NCAA Hockey Tournament: Gillies, Providence blank Quinnipiac

Jon Gillies makes a stop with Jordan Samuels-Thomas looking to screen the Friars goaltender. - Matt Dewkett

Behind a strong performance by Jon Gillies, Providence advanced to the finals of the NCAA Hockey East Regional.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- In the first 150 seconds of their East Regional semifinal, Providence was under siege.

But in those opening moments, as he did all night, Jon Gillies stood tall for the Friars.

Gillies was strong for 60 minutes for Providence, as he made 37 saves on the night leading the Friars into the NCAA Hockey East Regional final with a 4-0 win.

Quinnipiac controlled the action early on, but was unable to solve Gillies. The Bobcats peppered Providence with five shots in the game's first 2:30, but Gillies answered every one of them.

"It definitely helps to see pucks early to get a feel for the puck," said Gillies. "We just knew that we had to weather the storm and give them our best push back.

"They came at us for the first three or four minutes, but after that, we got our legs under us and really took it to them."

On Providence's first real bout of pressure, the Friars found their first and eventual game-winning goal. A strong forecheck landed the puck on Conor MacPhee's stick, and he zipped a pass through the crease to Mark Jankowski. All by himself on the post, Jankowski redirected the feed past Michael Garteig, giving Providence a 1-0 lead.

"I just went to the net, and [MacPhee] found me with a great pass, and I put it in," said Jankowski.

The Bobcats would respond after conceding, but Gillies didn't budge. He denied Matt Lemire with a nice glove save on a 2-on-1 in the minutes after Jankowski's tally, and made 13 saves in all in the first period to keep Providence's lead at one after 20 minutes.

The second period was much of the same, as Gillies continued to stymy all of Quinnipiac's chances. He made another strong save on Lemire through traffic, which Providence followed by quickly getting its second goal.

"Jon has been our rock this year," said Providence head coach Nate Leaman. "I thought he made some better saves in the second period when they were getting some transition chances, and we had some soft gaps, and they were shooting through some screens."

With Noel Acciari screening in front, an Anthony Florentio point shot got through everyone, including Garteig, to push the Friars lead to 2-0 5:10 into the frame.

Providence would continue to pour it on in the middle period, as Shane Luke banged home a rebound to make it a 3-0 game. With Quinnipiac pressing trying to create some offense, Providence was able to break on an odd-man rush. Luke drove to the net, and banged home a rebound off a Kevin Hart shot to push the Friars' lead to three.

"Once we got a couple of goals up you could see them getting a little frustrated, just taking shots after the whistle," said Steven Shamanski. "So we just wanted to keep on them and keep the pressure on them."

Trevor Mingoia finished the second period scoring when he deflected home a shot on the power play to put the Bobcats behind by four, and the game out of reach with a four-goal hole.

"We kind of lost our composure a little bit there at times, and then regained it, and then lost it," said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. "You can come back from two or three goals You can come back from four; people do it.

"You have to believe, and you have to want it. We struggled with that a little bit, and then we regained our composure."

Even with a comfortable lead in the game's final 20 minutes, Gillies stayed sharp. He made 13 saves in the third period to round out the shutout, and setup a matchup Saturday with Union for a Frozen Four bid.

"They're dynamic. [Shayne Gostisbehere] might be their best forward, even though he's a D. [Daniel Carr] can really rocket it," said Leaman of the Dutchmen. "They're a great team. A lot of team speed; I was really impressed with their team speed today.

"They're very deserving of the number one rank in the nation."

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