PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence rode a 3-0 first-period near-TKO and four power-play goals to a 5-1 win over visiting Lake Superior State on Saturday. Devin Rask led the scoring with two goals and an assist.
Combined with results from the previous night — PC shut out Miami, 5-0, and LSSU lost to New Hampshire, 4-3 — the Friars finished the weekend with a season-opening sweep of the CCHA. The Lakers, on the other hand, suffered a double dip after opening the season with three wins.
The game represented a matchup between two teams playing similar styles of hard-nosed hockey, not surprising given PC coach Paul Pooley’s tenure at Lake State as an assistant. In this instance, the Friars unquestionably came out on top.
“This weekend — especially tonight — our team did the things that I ultimately want us to do,” Pooley said. “Play good defensively. Cycle the puck. Be tough. Be physical. I was very, very impressed.”
A late third-period tussle resulted in fighting disqualifications to PC defenseman Regan Kelly and LSSU forward Chris McNamara. As a result, they will both miss their team’s next game.
For the Friars to have been any more dominating in the first period, they would have had to steal the Laker players’ girlfriends, too. Providence owned a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes and could have easily had a couple more.
The Lakers came out forechecking hard in the opening minute, but at 2:34 Providence jumped on top on a Matt Libby shot from the point. There didn’t appear to be a major screen in front, but somehow the shot eluded LSSU netminder Jayme Platt.
A few minutes later, Providence went on the power play and upped the lead to 2-0. The Friars worked the puck around the perimeter and then down to Peter Fregoe below the goal line. Fregoe centered it and after John DiSalvatore put one shot on Platt, Rask lifted the rebound into the net.
Almost immediately, Providence went on the power play again, but this time couldn’t capitalize. Peter Zingoni came close with the puck on his stick and an empty net in front of him, but a tough body angle resulted in a wide shot.
At 12:59, the Lakers went on their first power play and were so outplayed they may have considered declining any future penalties. While accomplishing nothing themselves, they also allowed two strong shorthanded bids by PC. First, Drew Omicioli blasted through center ice, gaining a step on his defender, and was able to get off a strong shot cleanly from the top of the circle. It was a carbon copy of a play in which he’d scored one night earlier, but this time it went wide and LSSU had dodged its first bullet. The next came on a PC shorthanded three-on-two rush in which Adam Lee shot over the net.
Shortly after the penalty expired, Rask walked in off the faceoff, forcing a nice save by Platt.
When PC went on the power play again at 16:58, Lake State desperately needed a kill to get out of the period with a manageable two-goal deficit. However, it didn’t get it. DiSalvatore deflected a Wood shot from the point through Platt’s five hole for a 3-0 lead. Platt was lifted — though presumably for reasons of mercy rather than blame other than the first goal — and replaced by Scott Murray.
Within seconds, Lake State went on its second power play, but couldn’t convert either in the first-period segment or the 29 seconds to start the second.
For Lake State, it was sadly a case of deja vu since it had fallen behind New Hampshire one night earlier by two goals in the first seven minutes.
The Lakers played like a totally different team in the second period, including one particularly threatening power play, but fell behind 4-0 anyway at 7:52. From the point, Kelly got the puck to Rask in front where he shot and then scored on his own rebound.
“I’m never comfortable in a game,” Pooley said of the importance of the second-period cushion-padder. “So that was big. Two goals is a difficult lead, three is nice and four is even better. But, hey, you just have to keep going.”
Which Providence did, grinding out the third period in an unglamorous, but effective manner.
Lake State broke Nolan Schaefer’s shutout bid at 4:40 with a Jeremy Bachusz power-play goal off a rebound.
Tensions flared with 2:49 remaining. The primary battle involved McNamara and Kelly, both of whom received fighting disqualifications. Chris McNamara was assessed an extra minor penalty, presumably for firing his helmet at the similar bare-headed Kelly.
Jay Leach scored on the McNamara-instigated power play for the final 5-1 score.