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Allen Lessels on College Hockey: High-stakes semifinal for Wildcats
Tonight, they do battle in Boston and the stakes are even higher.
No. 3 seed Providence and No. 4 UNH square off in the second of two Hockey East semifinal matches at TD Bank Garden. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m., but will probably start at least a little after that.
The semifinal winners meet for the Hockey East tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament on Saturday night at 7.
UNH, 21-17-1, needs to win the Hockey East tournament to get into the NCAA tournament.
UNH knocked off Northeastern in a tight quarterfinal series at the Whittemore Center last weekend.
The Wildcats expect to see more of that from the likes of Providence forwards Nick Saracino, Ross Mauermann and Mark Jankowski this weekend.
At the other end, UNH will be trying to cause problems for, and create traffic in front of, Providence goalie Jon Gillies. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from South Portland, Maine, is the son of Bruce Gillies, a standout goalie at Bishop Brady High School in Concord and then at UNH.
“He’ll catch everything if we don’t screen him. We’re not going to beat him unless we make him move and make him work in there.”
Providence and Gillies had a very good start to the season, stumbled a bit at the start of the New Year and have come on strong in recent weeks.
Providence ranks last in Hockey East with a 13.9 success rate on the power play, but the unit has picked up the pace in recent weeks. The power play had three goals in 10 chances last week against Maine.
Gillies is fifth with a 2.17 goal-against average and DeSmith is eighth at 2.39.
Gillies and DeSmith played juniors together with the Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League.
No. 8 Notre Dame’s upset of No. 1 Boston College brought back memories of one of the great moments in UNH hockey history.
Actually, it was 61 seconds of playing time and it came, oddly enough, during a Wildcat loss.
UNH started future All American Cap Raeder in goal, but he had been injured in the previous game and soon he had been replaced and UNH was in a 4-1 hole to the visitors.
Not just any forwards, mind you, but three of the best ever to play at UNH in senior Gordie Clark, who was already an All American, and sophomores Cliff Cox and Jamie Hislop, who would be All Americans before long.
Snively was absolutely rocking.
RPI scored again to go in front. Cox scored his third of the game to tie it.
The Engineers won it with a goal 1:38 into overtime and knocked UNH out of the tournament.
The whole segment — that’s longtime voice of the Wildcats Jim Jeannotte on play-by-play and keep an eye out for Bob Norton, then the assistant to Holt and later a hockey TV analyst, on the UNH bench — is available on YouTube.
firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @AllenLessels