Providence — Jon Gillies proved too tough to solve, as he led No. 14 Providence past No. 11 Minnesota State, 3-0, posting a 38-save shutout.
Stephon Williams was also very impressive in the net for the Mavericks as he surrendered just three goals while making 35 saves.
For the second straight night, Minnesota State had the jump on the road over the hosts. The Mavericks opened the first period by peppering Gillies with shots. The Friars struggled to stay out of the penalty box, taking three penalties in the first four minutes of play. The Mavericks utilized these man advantages to open a 10-1 shot advantage by the five-minute mark of the stanza.
“Our guys were clearing lanes unbelievably tonight,” said Gillies. “The point shots were hitting me in the chest because I could see them all the way.” Gillies credited the Friars’ new penalty killing strategy for clearing the shooting lanes and preventing back door passes. “This year, we are leaving the net front guy for me and taking away the flanking players.”
The Friars also hurt their cause by taking penalties that cut their only two power play chances of the period short.
“I was very disappointed with the penalties tonight,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “Our discipline was not good; we have to stay out of the box.”
The Mavericks strategy coming into the game was clearly to put everything on net, while the Friars looked to drive to the net and look for rebounds.
The second period appeared to be a different game, as the Friars skated out of the locker room fast and hard. Just 17 seconds into the period, Providence’s Ross Mauermann netted his second goal of the year as golfed a bouncing puck off the crossbar and behind Williams. Junior Shane Luke was credited with his second assist of the season on the play.
The game got chippy around the midway point, as Minnesota State sophomore Bryce Gervais caught Mauermann with a hit to the head as he cut through the offensive zone. Gervais was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Due to an earlier penalty, the Friars had just under a minute to operate with a two-man advantage. With four seconds remaining on the first penalty, Anthony Florentino intercepted a clearing attempt and ripped a snap shot that beat Williams low to the glove side. It marked his first collegiate goal in his first game as a Friar.
The Mavericks’ frustration became evident when sophomore Teddy Blueger was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty following the goal.
With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Nick Saracino and Conor MacPhee executed a beautiful two-on-one. Saracino stole the puck at the Friars’ blue line and flicked a pass across to MacPhee, who scored his first collegiate goal. Providence carried a 27-25 shot advantage into the third period.
Just over three minutes into the third period, Mauermann was again able to draw a major penalty against the Mavericks, this time a hitting-from-behind penalty as Minnesota State junior Jean-Paul Lafontaine hit him into the boards. He was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play.
“I was pleased with the discipline later in the game after some of the hits on Ross [Mauermann], we were able to keep our composure a little,” Leaman said. When asked whether he thought the Mavericks were targeting Mauermann, who was arguably the Friars’ best skater in each game Leaman answered, “No, I don’t think that at all. Ross [Mauermann] was just on the ice a lot.”
The third period was uneventful, save for several penalties to each team. The Mavericks ended the game on a two-man advantage, forcing Gillies to make several difficult saves in the waning seconds to solidify his first shutout of the season.
Leaman gave credit to each goaltender following the game.
“It was an amazing performance by both goaltenders. Some of the saves that both goaltenders made in that game were outstanding. Both goalies played well enough to win the game. Williams kept coming up with saves, but we got a little puck luck tonight.”