AMHERST, Mass. - Led by two third period goals from senior co-captain Niko Hildenbrand, No. 8 University of Massachusetts hockey skated past No. 10 Providence, 3-1, on Friday night at the Mullins Center. The win moves the Minutemen to 17-9-2 overall and 10-6-2 in Hockey East, while The Friars fall to 14-8-5 (8-7-2 HEA).
"That's as solid a game as we've played in this building probably since I've been here," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "Providence is a good hockey team. The fact that we limited them as we did tonight, that takes a full team effort, full commitment, and I think, more than anything, we needed that. The team started believing again. We lost our standard, and our standard's been everything to us, and tonight it was excellent. We'll need it tomorrow night, we'll play an angry Providence team, but it will be exciting for us, a good challenge."
Just 5:32 into the first period, freshman Reed Lebster put UMass on the board, sweeping home a feed from sophomore Anthony Del Gaizo and freshman Matthew Kessel from the slot.
Before the close of the second, though, Providence managed to level the score at 1-1. Receiving the puck from Jack Dugan and Max Crozier in the neutral zone, Matt Koopman skated into the UMass end and snuck a shot by goaltender Filip Lindberg at the near post at the 14:46 mark.
However, 3:23 into the third period, Hildenbrand put the Minutemen back on top, 2-1, tipping home a shot from freshman Zac Jones for his fourth of the year. Sophomore Bobby Trivigno earned an assist on the play, as well.
Then, less than three minutes later, Hildenbrand added an insurance tally to give UMass a two-goal cushion as he buried a tap pass from Trivigno and junior John Leonard at the net front at 5:55.
The Minutemen out-shot Providence 36-15 on the night, including a smothering 17-3 in the first period. UMass was 0-for-3 on the power play in the contest, but was perfect on the penalty kill as the Friars went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Providence goaltender Michael Lackey totaled 33 saves in the contest, while Lindberg made 14 stops for the Minutemen.
Hildenbrand's multi-goal effort was his second of the season and fourth of his career and Trivigno's pair of helpers marked his fourth multi-point game of the season and seventh of his career.
The two teams will be back in action tomorrow night, Saturday, January 8, in Providence, finishing off the weekend series at Schneider Arena with puck drop slated for 7 p.m.