Third Period Explosion Lifts Providence Past Minnesota State

Calgary Flames draft pick Mark Jankowski scored two goals for Providence on Friday night as the Friars downed Minnesota State, 5-1. - Jamie Sabau

Providence opened the renovated Schneider Arena in style on Friday night.

Providence, RI - It took a period to shake off some first game jitters, but once Nate Leaman's team found its stride, there was no looking back. The Friars scored three third period goals en route to a 5-1 victory over WCHA preseason favorite Minnesota State.

The Mavericks took a 1-0 lead to the locker room after 20 minutes of play thanks to a Bryce Gervais goal at the 4:41 mark. The sophomore forward streaked down the left side before snapping a shot off that rang the post before finding the back of the net.

"I thought we were really tight to start the game. They were winning all the races to the loose pucks and winning the stick battles. We were lucky to get out of the first period only down 1-0. It could have easily been two or three-nothing after one," said Leaman.

"We still have a very young squad. You could tell they had played an exhibition game. They were a lot looser than we were," added Leaman.

The Friars knotted the score at 1 just 4:04 into the second period when Ross Mauermann made a terrific individual effort on the penalty kill. He picked up a loose puck and dashed down the left side before cutting into the middle and backhanding the puck past Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams.

Defenseman John Gilmour gave the Friars their first lead of the night when he broke in on a two-on-one at the 12:05 mark of the second period. He looked off Steven McParland before roofing an absolute laser into the back of the net.

It was a beautiful play by Gilmour, a 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Calgary Flames. He made a nice decision stepping up into the play and fired a laser after getting the goaltender to think pass.

"With all of our D core, we're trying to improve our stick skill with the puck. He's very skilled and read the plays well. He was able to jump up into the offense a few times," said Leaman of Gilmour.

With the score 2-1 heading into the final frame, the Friars started buzzing all over the ice. PC outshot Minnesota State 18-4 in the final period, capitalizing on three of those shots all within the first eight minutes.

Mark Jankowski gave the Friars a 3-1 lead 2:46 into the period when he backhanded a shot into the back of the net off a misfired shot from Gilmour.

Less than a minute later Gilmour notched his second goal of the game. After a nice individual effort to rush the puck up ice by Shane Luke, Gilmour found the puck and backhanded it into the top of the net for a 4-1 PC lead.

Jankowski gave Providence some extra breathing room at the 7:59 mark thanks to a nice cross-crease pass from Derek Army.

Lost in the lopsided final score was some key saves sophomore goaltender Jon Gillies made, especially in the first period. The Calgary Flames prospect stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced. "Johnny kind of held us in there and made some big saves," said Leaman.

The two teams will meet again Saturday night at Schneider Arena at 7 p.m. "We know it's going to be a really tough game [Saturday] night," said Leaman.

Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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