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Providence trio readies for Frozen Four

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

It’s been around 30 years since Providence has been in the Frozen Four. We want to bring home the first National Championship here. We’re pretty excited to be a part of it.Mark Jankowski

The Providence College trio of Jon Gillies, John Gilmour and Mark Jankowski has been through a lot together, but they’re ready to embark on a new challenge.

The collection of Calgary Flames prospects will lead the Friars into the Frozen Four, running April 9th & 11th at TD Garden in Boston, for the first time in 30 years.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Jankowski, Calgary’s first pick (No. 21) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s been around 30 years since Providence has been in the Frozen Four. We want to bring home the first National Championship here. We’re pretty excited to be a part of it.”

Providence College’s last skate at the Frozen Four game in 1985.

Longtime New Jersey Devils goaltender Chris Terreri tended the twine for the school, while 11-year National Hockey League veteran Paul Cavallini patrolled the blue line.

The ’85 Friars fell, 3-2, to Michigan State in their NCAA opener in Lansing, MI. before beating the Spartans, 4-2, the next night, to win a two-game, total-goals series and gain an entry into the Frozen Four. Providence eventually lost to RPI in the NCAA title game, 2-1, but Terreri was voted the tournament MVP.

It’s as close as the college has ever come to the title.

It’s amplified the excitement from Jankowski, Gillies and Gilmour.

“I think it means everything,” said Gillies, a senior selected by the Flames 75th overall in 2012. “It’s what you play college hockey for, to compete for a National Championship. I’m very honoured to be here but at the same time, there’s no ‘wow’ factor for us. We’re not content with just being here. We need to be our best and hopefully that translates to wins.

“We’ve got a loose, focused energy. It’s been a lot of fun. Our team is a lot of fun to be around. We have a lot of different personalities, a lot of different character makeups. It’s fun to hang out with each and every guy. We’re having fun with it.”

Providence will open the tournament Thursday against Omaha. Should they win, the Friars will face the winner of North Dakota and Boston University -- led by fellow Flames prospect Brandon Hickey -- in Saturday’s finale.

The single-elimination tournament is just another opportunity for Calgary’s collection of prospects to share an experience together.

And after going through the draft and development camps together, a shot at college hockey’s ultimate prize would be a fitting addition for the group, Gilmour admitted.

“It’s special,” said the seventh round pick (No. 198) a year after Gillies and Jankowski. “We’ve developed a friendship over the years and this is something we really want to add to it. It’ll be a trip we can remember forever. That’s why we want to go all the way.”

There’d be no argument out of Jankowski.

“That’d be unbelievable with those two guys,” he said. “Over the years we’ve been in the same class. We’ve been hanging out together for two years here. We’ve got a special bond and a special relationship. If we can add a National Championship to it with those guys it’d be unbelievable.”

A championship would be a fitting end to an important run this season, too, according to Gillies.

“Anything when it comes to development camp or going through the process of talking to scouts, it’s always been nice to have two guys to share it with to talk about what you’re going through,” he said. “It’s been great to have the two other guys from the same organization to talk with.

“We’ve grown pretty close over the last couple of years because of it and hopefully we can keep the ride going a little longer.”

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