Freshman netminder Joe Woll stood tall for the men's hockey team in its 3-1 victory over Providence on Friday night. The rookie made 27 saves and stayed calm, cool, and collected to preserve the Eagles' lead.
It was a night for the youngsters as the first and final goals were scored by freshmen Zach Walker and Ron Greco, who both earned their first career goals for the Eagles. Walker opened up scoring for both teams 5:39 into the first period when he exploded through the zone, took the puck along the boards, and squeezed it between Hayden Hawkey and the small space inside the post.
"I thought our third period was by far our best, we had much better legs, we were moving our feet, and creating a lot more," said Associate Coach Greg Brown.
Greco's score solidified the win for the Eagles during a period of desperation for the Friars. Mike Kim sent a pass to Greco sitting wide open in the middle, who then took advantage of the unsuspecting Friars and lifted the puck right over Hawkey's shoulder.
The game-winner was scored by Matthew Gaudreau just 59 seconds into the second period. A mere 30 seconds after the Eagles were back to full-strength, following a penalty that over from the first, Chris Calnan sent the puck to Gaudreau at the top of the Friars' zone, who sank the shot to give the Eagles the 2-1 lead.
Woll proved to be the backbone of the Eagles' defense, notably coming up with saves on three different breakaways and making it look easy. "It's nice that our goalie was so strong the first two periods to keep us hanging around," said Brown. "He was square to every puck, he was rock solid, he keeps very calm in there, he doesn't make any saves look acrobatic or difficult... he was calm, when sometimes the guys around him weren't."
"It's crazy, the confidence you have to have; it's unbelievable, but you love playing in front of a kid like that," added Calnan. "That character, that type of goalie, he competes and we love that and it really helps us out."
Providence's lone goal came in the end of the first period, the Eagles took back-to-back penalties and Brian Pinho capitalized on the man-advantage with 2:46 left in the period. It was on the penalty awarded to JD Dudek for diving, just seven seconds after David Cotton's hooking call expired, that the Friars took advantage of the four straight minutes of advantage-play.
The game was once-again riddled with penalties, from too-many-men, to roughing, and diving calls. Both sides amassed a large amount of penalties, but it was the Eagles who gained the edge. As Coach Brown noted, while the Eagles didn't get any power-play goals it was those advantages that really shifted the momentum in their favor, especially in the third period.
This very young team continues to grow with each game it plays, rookies are stepping up and getting points on the board as well as keeping them off. The team is improving in two-way play and despite the doubters is poised to do big things this season.
Coach Jerry York is still recovering from his procedure earlier this week and is looking to return to the bench as soon as possible, but until then Coach Brown will have the reigns. The Eagles will travel to UMass Saturday night to take on the Minutemen at 7pm and look for their second Hockey East win.
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