PROVIDENCE — For the second time in three nights, Providence College and UMass put on as enjoyable a display of college hockey as you are going to see in early November.
And for the second time in three nights, the Minutemen beat the Friars on a late goal.
Saturday night’s 3-2 win at Schneider Arena gave ninth-ranked UMass a statement sweep over fourth-ranked PC (5-3-1 overall, 2-2 in Hockey East).
The Friars outshot UMass in the third period, 15-2, but freshman Anthony Del Gaizo tipped in a point shot by former St. George’s School defenseman Colin Felix with 1:49 left for the decisive goal.
Overall, PC had a 31-13 edge in shots on goal and dominated possession with 63 shot attempts to just 25 for UMass, but it wasn’t enough.
“It was a repeat of the game on Thursday night. We spotted them two goals. I was proud of the way we fought back. But at the end of the day it comes down to one shot. We gave up two (shots) in the third, but one of them went in. That's the game,’’ said PC coach Nate Leaman.
It was a gratifying result for UMass (8-1, 5-0 in Hockey East) and third-year coach Greg Carvel.
“My first two years here — maybe more so last year — a lot of press conferences I was talking about how proud I was of our team's effort, but we didn't find ways to win. This year, time and again, we're finding ways to win games that we didn't deserve to,’’ he said.
“It's a tough building to play in, a tough building to win in. We'll take these points and scoot out of here fast as we can.’’
UMass was opportunistic in jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.
As they did in Thursday night’s 3-2 UMass win in Amherst, PC took an early penalty when Ryan Tait collided with UMass goalie Matt Murray (29 saves) in the crease and was sent off for interference.
On the power play, Philip Lagunov broke in on the right wing and fired a quick wrister past Hayden Hawkey (10 saves), giving the Minutemen a 1-0 lead.
“Tait got cross checked into the goalie,’’ said Leaman. “It's a bad call. But that happens sometimes.’’
With John Leonard of UMass in the box for holding, the Minutemen grabbed a 2-0 lead.
When Hawkey went behind his net to play the puck, Brett Boeing of UMass stole it, circled in front and stuffed it into the open net for a short-handed goal and a two-goal lead.
“It was just too easy for them to score goals. The second one was atrocious,’’ Leaman said.
The Friars stormed back to tie the game at two in a fast-paced second period.
With the teams playing four-on-four, freshman Jack Dugan put PC on the board at 5:56, taking a pass from Josh Wilkins and beating Murray with a wrist shot. The second assist went to Jacob Bryson.
Six minutes later, the Friars got a big break when two UMass players collided and fell down at center ice. PC capitalized as Greg Printz took a pass from Tait and ripped a wrist shot past Murray to knot the game at two at 12:02
PC dominated the third period. Scott Conway, Spenser Young and Shane Kavanaugh had glittering opportunities to give the Friars the lead, but Murray stood tall.
“He made a lot of big saves, especially down the stretch,’’ said Carvel.
Providence had two power plays in the third period but failed to cash in.
“Our power play has got to be a lot better — 0-for-7 — not good enough. But we had some great looks,’’ said Leaman.
With the score tied, the door was open for UMass and the Minutemen walked through it as Anthony Del Gaizo’s got his stick on the puck from close range for the game-winner.
“That last goal we didn't box out, so a guy is on top of our goalie. We had a chance to block that shot and we didn't block the shot. We can't give up easy goals, not when we're struggling to score,’’ said Leaman.
“We struggled to score in both games. It wasn't a lack of opportunities. It's not a lack of shots. It's not a lack of offense. It's a lack of finishing. My takeaway is you can't allow somebody to score that easily against you.’’