Sophomore Matt Taormina scores game-winner for Friars

NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Matt Taormina scored his fifth goal of the season 2:09 into the third period and Tyler Sims made 24 saves to lead Providence College to a 2-1 win over Merrimack College in Hockey East action Saturday night at Lawler Arena in the regular-season finale for both teams. Providence (10-21-3, 9-15-3 Hockey East) moves on to face New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs Thursday night at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m. The Warriors season ends at 3-27-4 (3-22-2 Hockey East).

Tony Zancanaro started what proved to be the game-winning goal with a pass to Pierce Norton in the left circle. Norton’s backhander hit a scrum in front and Taormina was able to squirt the puck through Merrimack goalie Jim Healey (Holyrood, N.F.), who finished the night with 29 saves. The Warriors hoped to pull Healey for an extra attacker late in the period, but the Warriors were accessed a penalty with 27 seconds remaining, neutralizing any opportunity for an extra attacker.

Providence scored the only goal of the first period on the power play at 14:24. Freshman Joe Loprieno (Bloomingdale, IL) was sent off for tripping at 14:00, and John Cavanaugh gathered a rebound from a sharp angle and beat Healey with a shot to the glove side for his first goal of the season. Chase Watson and Cody Wild picked up assists on the play. The first period came to a close with Providence holding a 9-7 edge in shots.

Merrimack evened the score at one in the second when freshman Justin Bonitatibus (Arlington, MA) backhanded a rebound past PC goalie Tyler Sims at 10:35. Freshman David Burkholder (West Seneca, NY) took a shot from the point that was blocked and gathered by junior Derek Pallardy (St. Louis, MO). His shot was knocked down in front and Bonitatibus pounced on it for his second goal of the season. The Warriors outshot the Friars 9-7 in the second, bringing the two-period shot total to 18-18.

Providence finished the night outshooting the Warriors 31-25, including a 15-9 edge in the third period. The Friars scored on one of their five PP chances while Merrimack was 0-2.