consistent.”
The Washington Capitals will be watching Pinho’s play in the NCAA with keen interest. The Caps drafted Pinho 174th overall in the sixth round of the NHL Draft in 2013, just after his graduation from St. John’s Prep in Danvers. He doesn’t even want to think about what his future might have in store for him – Friday night is all that he’s thinking about.
“I’m just taking it one game at a time. If the opportunity presents itself, that’d be great, but I’m focused on my teammates and all the guys I’ve been a part of this team with,” said Pinho.
The Capitals have had Pinho at its Prospects Camps over the years, and the management there has kept in touch with him, but won’t be contacting him until after Providence’s run is finished – all parties involved hope that’s at the top podium of the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn., in April.
When this year ends, Pinho is also happy to know that he’ll have a finance degree in his back pocket, no matter which way his hockey career goes.
“I knew I wanted to do business when I came to Providence, but I wasn’t sure in what field,” said Pinho. “I took some finance courses in my first year and enjoyed it. School’s been great.”
It could become even greater – it all depends on how Friday night turns out.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Providence College men’s hockey team kicked off the NCAA East Regional on Thursday (March 22) with an open practice and media availability at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.
Providence, the No. 2 seed in the East Regional will face the No. 3 seed Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday, March 23. Face-off is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app. ESPN’s John Buccigross will have the call alongside Barry Melrose (color) and Quint Kessenich (rinkside).