PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Providence College scored twice on the power play during a three-goal period on Saturday night, then held off a University of Maine rally to post a 3-2 Hockey East quarterfinal victory at Schneider Arena.
Ninth-ranked and No. 3 seed Providence (22-10-4) won the best-of-three series in two games and advances to next weekend’s Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden in Boston.
Coach Red Gendron’s sixth-seeded Black Bears finish the season at 18-16-4.
“We obviously got behind early, started in quicksand a little bit, and then came back with a couple quick plays to make a game of it,” Gendron said.
“We didn’t get enough pucks and bodies to the net tonight offensively and we dug a hole too deep for us to climb out of.”
The Friars outshot the Black Bears by a commanding 41-16 margin but UMaine hung around in part through the efforts of freshman goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who piled up 38 saves including 15 in the lopsided first period.
Eduards Tralmaks and Nolan Vesey scored for Maine while Brady Keeper finished with two assists and Mitchell Fossier and Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi each had one.
The Friars jumped out to a 1-0 lead only 3:14 into the contest when Scott Conway scored off assists from Greg Printz and Brandon Duhaime.
The Friars forced a turnover up the left boards and Conway converted the ensuing 2-on-1 opportunity. Five minutes later, Providence capitalized on a power play when Brandon Duhaime finished passes from Spenser Young and Ben Mirageas.
The Friars made it 3-0 with another power-play goal only 1:08 before the intermission. Josh Wilkins scored on a Brian Pinho assist.
Swayman and the Black Bears shut out the Friars the rest of the way, but were unable to overcome the three-goal hole.
“I can’t repeat it,” Gendron said when asked what he said to his players between the first and second periods.
Whatever he said, the Black Bears responded.
UMaine rallied in the second period, the first goal coming on the power play.
After Fossier fed Keeper at the center of the blue line from the right boards, the defenseman sent a slap-pass toward the right post where Tralmaks tipped it inside the right post.
Only 45 seconds later, Tiuraniemi found Keeper in the right circle. The rebound of Keeper’s shot popped into the slot and Vesey fired the puck in the net to make it a 3-2 game less than two minutes into the period.
“Our kids coming back and making a game of it is a credit to each and every one of them dressed tonight. It’s a credit to the leadership in the (locker) room,” Gendron said.
“The reality is we lost the game, which is the only thing that matters here.”
The teams traded scoring chances early in the third. Tralmaks’ stick broke on a one-time attempt toward an open net and Swayman later snatched a Brian Pinho shot from the slot.
Swayman’s point-blank save on a bouncing puck with 11 minutes to play and his reactionary right-pad save on a look from the bottom of the circle a minute later kept it a one-goal game.
A Keeper wrist shot with three minutes to go bounced off Hayden Hawkey’s mask and the rebound got swiped out of trouble.
UMaine eventually pulled Swayman with 90 seconds to play but couldn’t get the equalizer.
Hawkey made 14 saves for Providence.