|University of Maine||Providence College|
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The University of Maine men’s hockey team battled back from an early three-goal deficit but couldn’t complete the comeback, falling to No. 9/20 Providence, 3-2, on Saturday night at Schneider Arena. With the win, Providence takes the best-of-three Hockey East playoff quarterfinal series two games to none to end Maine’s season.
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.
Like Maine had done the night before, Providence jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the midway point of the first period. First the Friars forced a turnover up the left boards, and Scott Conway converted the ensuing 2-on-1 opportunity for the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, Providence capitalized on a power-play when Brandon Duhaime finished passes from Spenser Young and Ben Mirageas.
The Friars would add a third goal – again on the power-play – before the end of the opening frame, with Josh Wilkins being fed by Brian Pinho.
Jeremy Swayman finished the first with 15 saves, including squaring up to a Providence shooter at the top of the crease late in the first for a chest save.
Instead of backing down, the Black Bears clawed back immediately in the second period.
First came the Tralmaks tip in. After Fossier fed Keeper at the center of the blue line from the right boards, the defenseman sent a slap-pass towards the right post where Tralmaks expertly tip inside the right post.
Just 45 seconds after Tralmaks scored Maine’s first goal, Vesey potted another. Tiuraniemi hit Keeper on the right circle where he took a shot. The rebound popped loose in the slot and Vesey followed up the shot and put the puck in the net to make it a 3-2 game less than two minutes into the second period.
Maine dominated in the face-off circle in the second period, and Chase Pearson had 23 after two periods, but it didn’t lead to another goal for the Black Bears in the middle stanza.
The teams traded good looks early in the third – with Tralmaks’ stick breaking on a one-time attempt into an open net and Swayman snatching Brian Pinho’s shot from the slot – but neither converted.
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 for the Black Bears. A Keeper wrist shot with three minutes to go bounced off Hayden Hawkey’s mask and the rebound got swiped out of trouble.
Maine would pull Swayman with 90 seconds to play but couldn’t find the equalizer.
Providence held the final edge in shots on goal at 41-16. Swayman finished with 38 saves while Hawkey had 14. Pearson finished with 33 wins in the circle.
Maine ends its season with an overall record of 18-16-4 while Providence moves to 22-10-4 and advances to the Hockey East Tournament semifinals next weekend in Boston