Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Across the sheet: Q&A with Mark Divver of the Providence Journal

UMass and Providence meet for two

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(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts hockey team is set to face Providence in a pivotal early-season series this weekend. On Thursday, No. 9 UMass will host No. 4 Providence in the first top-10 matchup at Mullins Center since 2008. The Minutemen (6-1-0, 3-0-0 Hockey East Association) will finish the home-and-home with the Friars (5-1-1, 2-0-0) Saturday at Schneider Arena.

In preparation of this heavyweight bout, I talked to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal and got some feedback on how Providence has begun its 2018-19 campaign.

Ryan Ames: We’re a month into the 2018-19 season now and Providence has maintained a status as one of the top teams in the country. What has made the Friars’ start to the season so successful?

Mark Divver:  PC has made hay early in the season thanks to timely scoring, tight defense, strong special teams and terrific goaltending. As has usually been the case during the Nate Leaman years at PC, they play with great structure and don’t give up a lot of good chances. They are an excellent possession team with a mobile defense.

RA: Through seven games, Providence has a plethora of point-getters. Is this the type of offense that scores by committee rather than relying on one or two guys for offense?

MD: They definitely score by committee. A balanced attack is a strong point for the Friars, not only from the forwards, but from the defensemen, too. Three of PC’s top six scorers are D-men.

RA: The Friars are second in power play and penalty kill percentage among Hockey East schools. How has special teams impacted their strong start?

MD:  The power play has been a big factor for PC. They have at least one power play goal in all five of their wins. The penalty kill has been good, too, and it’s had to be. PC has been shorthanded 45 times in seven games.

RA: Hayden Hawkey has two straight shutouts. Has there been one area of his game that has stood out over this recent stretch?

MD: Hayden Hawkey is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence right now and I think his teammates feed off that.

RA: UMass and Providence meet this weekend in a battle of two top-10 teams in the nation. How do you anticipate this series playing out?

MD: I’m expecting a split in this two-game series. The teams are so evenly matched at this point that a sweep would be a surprise.

 

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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