Durham, NH- Jon Gillies, the much celebrated Friars goaltender didn’t start because of a violation of team policy. His replacement, Nick Ellis, had a night as he shut down a struggling UNH team. The first two periods, were stalemates, as UNH and Providence used strong defensive systems to shut each other down. UNH came out in the third period flying, but Ellis had its number and stopped everything that was sent its way. Despite being outplayed early in the third, Providence found a way. Shane Luke sent a beauty of a pass to Trevor Mingoia, who was wide open in front of the UNH net and at eight minutes, exact, Mignoia beat Clark to break the scoreless tie.
The 1-0 lead would hold until the end, as Providence defeated UNH on the road. Providence improves its record to 5-5-2 overall and 4-3-0 in Hockey east. UNH falls to 4-7-0, and 1-4-0 in conference play. UNH now sits in a tie for last place in Hockey East with UMass, while Providence sits in a tie for fourth place.
What I Saw
- UNH played like the young team that it is but the signs are there of improvement. It played well against a good Providence team. It got shots, it got chances, it played well defensively and it got good goaltending. Having those aspects going well usually leads to win, but for UNH that hasn’t been the case. It just cannot finish, which was certainly the case tonight. It is ongoing, the team knows it and so does Umile. Changing the results and getting the goals will be the ultimate challenge.
- Nick Ellis started the game because of Jon Gillies’ suspension and he performed admirably in Gilies absence. He seemed shaky to begin the first period, but when he settled down he became the best goaltender in the game. UNH had the majority of the good chances, but Ellis was strong in net. His positioning was good and he controlled his rebounds pretty well. For a game that he was the unexpected starter he came in and did the job as good as he could.
What I Thought
- UNH is struggling to find a way. There is something amiss in Durham these days and the whole team knows it. It is not like it is struggling, because it has played well and still lost of late. The problem lies with its situational play, which has been borderline bad, but then again UNH is one of the youngest teams in Hockey East. It is not only the young guys but it is every player that has put on the UNH uniform this season, which has to be alarming for UNH coach, Dick Umile.
- Providence has struggled in the early going, more-so than people thought it would but it will find itself near the top at the end of the year. Its even keeled play and lack of getting rattled will take it far. Providence was the more patient team and it showed. The defense bent but didn’t break and when it did, its goaltending was there to back it up. Providence is built from the net out, which is usually the mark of a great team.
What They Said
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“We didn’t get any bounces tonight and I told the team it is frustrating that we played hard. I felt we played as well as we have all season tonight. That is a really good team. We should have had a couple of goals early but the bottom line is we lost, 1-0.”
“We lost Brett Pesce in the middle of the second and I thought the defense played well playing with just five. He is probably going to be out for quite a while, but I am not quite certain yet. We will do some x-rays and MRI’s and find out.”
Providence coach Nate Leaman said,
“Nick Ellis’ start was not scheduled.” (Later confirmed to me as a Gillies violation of team rules, hence he didn’t start the game)
“All of our games seem to be tight with UNH. I thought they had more jump than us tonight and we were fighting it a little bit, turning the puck over quite a bit. But we found a way. Nick played well for us tonight. We were fortunate and got a bounce around the net.”
“UNH was doing a better job of getting pucks to the net. Nick was probably thinking about this start a little too much to start the game and once he settled in he was really good.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH will face ECAC foe, Rensselaer on Tuesday at the Whittemore Center. The Wildcats have dominated the recent series with the Engineers on home ice, winning three consecutive. It will be looking to end a five loss, in seven games stretch.
Providence has won four of its last six contests. It will face Army on Tuesday in a non-conference at Schneider Arena.
It seems as though UNH’s tough season just got tougher, as it lost Carolina second round pick, Brett Pesce to an undisclosed leg injury in the second period. During his presser Umile stated, “he could be out for a while.”