BOSTON — Last April, Trevor Mingoia was watching his former Union College teammates claim their first NCAA championship.
Now, his new school will have the chance to do the same.
Mingoia, a Providence College junior who spent his freshman year playing with the Dutchmen, scored the game-sealing goal Thursday in the first semifinal of the 2015 Frozen Four, helping push his Friars past Nebraska-Omaha 4-1 at TD Garden and into PC’s first national title game in 30 years.
“That was a phenomenal shot by Trevor,” PC goalie Jon Gillies, who finished with 25 saves, said after the game. “I don’t think any goalie is stopping that. That was a great finish, and it was a great comeback from a tough letdown there.”
The letdown Gillies was referring to came just 24 seconds earlier.
Providence had dominated the first 40 minutes of play — complete, total domination. The Friars held a 33-16 lead in shots after two periods and a 2-0 advantage on the scoreboard that probably would have been greater had it not been for some spectacular goaltending by Omaha senior Ryan Massa (44 saves).
Yet in the third period, the Mavericks began to stir. After hardly being able to get the puck out of their own zone earlier in the evening, they now began firing it in Gillies’ direction. That effort paid off when, with just under 11 minutes to play in regulation, freshman center Tyler Vesel intercepted a Gillies clear attempt along the right boards and slotted a pass to sophomore Jake Guentzel, who fired a laser past the junior netminder.
Just like that, it was 2-1 with more than half a period to play — plenty of time for the Mavericks to pot an equalizer. Or so they thought.
On the very next shift, Mingoia, who had come up empty on several grade-A scoring opportunities earlier in the night, settled into the low slot in front of Massa, received a pass from junior center Mark Jankowski and one-timed it into the top-left corner of the net.
Gillies held strong the rest of the way, junior winger Nick Saracino added an empty-netter, and the Friars were on to the ‘ship.
“We talked about getting the next goal when it was 2‑0 between the second and third period no matter what the shots were,” Omaha coach Dean Blais said, “because we’re a team that has come back during the course of the year. Quite a few times. And third period is usually our best period.
“And when we got that goal, I just thought we had a chance, whether you have to pull your goaltender and get the extra attacker on. But when they scored right away to make 3‑1, you could feel the energy go out of the bench.”
Not a single Providence player was born when the Friars last appeared in the title game in 1985, and they’ll be seeking to raise their first NCAA trophy at an arena just an hour’s drive from campus. But Saturday’s national final will carry extra significance for Mingoia after what the 23-year-old witnessed last spring.
He had a front-row seat, too: Providence was the team Union beat to advance to last year’s Frozen Four.
“It was very motivating time for me,” Mingoia said. “I couldn’t be happier for them. I’ve got a lot of great friends on that team. A lot of respect for that team. I was happy when they won. But jealousy rolls in. I want it bad, and I have the opportunity to do it this year with this team. It’s an absolute family in that locker room. I wouldn’t want to be here with any other team.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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