Mention Providence College and most of us think of people named Wilkens and Egan and Walker and DiGregorio dribbling basketballs upcourt at breakneck speed. Now, from the same folks who gave us those basketball thrills, come the Wilson brothers—Ron, Brad and Randy—and they move faster than Ernie D ever did. Of course, they wear ice skates, not low-cuts. Recently the Wilsons opened Providence's season by combining for three goals and five assists in the Friars' 4-3 win over Merrimack. In one game last year they scored eight goals—Randy had six, Brad two, and Ron assisted on five of the eight. The ultimate, of course, is a goal by Wilson from Wilson and Wilson—which has happened six times so far in their Providence careers—twice in the same period against Dartmouth, which produced this unusual box score:
Third period—Providence, Ron Wilson (B. Wilson, R. Wilson) 9:22; Providence, Randy Wilson (B. Wilson, R. Wilson) 18:19.
Ron, a 5'10", 175-pound senior, is a Bobby Orr-type defenseman who kills penalties, runs the power plays and skates about 40 minutes a game. As a sophomore, he led the nation in assists with 61 in 27 games, and finished second in scoring with 87 points. He was the leading scorer on last year's Olympic team, too, before it went to Innsbruck; he quit the club in December and returned to Providence. When the Olympians met the Friars in Providence, Ron scored a goal and an assist in the Friars' 6-3 triumph. He also had four-goal games against Colgate and Vermont, and despite missing PC's first three games because of his Olympic commitments, he finished the season with 66 points—tied for third in the East.
Brother Brad, a 5'7", 165-pound junior center, looks as though he could be knocked off the puck by the school librarian—until he removes his glasses and pulls on a uniform. Then he is a pocket-sized rocket—the Henri Richard of college hockey. His teammates say that ounce for ounce Brad is the toughest player on the club. He is fearless in pursuit of loose pucks, a master of the face-off circle (he won 75% of his draws last season) and a slick opportunist around the net. He has scored 123 points in his 60 games.
"Brad doesn't have as much ability as his two brothers," says one pro scout. "He gets pounded on a lot because of his size, too, and he doesn't shoot enough. But when he gets the puck on his stick—bang! It's in the net." In a 9-6 victory over crosstown rival Brown last season, Brad took only five shots. Result: five goals.
Randy, a 5'9", 175-pound sophomore leftwinger, has a personality and a playing style that go with being the youngest brother. Ron, 21, is talkative and polite, as a team co-captain should be, and he has great finesse on the ice. Brad, 20, is quiet, shy and a bit of a scrapper, having grown up in big brother's shadow. That leaves Randy, 19, a now-generation type who doesn't give a hang about tradition. Among other things, he is not crazy about wearing the mandatory ties on the road. And on the ice his game is power, cocky power.
"I think my brothers are the greatest, and I love playing with them," Randy says, "but I just can't help thinking I'll be the best in the family some day."
Quite a boast, considering the family. Uncle John Wilson played in 580 straight games for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1950s and now coaches the NHL's Colorado Rockies. Father Larry played three seasons as a forward in the NHL, and now coaches the minor league Baltimore Clippers.
Randy definitely has pro potential. Playing on a line with Brad and Right Wing Denis Martin, the youngest Wilson has a hard, quick, accurate shot that produced 30 goals last season, the highest total by an Eastern freshman. When goaltenders do manage to stop Randy's cannons, brother Brad is there to pop in the rebound.
Randy burst onto the college scene by scoring those six goals—the double hat trick—in his sixth varsity game.