BOSTON — Both Jason Tapp and the Providence power play emerged from the shadows to make major impacts in a 5-5 tie between the Friars and Boston University.
Tapp, who had yielded to Sean Fields as BU’s starter between the pipes both games this weekend, relieved the freshman at 8:35 of the second period and stopped 15 of 16 stops, many of high quality.
The surprise weapon on the Friar bench was the power play, which responded with four goals in five opportunities after a four-game drought. In particular, Peter Fregoe netted a hat trick, all on the man advantage.
As a result, Providence (17-8-5, 11-6-3 HEA) took three of four points in the weekend’s home-and-home series. The Friars moved into second place, a point ahead of New Hampshire while also holding a game in hand.
“Knock-down, drag ‘em out, last [team] standing,” said PC coach Paul Pooley. “They broke us down. We broke them down. … Our power play was great tonight, which was probably the difference.
“I was disappointed that we had a lead [in the second period] and gave up a goal and then had a lead in the third and gave up a goal, but it was a great effort by our kids. We worked hard.
“We played with a little pizzazz on the road. It was a great tie on the road for us.”
Boston University (12-15-3, 8-9-3 HEA) remained in sixth place after salvaging the one point on the weekend. The Terriers trail fifth-place Lowell by two points, but hold a game in hand.
“[Providence] got three points on the weekend and we got one,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “That’s not a good weekend for us and hurts us at any shot at home ice. But the way the league is going, if we can put together a couple of wins, who knows what will happen? It’s pretty crazy.
“I didn’t like the way we couldn’t handle them down low in our zone as the game progressed. I thought we had a great first period, but let them back in the game with a couple of chintzy goals. Then all of a sudden in the second period, they were all over us.
“And we gave up four power-play goals, which was brutal. … We were just a step slow all over the place. [We gave up] too many rebounds, too, on the power plays. They got three rebound goals on the power play.”
BU held a significant territorial advantage in the first period, but only came away with a 3-2 lead to show for it.
The two teams swapped power-play tallies in the early going. Carl Corazzini scored his 16th goal of the year at 4:19, deflecting a Mike Bussoli shot from the point. A minute and a half later, Regan Kelly answered with a shot from the point that beat Fields five-hole.
Undeterred, the Terriers responded with two unanswered goals little more than two minutes apart. Freshman Steve Greeley netted his first collegiate goal at 10:08. PC goaltender Nolan Schaefer stopped Nick Gillis’ deflection of a Bussoli shot, but the puck sat on the right edge of the crease, where Greeley swatted it in.
Jack Baker then made it a 3-1 BU lead, lifting the rebound of a Brian Collins shot over Schaefer. Other than Kelly’s power-play goal, the game had been all Terriers, with them owning an 11-4 shot advantage.
Providence rallied, however, and made it a one-goal game when J.J. Picinic converted a Shawn Weiman pass from the right corner to the doorstep. It was the senior’s 10th goal this year and 12th in his career.
The Friars’ momentum continued through the second period, during which they generated 18 shots, the highest total allowed this season by the Terriers, and outscored BU, two goals to one.
Providence failed to capitalize on a 39-second five-on-three man advantage, but did convert at 5:24 after BU got one man back. Fregoe knocked in a rebound of a Jay Leach shot to knot the score at 3-3.
The Friars continued to swarm with Adam Lee almost securing the lead, only to be denied by Fields on the original shot and then both of his rebound attempts.
A second Fregoe power-play goal at 8:35, however, did put Providence in front, 4-3. Cody Loughlean tipped Regan Kelly’s shot from the point and Fregoe put in the rebound.
“Teams are starting to pressure us on the power play so fancy plays aren’t going to work,” said Fregoe. “You just have to grind it out and get the puck low and then [move] it high and get the shots and guys to the net. Pucks will go in eventually.”
BU fans might have considered giving an additional assist to referee John Gravellese, who inadvertently kept in a clearing attempt along the boards just inside the blue line.
At that point, Parker pulled Fields and inserted Tapp, a move that immediately paid dividends. Fields finished with 16 saves on 20 shots in 28:25.
“[Fields] played okay, but we just wanted to jump-start the team by changing goalies and give them something to hang their hats on,” said Parker. “Tapp came in and played great after we pulled Sean. He came up with some great saves.”
Tapp immediately made a couple big saves on first Marc Suderman and then Jason Platt, the latter on a break coming out of the penalty box.
BU then tied the game on a soft goal that got past Schaefer. Gregg Johnson shot from the top of the right faceoff circle and Hockey East’s statistically dominant goaltender couldn’t make the stop.
Two minutes later, the light went on again behind Schaefer, but only after a prolonged scrum right in front of the crease and a whistle by Gravellese. As a result, the referee ruled no goal.
The offensive opportunities then exploded in the period’s closing minutes. Schaefer made a stop on a Corazzini tip and then on Jack Baker on the doorstep. At the other end, Jon DiSalvatore and Drew Omicioli threatened with a shorthanded two-on-one bid, but Omicioli could not control DiSalvatore’s delayed pass. BU’s John Cronin took a penalty as Kelly threatened coming out of the penalty box.
That infraction, coming at 19:42, would result in a fourth Providence power-play goal after the intermission. Matt Libby passed from the left boards to Devin Rask on the left post. Rask then slipped it to Fregoe on the other post, where the junior put it into the open net.
Collins got the equalizer at 9:13 on a play in which Schaefer made the stop only to have defenseman Stephen Wood inadvertently put the puck into his own net.
As the time in regulation wound down, Providence pressured, but Tapp made numerous strong saves.
The Terriers threatened in overtime when Kelly was assessed a penalty for holding as John Sabo moved in on a partial break. The Friar penalty kill, however, kept the Terriers off the board and the game ended as a 5-5 tie.
Next weekend, Providence faces UMass-Lowell in a home-and-home series, while BU similarly takes on Northeastern. Friday night’s contest at Matthews Arena will mark Jack Parker’s 1000th game as a BU coach.