Providence advances to Hockey East semis with 3-2 win vs. New Hampshire
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A pair of back-to-back power-play goals in the second period lifted fourth-seeded Providence to a 3-2 victory against fifth-seeded New Hampshire on Sunday at Schneider Arena.
With the win, Providence claimed the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series against New Hampshire and clinched a spot in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead, the Friars (17-13-7, 13-8-6 HEA) fell behind 2-1 by the halfway mark of the second period. Tim Schaller and Nick Saracino responded for Providence as they combined to score two power-play goals in less than a minute in the second period.
Jon Gillies was strong in goal for the Friars as he made 30 saves. Casey DeSmith stopped 22 of 25 shots he faced for New Hampshire (19-11-7, 13-8-6 HEA).
Only 1:31 into the game, the Friars gained a 1-0 lead when Mark Jankowski capped an exchange of passes with Schaller with his seventh goal of the season. Jankowski originally dropped a pass to Schaller, with Schaller returning the puck to Jankowski with a cross-ice pass. Open at the doorstep, Jankowski tipped the puck past DeSmith.
New Hampshire evened the game at 1 when John Henrion capitalized on a rebound off a scrum in front of Gillies at 17:07 of the first.
Shortly after a play where Gillies made a series of great saves against Henrion, UNH responded with the go-ahead goal in the second period. While on the power play, Trevor van Riemsdyk fired a shot from the blue line that Grayson Downing redirected past Gillies at 17:07 of the second period.
Before the end of the middle period, Providence regained the lead as a result of the back-to-back power-play goals. Tom Parisi slid the puck along the blue line to junior Kevin Hart, who then connected on a cross-ice pass with Schaller. Schaller evened the game at 2 with a top-shelf shot from the faceoff circle at 16:29 of the period.
At 17:13, the Friars jumped ahead when Saracino managed to put the puck past DeSmith after a flurry in front of the UNH crease during a Friars power play. John Gilmour got the play started when he took a shot from the blue line that created a rebound chance. Saracino, along with Paul de Jersey and Jankowski, were all jamming at the puck before Saracino finally put away his fourth goal of the series and the eventual game-winner.
The Friars held the Wildcats off the scoreboard in the third period, as Gillies stopped all 11 shots he faced and the Friars won their first Hockey East quarterfinal series on home ice since March 11, 2001.
The Friars will take on UMass Lowell in the Hockey East semifinals on March 22 at the TD Garden in Boston.
• UMass Lowell sweeps Maine to advance