Two third period goals propelled UMass-Lowell to a 2-1 victory over Providence College in Friday's Hockey East semifinal at the TD Garden. A.J. White and Scott Wilson scored the tying goal and go-ahead goal for the top-seeded River Hawks.
Providence drew first blood in the game at the 8:59 mark of the first period. Freshmen Kevin Rooney and Noel Acciari came into the offensive zone two-on-one. Acciari's initial shot was blocked. Rooney picked up the loose puck and fired it once then went wide with the rebound and snuck it in past UMass-Lowell freshman Connor Hellebuyck. It was the first career goal for the Canton, Massachusetts native. His older brother Chris picked up the secondary assist.
The second period was scoreless thanks in large part to Providence freshman goaltender Jon Gillies. The Hockey East Rookie of the Year stopped a barrage of UMass-Lowell shots. The South Portland, Maine native stopped 15 total shots in the frame, many of them from in tight.
Just 34 seconds into the final period, UMass-Lowell freshman A.J. White found a loose puck in front of the net and banged it home with Providence goalie Jon Gillies out of position from the initial save. Josh Holmstrom and Joseph Pendenza were credited with the assists.
Scott Wilson gave the River Hawks the lead at the 12:30 mark when he one-timed a shot past Gillies. The play came on an odd-man rush up ice. Riley Wetmore was breaking down the left side when he fed a pass over to Wilson. The goal was the 15th of the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick.
Gillies made 31 saves while Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 35 shots for the victorious River Hawks. Both teams were scoreless on the man advantage.
UMass-Lowell moves on to the Hockey East Finals Saturday at 7p.m. where it will face the winner of tonight's second semifinal between Boston College and Boston University. It will be the third championship game appearance for the River Hawks who have lost both times previously. The loss almost certainly ends Providence's season as the Friars will not be in the top 16 of the Pairwise Rankings.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.