BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Three goals in the second period carried the Providence Friars to the NCAA East Regional final with a 4-0 victory over the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Friday night.
Playing in their first NCAA tournament game since 2001, the third-seeded Friars got goals by Anthony Florentino, Shane Luke and Trevor Mingoia in the middle period to defeat the Bobcats.
2014 NCAA East Regional
Sophomore goaltender Jon Gillies stopped 37 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in his first NCAA tournament game.
Mingoia added an assist for the Friars, who had nine players record at least one point to advance past the first round for the first time since 1989.
Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig stopped 22 shots.
The Friars (22-10-6) set the tone early in opening frame, executing a physical game plan from the start.
“I don’t want to say we were shocked by it, but it definitely made it hard for us,” Quinnipiac forward Cory Hibbeler said about the start. “I felt like as the game wore on we got a little more physical. But we came out a little flatter than we normally do and they came out fired up. We needed to be better in that first and we weren’t.”
Quinnipiac (24-10-6) enjoyed a 6-1 shot advantage in the opening three minutes, with Gillies standing strong to keep the game scoreless.
“Jon’s been our rock all year,” Leaman said. “I thought he made better saves in the second period where they were getting some transition chances.”
The Friars struck early with a goal just under four minutes into the game. Mingoia forced a turnover in Quinnipiac’s defensive zone. Conor MacPhee controlled the puck in the left faceoff circle and fired it toward the net. The puck hit the far post and stopped in the crease. Mark Jankowski, who was alone at the far post, slapped the puck into a gaping goal.
The Friars took control of the game in the second period, netting three goals on just seven shots.
Florentino got things going for his team in the period. With Providence upping the pressure in the Quinnipiac zone, Florentino scored from the point after a pass from Brandon Tanev. The puck found its way through traffic and past Garteig, beating him to the blocker side.
Three minutes later, Luke capped off a three-on-two rush with his 10th goal of the season. Ross Mauermann carried the puck into the offensive zone and hit Kevin Hart with a pass in the slot. Luke put home the rebound from the low slot after Garteig made the initial save on Hart.
Mingoia capped the scoring with under six minutes to play in the middle frame. Nick Saracino entered the Quinnipiac zone on the left side and put the puck on net from the half boards. The rebound bounced in the air and Mingoia, skating through the slot area, batted the puck past Garteig’s glove.
“I didn’t think our puck retrieval was great,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “A little bit of that was Providence doing a good job but I think more of it was us. We were just sluggish. We struggled. Our legs weren’t great. Our energy level wasn’t great. The kids wanted it, but for whatever reason we didn’t have our best legs tonight.”
Providence earned its first NCAA tournament victory since 1991, when it won Game 1 of a best-of-three first-round series at Minnesota. The Friars lost the next two games.
They will play Union in Saturday’s East Regional final for a spot in the Frozen Four.