The Friar men's hockey team mounted a comeback in the third period, led by senior Tim Schaller's (Merrimack, N.H.) goal, but they could not overcome a two goal deficit against the Merrimack Warriors in a 2-1 loss on Friday night at Schneider Arena in a Hockey East match-up.
The Friars move to 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-0 in Hockey East after the defeat, splitting the weekend home-and-home series with Merrimack, who moves to 5-7-2 overall and 4-4-1 in Hockey East action. Both goaltenders played a large role in the game as Providence freshman goaltender Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) stopped 22 shots, including 10 in the first period, and Rasumus Tirronen made 34 saves for Merrimack.
After the first period, the Warriors carried a 1-0 lead to the locker room after scoring a power-play goal with 3:49 left in the frame. Brian Christie scored his first career goal on the man advantage when he slid the puck past Gillies to give his team the lead. Mike Collins and Connor Toomey registered the assists on the play. Providence had multiple scoring opportunities on the power play, including a point-blank shot by sophomore Ross Mauermann (Janesville, Wis.) and a shot that deflected off of the crossbar by senior Chris Rooney (Canton, Mass.).
The second period came to a close without a change in the score as neither team could capitalize in the frame even with numerous power play chances. Special teams were a factor in the game as Providence had five opportunities on the power play in the game, including three in the second period. Merrimack had four chances on the man advantage, capitalizing with a first period goal.
Merrimack doubled their lead at of the third period. Josh Meyers skated in on a breakaway after gaining the puck in the neutral zone and beat Gillies with a wrist shot. The eventual game winner from Meyers was unassisted. The Friars mounted a third period comeback when Schaller got the Friars on the board at 12:27, cutting the Friars deficit to one. Senior Alex Velischek (Kinnelon, N.J.) got the puck to sophomore Stefan Demopoulos (La Mesa, Calif.) who found Schaller as he was striding into the Merrimack zone. Schaller skated along the far boards, cut towards the net and fired a backhander high over Tirronrn's shoulder for his is fourth goal of the season and second in as many nights. Providence came close to tying the score in the final minute of play when junior Steven Shamanski (Carberry, Man.) fired a shot that went wide of the net and deflected off the boards to Schaller, who just missed stuffing the puck inside near the post.
The Friars host the Boston College Eagles next Friday, Dec. 7 at Schneider Arena in a Hockey East match-up. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on Cox Sports.
Notes Stefan Demopoulos recorded his first assist of the season on Schaller's goal ... The Friars now have 19 players with at least one assist this season ... Jon Gillies recorded his 14th consecutive start in goal ... Tim Schaller now has a two-game goal scoring streak, including his game winner in overtime from last night ... Schaller extends his lead as the team's point leader against the Warriors, with five goals and three assists in nine career games played versus Merrimack.