PROVIDENCE -- Everything's coming up Friars.
Two weeks after being upset in the Hockey East Tournament by a Boston College team that lost 22 games and a week after sliding into the NCAA Tournament as the 14th team in a 16-team field, Providence College is headed to the Frozen Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 2015.
Playing in their own backyard for the third time in five years, the Friars choked the life out of a muscular Cornell squad with a 4-0 victory in the championship game of the East Regional in front of 5,231 fans at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Sunday.
Josh Wilkins -- named Most Outstanding Player of the regional -- scored a goal and an assist for PC. Jacob Bryson continued his brilliant play on defense. Hayden Hawkey stopped all 19 shots for his ninth shutout of the season.
"These are the things you dream about as a little kid," said Greg Printz, who scored PC's first goal. "We're only halfway there, so we can celebrate for a little bit, but we can't be satisfied. We'll go to Buffalo and play as well as we can to win a national championship."
Hawkey seconded that. "It's a great feeling, but the job's not done," he said.
PC (24-11-6) will play defending national champion Minnesota Duluth (27-11-2) in Buffalo on April 11. Denver and UMass will face off in the other semifinal. The championship game is April 13.
PC coach Nate Leaman, who has led the Friars to six straight NCAA Tournaments, credited associate head coach Kris Mayotte with putting together a great game plan.
"A lot of guys stepped up and made some good plays today and we were a tough team to play against," he said.
"It was a lot about the battle of the red line tonight. If they got the red line, their forecheck's going to get going. If we got the red line, we could get in and get going and try to cycle." he said.
"We were definitely trying to work them low. In the second period we had some really good grind shifts."
Cornell coach Mike Schafer tipped his hat to PC.
"They did exactly what we have been doing to a lot of teams for many years -- get the first goal -- and I thought that they were outstanding staying above us for the rest of the night," he said.
The Friars used the pain of last season's stunning loss to Notre Dame in the East Regional title game in Bridgeport as incentive this time around.
"The guys have been waiting to get back to this point all year long," said Leaman. "There was a lot of ache in our team from losing last year the way we did, with 30 seconds left (in regulation time). It's been a lot of heartache for our guys. This is what you're playing for."
Hawkey said the Notre Dame loss came up in the PC room between periods.
"It was the worst feeling last year," he said.
The Friars survived two early penalties before getting rolling.
"That was big for us," said Leaman.
After coming from three goals down to beat Minnesota State on Saturday, the Friars didn't have to chase the game this time. They grabbed the lead at 10:20 of the first period when Printz outbattled a Big Red defender in front and punched in a rebound. Bryson and Vincent Desharnais assisted.
One hundred seconds into the second period, Wilkins scored his 10th goal in his last nine games to give PC a 2-0 lead. Assists went to Kasper Bjorkqvist and Jack Dugan.
With Cornell's Alec McCrea in the box for holding, the Friars scored a huge power-play goal with one second left in the second period as Scott Conway deflected the puck past Cornell's Austin McGrath (25 saves) to make it 3-0. Wilkins and Brandon Duhaime were credited with assists.
"They're feeling it right now," Leaman said of the power play, which went 5-for-9 in the two games. "The chemistry is very good on both units and they're dangerous. This is the right time of year to be dangerous."
Brandon Duhaime scored an empty-net goal for the Friars with 1:47 left, setting off chants of "This is our house" from the sizable contingent of PC students.
PC lost captain Bjorkqvist to an injury in the third period, but Leaman said he'd be ready to play in Buffalo.
"Kasper has to get run over by a bus to not be ready. He's one of the toughest guys that I've coached as far as that goes," he said.
Wilkins, Cornell's Morgan Barron and PC's Tyce Thompson were selected to the All-Tournament Team. Defensemen were Bryson and Alec McCrea of Cornell. Hawkey was the goalie.