PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) notched a goal and an assist, but the seventh-ranked and fifth-seeded University of New Hampshire men's hockey team came up short 3-2 to the 17th-ranked and fourth-seeded Providence College Friars in game one of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal action at Schneider Arena.
UNH falls to 18-10-7 overall, while Providence improves to 16-12-7. The Wildcats must win tomorrow (4 p.m. - NESN) to extend the series to game three on Sunday (4:30 p.m. – NESN).
In addition to Downing, Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) lit the lamp for the Wildcats.
UNH controlled play for most of the first period with most of play in their offensive zone and held a 15-4 shot advantage, but neither team was able to crack the scoreboard. Both teams were unsuccessful in their one power play attempt during the period.
Providence got on the board at 2:06 of the first period as Nick Saracino scored one a wrister for the center slot. Shane Luke intercepted a Wildcat pass and found Saracino alone for the one-timer. The Friars doubled their lead at 13:27 of the second as Jon Gilmore scored with assists to Luke and Saracino to make it 2-0. The two-goal lead didn't last long as Grayson Downing scored on the power play just 23 seconds later as he scored on the man-advantage with helpers from Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) and Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.). Providence would outshot the Wildcats 17-11 in the frame thanks in part to three power play opportunities in the stanza.
New Hampshire tied it just two minutes into the third period as Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) scored on a nifty net-front move for his 16th goal of the season. Brett Kostolansky (Denver, Colo.) and Downing assisted on the goal. UNH turned up the pressure peppering PC netminder Jon Gillies, but it was the Friars to got on the board as Saracino scored his second goal of the night at 8:06 of the third with assists from Luke and Ross Mauermann. The Wildcats continue to have the better of play throughout the period not allowing another shot on goal after the the go-ahead goal, but could not breakthrough with the tying goal. UNH outshot the Friars 11-4 for the period and 37-25 for the contest.
Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 22 saves including 15 in the second period. He moves to 17-8-7 overall. Gillies made double-digit saves in all three periods including 15 to hold the 'Cats off the board in the first period.
UNH went 1-3 on the power play for the game and held the Friars scoreless in four power play opportunities.
The teams play game two of the best-of-three series Saturday afternoon. Puck drops at 4 p.m. with TV coverage on NESN.