PROVIDENCE, R.I. — While the Boston University Terriers own a substantial lead in the all-time series against the Providence Friars, lately PC has been making up for lost time.
Friday night’s contest proved to be no different as the Friars rebounded from a weak performance last Saturday at UNH for a gritty 4-3 win.
The win raised PC’s record to 7-3-1 against BU in the teams’ last 11 meetings, with the Friars owning a 5-1-1 mark at Schneider Arena during that span.
PC broke out fast and furious on BU in an exciting first period that took just over a half-hour to complete.
The Friars got on the board at 2:57 when J.J. Picinic netted his ninth goal of the season. Off a feed from Adam Lee, Picinic sent a shot from the right faceoff circle inside the far post, eluding BU freshman netminder Sean Fields, who ran hot and cold between the pipes.
The Friars exhibited little of the tentative offensive play that haunted them at the Whittemore Center last Saturday, and kept pressure on Fields throughout the first half of the period.
PC looked like it took a 2-0 lead when an flurry of shots bombarded Fields just a minute later. After several Friars took turns hacking away at loose pucks, one rebound seemed to entirely cross the goal line. But despite both teams acting as if the play had ended, referee Jim Fitzgerald said otherwise and kept the action going without consulting the goal judge.
That decision aided BU down the stretch, as the Terriers found their rhythm on offense and tied the game at 13:32. Pat Aufiero netted his third goal of the season while on the BU power play, depositing home one of several rebound shots on PC goalie Nolan Schaefer. The goal knotted the score 1-1 after the first period.
Fields seemed to calm down a bit in the BU net as the first period progressed, but the Friars’ pressure burned Fields on a pair of soft goals as the second period got under way.
First, Doug Wright sent a shot from just over center ice that Fields mishandled with his glove hand. The shot fell into the net for Wright’s third goal of the season, giving PC a 2-1 lead at 3:24 of the second.
Just 24 seconds later, Devin Rask tallied his 17th goal of the season when he sent a shot from the left faceoff circle that caught inside the right post. The goal — remarkably similar to Picinic’s opening score in the first period — gave the Friars a 3-1 lead at 3:48.
The Terriers, however, kept the contest close by taking advantage of PC defensive letdowns, and drew closer before the period came to an end.
On the power play, Mike Pandolfo scored on a rebound of a Mike Bussoli shot at 17:48. Pandolfo’s ninth goal of the season brought the Terriers to within a manageable 3-2 deficit after two periods.
While the shots for both teams ran generally even on the night (BU wound up with a slight 28-27 advantage), BU continued to play the Friars close to the vest in a game similar in style to the the two teams’ previous meeting at Schneider this season — a 4-4 tie on Oct. 28.
However, the Friars netted what proved to be the game winner early in the third.
A Cody Loughlean-Devin Rask odd-man rush into the Terrier zone culminated in PC defenseman Sean Weiman receiving a pass back on the blue line. With Fields nearly outside the crease to cut down on the angle, Weiman shifted to his left and slapped a hard shot past the BU goaltender to give PC a 4-2 lead at 3:31.
The Terriers drew closer late in regulation when Pandolfo and Brian Collins took advantage of another PC defensive lapse and came in on a 2-on-1 break. Collins sent a pass over to Pandolfo, who then wristed a shot upstairs on Schaefer, bringing BU back to a one-goal deficit, 4-3, at 16:20.
BU pulled Fields with just over a minute left, but despite having some solid chances down low, couldn’t find the equalizer as the Friars hung on for a 4-3 win, raising their record at home this season to a sterling 12-3-1. PC is also 4-1-1 in its last six games.
Most importantly for PC, the win raised the Friars’ record to 17-8-4 overall (11-6-2 league), enabling them to regain second place in Hockey East. BU dropped its third straight in seeing its record fall to 12-15-2 (8-9-2 league).
The two teams meet again at Walter Brown Arena in Boston on Saturday.