The 15th-ranked University of Maine men’s hockey teams hopes of hosting a Hockey East quarterfinal series in two weekends took a significant hit on Saturday night as Providence College’s dominance of the series continued.
Sophomore right wing Jack Dugan, the nation’s leading scorer, had a goal and an assist and the Friars registered their 14th straight home win over the Black Bears, 3-2, at Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island.
Providence is 20-1-1 in the last 22 meetings and the two teams will conclude the regular season against each other at Alfond Arena in Orono next Friday night at 7:30.
Providence, which had been 1-5-1 in its previous seven games and had lost its last three home games, improved to 16-11-6 overall and 10-10-3 in Hockey East, while UMaine fell tio 17-11-5 and 11-9-3.
UMaine could still finish fourth and host a best-of-three quarterfinal series if it beats Providence and the University of Connecticut loses at UMass Lowell on Friday night.
Jason O’Neill and Greg Printz scored the other Friar goals while Adrien Bisson and Emil Westerlund had the UMaine goals.
Michael Lackey finished with 25 saves for Providence while Jeremy Swayman had 30 stops for the Black Bears.
Dugan opened the scoring at the 14:15 mark of the first period, giving the Friars a lead they would never relinquish.
Dugan scored just seven seconds after stepping out of the penalty box after serving a tripping minor.
He intercepted an ill-advised pass by J.D. Greenway and broke in on Swayman before flipping the puck past him.
It was his 10th goal and 51st point of the season.
O’Neill made it 2-0 at the 15:56 mark of the second period when he dug a Shane Kavanagh pass out of his skates and fired the puck past Swayman from the middle of the slot for his fifth. Albin Nilsson also assisted on the goal.
But freshman defenseman Bisson answered just 20 seconds later with his second goal of the season when he ripped a Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup rebound past Lackey from the high slot. Adam Dawe had an assist.
Printz’s game-winner came on the power play off a flurry in front with Tyce Thompson and Dugan notching assists. It was his 15th and came just 33 seconds into the period.
Westerlund, who missed 15 games with a wrist injury, pulled UMaine within one with 7:39 remaining when the puck deflected into the net off his skate. It was his first of the season and picking up assists were Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi and Jakub Sirota.
The Black Bears had several opportunities to tie the game but Lackey finished with 13 third-period saves and the Friars prevailed.
“We had a lot of chances [to tie it] but their goalie made some good saves and we couldn’t quite get to the rebounds,” said UMaine coach Red Gendron. “It was a hard-fought game.
“We played pretty well in the second and third periods but we weren’t smart with the puck in the first period. We didn’t make good decisions,” Gendron added.
“We didn’t score enough goals and we didn’t keep enough out of our net to win,” he said.