PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A pair of back-to-back power-play goals in the second period lifted the fourth-seeded Providence College men's hockey team to a 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon at Schneider Arena.
With the win, Providence claimed the best-of-three quarterfinal series against New Hampshire, two games to one, and clinched a spot in the Hockey East 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. Senior Tim Schaller (Merrimack, N.H.) and freshman Nick Saracino (St. Louis, Mo.) responded for PC as they combined to score two power-play goals in less than a minute in the second period.
Freshman Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) was strong in goal for the Friars as he made 30 saves in the final game of the series. 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 (Dundas, Ontario) capped off 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 1-1 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 to take a 2-1 lead 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. Freshman Tom Parisi (Commack, N.Y.) slid the puck along the blue line to junior Kevin Hart (Cumberland, Maine) who then connected on a cross-ice pass with Schaller. Schaller evened the game at 2-2 with a top-shelf shot from the face-off 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 Friar power-play. Freshman John Gilmour (Montreal, Quebec) got the play started when he took a shot from the blue line that created a rebound chance. Saracino along with Paul de Jersey (West Vancouver, B.C.) 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 to claim their spot in the 2013vHockey East Semifinals.
The Friars will take on UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East Semifinals next Friday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.
The win marks the first time the Friars have won a Hockey East Quarterfinal game three at Schneider Arena since March 11, 2001 (4-3 overtime win against BU)... Providence is now 4-3 all-time in Hockey East Quarterfinal game threes, and has won a Quarterfinal game three for the second season in a row ... The last time Providence defeated UNH in a Hockey East Quarterfinal series was 1995 ... The Friars will make their 11th appearance in the Hockey East Semifinals ... Nick Saracino leads the Friars in points this postseason with four goals and an assist in three games ... Saracino has eight points (6g, 2a) in his last seven games and posted ten points (7g, 3a) in six games against UNH this season ... Providence went 4-1-1 against UNH this season, including an undefeated regular season record (2-0-1) ...The Friars have now played seven consecutive games against opponents ranked in the top-7, posting a 4-3-0 record in those games ...The Friars are making a second consecutive appearance in the Hockey East Semifinals for the first time since 1994-95 and 1995-96 ... Providence now holds a 5-0-1 record when Mark Jankowski scores a goal and a 10-1-2 record when he notches a point ... The Friars are 16-2-4 when scoring first, 15-2-4 when scoring three or more goals and 14-0-2 when leading after two periods of play.