Second Period Surge Propels Providence Past Maine 4-2
Sunday, March 16, 2014
PROVIDENCE, RI— Providence College Goaltender Jon Gilles was outstanding again and stopped 36 shots, but the Friars delivered their knockout blow to the Maine Black Bears with a pair of second period goals that ultimately eliminated Maine from the Hockey East Tournament Saturday night.
Through a period and change, the Black Bears hung even with the Friars and threatened to force a do-or-die Game 3 Sunday afternoon.
Derek Army’s wrap-around goal chased Maine Goaltender Martin Ouellette midway through the second period, and Ross Mauerman’s top-shelf slap-shot on a 5-on-3 Power Play 7 minutes later was the dagger in the hearts of the Black Bears.
“I think we played a better game tonight than last night,” said Maine Head Coach Red Gendron. “We got beat by the better team.”
Providence advances to next weekend’s Hockey East Finals Weekend at TD Garden in Boston. 2 single-elimination Semifinals on Friday night determine which 2 teams play in the single-elimination Championship Game on Saturday.
The Black Bears made things interesting in the opening minutes of the 3rd period when Steven Swavely won the puck in front of the net and knocked a backhand shot past Gilles to make it 4-2.
Both teams had chances as the period went on, but Gilles and Ouellette (back in the game after an equipment issue forced replacement Dan Sullivan to leave the game) stood tall and 4-2 was the final.
“Our goalie was the best player in that 3rd period,” said Friars Head Coach Nate Leaman.
Maine got on the board first on a Power Play goal from sophomore defenseman Ben Hutton a few minutes into the game. It was Hutton’s second goal in as many nights and gave the Black Bears their first lead of the series.
Providence equalized midway through the first period on a mucked up play in the crease area, with sophomore Winger Nick Saracino squirting the puck through the 5-hole of Ouellette.
The Friars pumped the gas pedal again with 5 minutes left in the 1st period, with Saracino again doing the honors with the goal. Just moments after going on the Power Play, PC set up their offense and Shane Luke fed a nice pass to Saracino in the left slot. The left-handed Saracino beat Ouellette blocker-side, an eerily similar goal to the goal Trevor Mangoia scored in Friday night’s opening game.
Leaman said after the game that Saracino had been questionable to play with flu-like symptoms. The Friars have a bug going around the locker room, but they’re the only team to win a Hockey East Quarterfinal series 2-0 and as such will get an extra day of rest on the competition.
“I think it’s great for us. We need the time to heal up,” said Leaman. “We just want to make sure we’re playing out best Friday night.”