AMHERST, Mass. — Like the last two UMass-Amherst vs. Providence meetings this season, a lone goal set the two teams apart, as the Friars took a 3-2 road victory in front of 2,180 at the Mullins Center in Amherst.
Regan Kelly’s second goal of the contest at 2:51 of the third period sealed the win for visiting Providence. Jon DiSalvatore, who finished with two assists on the night, collected a neutral zone turnover before crossing into the UMass zone and firing a shot that goaltender Mike Johnson directed right to Kelly’s blade. The sophomore showed poise in collecting the rebound and banging home a 3-1 lead for the Friars.
“He has that type of ability,” PC coach Paul Pooley said. “It was a great play to stay calm on the puck and put it away.”
Kelly’s original tally gave his squad a 2-1 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the middle frame. Drew Omicioli wheeled past the whole of the UMass defense before deking Johnson and laying the puck in the crease for Kelly to punch home.
The goal was a huge momentum swing as it came just :26 after UMass’ Josh Hanson had knotted the game at one on a breakaway.
“That goal was huge,” Pooley said. “It’s kind of hostile environment to play in but that really took the wind out of the place.”
Hanson’s tally — the second of three goals in 1:06 — came on a home run feed from freshman Sean Regan (two points). Regan spied his classmate at the PC blue line before springing him unabated on Nolan Schaefer. Hanson then deked forehand before splitting the goalie’s wickets with a well-struck backhander.
Peter Fregoe opened the scoring 40 seconds before that as the Friars’ lone second-period power play expired. As Tim Turner sprinted out of the box after serving a pair for slashing, he could see DiSalvatore thread a needle to Fregoe, camped on the weak side, for the goal.
Regan’s second career goal again made it a one-goal contest at 4:01 of the third, but the Friars were able to hold on for the victory.
“It’s a solid road win,” Pooley said. “I thought the guys responded well from a poor effort last night.”
UMass’ best chance came after 22 penalty minutes were handed out at the midway point of the third. The Minutemen actually ended up with a power play, thanks to Schaefer’s roughing call, but were unable to capitalize, as the Friar netminder atoned for his gaffe with three shorthanded saves.
“That showed us that we really had to work for this win,” Pooley said. “I think we earned it.”
The physical intensity from both teams has led to three on goal games, as Providence takes the season series 2-1.
“I don’t think either team was at the top of their game,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “But the intensity was there as it has been in the previous two games we’ve met.”
With the loss UMass drops to 3-14-1 in Hockey East (8-19-1 overall), while the Friars reach .500 in both conference play (8-8-1) and overall (13-13-3).