ORONO – The Providence College Friars put on an impressive performance Friday night, dominating every aspect of the game en route to a thorough 6-2 Hockey East victory over the University of Maine Black Bears.
Junior defenseman Matt Taormina’s shorthanded goal in the second period, 1:11 after Maine’s Andrew Sweetland had tied the game with his second goal, proved to be the game-winner and the Friars added third-period power-play goals by Nick Mazzolini, Cody Wild and Taormina to ice it.
Taormina finished with a career-high five points on two goals and three assists. Wild had three assists and Mazzolini had two to go with their goals.
Pierce Norton and Jon Rheault staked Providence to a 2-0 lead, but freshman left wing Sweetland tied it.
Providence improved to 2-5-1 overall, 2-2-1 in Hockey East. Maine had its five-game unbeaten streak snapped as the Bears fell to 4-3-1 and 2-1-1, respectively.
Providence outshot Maine 39-17.
“We had good legs tonight. We played really well,” said PC coach Tim Army.
“They played their game to a ‘T’ and got us off ours,” said Maine junior goalie Ben Bishop. “They beat us to every loose puck.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead concurred, saying, “They earned the victory. They did a great job. They were very focused and we were sloppy. I was impressed with how hard they worked. That was a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking.”
PC senior goalie Tyler Sims wasn’t tested often but came up with two important saves with his Friars holding a 3-2 lead.
Sims held his ground to smother a breakaway backhander by Billy Ryan off a Sweetland pass late in the second period.
“He had back side pressure, so I followed him across and tried to stay patient. I got my stick on it,” said Sims.
“I tried to go five-hole,” said Ryan.
Sims robbed unmolested defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin early in the third period when Danis-Pepin was parked just beyond the top of the crease and chipped a Sweetland pass from the corner to the glove side.
“It was a two-on-one and [Mazzolini] did a great job forcing [Sweetland] wide. [Sweetland] could only throw it in front and that made it an easy read for me. [Danis-Pepin] chipped it up, but it hit the tip of my glove,” said Sims, who celebrated his 22nd birthday with the 15-save triumph.
“This was a great birthday. The thing that was the most impressive was that the guys scored six goals. They really supported me,” said Sims, who made seven Grade-A (high-percentage) stops among his 15.
A wide-open Taormina broke the 2-2 tie at the 10:47 mark of the middle period when he trailed a two-on-two and one-timed a short diagonal pass from Mazzolini over Bishop’s blocker into the far corner.
Taormina said Mazzolini was winding up to take a shot, “but I screamed [for the puck] and he got it over to me. I didn’t know if there was a guy behind me, so I just tried to get the shot off quickly.”
Bishop was a teammate of Mazzolini with the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League and Bishop said he expected Mazzolini to shoot.
“He made a great play getting it to Taormina,” said Bishop.
In the third period, Mazzolini received the puck at the outer edge of the circle to Bishop’s left and carried the puck to the top of the circle before firing a screened slap shot past Bishop.
“I threw it at the net and it got through and went five-hole,” said Mazzolini.
That ended Bishop’s night as Dave Wilson replaced him and the Friars greeted him by scoring with their first shot. Wild’s slapper from the top of the left circle cleanly beat Wilson to the far corner.
Taormina added his second and fifth of the season with 4:11 left.
Norton and Jon Rheault scored 6:55 apart in the first period before Sweetland answered later in the period and then tied it in the second period.
Norton scored with a 35-foot wrist shot off a Mazzolini drop pass that bounced off the ice and over Bishop’s pad.
Rheault scored on a breakaway off a Wild pass as he snapped a 15-foot wrister over Bishop’s glove.
Providence controlled play in the first period, but Sweetland gave the Bears some life when he swatted home the rebound of his wraparound attempt. He beat Sims through the pads.
He tied it in the second period with a power-play goal as he finished off a pretty passing play involving Ryan and Rob Bellamy.
Ryan’s cross-ice pass went to Bellamy. He threw it back across the ice to Sweetland, who deposited it into the short-side corner before Sims could scramble across.
Norton took a slashing penalty 23 seconds later, but Taormina regained the momentum with his goal.
FRIARS 6, BLACK BEARS 2
Providence (2-5-1) 2 1 3 – 6
Maine (4-3-1) 1 1 0- 2
First period – 1. PC, Norton 3 (Mazzolini), 3:58; 2. PC, Rheault 3 (Collins, Wild), 10:53; 3. Maine, Sweetland 1 (Marshall, Ramsey), 12:25. Penalties: PC, Collins, obstruction-cross checking, 8:40
Second period -4. Maine, Sweetland 2 (Bellamy, Ryan), 9:36 (pp); 5. PC, Taormina 4 (Mazzolini, Wild), 10:47 (sh). Penalties: Maine, Bellamy, boarding, 2:15; PC, Farrer, obstruction-slashing, 8:21; PC, Norton, slashing, 9:59; Maine, Van Dyk, holding, 15:16.
Third period -6. PC, Mazzolini 1 (Taormina, Cavanagh), 6:03 (pp); 7. PC, Wild 1 (Taormina, Norton), 7:13 (pp); 8. PC, Taormina 5 (Wild), 15:49 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Ryan, obstruction-elbowing, 5:22; Maine, Dee, slashing, 6:38; Maine, Denis-Pepin, boarding, 15:08; PC, Kremyr, obstruction-tripping, 17:26
Shots on goal: PC 13-10-16-39; Maine 6-6-5-17
Goaltenders: PC, Sims (17 shots-15 saves); Maine, Bishop (28-24), Wilson (6:28 Third, 11-9)
Power-play opportunities: PC 3 of 5; Maine 1 of 4
High-percentage scoring chances: PC 5-8-9-22; Maine 7-5-1-13