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Hockey East semifinals: Goumas leads New Hampshire past Providence

A huge night for Kevin Goumas pushed his Wildcats past Providence and into the Hockey East finals.

UNH Athletics

BOSTON, MASS. -- Kevin Goumas doesn't want his senior season at New Hampshire to end. And thus far, he's doing a pretty good job of keeping it alive.

Goumas scored a pair of goals, and paced New Hampshire past Providence in the Hockey East semifinals Friday night at TD Garden, as the Wildcats came away with a 3-1 victory.

"That's been on my mind for the last week or so, especially with the playoffs coming around," said Goumas, who followed up his hat trick, series clinching performance last weekend against Northeastern with his second straight multi-goal game. "The way I've been taking it is just going out there and making sure it's not my last game."

Friday night's contest opened with neither team able to generate much offensively. Shots after the game's first 20 minutes were 9-5 in favor of the Wildcats, with Jon Gillies and Casey DeSmith answering all of those.

The second period saw both teams generate more offensively, and the Friars drew their first power play of the night on a Justin Agosta cross-checking call. As that man-advantage was coming to an end, Goumas made a great individual effort as his own blue line to win the puck. He skated the length of the ice, outmuscling a Friar defenseman to maintain posession.

When Goumas got to the goal line, he faked toward the net, freezing Gillies on his spot, before the senior swooped around behind for the wrap-around and a 1-0 UNH lead.

"It kind of developed in the play," said Goumas. "The guy cut me off on the short side, and one thing we talked about before playing them was trying to attack Gillies on the ground, and move him side-to-side.

"That's what we did, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to do that, and I had a lot of net."

Agosta would make up for his minor later in the frame in the form of a goal. After taking a pass from Matt Willows, the defenseman fired a shot toward net that deflected off of Stefan Demopoulos, and then Kevin Hart, before beating Gillies for a 2-0 UNH advantage.

It would appear the team's would go into the locker rooms with that same score, but Goumas beat the buzzer and tallied his second of the night. After hitting the dots on a 2-on-1 with Nick Sorkin, Goumas' cross-ice feed was blocked. But he was able to corral the puck below the goal line, and stuff it in on the backhand with only 0.4 seconds left for a 3-0 Wildcats lead.

"I knew that time was running out because we went out for a short shift, and I wanted to get that puck as quick as I could to the net," said Goumas. "I tried to just stuff it as quick as possible, and it was obviously a momentum changer."

"I knew in my mind—obviously I didn't see—but I knew it was getting down pretty close. I didn't know it was getting that close, though."

Providence would get one back early in the third and cut its deficit to two. Drew Brown won a puck battle on the forecheck, and laying on the ice behind the net, he shuffled it over to Kevin Rooney, who pounced out in front and stuffed it past DeSmith to make it 3-1 game 3:22 in the third.

But the Friars were unable to draw any closer, as the Wildcats and DeSmith maintained their two-goal edge the rest of the way to set up a matchup with UMass Lowell in Saturday's championship game.

"They're obviously a very, very good team," said UNH head coach Dick Umile of UMass Lowell. "They're one of the top teams in country.

"They've got balance, they've got goaltending, they've got defense. We played them earlier in the season, and I thought we played against them."

During the regular season, the River Hawks took both games from UNH, sweeping a home-and-home in early November. But the stakes will be much hire Saturday night, especially with the Wildcats still looking to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament field.

"We want to take care of business in Hockey East here first but want one more chance to get to the NCAA tournament and win that national championship," said Goumas. "I'm trying to go out there and leave it all on the ice."