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UNH hockey team beats Providence to advance to Hockey East final

  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas celebrates his goal against Providence with teammate Brett Pesce, right, during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas celebrates his goal against Providence with teammate Brett Pesce, right, during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Providence center Mark Jankowski, top, drops New Hampshire defenseman Matias Cleland to the ice on a hard check during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Providence center Mark Jankowski, top, drops New Hampshire defenseman Matias Cleland to the ice on a hard check during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies makes a save against New Hampshire during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Providence goalie Jon Gillies makes a save against New Hampshire during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith, left, makes a save on a shot by Providence left wing Stefan Demopoulos during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith, left, makes a save on a shot by Providence left wing Stefan Demopoulos during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas celebrates his goal against Providence with teammate Brett Pesce, right, during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Providence center Mark Jankowski, top, drops New Hampshire defenseman Matias Cleland to the ice on a hard check during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies makes a save against New Hampshire during the first period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith, left, makes a save on a shot by Providence left wing Stefan Demopoulos during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • New Hampshire center Kevin Goumas, right, pokes the puck into the net as Providence goali Jon GIlles is out of position to make a save during the second period of a Hockey East college playoff game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON – They weren’t the prettiest goals. Not that that mattered to the University of New Hampshire hockey team.

Ugly or not, the Wildcats found a way to keep their season going at least one more night.

Kevin Goumas scored on a pair of wraparound goals to lead No. 18 UNH to a 3-1 win over No. 9 Providence at the TD Garden last night, putting the Wildcats into the Hockey East championship game against UMass Lowell and on the brink of an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

It’s the team’s first trip to the title game since 2007 – and Coach Dick Umile was well aware of the wait.

“What do you think?” he said after the win. “We’ve wanted to get here, and it’s a hard place to get to. … This team here’s a special team. They’ve been special all year.”

Goumas made sure that drought wouldn’t continue, putting in his fourth and fifth goals in the last two games, both wins that kept the season alive for the Wildcats (22-17-1).

“The way I’ve been playing, taking it, is just going out there and making sure it’s not my last game,” the senior forward said. “I want to take care of business here.”

Goumas got the first goal at a point in the second period when the Friars (21-10-6) appeared ready to land the first strike. PC was nearing the end of its first power play, and tried a shot from inside the UNH zone that was blocked and kicked out near the blue line. Goumas scooped it up and raced down the length of the ice, dragging the puck around the net and stuffing it past goalie Jon Gillies’s pad on the backhand at 12:55 of the period.

It worked once, so with UNH up 2-0 at the end of the period and seemingly poised to take that lead into the locker room, Goumas tried it again. He and winger Nick Sorkin raced in on a 2-on-1 and Goumas slid a pass through the slot that Sorkin lifted over the net. Only seconds remained, but there was enough time for Goumas to gather the loose puck and go for a wraparound on the forehand side, using Gillies’s stick as a way to redirect the puck over the line.

Different side, same result, and the goal stood after video showed it beat the horn by 0.4 seconds.

“I knew time was running out because we went out there for a short shift,” Goumas said. “I just wanted to get that puck as quick as I could to the net. … It was obviously a momentum changer.”

While Goumas used a stick to get a three-goal lead, defenseman Justin Agosta used a Providence skate to put the Wildcats up 2-0. The senior held the puck at the right point for a second while sophomore forward Maxim Gaudreault skated toward the net, then ripped a shot that skimmed off of Friars defenseman Kevin Hart’s foot and in at 6:29 of the second.

Agosta narrowly missed putting the Wildcats up four goals early in the third, as he struck a post with a shot from the right slot at 17:41. UNH’s tough break was answered just over a minute later by another, as Providence’s Drew Brown got a pass to Kevin Rooney while on his back behind the net, and Rooney came around and roofed it by Casey DeSmith (25 saves) to make it 3-1 at 16:38.

Providence kept pushing the pace – almost getting yet another wraparound to go in minutes after its first goal – but the Wildcats held tight to set up a second game on the Garden ice with win-or-else implications, an urgency that the team is beginning to embrace.

“We’re going to need to win in order to go to the NCAA tournament,” Umile said. “That’s our goal, to win a national championship, and the only way you can do that is to get into the NCAA tournament. So we’ve got to win tomorrow to get in.”

UMass Lowell 4, Notre Dame 0

A semifinal game that had the makings of a defensive struggle turned instead into a blowout, as UMass Lowell earned its second straight trip to the Hockey East final.

Lowell struck first on a lucky bounce, as Christian Folin’s wrist shot from the slot was heading wide right before kicking off of Irish defenseman Kevin Lind’s skate and in at 10:13 of the first period. The River Hawks struck again later in the period Derek Arnold gathered the puck in the neutral zone, skated down the right side and sniped a wrister past goalie Steven Summerhays at 13:54.

Lowell widened its lead in the second period on the power play. Folin got a cross-ice pass and ripped a shot from the right side, and after Scott Wilson got a try at the rebound in the crease, Kevin Campbell knocked the puck past Summerhays for a 3-0 lead at 3:25.

Shorthanded struggles plagued the Irish later in the period, as Zack Kamrass took the puck at the blue line, skated into the left circle and put a shot on net that – again – hit off a Notre Dame defenseman’s skate and found the net. This time Jake Suter was the victim, and the River Hawks led 4-0 at 13:21.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 35 shots he faced to get the shutout for Lowell. Summerhays made 18 saves for Notre Dame.

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at abonifant@cmonitor.com or 369-3340 or on Twittter @dbonifant.)

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