Friars beat UVM to win Catamount Cup

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Shane Luke, Nick Saracino and Noel Acciari each notched a goal and an assist and Jon Gillies made 29 saves to lead the 16th-ranked Providence College men’s hockey team past No. 9/10 Vermont on Monday night at the Gutterson Fieldhouse as the Friars claimed the 2014 Catamount Cup.

Providence, which won its first in-season tournament since the 2005-06 season, scored a power-play goal for a fifth consecutive game and went 7-for-7 on the penalty kill on the way to a third straight win.

Luke was named the Catamount Cup MVP and he was joined on the All-Tournament team by Gillies and Saracino.

In the Vermont goal, Mike Santaguida finished with 26 saves as the Catamounts were handed their first home loss of the season.

An eventful first period saw the score remain 0-0 after 20 minutes of play but it included 11 saves by Gillies and 12 by Santaguida.

Midway through the frame, Gillies made three saves on Vermont’s first power-place of the night, including a quick pad stop on a Mike Stenerson tip in front. Gillies then denied Stenerson again with a poke check after Stenerson was setup alone in front on a two-on-one.

Santaguida was tested more as the first period wore on, including a 3:20 span of power-play time for the Friars that included a 40 second five-on-three chance. Santaguida made five saves on those Catamount penalty kills to keep the score tied at 0-0 after 20 minutes of play.

The Friars took a 1-0 lead at 12:43 of the second on Luke’s sixth goal of the season. After an extended period of possession while on the power play, Luke fired in an Acciari cross-crease pass at the back post for his fourth power-play tally of the season. Brian Pinho also picked up an assist on the play for his second point of the weekend and fourth assist of the season.

Saracino doubled the Friar lead at 15:08 when he collected a long breakout pass from Anthony Florentino at the offensive blue line, beat a Vermont defenseman and fired a shot high past the glove of Santaguida for his fifth goal of the season.

The Friars outshot Vermont 11-7 in the period, whose best scoring chance came when Brady Shaw collected a rebound in front after a Gillies save. Shaw fired the puck back on goal, but Kyle McKenzie made a diving block to keep the Catamounts off the board.

Acciari put the Friars up 3-0 just 59 seconds into the third period after he knocked home a rebound in front of Santaguida following a Luke wrap-around attempt. Saracino notched his seventh assist of the season on the play as well.

Gillies made one of his biggest saves of the game on a Mario Puskarich drive from the slot as the Catamounts were on the power play to keep it 3-0 in favor of the Friars midway through the third period.

Providence finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while Vermont was 0-for-7 on the night while on the power play.

It was the Friars’ fifth shutout of the season and the fourth by Gillies, who now has 13 in his career including three against the Catamounts.

Providence returns home to play host to a pair of non-conference games against Colorado College on Saturday, Jan. 3 and Sunday, Jan. 4. Both games will be televised locally on CoxSports on OSN.

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