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Hockey East Saturday Recap: UNH alone in front; BC, BU take falls at home

On Saturday night, New Hampshire shutout UMass to claim sole possession of first place in Hockey East. Northeastern saw its playoff hopes dashed in a tie at Maine, while BC and BU both fell hard at home.

Casey DeSmith's fifth shutout of the season came over UMass on Saturday and propelled UNH to the top of the league standings by itself.
Casey DeSmith's fifth shutout of the season came over UMass on Saturday and propelled UNH to the top of the league standings by itself.

New Hampshire 4, Massachusetts 0

Senior John Henrion scored No. 4 New Hampshire's third hat trick of the season, including two goals in the second period to open the scoring, en route to a 4-0 win at the Whittemore Center, taking three of four points on the weekend series. Sophomore Marylander Casey Thrush assisted on all three Henrion goals, with the last – Henrion’s 13th of the year - coming with an empty net with 28 seconds remaining. With the victory, the Wildcats assured themselves a tie in the season set with their border rivals and earned three points on the weekend to jump into first place alone in the Hockey East standings. Sophomore Matt Willows was the lone Wildcat besides Henrion to find the back of the net in the contest as he made it a 3-0 game at 6:06 of the final stanza, beating UMass' Steve Mastalerz, who made 29 stops. Sophomore Casey DeSmith held the Mass Attack off the board, making ten saves in each of the final two periods for 25 total in his 17th win of the season. Henrion's trick was the first by a UNH skater since both Kevin Goumas and Grayson Downing had them on Nov. 24, 2012 at Denver. The Wildcats close out the regular season with a two-game "White Out the Whitt" weekend with Maine next Friday and Saturday, while UMass faces Merrimack in a split-site series.

Providence 5, Boston College 1

Paced by four goals over just 5:40 in the third period, the No. 20 Providence College Friars earned their first victory over the No. 4 Boston College Eagles in 18 games, by a 5-1 score, on Saturday afternoon at Kelley Rink. Freshman Noel Acciari led the Friar offense with a pair of goals on the afternoon to set a new career-high, including the inaugural score of the contest at 12:56 of the first period. The Johnston, Rhode Island native also closed the scoring for the Friars as he beat BC senior Parker Milner (21 saves) at 5:40 of the third period for their third shorthanded goal in as many games. Additionally, rookie John Gilmour posted two assists to also tie his career-high mark, while senior Chris Rooney posted his fourth-career game with multiple points. Despite 17 saves, Jon Gillies missed the shutout for the Friars as BC sophomore Quinn Smith scored the lone Eagle goal with 1:20 remaining. In his relief, sophomore Brad Barone made his first-career appearance, making three saves on as many shots in 14:20. The win was PC's first over its Catholic brethren since a 3-2 victory on Feb. 29, 2008 in Chestnut Hill, as well as the largest margin of victory over the Eagles since a 9-5 win at Schneider Arena on Dec. 3, 1993. On Senior Day, Milner was pulled after allowing five goals in 45:40. BC closes its season on the road next weekend with two games at Vermont, while Providence faces UMass Lowell in a home-and-home.

Vermont 5, Boston University 2

Junior Matt Nieto continued his torrid stretch for the Terrier offense to cut a 2-0 first-period deficit at the 17:54 mark, but it was not nearly enough as the visiting Catamounts salvaged the final meeting between the teams this season, 5-2, at Agganis Arena. Nieto's goal again came on the power play and was was his fourth of the weekend and his sixth in the last three games. In addition, junior classmate Garrett Noonan scored the only other goal for No. 19 BU, beating freshman Brody Hoffman (26 saves) shorthanded at 7:29 of the final stanza to cut the deficit to 3-2. Junior Chris McCarthy scored an empty-netter and added two assists for the Catamounts, who also got a goal and an assist from sophomore Kyle Reynolds. Hoffman, who remains the lone freshman nationally to have made the start in every game for his team, earned his 11th win for his efforts and saw 32 less shots put on him than UVM tagged Maguire with on the weekend. The contest marked the first game in the last 13 between the schools at Agganis Arena that has been decided by more than two goals and also snapped an eight-game overall winless streak to BU.

Northeastern 4, Maine 4 (OT)

In a wacky contest at Alfond Arena, neither team would say die on Saturday night as the Huskies and Black Bears skated to a 4-4 draw to close their weekend series and give the Black Bears the season series win with Friday's 3-1 win and two ties. Freshman Colton Saucerman scored the first two power-play goals of his career - at 19:48 of the first and 0:17 of the second - for the Huskies, but earning a single point was not enough to remain alive in contention for the final Hockey East playoff spot heading into the final weekend against Boston University. Maine was led by a goal and an assist from freshman Ryan Lomberg, as well as a pair of assists each from sophomore Stu Higgins and senior captain Joey Diamond. NU senior captain Vinny Saponari also added a trio of assists, his second playmaker of the season and first since the Beanpot title game against BC on Feb. 11. With the tie, NU earned its first point in Orono in five games but is still looking for its first win since a 2-1 decision on Oct. 25, 2008. Additionally, for NU, senior Steve Morra scored his third goal of the season, while seniors Chris Rawlings (13 saves in 25:12) and Bryan Mountain (34 in 39:48) each saw action in net. After double-digit saves in each of the first two periods, junior Martin Ouellette totaled 35 for the contest.

Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.