GOTW: Providence, Cornell earn victories to reach finals of Fortress Invitational in Vegas

 (Zak Krill)
Providence used early goals and strong special teams play to power past Army West Point, 3-1, in the opening game of the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas (Photo: Vegas Golden Knights/Zak Krill)

LAS VEGAS — Two first-period goals allowed No. 14 Providence to get a stranglehold on the opening game of the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas, holding on for a 3-1 victory over Army West Point in front of 3,730 at T-Mobile Arena.

The Friars will face No. 2 Cornell, which won the nightcap, 5-2, over No. 6 Ohio State, in Saturday’s championship game.

The biggest factor in the game was special teams. Providence scored on its only full power play opportunity (they also had a four-second power play after two Friars penalties expired), while also killing four Army man advantages.

“We only had one power play and I thought we earned a couple more,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “They had [four]. I thought we had a burn a lot of energy that way. But our kill came up big.”

Providence extended its lead to 3-0 at 7:26 of the third, as Max Koopman scored his third of the season. For the Friars, that was the good news, as the balance of the game was dominated by the Black Knights.

Thomas Farrell’s goal with 8:03 left made things interesting but the Friars defense stood tall late, blocking numerous shots when Army pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker.

For Army, through the loss coach Brian Riley hopes that the experience of playing in a tournament with four nationally-ranked teams can be beneficial as the year goes along.

“This had the vibe of an NCAA regional,” said Riley. “I told them that this is a dry run. If we can ever get out of our league, which will be very tough, this is what it’s going to be like.”

Around the nation

No. 7 Denver 4, No. 9 Massachusetts 2
Host Denver scored three third-period goals to rally from a 2-1 deficit and earn a 4-2 victory over Massachusetts.

The victory was payback for the Pioneers from a 5-4 overtime loss to the Minutemen in last year’s NCAA semifinal.

UMass grabbed the lead on second period goals by Matthew Kessel and Jake McLaughlin sandwiched around Slava Demin’s second of the season for Denver.

Tyson McLellan evened the game at 5:08 of the third before Cole Guttman notched the game-winner with 2:07 to play.

Jake Durflinger added an empty netter with 1:03 left.

Rensselaer 3, No. 4 Clarkson 1
Simon Kjellberg’s goal just 1:23 into play set the tone for Rensselaer as they skated past No. 4 Clarkson, 3-1.

Ture Linden’s third period goal doubled the RPI lead before Clarkson’s Mathieu Gosselin drew within a goal with 5:28 remaining.

Will Reilly’s empty-net goal put the game on ice for the visitors late. Netminder Linden Marshall earned the victory making 32 saves.

Northern Michigan 5, No. 11 Bowling Green 2
Griffin Loughran scored twice and added and assist as Northern Michigan upset 11th-ranked Bowling Green, 5-2.

Visiting Northern Michigan scored the game’s final three goals, with the game-winner coming at 16:11 of the second from Philip Beaulieu. Loughran added two additional goals in the third, one into an empty net to seal the victory.

Nolan Kent made 38 saves to earn the victory.

Quinnipiac 6, No. 16 Harvard 1
Ethan de Long and Odeen Tufte each registered a goal and two assists as Quinnipiac routed No. 16 Harvard, 6-1.

Wyatt Bongiovanni also added two goals for the Bobcats, who improve to 10-7-1 on the season.

Quinnipiac chased Harvard starting goaltender Mitchell Gibson from the game after two periods, having surrendered three goals.

Bobcats netminder Keith Petruzelli made 24 saves to earn the victory.