WEST POINT, N.Y — Providence’s strong forecheck and relentless mindset earned them a 4-1 win against Army Friday night.
With the Friars’ regular starting goaltender Jon Gillies playing with the United States at the World Junior Championship, freshman goaltender Nick Ellis got the start and played a solid game in net making 18 saves on 19 shots.
Providence coach Nate Leaman praised Ellis after the game.
“I thought he played very well tonight,” Leaman said. “You know close games can be tough for goalies at times and I thought he stayed focused very well. He made a couple big saves there to keep us up 1-0 going into the third and I really liked the way he played tonight and it was good for him to get his first win.”
After the first period of play, it was a scoreless contest. Army goaltender Rob Tadazak played stellar between the pipes, stopping all 11 shots.
“Tadz gave us a chance,” Army coach Brian Riley said. “This is a game that you’re going to play a lot in your end and he was confident and slowed the game down when we needed him to and to me, he was the best player on the ice tonight.”
Using the aforementioned forecheck, the Friars were able to control the second period. After keeping the puck in their offensive zone for most of the frame and taking 18 shots, PC finally broke through for a goal at 1:03 of the period.
Providence’s Mark Jankowski started a fast break, made a fantastic move around an Army defender and slid a beautiful pass to the trailing Trevor Mingoia, who wristed a shot over Tadazak’s stick-side shoulder to give the Friars a 1-0 lead.
With 29 shots on goal after two and only one goal to show for it, Providence came into the third and proved why they are ranked fifth in the country.
Early in the period, Army went on a power, but at 1:19, Kevin Rooney stole the puck, skated up ice uncontested and fired a wrist shot from the right circle that whizzed by Tadazak’s waving glove and put the Friars up by two.
Just 37 seconds later on the same penalty kill, the Friars struck again. This time, the goal came from Noel Acciari, who found the back of the net with an uncontested shot from the right circle that gave Providence a three-goal lead.
Obviously, Riley was disappointed with his power play tonight.
“You sometimes have a tendency when you get a power play to relax a little bit, thinking that you have the man-advantage and we made some bad plays on the power play and obviously, a good team like Providence capitalizes,” Riley said.
Not giving up, Army tried to crawl their way back when Andrew O’Leary took the puck coast to coast and deflected a shot off teammate Kyle Plageman for his first of the season.
However, the Friars tallied another goal at 18:40 when Shane Luke slid in an empty-netter.
Ellis was happy with his goal support and thanked his defensemen and fellow goaltender for the win.
“I felt good today,” said Ellis. “My defensemen played really great in front of me, so I was able to see all the shots and they cleared out the trash in front. It was a good win for us and a good win going into the break. Watching how mentally strong Jon Gillies is has helped a lot.”