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Jr. Sharks alum Romanchuk comes full circle

 

Romanchuk

It wasn’t the result she was hoping for on the ice, but for Providence College defenseman Lexi Romanchuk, it was still good to be home.

Romanchuk and the Friars took on the University of Wisconsin last month at Sharks-Ice San Jose, and even after the Badgers capped a two-game sweep, the San Jose native was all smiles following the weekend.

“It was so surreal,” said Romanchuk, who came up through the San Jose Jr. Sharks program. “To step out on that ice again and hear all the cheers was just awesome. It’s so nice to be here, and to be able to play in front of all these people is something I never thought would happen.

“It was an unbelievable experience.”

Now in her senior year at Providence, Romanchuk was named captain prior to this season after serving as an alternate captain last year – something Friars head coach Bob Deraney says speaks volumes about what Romanchuk means to her teammates and the program.

“Her leadership abilities were there right from the start,” said Deraney. “It’s a total program decision when it comes to selecting who wears the letters here, and to get one as a junior and then carry that over to being named captain as a senior is something pretty special.

“She’s the consummate student-athlete. Her work ethic and her commitment to be a Division I hockey player was there the minute she stepped foot on campus, and she’s earned the respect of every player and coach in our organization.”

With only five seniors on the roster, Romanchuk will be leaned on heavily for a rebuilding Friars team that went 5-15-1 in Hockey East conference play last season. She says, though, just because she’s been named captain doesn’t mean she’ll be doing anything differently.

“To have my teammates and coaches look at me that way means a lot,” said Romanchuk. “I try to lead by example – not just on the ice, but off it, too. You don’t need to have a letter in order to be a leader; that’s something I’d do regardless of whether I had a letter or not.

“But it’s still pretty cool to be recognized.”

Having a well-rounded veteran at the top of the defensive depth chart isn’t something Deraney takes for granted, as Romanchuk led the Friars in minutes played last season and will be at or near the top of that category again this year.

For Deraney, the ability for Romanchuk to log so much ice time is a byproduct of her hard work and knowledge of the game.

“From her leadership ability to her skill level to the amount of minutes she plays, she’s been the anchor for us on defense for a long time,” said Deraney, who’s entering his 17th season as head coach at Providence. “Her understanding of the game is off the charts, and she’s just always so composed out there.”

While entering the final season of her college career, Romanchuk still has fond memories of coming up through the Jr. Sharks program, and despite attending a university and furthering her hockey career over 3,000 miles away, she certainly hasn’t forgotten where she came from.

“The facilities we have here and the way the Jr. Sharks program is able to develop their players is unbelievable,” said Romanchuk. “I feel lucky to have played in such a great organization, and I really can’t say enough about what they’ve done for me.”

– John B. Spigott