Durham, NH- Providence entered the game at UNH winless against the Wildcats in nearly five years, but no one would have guessed that with the way the teams exited the locker room. The first period was a relatively quiet period but Shane Luke would find the back of the net at five minutes, 23 seconds of the first to give the Friars the 1-0 first period lead. This 1-0 lead would hold until intermission, and PC would totally dominate UNH in the second taking a 5-2 lead into the third period.
The Wildcats would score three goals in the second period, and the Friars one but it was not to be as PC would hold on to defeat UNH 6-5. Providence improves to 10-9-3, 8-5-2 in Hockey East and UNH falls to 14-5-2, 9-4-1 in Hockey East. The loss puts UNH four points behind Boston College, with two games at hand and the win puts Providence in a tie for third place in Hockey East with Boston University. UNH also falls to fourth, from second, in the Pairwise rankings, while Providence solidified there status as a TUC in those rankings.
What I Saw
- UNH came out of the gate slow and defensive breakdowns were abounded throughout the first two periods. On the first goal, Dan Correale misplayed a puck in the corner and it came out to the side wall, where Shane Luke was waiting for it. Luke then sent it to the net and it got past Desmith. This goal would prove to be a microcosm of the second period for UNH, as bad defensive play and bad goaltending cost them dearly in allowing four Providence goals. It seemed as though UNH just never got any rhythm on defense and neither goalie was seeing the puck well either.
- Providence came out and took advantage of UNH mistakes, for a team that averages just 2.76 goals per game they really took it to a good UNH defense. Although it was a lot of gifts from UNH, one has to give credit to PC. They found the open men and the young guys came to play. Up and down the lineup, Providence exploited UNH’s porous defensive play to the max effect.
What I Thought
- As bad as the defensive play was for UNH, the goaltending reminded me a lot of early last season and was worse. They got away from playing a five man defensive game and Casey Desmith did not see the puck. For what its worth, Jeff Wyer looked shaky taking over for Desmith as well. Casey Desmith has not been the same since coming back from Colorado. It may be time to give Jeff Wyer a look in the next game, as tonight was the second game in three contests that Desmith got yanked.
- Providence took full advantage of scoring an early second period goal, 50 seconds into the period. Goals at the beginning or end of a period can be a huge momentum boost and PC was able to score four goals in the second period. The second period saw UNH do everything that they haven’t on defense all season and Providence did everything in their power to to take it to UNH, outscoring them 4-2 in the period.
- UNH woke up from its slumber late in the second period but at that point it was a case of too little, too late. Umile tried everything from changing lines and moving people around, but it was not to be. Even when UNH got back into the game and cut the deficit to two, Kevin Goumas took an ill advised slash that cost UNH a bid for a comeback. The porous play for much of the first half of the contest came back to bite them.
What They Said
Providence Coach Nate Leaman said,
“We came off a tough loss on Thursday night. I am proud of the guys coming back and getting the win on the road. Overall we are playing ten freshmen and go up 5-2. We panicked and let them back in the game but overall i’m happy because it was a gutsy road win.”
New Hampshire forward Kevin Goumas said,
“Give them a lot of credit, they are a good hockey team. Any time you give a team a four goal lead, even if you are home, it’s tough to come back.”
Providence forward Derek Army said,
“It was real nice to get this one. The early second period goal set the pace for us. We sort of finished the first a little slow at the end of the period. But then after that the goal set the pace and we realized we needed to push the pace to get a big lead.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH will play a two game set with Merrimack College next weekend. On Friday they will play the Warriors on the road at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Mass and on Saturday they will play Merrimack at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, site of the Northeast Regional in March.
Providence will take on Boston University in a home and home series Friday and Saturday. Boston University is coming off a loss to Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday night, and a loss to Northeastern on Friday night.
The win was Providence’s first against UNH since March 24, 2007 and their first victory at the Whitemore Center since March of 2004, a stretch of 18 games.