PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Last season, the Massachusetts Minutemen took two games from the Providence Friars at Schneider Arena.
Friday night, the Friars made it clear that history would not repeat itself, running away from UMass 6-2 in front of 1,816 at home and improving their record to 3-1-0 (2-1-0 Hockey East).
The Minutemen fell to 3-3-0, and 1-1-0 in the conference. They have lost their last two games, after falling to Connecticut at home last Sunday.
Colin McDonald led the way for the Friars, netting two goals including the game winner, a heads-up goal off a carom from the endboards that gave him a wide-open net late in the first period.
The Friars never trailed, and the game was tied at 1-1 for just over three minutes in the first before Providence began to pull away. Jamie Carroll’s goal with 9:36 to go sealed the deal, but other than a few spirited efforts in the first half of the final frame, the Minutemen were out of this one fairly early.
“Slow start, slow middle, slow finish,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon, whose club will host the Friars at the Mullins Center Saturday night. “We need to stop the foolishness, the false bravado. It’s all garbage. We need to channel our energies into playing the game. There was very little cohesiveness.”
A UMass player in the penalty box was a familiar sight all night, as the Minutemen took 12 penalties to the Friars’ eight. Providence scored three goals on the power play, including one by McDonald and two by Jon Rheault, who scored his first and second career goals within 11 minutes of each other.
The penalty discrepancy reached a peak in the second period, when the Minutemen were sent to the box six times, giving Providence the chance to protect the 3-1 lead it had going into the middle frame.
“It helps that we were moving the puck and getting chances,” Friar coach Paul Pooley said. “If we were back on our heels, it would have let UMass take over the game. But we had 16 shots on the power play, and that’s the first time they’ve been in a game after some adjustments we made in practice this week on the power play.”
After jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, the Friars set the cruise control for the second, holding the Minutemen at bay for nearly the entire frame. PC did come up with another goal, on a nice play from Chris Chaput, who sent Jon Rheault in alone from the red line. Rheault made a quick fake before backhanding the puck over Warner’s shoulder for his first collegiate goal, and Providence’s fourth of the game.
It was a power-play tally for the Friars, who found themselves on the man-advantage for a total of 7:19 in the period, including their second stint on a 5-on-3, for six seconds when Dusty Demianiuk’s hooking penalty and Jamie Solon’s interference call overlapped.
The Minutemen went scoreless for 32:03 starting at the midpoint of the first period and finally answered with freshman P.J. Fenton’s second goal of the game, but the momentum they picked up was quickly snatched away by the hosts.
The Friars opened the scoring early, with Chase Watson scoring on a UMass defensive-zone breakdown. Watson took the puck out of the right-wing corner, moved into open space, and ripped a wrister over Warner’s glove hand to make it 1-0 PC at 7:18.
The Minutemen fired back on a nifty play by Matt Anderson and freshman Fenton. Anderson took a shot from the point, where he was stationed for the two-minute power play on Bryan Horan’s penalty. Fenton swooped in and redirected, and although Cacciola stopped the initial attempt, Fenton banged the rebound under him to tie it up with 10 minutes to go.
The Friars countered with two goals in the final 10 minutes of the first, with Colin McDonald getting a cross-crease feed from Horan and burying it to give the Friars a 2-1 lead with seven minutes to go. McDonald followed up with another goal just over four minutes later, swiftly converting a carom off the endboards past Warner, who left the left side of the net open while covering Eric Lundberg’s errant shot.