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Hockey: Providence blanks Fenwick, reaches Kennedy Cup finals

Updated: February 19, 2014 11:00PM



Even though Providence came up empty on the scoreboard during the first period of Wednesday’s Game 2 of its Kennedy Cup semifinal against Fenwick, there was a feeling of when, not if, the Celtics would find the back of net.

The “when” came in the second period.

Providence exploded for three goals in a span of 3:42 and registered a 6-0 win over Fenwick to advance to the Cup finals, a first in the program’s history.

Andy Guth, Rich Yusa and Matt Payton lit the lamp in the pivotal second period, sending the Celtics into a finals against the winner of Notre Dame vs. Benet. That semifinal begins Saturday.

“It’s a relief to get to the finals,” Providence coach Nick Iaciancio said. “That’s been the goal since Day 1.”

The Celtics dominated the opening 17 minutes of Game 2 at The Edge in Bensenville, generating multiple scoring chances during a power-play opportunity. Jake Dillman, Jordan Ernst and Dan Ricker, though, all were had quality chances rebuked by Friars goalie Paul Barker.

Late in the first period, Fenwick had a great opportunity to jump on the board, but goalie Justin Salazar made a fine glove save on Jak Karls’ backhand attempt from the slot.

“There’s not more pressure. You just have to be more aware of what’s going on,” Salazar said of the game being scoreless despite the Celtics dominating. “We haven’t been shut out all year. I knew we’d get one to slip in eventually.”

And it was Guth doing the honors, unleashing a backhander low to the glove side that made it 1-0 at 7:46.

Just 1:24 later, Yusa scooped up a loose puck in the slot and banged a shot past Barker to make it 2-0.

Matt Payton capped the scoring in the middle period. After Mike Vennetti made a nice rush toward the net, Payton slapped the puck past Barker for a 3-0 advantage.

“When we get one, we usually start piling it on,” Guth said. “We knew we could do it.”

Providence padded its lead in third period, with Vennetti scoring twice and Patrick Francis once.

All that was left was preserving the shutout for Salazar, who wasn’t tested often, but was up to the challenge when he was.

“This was our goal since the beginning of the season,” said Salazar, who made 18 saves. “We all bought in early.”

Ben Brandau had two assists for the Celtics (53-4-4).

Providence’s defense of Ernst, John Duzansky, Jake Dillman Jack Dunne, Patrick O’Sullivan and Matt Francis did an outstanding job of limiting Fenwick’s second chances.



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