Union First to Advance to Frozen Four
CHN Staff Report
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Union reached its second Frozen Four in three years with a 3-1 win over Providence at the NCAA East Regional on Saturday, the same place where Union won a Regional in 2012.
The Dutchmen, who have also won three straight ECAC tournament championships, extended a program record with their 30th win of the season.
Providence, which returned to the NCAAs for the first time since 2001 and won a game Friday for the first time since 1991, finishes its season 22-11-6.
The Dutchmen took an early 1-0 lead at 2:42 of the first period off a slapper by Mat Bodie that he ripped under the crossbar. Daniel Carr fed Bodie a cross ice pass and Bodie finished from just outside the circle high past Gillies.
Though Union had a 15-7 shot edge in the first period, Providence had a few good opportunities. Union blocked a lot of shots to make the shot difference look bigger than it was.
Providence nearly tied the game when Mark Jankowski's shot popped off Union goalie Colin Stevens to Conor MacPhee. In the scramble, MacPhee swatted at it and the puck went up in the air towards to goal, only to have Union's Hobey Baker Award finalist defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere knock it away. It landed to his left and Providence had two more whacks at the puck that Gostisbehere stopped at the goal line.
Union extended its lead 58 seconds into the second period. Kevin Sullivan walked out of the corner and placed a backhand shot on net with Max Novak crashing the net and pushing the puck past past Gillies to make it 2-0.
Despite Gillies' struggles on that play, and some other bobbles, his coach said the All-American goaltender played well.
“I thought he played very well, especially early in the game,” PC coach Nate Leaman said. “They were getting second and third opportunities in our zone and we were struggling with executing out of our end. Part of it was us and part of it was them working so hard. I thought he kept us in the game early.”
Providence had a breakaway and 2-on-1, but couldn't convert on either, while Union hit two posts, one coming off another rocket from Bodie that had beaten Gillies.
Union, whether intentionally or not, played it more conservatively in the third period, and that gave Providence more of a territorial edge. But it couldn't break through until there was 5:05 remaining in the game, when Nick Saracino put in a rebound over Stevens.
However, coming out of a TV timeout, Union stepped up its game again and answered right back, with 3:47 left, as Matt Hatch took a setup in the slot from Novak and drilled it between Gillies' legs.
Union will play whatever team comes out of the Northeast Regional at the national semifinal in Philadelphia on April 10, at a time to be determined.