PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Chris Chaput and Jonathan Goodwin scored two goals each to lead Providence over Sacred Heart 8-1 in non-conference action.
Friday was a night of firsts for Providence: in a home-opener, the Friars (1-2-0) earned their first win of the season, goaltender Nolan Schaefer looked sharp for the first time this year, and freshman Chris Chaput scored his first collegiate goal.
Sacred Heart (0-1-0) wasted no time in opening the scoring, shocking Providence at 1:51 of the first on the power play. Schaefer lost his stick during the possession as the Providence penalty kill had trouble clearing the zone. Mike Reagan took a shot from the point and Konn Hawkes redirected the puck through the legs of Schaefer. As the red light went off, the faithful at Schneider Arena were left to wonder if the Friars would remain winless.
“We didn’t really panic,” says Friar coach Paul Pooley. “We had said earlier in the week that it would nice to get the first goal, but it was nice to come back and shut the door. That was the only goal of the game for Sacred Heart. We responded.”
Providence responded to the tune of eight unanswered goals. At 3:50 of the first, Peter Fregoe evened the game 1-1 on the power play from Devin Rask and Jon DiSalvatore. Providence cycled the puck and Rask found a streaking Fregoe through the slot for a goal.
Shortly after, the Friars scored the eventual game winner when Doug Wright skated in and slid a shot past Pioneer netminder Eddy Ferhi at 9:50. Rask and Regan Kelly had the assists, propelling Providence past Sacred Heart for good.
As play continued in the first, sophomore Jonathan Goodwin netted his first goal of the season on a set-up from Michael Lucci and Kelly at 18:25, and the Friars weren’t finished yet. Drew Omicioli scored with six seconds remaining in the opening period, sending Providence into the locker room with a 4-1 lead at the end of one.
Goodwin continued the scoring in the second, notching his second goal of the night at the 3:40 mark, with Wright and Stephen Wood getting the helpers.
“It was a great feeling to score my first goal of the year,” said Goodwin. “Helping your team to a big win in your building is always great. I’ve been waiting three months to show what I can do and I finally got my chance.”
The Friars also got help from the freshman Chaput. The Rhode Island native scored his first collegiate goal one minute into the third period. He would add to that tally, netting a second later in the third.
Chaput said, “It was frustrating to open the season with a lot of chances and not be able to score. If players like myself and Jon [Goodwin] can score, it takes a lot of the pressure off of guys like Rask and Fregoe. Being able to roll four lines that can score is a huge advantage for this team and I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”
Although Providence clearly brought its offense, Nolan Schaefer added some much-needed goaltending to the mix. Many questioned Schaefer’s ability to look sharp early in the season, but he responded by closing the door after a soft goal in the first. The junior netminder turned away 22 Pioneer shots en route to his first win of the season
Pooley remained confident in his All-American. “Nolan was tested and responded in a big way tonight. A lot of players felt that we should have won in Omaha and he was one of them. He stayed sharp for three periods.”
Pioneer goaltender Eddy Ferhi did impress despite giving up eight goals. The big goalie stopped 39 shots in the loss.
Sacred Heart coach, Shaun Hannah, added, “Providence is tough in their own building. We came out strong and got some good goaltending in spots, but it just wasn’t enough.”
The Friars will open up their Hockey East schedule next weekend with an Oct. 26 game at Lowell.
Sacred Heart will also open conference play Oct. 26 against Canisius.