BRIDEGEPORT, Conn. -- The third-seeded Providence College men's hockey team (22-11-6) fell 3-1 to top-seeded Union College (30-6-4) in the NCAA East Regional Final at the Webster Bank Arena (6,655) on Saturday afternoon. It was Providence's sixth NCAA East Regional Final/Quarterfinal appearance in program history.
Trailing by two goals in the third, sophomore Nick Saracino (St. Louis, Mo.) cut the Union lead to 2-1 but the Dutchmen held on for the win. Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) made 28 saves in the Friar net, while Colin Stevens made 25 saves for Union.
The Friars, who finished the season tied for the third-most wins in program history with 22, were bidding for their first Frozen Four appearance since 1985.
The Dutchmen took an early 1-0 lead at 2:42 of the first period off a slapper taken by Mat Bodie. Daniel Carr fed Bodie a cross ice pass and Bodie finished from just outside the circle high past Gillies. Daniel Ciampini also assisted on the play.
One of the Friars' best first period scoring chances came when sophomore Mark Jankowski(Dundas, Ontario) took a quick shot on Union goaltender Colin Stevens that popped out to freshman Conor MacPhee(Windham, N.H.) on the far-post. MacPhee attempted to put the puck in the open net but Union defender Shayne Gostisbehere batted the puck away before it crossed the goal line.
Gillies made 14 stops for the Friars during the first 20 minutes of action, including a quick right pad save on a Ciampini one-timer from the slot midway through the stanza. Stevens finished the first period with seven saves for the Dutchmen.
Union extended its lead 58 seconds into the second period. Kevin Sullivan walked out of the corner and placed a backhand shot on net with Max Novak crashing the net and pushing the puck past past Gillies to make it 2-0.
At 7:14 of the frame, sophomore Steven McParland(Schreiber, Ontario) broke free from a Union defender to find himself on a breakaway versus Stevens, who saved McParland's backhand attempt.
Providence continued to battle as MacPhee and Jankowski teamed up for another big chance for the Friars near the end of the second period. MacPhee rolled out of the corner and fired a shot on net for Jankowski to collect the rebound and rip at Stevens, who was able to get a shoulder on and keep the score 2-0 in favor of Union.
At the end of two periods, Gillies had 20 saves for Providence, while Stevens stopped all 14 of the Friars' shots.
The Friars continued to put the pressure on for most of the third period and eventually scored with 5:05 left to cut the Dutchmen lead to 2-1. Sophomore Tom Parisi (Commack, N.Y.) started the play as he took a hit along the wall to keep the puck in the offensive zone for the Friars. Parisi tipped the puck to classmate Nick Saracino (St. Louis, Mo.), who fired a shot that Stevens could not control. Junior Ross Mauermann(Janesville, Wis.) found the rebound in front and fired a shot that bounced back out for Saracino to put home for his 10th goal of the season.
Minutes later at 16:13 of the final period, Union reclaimed its two-goal lead with a one-time from Matt Hatch. Novak made his way out from behind the Friars' net to find Hatch alone in front of Gillies.
With the score 3-1, Providence pulled Gillies for the extra skater in the final minutes of play. Providence had several chances but could not find a way to break Stevens to even the score before the end of regulation time.
The Friars outshot the Dutchmen 12-9 in the final stanza. Each team finished the game 0-for-1 on the power play.
Providence won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1991 ... It was Providence's 10th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2001 ... The Friars are now 10-16 all-time in NCAA Tournament games ... It was Providence's sixth all-time appearance in the Regional Final/National Quarterfinal stage of the NCAA Tournament ... At 22-11-6, the Friars finished tied for the third-most wins in program history ... Nick Saracino is Providence's fifth 10-goal scorer this season.