PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Hard work pays off.
That’s a saying coaches across the country are constantly trying to drill into the heads of their players.
Good thing for Providence head coach Nate Leaman, he was one shining example sitting in his own locker room.
Goaltender Nick Ellis spent the last two years behind Jon Gillies. That’s not saying much. There were roughly 180 goalies in college hockey last season, and just about every single one of them would have been behind Gillies on a depth chart.
After waiting it out, patiently, while Gillies led the Friars to a national championship last season, it’s been Ellis’ time to shine.
After Saturday’s shutout over Merrimack, Ellis’ second of the season, he has a .939 save percentage and a 1.75 goals-against average. His team, meanwhile, is 11-0-3 and hasn’t lost since an overtime defeat to New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East playoffs last season, a span that has now stretched 18 games.
“He’s been our hardest worker the past two years,” Leaman said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. The guys, when he got his chances last year, the guys were really rooting for him. The guys here love him for how hard he works and it’s one of those stories that makes you really happy as a college coach, because you see a guy that had to battle through some adversity, and he had to keep working and working and when he’s had his opportunities he’s made the most of it. Those are the lessons you want to teach these kids. Things aren’t always going to go your way but if you keep doing the right thing and you keep battling, you’ll be able to take advantage of your opportunity when it comes. That’s why a lot of guys are happy for him.”