PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- In game one of the Hockey East Quarterfinals, seventeenth-ranked Providence earned a 3-2 win over seventh-ranked New Hampshire on Friday night at Schneider Arena. Freshman Nick Saracino (St. Louis, Mo.) scored the-game winning goal at 8:06 of the third period to cap off a three-point night.
Sophomore Shane Luke (Dauphin, Manitoba) returned to the Providence (16-12-7, 13-8-6 HEA) lineup after missing the previous six games and posted a career-high three assists, while freshman goaltender Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) made 35 saves in his playoff debut to help stake the Friars to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Casey DeSmith made 22 saves for the Wildcats (18-10-7, 13-8-6 HEA), while Grayson Downing scored a power-play goal and added an assist for the visitors.
At 2:06 of the second period, the Friars broke a scoreless tie when Saracino cashed in on his eighth goal of the season. Luke got the puck to Saracino while they were working along the boards in the offensive zone. Saracino skated through the face-off circle before firing a high shot from a bad angle that beat DeSmith to the short side.
Freshman John Gilmour (Montreal, Quebec) gave the Friars a 2-0 lead at 13:27 of the second. After a sequence of pressure in front of DeSmith, the puck made its way to Gilmour, who was skating in from the point. Gilmour blasted a shot that made its way through traffic into the back of the UNH goal. Luke and Saracino assisted on the play, each registering their second point of the game.
New Hampshire sliced the lead in half when Downing capitalized on the power-play off a feed from right outside of the crease by Eric Knodel at 13:50 of the second.
Then two minutes into the third, the Wildcats tied the game at 2-2. Brett Kostolansky connected on a feed to Austin Block who skated in alone on Gillies and backhanded the puck into the back of the net while the teams were skating 4-on-4.
After a long sequence of pressure by UNH in the Friar zone, Providence regained the lead for the final time when Saracino scored the game winner. Luke took a tip pass from Ross Mauermann (Janesville, Wis.) and got the puck to Saracino as he broke into the offensive zone. Saracino fired the shot from outside of the face-off circles that went over the glove of DeSmith.
The Friars take on the Wildcats tomorrow, Saturday, March 16 at 4:10 p.m. as they look to clinch the best-of-three series with a win. The game will be played at Schneider Arena and will be televised live on NESN. If necessary, the series will conclude on Sunday, March 17 at Schneider Arena at 4:30 p.m.
The Friars played a home playoff game for the first time since 2003 ... With sophomore Shane Luke returning to the lineup after missing the last six games, it was the first game that Myles Harvey, Kevin Hart, Luke, Noel Acciari and Mark Jankowski were all able to play ... The series is Providence's first home playoff series in 10 years (hosted Boston University in 2003) ... Nick Saracino has eight points against UNH this season (5 goals, 3 assists) ... Saracino has six points in his last five games ... Saracino tied a career high in goals (2), assists (1), and points (3) ... Shane Luke set a career highs in assists (3) and points (3) ... The win marked Providence's first home Hockey East playoff win since a 4-3 OT over Boston University March 11, 2001 ... The Friars are now 15-2-4 when scoring first this season and 13-0-2 when leading after two periods.