DURHAM, N.H. — Trevor Smith scored two goals and Jerry Pollastrone recorded two assists to lead 14th-ranked New Hampshire to Saturday night’s 4-1 Hockey East victory against No. 17 Providence at the Whittemore Center.
UNH improved to 17-11-6 overall and moved ahead of Providence into fourth place in the Hockey East standings with 31 points (13-7-5 record). PC is now 16-13-3 overall and in fifth place with 29 points (13-9-3). The season series between the teams ends even at 1-1-1.
UNH goaltender Kevin Regan finished with 21 saves while PC counterpart Tyler Sims stopped 20 shots.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Josh Ciocco and Smith at 4:27 and 5:17, respectively. Ciocco opened the scoring when he circled from behind the net to the left corner to the circle to the slot, where he wristed a high shot under the crossbar. Thomas Fortney, with the pass to Ciocco, and Greg Collins set up the tally.
Smith increased UNH’s advantage to two goals 50 seconds later when Pollastrone, standing in the high slot, found him alone at the right post. Jamie Fritsch was also credited with an assist.
Regan denied PC’s best bid of the opening stanza when he made a leg-pad save on Kyle Laughlin’s point-blank shot after he had slid behind UNH’s defense with 8:40 on the clock.
Smith’s second strike of the game extended New Hampshire’s lead to 3-0 at 5:43 of the middle stanza. Pollastrone made a pass through the neutral zone to Matt Fornataro, who advanced the puck to Smith. He then maneuvered around a defenseman down the slot and fired a backhander into the net.
UNH maintained momentum shortly thereafter by successfully killing off a five-minute major penalty in which the ‘Cats outshot the Friars 1-0 with a 2-on-1 shorthanded bid by Brett Hemingway.
Mike Radja netted a breakaway goal to give the ‘Cats a 4-0 lead at 3:43 of the third period. He intercepted a pass at the defensive blue line, skated alone down the middle of the neutral zone, forced Sims to commit and shifted left to shoot into an open net.
PC pulled within 4-1 when Nick Mazzolini scored off the rebound from Cody Wild’s shot from the high slot at 14:01. Colin McDonald also had an assist on the tally.