Hockey East: UNH draws a blank vs. No. 19 Providence, Hawkey

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The excitement never let up as No. 19 Providence and New Hampshire traded rush for rush for 60 minutes at the Whittemore Center on Friday night with the Friars coming out on top 3-0.  The winning goal came from captain Josh Monk with just 0.9 seconds remaining in the opening period.

Sophomore Ryan Tait iced the game on a two-on-one break at 17:14 of the third and then added an empty netter at 19:39.

Providence goalie Hayden Hawkey stopped everything that came at him, and UNH’s Danny Tirone was nearly as good.  Both defenses blocked almost half of the shots that were intended for the goal.  Out of Providence’s 59 shots, Tirone stopped 27.  Out of New Hampshire’s 53 shots, Hawkey stopped 27 to record his second shutout of the year.

Near the end of a high octane first period, with just 3.4 seconds to go, Providence won the draw at the circle to Tirone’s right. The puck came to captain Monk at the left point and his slap shot found the upper left corner of the net. Replay confirmed that the goal went in with 0.9 seconds remaining before the buzzer.

Both goalies stopped breakaways, two-on-one rushes and three-on-one rushes, and both had the puck come from scrambles in front of them and creep past the outsides of the goal posts.

Providence star Erik Foley (World Junior gold medalist) was stuffed on a third-period breakaway with eleven minutes to go in the game. UNH top scorer Tyler Kelleher continually prowled the Providence zone, body language screaming for the puck, but he was usually well defended and unable to find enough space through the Providence defense for a clean shot on goal.

Late in the third period a UNH shot rang off the crossbar.

“We had plenty of chances to score, but their goalie made some key saves,” UNH coach Dick Umile said.  “We missed the goal a lot.  We had our chances.”

Added UNH captain Matias Cleland, “I think we are playing good defense but we aren’t playing well enough in the offensive zone.  Maybe we are being too pretty with the puck.”

Providence coach Nate Leaman said Hawkey was the “difference in the game.

“It was a real good game from both teams,” he said. “UNH is very quick and they are very good getting the puck to the front of the net. And, they might have the best power play in the country.”

The game was cleanly played, with Providence taking just eight minutes and penalties and UNH taking six minutes.  Neither team could score with the man advantage, but UNH put on a charge on their final power play halfway through the third period.

“They did everything but score,” Leaman said.  “The are so good at keeping the puck in the offensive zone that we weren’t able to change our penalty killers on two of the kills tonight.  We bent a lot, but we didn’t break.”

 (Melissa Wade)
Michael Babcock scores one of his two third-period goals for Merrimack in the Warriors’ 4-1 victory against top-ranked Boston University on Friday. (Melissa Wade)

Hockey East roundup

Merrimack 4, at No. 1 Boston University 1

Brett Seney and Michael Babcock scored two goals apiece as the Warriors completed a sweep of a home-and-home series against the top-ranked Terriers at Agganis  Arena.  Merrimack defeated BU, 3-1, Tuesday night on home ice. Freshman Clayton Keller had a first-period power play goal for BU.

Northeastern 4, at No. 7 UMass-Lowell 3

Hockey East player of the week Dylan Sikura scored three third-period goals, including the winner on a power play at 19:43, as the Huskies came back to beat the River Hawks at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.  Garret Cockerill assisted on Sikura’s last two goals. Dylan Zink had two assists for Lowell.

Connecticut 3, No. 11 Vermont 1

The Huskies got goals from Karl El-Mir, Johnny Austin and Kasperi Ojantakanen <cq> and topped the Catamounts at Hartford, Conn. Adam Huska stopped 30 shots for UConn.  Craig Puffer had the goal for Vermont.

Maine 3, Massachusetts 1

The Black Bears made two first-period goals stand up in beating the Minutemen at Orono, Maine. Nolan Vesey had a goal and an assist for Maine.

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