DURHAM, N.H. — Jacob Micflikier recorded two goals and an assist to spark the offense and Kevin Regan backboned the defense with 27 saves to lead No. 13 New Hampshire to Thursday night’s 4-0 victory against Providence and give the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage in the Hockey East best-of-3 quarterfinal matchup.
UNH, seeded fourth in the Hockey East tourney with a 14-7-6 league record, extended its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) to improve to 19-11-7 and move within one victory of advancing to the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season. Fifth-seeded Providence is now 17-15-3.
Game 2 of the series is March 10 and Game 3, if necessary, will be March 11. Both games at the Whittemore Center begin at 7 p.m.
In addition to Micflikier, both Daniel Winnik and Josh Ciocco recorded a goal and an assist. Brett Hemingway recorded his 100th career point with his 19th goal of the season, which gave the ‘Cats a 2-0 second-period lead. Regan made 12 of his 27 saves in the third period.
PC goalie Tyler Sims was credited with 26 saves, nine in each of the last two stanzas.
Following a scoreless first period, the Wildcats struck twice in the second to take a 2-0 lead into the final frame. The Wildcats opened the scoring at 6:07 when Thomas Fortney centered the puck from the right side of the net and Micflikier’s powerful swipe at the top of the crease pushed the puck into the net. Ciocco was also credited with an assist.
UNH capitalized on its second power play of the game to extend the advantage to 2-0 at 14:11. Daniel Winnik made a cross-ice pass from the right circle to an unmarked Hemingway at the left post and he redirected the puck into the open net. Micflikier recorded his second point of the night with an assist.
PC’s best scoring opportunity of the second period came on the power play with just over one minute to play when Jon Rheault drove down the slot and wristed a close-range shot over the crossbar.
Winnik pushed the lead to three goals, 3-0, on a shot from the low slot at 5:13 of the third period. Micflikier, with the centering pass from the right corner, and Chris Murray, whose pass from the right point found Micflikier, set up the tally.
PC went on the power play at 8:47 and pulled Sims in favor of an extra skater to create a six-on-four advantage. The Friars were unable to set up an attack and record a shot, however.
Near the end of the power play, Ciocco intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, raced past a defender skated to the low slot before dumping the puck into an open net at 10:42 to close the scoring.
Providence recorded a 9-8 shot advantage in the first period but two of the more dangerous opportunities were produced by UNH.
With approximately seven minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Ciocco’s shorthanded bid from the slot was stopped by Sims. In the closing minutes, Hemingway’s shot from the left point hit Sims but Mike Radja was deep in the left circle for the rebound and wristed a shot off the near post.
This is the eighth consecutive year that UNH won the first game in the quarterfinal series. The Wildcats swept five of the previous seven series — all at home — and advanced to the semifinals all but once.