HAMDEN, Conn. — Jon Gillies faced 20 shots in the third period and overtime as No. 4 Providence held on to tie No. 5 Quinnipiac 3-3 at the High Point Solutions Arena Wednesday night.
After the game, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold heaped high praise on Gillies, saying he was the difference-maker in the game.
“Providence is a great hockey team, they are a top-five team in the country for a reason,” Pecknold said. “They battled, their best player is Gillies and he played like a Hobey candidate tonight. He was great.”
Gillies finished the night with 45 saves on 48 shots as he kept the Friars in the game the entire night.
“At the end of the day, as much as we battled ourselves, we come away with a point and we just have to take the lessons and keep getting better,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said.
The matchup of top five teams started off fast-paced as Quinnipiac (12-2-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) and Providence (10-2-1, 6-2-0 HE) skated to a 2-2 tie at the end of the first period.
Quinnipiac jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:14 into the game when Matt Peca skated in on the right-wing boards past a defender and skated in on net before deking past Gillies to tuck the puck in the goal.
“Until the previous four games, [Peca has] been great all year, he’s been getting chances, [but] they just haven’t been going in for him,” Pecknold said. “He’s always been a streaky scorer and he’s going to get hot and tear it up for us.”
Ross Mauermann tied up the game for Providence 1-1 six minutes into the game as he stole the puck in Quinnipiac’s defensive zone and passed the puck to Trevor Mingoia, who found Mauermann alone at the top of the crease.
The Friars took a 2-1 lead with 6:55 remaining the second period when Nick Saracino intercepted a Sam Anas pass in the Bobcats’ defensive zone and wristed the shot over QU goaltender Michael Garteig’s glove.
“The first two goals were just poor puck management, both really bad turnovers that cost us,” Pecknold said. “You can’t do that. We haven’t been doing that until recently, I’m not sure why. Both those goals there wasn’t really any pressure on the kid, either, so it was disappointing.”
Devon Toews evened up the game for the Bobcats with 3:05 remaining in the first period with his power-play goal to make it 2-2. Connor Jones passed the puck from the end line to Anas in the slot, who found a wide-open Toews low in the left faceoff circle to tap the puck past Gillies.
Action quieted in the second period.
Anas tallied the lone goal for Quinnipiac when he and Jones had a two-on-one breakaway where Jones passed the puck from the right faceoff circle to Anas in the left faceoff circle who then one-timed the shot past Gillies to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead.
“Sam’s very opportunistic and does the little things well,” Pecknold said. “When he gets chances, he can finish, he’s probably our best pure goal-scorer.”
Providence tied the game 3-3 early in the third period when the Friars were on a five-on-three. John Gilmour passed a puck from the point to Brooks Behling, who one-timed a shot from the faceoff dot past Garteig’s blocker.
“He’s got a rocket of a shot, that’s why he’s in that position and fortunately, he banked it there, but you saw what happened before that,” Leaman said. “Our first unit’s out there, they missed the net three times on three good looks.”
Both teams scored one power-play goal apiece as Providence went 1-for-4 and Quinnipiac went 1-for-5 in man-advantage opportunities.
“I thought they had more jump than us tonight and I thought when you don’t have your legs, you have to play a smart game – I thought we played a very immature game,” Leaman said. “We had good spurts where we executed our game plan, getting a lot of chances when we did that, but then we get right away from it.”