DURHAM N.H. - Led by the 42-save shutout effort of Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) and three assists from Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.), the No. 4 ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team defeated Providence College, 4-0, on Thursday night at the Whittemore Center in the Hockey East to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three quarterfinal series.
UNH, the top seed of the Hockey East tournament with a 18-7-2 league record, improved to 24-9-2. PC, which finished the regular season with a 9-15-3 mark in Hockey East, is now 10-22-3.
Regan, who stopped 16 shots in the first period and 17 in the second, recorded his second shutout of the season and fifth of his career; two of his career shutouts are vs. the Friars. In addition to Radja, Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Brett Hemingway (Surrey, British Columbia) both finished with a goal and an assist.
PC starting goalie Tyler Sims played just the first period and surrendered two goals on 12 shots; he was charged with the loss. Chris Mannix went the rest of the way and stopped 12 shots.
UNH took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on tallies by Hemingway and Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.). Micflikier initiated the scoring sequence on the first tally with a pass from behind the net to the right circle, where Radja quickly moved the puck across the slot to an unmarked Hemingway, who scored at the right post at 4:25.
The Friars went on a power play shortly thereafter and effectively set up an attack, but could get none of the five shots in that two-minute span past Regan. Midway through the first period, a PC turnover in its defensive zone led to a Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) shot from the slot that was turned aside Sims as he retreated back into the net.
Butler, off a great individual effort by Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario), gave the 'Cats a 2-0 lead at 11:43. LeBlanc circled behind to the right circle and eluded the defense to skate to the slot. Sims was caught at the right post as the puck slipped away from LeBlanc, but Butler gained control near the left post and lifted a shot into the open net.
With UNH on the power play, the 'Cats once again caught Sims out of position but Brad Flashains' (Glendale, Ariz.) shot from the right circle was blocked by a defenseman into the right corner. PC's Cody Wild put the puck in the net off a rebound at 8:54 of the second period, but it was disallowed as a goal because the officials ruled the puck was kicked into the net.
Less than one minute later, a quick Wildcat counterattack extended the home team's advantage to 3-0. Radja started the rush up the right side and moved the puck through the neutral zone to Hemingway, whose centering pass from the right wing was redirected into an open net by Micflikier in the low slot at 9:33.
Providence generated a 17-5 shot advantage in the second period and was denied time and time again by Regan, including a spectacular glove save to snare Dinos Stamoulis' point-blank shot from the right side with 3:50 remaining in the middle stanza.
Regan received a little help from the right post early in the final frame to keep the Friars scoreless. Chase Watson, alone in the low slot, fired a shot that caromed off the right post and behind Regan, who turned and covered the loose puck.
Two minutes later, Flashains pushed the lead to 4-0. With a faceoff at the top of the right circle, Radja won the puck back to Flashains at the right point and his slap shot ricocheted off Mannix and the bottom half of the crossbar before crossing the goal line at 4:17.
PC called time out at 7:21 but could do nothing to solve Regan, who was tested yet again less than a minute later but slid to the middle of the cage in time to stop an unmarked Chriss Eppich's shot from the low slot.
UNH returns to the ice Friday night for the second game in the best of three series against Providence College. Game time is at 7p.m. at the Whittemore Center.