PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The goals didn’t come as fast as they did Friday night, but they still came in bunches.
Massachusetts (4-1-1, 2-0-1 Hockey East) scored four goals in the second period and defeated Providence 5-1 at Schneider Arena Saturday night after a 9-4 win Friday night in Amherst, Mass. The Minutemen scored 14 goals in two games with the Friars this weekend, sweeping the home-and home series.
“We got two good wins,” UMass captain Cory Quirk said. “Obviously, any wins in Hockey East are good wins; points are scarce in this league. I think we really used out speed to our advantage.”
The goaltenders kept the game scoreless through the first period; UMass’ Paul Dainton made nine saves and Providence’s Chris Mannix stopped seven. At 3 minutes, 21 seconds of the second period, Friars’ defenseman Mark Fayne went off for hitting from behind.
After the Friars killed off the first minute of the UMass power play, defenseman Justin Braun controlled the puck in the neutral zone and burst into the offensive zone. He fired on Mannix from the high slot. The shot sailed high and Mannix batted it down with his blocker, it kicked into the slot and senior winger Chris Davis turned and batted the rebound through Mannix’s five-hole.
UMass’ power play struck again 4:03 later when sophomore pivot Michael Lecomte wheeled in front of the Providence goal. Senior Alex Berry skated to the right face-off circle and fired a wrist shot toward Mannix and Lecomte deflected the puck into the net to extend UMass’ lead to 2-0.
Over the weekend, the UMass power play converted on 4-of-11 chances. The penalty kill was equally impressive, holding the Friars scoreless on six opportunities Saturday and four on Friday. Overall, the Minutemen have killed off 18 consecutive penalties. The Friars have struggled as much, and their inability to find rhythm up or down a man cost them against UMass.
“We haven’t scored a goal in a Hockey East game on the power play; it needs to get better,” Friars’ Coach Tim Army said. “We’ve given up at least one power-play goal in every Hockey East game, two in some. I think we had some better moments on the penalty kill [Saturday night], but [UMass] took advantage of their opportunities.”
The Friars’ goaltenders also need some quick answers. Freshman Justin Gates started Friday’s game and allowed five goals before Army pulled him. Saturday, senior Chris Mannix started the game and Gates relieved him.
Containing all that UMass threw at the Friars’ goal this weekend though was no small task. Nine different Minutemen combined for the 14 goals they scored in the two games.
“The great thing about our team, so far, has been our depth,” Davis said. “We have a lot of guys who can fill in each other’s spots. Team speed is big for us, and we have a fourth line who can skate very well and disrupt what other teams try to do.”
That fourth line provided a big goal for the Minutemen Saturday. Braun picked up the puck just beyond the Friars’ blue line and gained the zone quickly. He fired on Mannix from the right face-off circle; Mannix easily deflected the puck to the corner with his right pad. Quirk picked the puck up and spotted sophomore Marc Concannon streaking into the PC zone. Quirk slid the puck into the face-off circle and Concannon, in stride, one-timed the puck over Mannix’s glove, off the upper right corner of the goal and into the net.
Concannon’s goal extended UMass’ lead from 2-0 to 3-0, but the line of Quirk, Berry and sophomore winger James Marcou paced the UMass attack all weekend. The three of them combined for 19 points in the two games with Providence; Marcou scored three goals and assisted on five others.
“They’re three skilled players,” UMass Coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon said of his top line. “They all have puck skills and remain unselfish. They have a nice compliment of skills that seem to add up to goals. I’m not at all surprised.”
Like Providence, the Minutemen have some uncertainty in goal. After a hot start to the season, junior Dan Meyers allowed four goals on 11 shots Friday night. Sophomore Paul Dainton replaced him and held the Friars scoreless on 17 shots; Dainton started Saturday’s game and made 24 saves.
UMass is off until next Saturday, when it travels to North Andover, Mass., for a Hockey East game with Merrimack. The Friars host a pair of games next weekend, including a non-conference matchup with No. 13 Notre Dame.