PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Saturday night in college hockey is always a challenge.
After a Friday night loss to Merrimack, head coach Nate Leaman’s Providence Friars needed a bounce-back effort upon returning home to Schneider Arena.
It wasn’t easy, but they did the job. The Friars ― led by senior defenseman Anthony Florentino, with a goal and two assists ― scored a goal in each period and held off a late Colgate surge for a 3-2 win.
“I was proud of our team tonight,” Leaman said. “That’s a tough turnaround (because) Merrimack is probably one of the most physical teams in our league and a tough rink to play in, to turn around and have a team that didn't play before and come back.”
In a rather dominant first period for Providence, it took until the 17:13 marker and its second power play for a goal to be scored. After freshman Josh Wilkins fed the puck to the center point, Florentino stepped into a one-time shot that beat Colgate freshman Colton Point for his fifth goal of the season.
The Friars held a decided 10-4 shot advantage in the first period. All five of Florentino’s goals have come in the last six games, while the three-point effort was the second of the season for the West Roxbury, Mass., native and Buffalo Sabres prospect.
“Flo’s got that bomb back there, and he’s finding a way to score with it,” Leaman said. “I think everyone knows that Jake (Walman) has a good shot, so everyone sits in his lane all the time. Flo’s done a good job getting pucks off.
“I thought our power play struggled this weekend, but that was a nice goal.” The Friar man advantage went 1-for-5 in the contest after a 2-for-8 effort in Friday’s 5-2 loss in North Andover.
Colgate tied the game with a power-play marker of its own just 3:27 into the second period when junior Sebastian Weberg took a feed from defender Brett Corkey and fired a wrister through traffic from the high slot.
The goal was Weberg’s third of the season, all on the power play. In fact, four of his five career goals have come with a man advantage.
“I thought we got our legs under us as the game wore on,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. “I thought we competed a lot harder in the second half and had some good chances, good looks in the end. It just seems we’re a little inconsistent in our efforts, so we’ve got to figure that out.”
Wilkins tipped the score Providence’s way at the 10:36 mark of the middle frame, scoring for the fifth time this season. The Friars played out a delayed penalty as sophomore Scott Conway fed the puck into the slot where Wilkins whipped home a backhander.
The Raiders would surge late in the third, but not before PC sophomore Erik Foley delivered the game-winning goal at 10:14, finishing an end-to-end rush with a wrister from atop the circles after taking a feed from sophomore defenseman Steven Ruggiero that was his first point of the season.
Colgate would hold a 10-7 shot advantage for the final frame, and got the score back within one at 14:29. Senior assistant captain Tim Harrison fired a puck towards Hayden Hawkey’s net, but it was defenseman Jake Kulevich who ultimately swiped the puck past the Friars’ sophomore goaltender through a scrum at the net front.
“We had a good push there in the end,” said Kulevich, the Raiders’ captain from Marblehead, Mass. “Down two goals, we didn’t give up. That’s always good to see, but we can’t really put ourselves in that position. I think we came out a little slow, which is a little frustrating.”
Kulevich and Harrison were in the middle of one final, golden opportunity to tie the game just before the buzzer sounded, but Hawkey came up with the biggest of his nine third-period saves and 20 total in the contest.
After Harrison fired a one-time shot from low on the left side in the waning minute right into Hawkey’s chest, Kulevich put a pair of shots from the point on net that marked the final chances of the game.
“I think he needed that,” Leaman said of Hawkey, who backstopped PC to its fifth win of the season. “That first save (on Harrison), he kept tracking it and took it right to the chest. That’s a big-time save. He didn’t panic. … We’ve got to show him that clip a hundred times just so he gets his confidence.”