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Lemos leads the late, late show as Friars tame Bears

 

By Stuart McKinley

Friendship Four favourites Providence College Friars remain on course to lift the Belpot Trophy after completing a comfortable semi-final victory over University of Maine.

If they are to become the third winners of the Friendship Four title then the Friars will need to show the same kind of tenacity as they did in overcoming the Maine Black Bears.

After being held scoreless until late in the second period their superiority finally shone through as they eventually ran out 3-0 winners.

Providence will contest this evening's final with the Clarkson Golden Knights - currently the highest ranked among the four teams playing at the SSE Arena - who secured their passage into the final with a 2-0 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the opening game, with Josh Dickinson scoring both goals.

Providence were frustrated for more than half an hour of their semi-final, but in the end they broke Maine's strong resistance when Bryan Lemos scored the opening goal in the closing minutes of the second period.

They took control of the game when they doubled their lead in the third period with a finely taken goal.

The puck was pulled back to team captain Brian Pinho, who has already been drafted by the Washington Capitals, on the edge of the left circle and he showed just why teams at that level have cast their eyes in his direction by quickly steadying himself before tucking the puck into the bottom corner of the net past a crowd of bodies.

There was, however, still some drama to come right at the end of the match.

Maine pulled their goaltender Jeremy Swayman as they went in search of a goal in a desperate attempt to turn the game around, but when they lost the puck at a face-off Providence sent it the length of the ice and after it bounced back off the boards Ryan Tait was on hand inches in front of the net to tap over the line and seal the win.

The first of the two semi-finals tussles, between RPI and Clarkson was an equally tight affair.

Clarkson lived up to their billing as a current top-five rated team, but struggled to convert their possession and domination into goals, firing only nine shots on goal in the first period.

They finally took the lead on a first-period powerplay, but with just one second left before Rensselaer were due to return to full strength, as Dickinson netted his first goal.

Although RPI only managed a total of nine shots between the first and second periods, they more than doubled that tally in the final 20 minutes.

They had 13 efforts on goal and gave Clarkson a real scare, but ultimately they were unable to find an equaliser.

After surviving RPI's pressure the Golden Knights finally secured the win with two and a half minutes to go when Dickinson produced a beautiful finish for his second of the game.

Belfast Telegraph

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