PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Boston University Terriers and head coach Jack Parker were 93 seconds away from escaping their trip to the “coffin” with two points and their first Hockey East win of the season.
But thanks to Devan Rask’s deflection of a Matt Libby shot with 1:33 remaining in regulation, the Providence Friars were able to muster a 4-4 tie with the Terriers in front of a raucous 2,087 at Providence’s Schneider Arena on Saturday.
“It was definitely a character tie for us,” said Friar coach Paul Pooley. “Obviously it was good to come back late, and even though we’d like the win, the tie isn’t as bad.”
The tying goal came as a result of the aspect of the game that Paul Pooley said he’d like to see improve — the forecheck. Pooley noted that he didn’t think his team was able to pressure the Terriers in the defensive zone as much as preferred, but on the play that counted, the Friars executed perfectly.
After dumping the puck into the BU zone, Providence’s Jon DiSalvtore forced a turnover in the offensive zone and fed the put to Matt Libby at the right point. His low blast was tipped by Rask passing through the slot to tie the game.
But Rask’s fortune spoiled a heroic effort by Terrier freshman Gregg Johnson, whose first collegiate goal with 3:24 left to play in regulation looked as if it would be the game-winner.
“It had to be tough from [BU's] perspective, because they had the win and lost it,” said Providence goaltender Boyd Ballard (32 saves). “But for us it’s a little more positive because we got the last goal late to tie it up.”
Parker, though, didn’t feel too disappointed by the tie.
“We feel pretty good to get a point on the road, because Providence is a place that hasn’t been too kind to us,” said Parker, whose Terriers had lost four of the last five contests at Schneider Arena before Saturday’s game.
Special teams were brought to the forefront on the evening, as a total of 19 power plays were whistled — 10 for Boston University and nine for Providence. The Terriers capitalized twice while adding a shorthanded marker, while Providence scored once with the man advantage.
“There didn’t seem like a lot of flow out there,” Parker said of the penalties. “We took a lot of stupid penalties, and that nearly cost us.”
For the third consecutive game, Parker chose to start junior Jason Tapp in goal. Tapp, who has be relegated mostly to backup duties until this season, has impressed Parker in his three contests thus far.
“I thought Tapp played well again in net for us,” said Parker. “He came up pretty big for us on the five-on-three [shorthanded] and that allowed us to get back in the game.”
The most dominating factor in the first period was the whistle of referee Tim Benedetto, who whistled a total of 12 separate minor penalties, six for each squad in the frame. So it was no surprise that all three goals in the stanza came with men in the penalty box.
The Friars notched the first tally, while skating four-on-four at 8:23. Jon DiSalvatore picked up a loose puck on the right half-board, skated to the center of the blue line and uncorked a shot that beat Tapp over the left shoulder.
At 15:17, the Friars extended the lead to 2-0, this time on the power play. Jay Leach’s wrist shot from the left point was saved by Tapp. Doug Wright fired the rebound off the right post, but Adam Lee pushed the rebound of that shot past Tapp into the net.
But BU responded with a power-play goal of its own, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 man advantage at 17:26. Mike Bussoli’s slap shot from the blue line was deflected in the slot by Brian Collins and through the legs of Ballard to pull the Terriers within a goal at 2-1.
Early in the second period, the Terrier offense came alive. Thanks to two late penalties in the first period, including a double-minor to John Sabo, BU began the frame shorthanded two men. But that didn’t keep the Terriers off the scoreboard.
At 3:40, Carl Corazzini stole a pass in the offensive zone and skated alone on Ballard. The initial shot was turned aside, but Corazzini knocked home his own rebound for an unassisted, shorthanded goal that tied the game at two.
“[Corazinni's] goal was a turning point in the game, I thought,” said Parker. “We were able to kill off the five-on-three and score right away. So instead of being 3-1, we were tied.”
Less than a minute later, this time on the power play, BU took its first lead of the night. Corazzini’s across-the-slot pass left Jack Baker with a wide open net that he found to send the large Terrier crowd in attendance into hysteria.
But Providence proved it would not fold shop, responding at 8:34. When BU turned the puck over breaking out of its defensive zone, Adam Lee’s shot turned into J.J. Picinic goal, as he lifted the rebound over Tapp to even the game at 3. It took six goals, and nearly half a game, but finally a five-on-five goal was scored.
The third period saw plenty of scoring chances, but goaltending, and plenty of five-on-five play, took over. Though each goalie saw 10 shots, Ballard was forced to make the tougher saves — robbing Baker and Mike Pandolfo in the slot early in the period.
After the wild closing minutes, neither team threatened in the overtime period, as Providence outshot the Terriers, 3-1.
Providence, which improved to 2-0-1 on the season (0-0-1 Hockey East) is not done for the weekend. They will host Union College in a non-league matchup Sunday night. BU, which remained even at 1-1-1 (0-0-1 Hockey East) is off until next weekend when the Terries play a home-and-home series with Merrimack, traveling to North Andover on Friday before hosting the Warriors on Saturday.