DURHAM, N.H. — In a Saturday night hockey east showdown, The University of New Hampshire was able to defeat Providence College 2-1 at the Whittemore Center. Both teams were coming off of weekend splits, Providence with Maine, and UNH with UMass-Amherst.
This was the first time the teams faced each other this season. The last time out UNH knocked Providence out of a bid to the Hockey East Semi final game. The Wildcats won a three game best series, in double overtime.
Tonight’s match-up was a definite back and forth battle between the two teams, most noticeable in the first period. The friars were able to strike first on a Cody Wild goal. Tony Zancanaro came in on the right side of Kevin Regan and passed the puck across the net, and Wild was able to put it past Regan to give Providence the 1-0 lead.
The Frairs would go into the locker rooms with the lead, although when the second period resumed, UNH would have a one man advantage after freshmen Chris Eppic was called for obstruction hooking at the end of the period.
Providence College’s penalty ranks second in hockey east, and before tonight’s match up had killed off 15 straight penalties. Those numbers proved to be too strong for the Wildcats as they were unable to convert on the man advantage.
Jacob MicFlikier would return to the UNH lineup after missing last weekend’s series with a shoulder injury. The return of one of the ‘Cats leading scorers was beneficial as he tallied one of the goals for UNH.
Brett Hemingway and MicFlikier would have a two on one breakaway. Coming strong into the net, Hemingway passed the puck to MicFlikier who was able to capitalize and score on Tyler Sims at 4:46 of the second period.
59 seconds later, UNH Sophomore Thomas Fortney would tip in defensemen’s Brad Flaishans original shot to give UNH their first lead of the night. Sophomore Greg Collins would also get credit with an assist on Fortney’s goal.
Providence had two powerplays after the UNH goal, but were unable to score. Also in the middle frame, the Wildcats had a chance to add to their lead as they had a two man advantage for 1:16, but the Providence penalty kill held strong yet again.
The third period was a defensive period for UNH as they tried to keep the one goal lead, while the Friars had eleven shots in the period in an effort to tie the game. Both coaches thought both the teams played a good match up.
“We’ve played very well the past two weeks and I thought it continued tonight.
I thought we played very well in the first period. The first ten, eleven minutes we played very, very well. I don’t think we can play much better than a team like that (New Hampshire). It became kind of a tug of war and the shots were 13-14 in a pretty even period. I thought New Hampshire had the better of the play in the second period, and then in the third, they are protecting a one goal lead so the dynamics change,” said Providence head Coach Tim Army.
UNH head Coach Dick Umile gave Providence the credit they deserved. “We beat a good team tonight and obviously it wasn’t easy. We had to play better as the game went on because they are very strong at the transition game. It was a pretty even hockey game. Providence really played well.”
The ‘Cats improved their record to 19-4-1, 14-2-1 in Hockey East. Providence fell to 6-17-1, 5-11-1 in the league. UNH faces Maine next weekend, while Providence travels to Burlington to play two at UVM.