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Comeback falls short as Providence ices UMass

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts hockey team came from behind in both games to win the Ledyard National Bank Classic. The Minutemen then dug their way out of first- and second-period deficits against Providence Friday.

But the comeback magic ran out in the third period as they fell to the Friars 5-4 Friday at the Mullins Center.

With teammate Steven Shamanski in the penalty box for interference, Providence forward Stefan Demopoulous stole an errant UMass pass and broke in on a two-on-one with Tim Schaller. UMass defenseman Joel Hanley sagged deep and opted to protect against the pass, letting goalie Kevin Boyle take the shooter. Demopoulous faked a shot then cut to the middle and snapped it past him for the short-handed game winner with 11 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third period.

“He made a nice play,” Boyle said.

Friar freshman goalie Jon Gillies, who just returned from a stint as the backup goalie for the gold medal winning USA junior team in Russia, made the goal stand. He made 12 of his 26 saves in the third period.

“Gillies got better as the game wore on,” UMass coach John Micheletto said. “He denied us on the pretty glorious opportunities that we had created. ... We created enough opportunities, but the problem was we gave up too many and it seemed like every opportunity we gave up wound up in the back of our net.”

The Minutemen (7-10-2, 4-7-1 Hockey East) and Friars (8-8-3, 6-4-2) will face each other again Saturday at 7 p.m. at Providence.

“We can’t dwell on anything. We need every point we can get,” UMass junior defenseman Conor Allen said. “We can’t start to fall right now. We need to take care of business against everybody.”

Providence took a 1-0 lead 2:14 into the game when Derek Army banged home the rebound off Mark Jankowski’s power-play shot. The Friars lead didn’t last long as UMass tied the game 33 seconds later. Patrick Kiley’s initial shot was as much a long dump in as it was a scoring chance. He followed his shot toward the net and when the rebound fluttered up in the air and then down into the crease, Kiley was there to jam it home for his first goal of the season tying the game at 1-1.

Army struck again with 54 seconds left in the first to put the visitors up 2-1 at the break.

Conor Sheary then tied the game with a power-play goal 4:14 into the second. Sheary scored on a drive through traffic from the point.

But the Friars scored the next two. Ross Mauermann converted Shane Luke’s pass on a break with 13:32 left in the period. Boyle (25 saves) then made a nice skate save to rob Myles Harvey on a break, but the play left Boyle out of position and Demopoulous tapped in the rebound with 8:46.

UMass’ Darren Rowe cut the deficit to 4-3 with a highlight-reel tally, skating through two defenseman before delivering a backhand flip by Gillies with 3:45 left in the second.

Branden Gracel nearly tied the game, but Gillies denied his opportunity. Gracel stayed with the play and was pushed to the corner by a Friar defenseman. Gracel redirected the puck to the front of the net where Allen snapped it past Gillies to make it 4-4 late in the second.

“For the most part our game was good,” Micheletto said. “We gave up some pretty big opportunities and they ended up getting wrung up on the scoreboard.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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