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Hot goalie puts UNH hockey team in 1-0 hole

  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

    Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

  • New Hampshire's Connor Hardowa, right, knocks down Providence's Brandon Tanev during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

    New Hampshire's Connor Hardowa, right, knocks down Providence's Brandon Tanev during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

  • Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

    Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

    Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

  • Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

    Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES
  • New Hampshire's Connor Hardowa, right, knocks down Providence's Brandon Tanev during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES
  • Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES
  • Providence goalie Jon Gillies stops a shot by New Hampshire's Jay Camper during the first period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES
  • Providence's Nick Saracino (18) gets tangled up with New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith during the second period of an NCAA college hockey game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Providence, R.I.  (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Glenn Osmundson) NO SALES

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team had rallied back and was looking to surge ahead. The Wildcats took the puck into the Providence end and stayed there, zipping passes around the ice, eluding Friars defenders and firing shot after shot on goalie Jon Gillies.

And then the mistake came. A turnover finally got the puck out of the Friars end and into UNH’s. Nick Saracino corralled the puck, Providence set up a screen and Saracino’s shot sailed through it and by Wildcats goalie Casey DeSmith.

That gave Providence a 3-2 advantage and the Friars held it, handing the Wildcats a difficult loss for a game they largely dominated.

“I thought we played hard, we played well,” Coach Dick Umile said. “Again, we have nothing to show for it. It was a hard one to take.”

All game long, the seventh-ranked Wildcats (18-10-7, 13-8-6) had proven to be the better team at generating offensive chances, outshooting the No. 17 Friars 37-25. But Providence (16-12-7, 13-8-6) took back control of the game in the second period and a 2-0 lead with it, and UNH wasn’t able to completely climb out and as a result saw its Hockey East title hopes move one loss from fading completely.

“We need to put the puck behind (Gillies). We got some in the third, we had enough chances to win it in the third,” Umile said. “They got it, and I just told the team ‘Hey, we’ll come back here tomorrow and we’ll just battle the way we started the game.’ ”

UNH fell behind 2-0 on a John Gilmour goal with 6:33 left in the second, but quickly began fighting back. The Wildcats answered only 23 seconds later and three seconds into a power play when Eric Knodel passed from the front of the left circle across the ice to Grayson Downing, who scored on his own rebound to draw UNH within one.

The Wildcats evened the score two minutes into the third. Austin Block backed off of a loose puck and skated toward the goal, and defenseman Brett Kostolansky moved forward to take possession. His pass through the slot found Block in front of the net, and he scored after faking out Gillies from up close.

UNH controlled the next few minutes, getting a pair of lines onto the ice without allowing the Friars to gain the attack. A pass along the boards wasn’t kept in, however, and Saracino gave the Friars the lead seconds later on the team’s very next shot.

“It was great zone time. … We had possession, lost it, and the kid made a great shot,” Umile said. “Casey, who handled himself well, never saw that. That was a screen with a guy in front.”

It was the second goal of the game for the freshman Saracino, who scored 2:06 into the second period, also had an assist and is building a reputation as a UNH killer with five goals and three assists against the Wildcats in four games.

“Nick’s a really good player,” Providence Coach Nate Leaman said. “He wanted the puck, that was the biggest thing. I thought Nick was the guy on our team that wanted the puck the most out there. Each time he was out there, he did something with it.”

It was the second time this year at Schneider Arena that the Wildcats had been stymied by Gillies, who also shut them out 1-0 in February before making 35 saves and bailing his team out several times last night.

The Wildcats will have to solve him in order to keep their Hockey East hopes alive, and Kevin Goumas, who had an assist yesterday, said the goal is to keep the approach the same.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to go back out there and continue what we were doing,” he said. “We had chances, we outshot them, but it’s pretty tough to get shots past this goalie.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com, or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

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