PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Third period goals by Josh Wilkins and Conor MacPhee paced the Providence College men’s hockey team to a thrilling 3-1 win over No. 2 Denver on Saturday night at Schneider Arena.
With the win, the Friars improve to 8-6-4 this season and extend their unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2). The Pioneers drop to 12-4-4 despite 33 saves from goaltender Tanner Jaillet. Hayden Hawkey made 21 stops for the Friars, including a frantic final four minutes when Denver pulled its goaltender for an extra attacker.
The teams battled through a scoreless opening frame that saw only a combined 15 shots on goal. Providence’s best chance of the period came as Bryan Lemos exited the penalty box, cut across the top of the slot and centered a pass to Brandon Duhaime that was stopped by Jaillet, as well as the rebound follow up from Scott Conway. Despite the Friars outshooting the Pioneers early, Denver controlled the faceoff dot by a 17-5 margin the first period.
Providence went to work with a two-man advantage in the opening minutes of the second period and cashed in on the 5-on-3 at the 4:00 mark. Scott Conway hammered home a rebound of a Brian Pinho shot for his sixth tally of the season and fourth on the power play to put the Friars up 1-0. The Pioneers responded to tie things up 5:42 later as defenseman Will Butcher fired a shot through traffic over the blocker of Hawkey to make it a 1-1 score.
The Friars responded with a string of quality shifts in the Denver zone, but Jaillet kept Providence off the board in the waning minutes of the period in which they out-shot the Pioneers, 17-8.
Josh Wilkins gave the Friars a 2-1 lead on the power play just 1:16 into the third period after firing a shot past Jaillet after a nice give-and-go with Brandon Duhaime. Conor MacPhee gave Providence a huge insurance tally with 5:40 remaining with his third strike of the season.
Denver pulled Jaillet in favor of an extra attacker for the final 4:04 of play but couldn’t get anything past Hawkey and the Friar defense.
Up next, the Friars are return to Hockey East play next Saturday at Frozen Fenway against Boston College.
HOW THEY SCORED
1-0 (PC) Scott Conway (PPG) (Pinho, Walman) – Pinho fired a shot off a Walman rebound and Conway finished off the loose puck in the crease.
1-1 (DU) Will Butcher (PPG (Gambrell, Lukosevicius) – Gambrell fed to Butcher at the point and he wired a wrist shot through a screen over the blocker of Hawkey.
2-1 (PC) Josh Wilkins (PPG) (Duhaime, Young) – Give-and-go between Duhaime and Wilkins and he finishes over the blocker of Jaillet from the bottom of the circles.
3-1 (PC) Conor MacPhee (Lemos) – Off a face-off win, MacPhee fired a loose puck from the circles far side on Jaillet.