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Big blocks lead Providence into semis

12/28/2012, 5:15pm CST
By Brian Hedger

Providence makes blocking shots one of its primary concerns — and the nine it stopped on Friday at The Edge came up huge in a 2-0 victory against St. Louis-based Christian Brothers College High School in a quarterfinal of the 19th Annual Holiday Hockey Classic at Bensenville.

It’s a part of hockey that doesn’t wind up on highlight reels and often leaves multi-colored welts in its wake.

Providence, however, makes blocking shots one of its primary concerns — and the nine it stopped on Friday at The Edge came up huge in a 2-0 victory against St. Louis-based Christian Brothers College High School.

Providence outshot CBC by a 22-20 margin, but it would’ve been more lopsided in the Cadets favor had the Celtics not sacrificed their bodies to stop those nine shots in front of goalie Justin Salazar (20 saves).

“Our coach stresses blocked shots and we’re starting to see it even more now,” Salazar said. “It’s awesome (for a goalie). It gives you a lot of confidence going into every game just knowing that you’re not going to see 50 shots. It’s a lot easier.”

This game was anything but easy, as No.6 Providence and CBC engaged in a tight-checking, defensive quarterfinal of the 19th Annual Holiday Hockey Classic. The game remained scoreless until Celtics defenseman Jake Dillman wired a hard wrist shot from the slot into the back of the net with 14:36 left in the second half.

Providence made the slim lead stand up despite a late CBC offensive push, which was aided by three power plays — the last two coming back-to-back in the final three minutes. During the first of those advantages, Salazar came up with a great glove save on a wrist shot from close range by Ethan Stahlhuth. The Celtics also helped their goalie by blocking a couple of shots and clearing rebounds.

Rich Yusa then sealed the win during the final Providence penalty kill by scooping a loose puck in the Cadets zone and beating CBC goalie Joe O’Brien (20 saves) with just 29 seconds left. Next up for the Celtics is a Saturday morning semifinal against No.1 New Trier Green — which beat Marist 10-1 in its quarterfinal.

“[Blocked shots] will be huge, especially against New Trier,” Providence defenseman Colin O’Connor said. “They move the puck well, so we’ve got to get down and slide on the ice to block some shots.”

It’ll be nothing new to the Celtics, who know by now what it takes.

“We get a lot of bruises,” Dillman said. “We get them almost every game, but you shake it off. It’s just hockey.”

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