Hockey night at Holy Cross

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WORCESTER – It was a terrific night for college hockey at Holy Cross on Saturday. The Hart Center on campus was packed and loud for Providence College’s hard-fought 3-0 win over the host Crusaders.

Quick hits from the game:

HAYDEN HAWKEY

Brimming with confidence, PC’s senior goalie continues to be on top of his game for the 5-1-1 Friars. He made 27 saves on Saturday night, including some big ones in the third period, and notched his third shutout of the season and his second in a row. Hawkey hasn’t given up a goal in 137:51 and his save percentage is .955. There’s no better goalie in Hockey East right now.

“He’s outstanding. He’s our rock. He’s going to be our rock for the year. He had another solid performance tonight,’’ said PC coach Nate Leaman.

MIRAGEAS DELIVERS

Another Friar who is really feeling it lately is Islanders draft pick Ben Mirageas. Picking up where he left off at Boston University last week, Mirageas on Saturday scored a third period goal that gave the Friars some breathing room and added an assist.

“I think he came back a little slow to start, like most sophomores that have success as a freshman kind of do. His last two games he’s been really good for us. He’s really good when he has the puck and he gets his feet going. He did a good job of that tonight,’’ said Leaman.

ROAD TEST

Leaman said beforehand that playing in a small rink in front of a lively crowd with calls going against you at times would be good preparation for upcoming road games in Hockey East.

Afterward, he said there was a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and he liked the way his team responded.

“It was a good opportunity for us to grow. We made some mistakes but we fought our way through it. Overall, we end up with a good win,’’ Leaman said.

HARD FEELINGS

The game ended on a sour note when Holy Cross freshman Ryan Leibold took a run at PC’s Jay O’Brien and rammed him into the right wing boards in the PC end after the Friars had gone up by three goals. It was a cheap hit that earned Leibold a major for contact to the head and a game misconduct.

Leaman was understandably angry.

“It’s everything you want to get out of the game. It’s a 3-0 game, there’s a minute to go, we just scored on the empty net. It’s a bad hockey play. I don’t know what to say. You don’t want your guys taking high hits and getting run at in a game that’s over.’’

It’s the second time this season that an opposing player has trucked O’Brien with an illegal hit.

I asked Leaman if teams are targeting O’Brien, a first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in June.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with it being Jay or anybody else,’’ he said.

“The kid ran all the way across the ice and came head high at him with a minute to go in a 3-0 game. It’s a horrible hockey play. It’s the stuff you want to get out of the game.’’

O’Brien had a strong game on Saturday as he returned to the lineup after missing two games because of the high hit against UConn. He was robbed twice by Holy Cross goalie Beau Collins, who was sharp with 35 saves.

O’Brien was visibly angry as he got up off the ice quickly after Saturday night’s hit and went to the PC room. After the game, he was up and about in the dressing room hallway.

Leaman didn’t have an update on his condition.

NEXT UP

Get your popcorn ready. In a matchup of the top two teams in Hockey East to this point, PC visits UMass (6-1) on Thursday, then hosts the Minutemen on Saturday. This is going to be fun.

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