The Friars of Providence kicked off their bid to win the Hockey East this past weekend in a three game set against the Warriors of Merrimack. Based off the Friars stellar regular season, in which they tied Boston College for first in the league, they obtained home ice advantage for round one.
In game one, which took place on Friday, March 11, the Friars almost lacked home ice advantage as Merrimack fans poured into Schneider Arena in Providence, RI, loud and signs in hand. This, however did not faze the Friars for even a second. Less than seven minutes into the contest, Nick Saracino found the twine, and gave Providence a 1-0 lead. The lead remained as such until the third when Merrimack came back and tied things up, but not for long. A late goal by Friar Freshman Erik Foley gave Providence a 2-1 lead, which was then backed up by an empty netter by Trevor Mingoia to secure a 3-1 win for Providence.
Game two was a little bit of a different story. Once again the Merrimack fans poured in, however, the Friar Faithful were ready this time, as they too flocked to the arena. The game started slow and there were no goals until the third period, but when the Friars finally lit the lamp on a goal by Garrett Gamez just past the midway point in the final period, they never relinquished the lead. This game was locked up on an empty net goal by Kevin Rooney, and the Friars ensured that they would be advancing to Boston.
The playoffs continue this Friday as the final four contain match-ups of Providence vs. UMass Lowell, and Boston College vs. Northeastern. The finals take place Saturday night and will give the winner about a week to prepare for the big tournament as teams duke it out to become National Champions.
– K. Troy