|University of Maine||Providence College|
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Josh Wilkins scored with just over three minutes to play in the third period to push No. 9/10 Providence past the University of Maine men’s hockey team, 4-3, on Friday night at Schneider Arena in game one of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal round.
Tim Doherty scored twice for the Black Bears while Nolan Vesey tallied two assists. Jeremy Swayman finished with 37 saves, marking the 16th time this season the freshman has finished with 30-plus saves.
It took Maine just 38 seconds to get on the board, marking the fourth time this season that the Black Bears scored in the game’s opening minute. A hard fore-check from Patrick Shea forced the Friars to try a breakout through traffic up the right wing but Vesey picked off the puck and turned to fire towards goal. Doherty received the puck and found himself one-on-one with Hayden Hawkey. Doherty, calmly deked the goaltender down and sent the puck inside the right post.
Eight minutes later – with a slick, stretched glove save from Swayman sandwiched in between – Vesey once again fed Doherty to make it 2-0 on the game’s first power-play. From the left point Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi slid the puck to Vesey on the outside of the left circle for a faked shot. In lieu of shooting, Vesey zipped a pass to Doherty on the right hashmarks for a shot at the open net, inside the right post.
However, two quick goals from the Friars would make it a tie game before the break. First, Erik Foley finished passes from Josh Wilkins and Vincent Desharnais and then Bailey Conger one-timed a pass from Kasper Bjorkqvist near the left post.
With Maine on a 5-on-3 early in the second, Brendan Robbins out-skated the defense to create a short-handed breakaway but Hayden Hawkey just got a piece of the rolling puck with his glove. That play enabled the Black Bears to escape the early penalties and generate looks in the offensive end, with Rob Michel, Chase Pearson and Ryan Smith all getting quality looks in a minute span near the midway point of the frame.
And when given its second power-play opportunity of the night, Maine did not waste it. When the Friars tried to float the puck out of the zone, Tiuraniemi grabbed it at the center of the blue line with his glove. The freshman put it back on the ice and then took a stride before placing a wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net, just grazing the crossbar for his third of the season.
But just as they did in the second, the Friars got a goal from Scott Conway late in the frame and the teams would begin the third period knotted at 3-3.
For the first 14 minutes of the third period, neither team could get much done. With 6:14 to play, Providence was whistled for a major penalty and the Black Bears were set to go to work on a five-minute power-play before a bench minor for too many men interrupted the flow.
During the four-on-four action that ensued, it would be Providence that scored and Wikins’ goal with 3:10 to play would stand up to be the game-winner.
Hawkey finished with 21 saves for the Friars, who held the final edge in shots on goal at 41-24.
Maine and Providence will battle once again in game two tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Schneider Arena.