PROVIDENCE -- Freshman Niko Rufo's (Stoneham, Mass.) first career game-winning goal came 1:38 into overtime against No. 3 Miami University when his sharp angle shot eluded RedHawk goaltender Jay Williams to send the eighth-ranked Friars to a 3-2 win on Friday night in front of a sold out crowd at Schneider Arena.
Providence College moves to 4-0-0 to start the season, while Miami is now 3-2-0. It marks the first time since the 2003-04 season the Friars have started a season 4-0-0.
The Friars held a 2-0 lead after the first 40 minutes of play against the RedHawks after scoring once in each of the first two periods of play. Sophomore Steven McParland (Schreiber, Ontario) gave the Friars the lead with an early first period goal and classmate Mark Jankowski (Dundas, Ontario) added an unassisted goal at 1:22 of the second period for Providence. However, the Friars, for the first time this season, surrendered two power play goals in the third period and the game went to overtime.
Special teams proved to play an integral role in the game with the final three goals all coming on the power plays, including the game winner which was a 5-on-3 goal. Both goaltenders played well for their teams as Miami's Jay Williams stopped 35 of 38 shots and Friars sophomore Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) made 33 saves in the win.
For the first time this season, the Friars headed into the second period with a lead. McParland put the Friars ahead at 2:05 of the first period with his first goal of the season. A pass by sophomore Kevin Rooney (Canton, Mass.) found its way to McParland, who was stationed near the crease, right in front of Williams. McParland redirected the pass through the legs of Williams to give the Friars a 1-0 advantage. Rooney, in his first game of the season, recorded his first point of the season with an assist while sophomore John Gilmour (Montreal, Que.) also notched a helper on the goal.
Jankowski doubled the Providence lead only 1:22 into second period play. The goal, his fourth of the season, came unassisted after forcing a turnover along the neutral zone boards. The sophomore carried the puck through the offensive zone dangling his way around a sliding defender. He used another toe drag to make his way around the traffic in front of the Miami goal and backhanded the puck into the open RedHawk.
After going 23-for-23 on the penalty kill to open the season, the Friars streak ended as the RedHawks found a way to cash in twice on the power play to even the game in the third. Blake Coleman cut the deficit for the RedHawks in half at 2:40 of the period. Austin Czarnik fired a shot from the face-off circle that Coleman deflected from right in front of the crease to make the score 2-1. Also on the power play, Riley Barber evened the score for Miami at 7:08 of the frame when he rifled a shot from the left face-off circle that beat Gillies high.
Even though the Friars had a number of power play opportunities before the end of regulation, they could not find a way to capitalize. A five minute major that was assessed to Miami's Chris Joyaux followed by an additional Miami minor penalty gave the Friars an extended power play heading into the extra stanza. Senior Derek Army (North Kingstown, R.I.) set up Gilmour, who connected a pass from the blue line with Rufo. Rufo, who was on the goal line to the left of Williams, cut down the goal line and sent a shot towards Williams that deflected off of the Miami netminder and into the back of the net to secure the win for the Friars.
The Friars went 1-for-9 on the power play in the game as well as 2-for-7 on the penalty kill. Providence outshot the RedHawks 38-35 in the game. Gillies made 33 stops, while Williams finished with 35 saves.
The overtime win marks the first overtime win in the newly renovated Schneider Arena and the Friars' first overtime victory since Nov. 30, 2012 against Merrimack.
The Friars and RedHawks wrap up their two-game series tomorrow night at Schneider Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:05p.m. The game can be viewed locally on CoxSports on OSN (Channels 5 and 1005 HD).
Tonight's game marks the first sellout in the newly renovated Schneider Arena (2,978) ... Sophomore Steven McParlandscored his first goal of the season ...In his season debut, sophomore Kevin Rooney tallied his first point of the year with an assist on McParland's goal ... The Friars have won four consecutive games to start a season for the first time since 2003-04 ... Tonight was the first overtime win for the Friars since a 3-2 Merrimack win on Nov. 30, 2012 ... It was the first time that the Friars have defeated a top-10 team while also ranked in the top-10 since a 5-3 win over Boston College on Feb. 9, 2001 ... In 38 career starts, Jon Gillies has allowed two or fewer goals 24 times ... The last Friars win over Miami was a 5-0 win on Oct. 20, 2000 at Schneider Arena ...The Friars ended their perfect 23-for-23 penalty killing streak to start the season with after giving up Coleman's goal.