PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Providence College hockey team scored three times in each of the first two periods en route to a 7-2 victory over Merrimack Friday night at Schneider Arena. With the win, the Friars (9-21-3, 8-15-3 Hockey East) clinched a spot in the upcoming Hockey East Quarterfinals where they will play top seed New Hampshire.
The Friars, who have scored 18 goals over the last three games, took the lead at 8:30 of the first period when Jon Rheault (Deering, N.H.) scored off assists from sophomore Nick Mazzolini (Anchorage, Alaska) and junior Trevor Ludwig (Grapevine, Texas). Just 1:46 later, Rheault set up freshman Greg Collins (Hingham, Mass.) who was able to tap the puck into the empty net at 10:14. At 11:05, senior Colin McDonald (Wethersfield, Conn.) scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season to give PC a 3-0 lead. The Warriors responded at 12:46 when Carmen Posteraro scored his second goal of the season from in close to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Friars added three more goals in the second period and had a 6-1 advantage going into the third period. Sophomore Cody Wild (North Providence, R.I.) scored his sixth of the season at 6:44 off a rebound in front, while Collins added his second of the night at 12:29. Sophomore Pierce Norton (South Boston, Mass.) capped off the scoring in the second period with his first of two goals. Norton tallied his second of the night at 1:48 of the third period to make the score, 7-1. It marked Norton's second two-goal game this season. Merrimack's Matt Byrnes completed the scoring with a short-handed goal at 10:28.
In goal, PC sophomore Chris Mannix (Hubbardston, Mass.) earned his second consecutive victory as he stopped 20 shots. Jim Healey and Andrew Braithwaite combined to make 31 saves for Merrimack. For the Friars, who also scored seven goals in a 7-1 victory over New Hampshire on February 24, it marked the first time since the 1990-91 season that they've scored seven goals in consecutive games.
PC and Merrimack will complete the home-and-home series Saturday night at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Mass.