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Hawkey: New offseason approach, experience leading to success

Hayden Hawkey continues to impress with Providence College, putting up solid numbers for the Friars

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - You don't have to look too far down the win column to see Providence College goaltender Hayden Hawkey's name right now. 

With nine victories so far this season, the 22-year-old junior sits tied for third in that department in the NCAA Division I ranks. His two shutouts, 2.47 goals-against average and .912 save percentage aren't too shabby, either.

In short, Hawkey picked up right where he left off last year when he rattled off a solid 22-12-5 record after officially taking over the reins as the Friars' starter from Edmonton Oilers prospect Nick Ellis.

No doubt the Parker, CO native has high expectations for himself and his teammates after reaching the NCAA East Regional Semifinals in March, before being ousted by Harvard and seeing their season come to a premature close.

"I'm just trying to be solid back there for the boys. We've got a young D corps [with three freshmen], so I'm trying to help them out as much as possible. I think the biggest thing for me is to be consistent night in and night out so my teammates always know what they're getting from me," said Hawkey, the Canadiens' sixth-round pick - 177th overall - in 2014. "The exciting part about us is we haven't really played our best hockey yet, so it will be interesting to see what we can do. If we go on a run, we can be a dangerous hockey team."

Hawkey believes his own success this year has a lot to do with a brand new offseason routine that kept him in Rhode Island over the summer as opposed to heading back home. 

"I think it really helped that I was able to stay and train at school pretty much full-time. Just being here with our staff was an awesome opportunity to have all the facilities at my disposal. Being able to come to the rink every day and work out was my main focus," mentioned Hawkey, on switching things up ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. "It was a big summer because I didn't have a lot of distractions being here."

Experience certainly helped, too. This fall, Hawkey was no longer a newbie in his role as the go-to guy in between the pipes for head coach Nate Leaman's contingent.  

"Coming in this year, it was nice to have some time [being the starter] and kind of be able to draw from that. I have a better grasp on things. I think you just figure things out more, what you need to do to be successful - whether it's getting on the ice early or whether it's the little things off the ice," explained Hawkey. "You know your routine and you know how to handle yourself as time goes on, which makes everything easier."

And, according to Hawkey, time has marched on rather quickly since he first arrived on campus months ahead of schedule in the summer of 2015 to recover from a serious knee injury he sustained while still a member of the USHL's Omaha Lancers.

"Looking back at this time two years ago, it's pretty crazy, some of the changes you notice in yourself as a person and a player," said Hawkey. "It's definitely been great, though, and I still have another year-and-half left here and the opportunity to grow is still there. That's the most exciting part about it, I think."

Back on October 22, Hawkey caught a glimpse of what his future might have in store for him hockey-wise when he headed over to the Dunkin' Donuts Center to catch the AHL matchup between the Providence Bruins and the Laval Rocket.

It just so happens that his good friend and former Friars teammate - defenseman Tom Parisi - patrols the blue line for Sylvain Lefebvre's squad.

While graduation - and making the jump to the pros - isn't too far off, Hawkey's focus remains squarely on helping the Friars go as far as possible and continuing to improve his game in the process.

"Honestly, I just try to take It weekend by weekend," said Hawkey, who will lead the ninth-ranked Friars into a weekend matchup against the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) beginning on Friday night on home turf. "We know a game here and there makes a difference in the long run."

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