PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Freshman Nick Saracino helped lift the Friars past the University of New Hampshire with two goals and an assist in PC’s 3-2 victory in Game 1 of their Hockey East quarterfinal series. A goal from fellow freshman, defenseman John Gilmour rounded out the PC scoring. New Hampshire’s goals came from Grayson Downing and Austin Block, who beat Jon Gillies backhand. The Wildcats had the momentum on their side early, and finished the game outshooting the Friars 37-25, but couldn’t overcome a surging PC third line coupled with Gillies in net.
UNH controlled the first period, with the 23-15 advantage on shots attempted, but the talent of Gillies in net counteracted any Wildcat chances and the teams were scoreless after the first twenty. It looked like UNH would take the 1-0 lead about halfway through the first period when a giveaway in UNH’s zone resulted with the puck on Grayson Downing’s stick. Downing rushed through the PC defense and shot inside the right circle, but the puck rang the inside of the post and bounced out. There was a steady back-and-forth pace to the game until the 12:30 mark of the first, when the Wildcats had some sustained pressure in the PC zone in peppered Gillies with shots, two of which came from Knodel. Shane Luke finally cleared it for the Friars with some smart play behind the net to end the onslaught of shots.
The momentum shifted in the second as the Friars came out flying and Saracino scored the game’s first goal at 2:06 with an assist from linemate Shane Luke. Just under five minutes into the period, Dan Correale beat the PC defense and had a breakaway chance on Gillies, who came up with the save. Gillies came up big again when Block stole the puck from Myles Harvey, who was attempting D-to-D pass in the PC zone. While Gillies kept UNH scoreless, Gilmour gave the Friars a 2-0 cushion with assits from Saracino and Luke at 13:27. But the Wildcats weren’t far off, and Downing scored a power play goal to pull UNH within one 23 seconds later at 13:50.
The final period became a lot more intense when Block’s beauty of a backhand shot got past Gillies, and it was a tied game at 2-2 with 18 minutes to play. Saracino’s second of the night gave PC some breathing room and was the final goal of the night. (more…)