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NCAA East Region Semifinal: Providence hangs on for wild win over Miami

Miami scored three times while playing nearly half the third period with an extra attacker, but a four-goal second period lifted Providence to a 7-5 win over No. 4 overall seed Miami and its second straight NCAA regional final.

Steven McPartland (Providence #15) tips a puck in front of goaltender Jay Williams (Miami-#1).
Steven McPartland (Providence #15) tips a puck in front of goaltender Jay Williams (Miami-#1).
Matt Dewkett

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Providence College was announced as the visiting team, by virtue lower seeding in the East Regional, on Saturday night but that was close to being guests as the Friars would be at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Miami scored three times while playing nearly half the third period with an extra attacker, but a four-goal second period by the Friars allowed them to hang on for a 7-5 win over No. 4 overall seed Miami in front of 7,908 fans.

The 12 combined goals and 20 combined assists in the game set an East Regional record.

"Obviously, it was a great game for the fans to watch," PC head coach Nate Leaman said. "I was very happy with the (first) period considering we hadn't played in two weeks. ... I thought we played a terrific second period. I thought we executed the game plan well, we got some goals there."

The Friars will play for a spot in the Frozen Four for a second consecutive year under head coach Nate Leaman, advancing to tomorrow's 5 p.m. regional final against Denver.

The RedHawks took a quick 1-0 lead 4:10 into the proceedings as sophomore Justin Greenberg sent a perfect pass to senior Cody Murphy on the left wing side for his 13th goal of the season and second in three games. Murphy collected the puck in stride and beat Providence junior goaltender Jon Gillies to the sick side.

Fellow Friar junior Trevor Mingoia leveled the score at the 10:14 mark, making an incredible individual play to streak through the neutral zone, cut to the front of the net and tuck his 14th of the year under Miami junior Jay Williams.

The teams traded goals once again before the end of the opening stanza with scrappy Miami sophomore Anthony Louis taking advantage of a rebound to put his RedHawks ahead at 13:18. Shane Luke finished that off that stretch and tied the game at 14:47, getting credit for the 12th goal of his junior season on a deflection in front of Williams.

PC held a 15-12 shots on goal advantage in the first period, but poured it on in the second to bring the hometown crowd to its feet on four occasions.

"I just think they went hard to the net, they outworked us down low and they buried their chances," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. "We had a couple opportunities and we didn't do a good job of sustaining any type of pressure and they did a great job."

Junior Steven McParland got the stanza's scoring going at 5:33, sending a backhander past Williams off a great grinding sequence along the boards. The puck found its way to junior Tom Parisi at the point and his initial shot created a rebound for McParland's sixth goal of the season.

Freshman Brian Pinho put PC up by a pair at the 12:00 mark, taking a beautiful backdoor feed from Noel Acciari at the front of the net for his sixth goal of the season.

The Friars' junior captain from nearby Johnston, R.I. got a goal for himself 30 seconds later as he backhanded the puck upstairs for his 13th of the season, chasing Williams from the game. Luke scored his second goal of the game with 77 seconds left in the middle frame, taking a lunging shot at goal off a feed from Mark junior Mark Jankowski.

Miami first pulled Williams with just over 12 minutes to play in regulation and found the back of the new a little more than two minutes later as junior Matthew Caito jammed home his fourth goal of the season after a pair of solid attempts from sophomore Devin Loe were denied.

"In the third period, I thought we were doing OK," Leaman said. "I thought we lost our competitive edge just a little bit there. Miami, they're champions for a reason. They kept pushing, they kept pushing and got on our heels. I thought the momentum swung in the game."

Loe scored his second goal of the season at 14:14, redirecting junior assistant captain Sean Kuraly's attempt before the latter, a San Jose prospect, pounced on a juicy rebound from Caito to make it a one-goal game with 1:33 left in regulation.

PC missed several open nets during Miami's 8:35 of extra attacker time, but none will be more memorable than rookie Louie Belpedio's diving save at a rolling puck through the center of the offensive zone.

"I've never played that long (with an extra attacker on), 6-on-5, penalty kill," Acciari said. "At first, Miami is a great, competitive team. We just had to settle down; I think that was our biggest thing and we just needed to focus on our game."

Junior Brandon Tanev finally put the game on ice with seven seconds to play, coasting ahead of the Miami defense for an empty-net goal off a feed from sophomore defenseman Anthony Florentino.

This year marked Miami's ninth NCAA appearance in ten years, but it has still not defeated a Hockey East team in the national tournament in its last seven tries. The RedHawks played for the Northeast Region title in 2007 after defeating host New Hampshire, but missed out on the Frozen Four to Boston College.