PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Shots usually translate into goals. In Friday’s game between Providence and Northeastern, that idea was anything but true. After 60 minutes of play, 81 shots were registered but only four tallies lit the scoreboard. The real story of the game was the effort in net on both sides.
Jason Braun (1-2-2) picked up his first win of the season by stopping 33 of 34 shots, while Nolan Schaefer took the loss despite stopping a career-high 44.
Northeastern finally broke onto the scoreboard 3:35 of the second period. The Huskies power play dominated in the Friars’ zone, creating 12 shots and an eventual goal. Eric Ortlip tipped home a rebound from Joe Mastronardi and Ryan Dudgeon, marking Ortlip’s second of the season on Northeastern’s 24th shot of the night.
The Huskies struck again later in the second period when Mike Ryan netted his 6th goal of the season at the 11:46 mark on a strange play. Schaefer was trying to fish Northeastern’s Jason Guerriero from the back of his net, while Jim Fahey and Tim Judy controlled the puck on the points. Schaefer was caught off guard on a Fahey one-time blast, and barely managed to kick it aside, before Mike Ryan banged in the rebound. Ryan had just come out of the penalty box.
“It’s always nice to be able to pay your team back for a stupid penalty,” said Ryan. “Coach [Bruce Crowder] has been getting on me about playing smarter and I felt as if I had let my team down. To be able to score a goal helped to make things better for all of us.”
Providence responded well, especially after Northeastern’s Jared Mudryk was whistled at 13:01 for holding. The Friars power play has looked like a power outage so far this season, but Doug Wright was able to find the scoring touch for Providence. Defenseman Stephen Wood fired a shot from the point and Wright cleaned up the mess out front to pick up the power-play goal, Providence’s only successful opportunity of the night.
The Friars gathered quite a bit of momentum from the score. The crowd rallied behind its team on a very impressive forecheck. However, aggressive play turned into a mishap for Providence.
Jonathan Goodwin was whistled for hitting from behind at 14:50 of the second, bringing with it an automatic major penalty.
On the powerp play, Schaefer faced shot after shot, but was able to thwart the Huskies’ chances. With 1:30 left on the major, Providence’s Jon DiSalvatore broke up a pass at the blue line and skated away all alone. He was wrestled down from behind by Ryan, evening the skaters at 4-on-4 and eventually giving Providence a 30-second power play chance.
“A play like that is normally considered the turning point of the game,” said DiSalvatore. “As I skated off the ice, the team knew that it was our opportunity. Sitting there, you know that you only have a few chances to win a game and that play definitely opened a door for us.”
The Friars opened the 3rd period on that 30-second power play, but Braun stood tall, making six saves during Ryan’s two-minute minor. With Devin Rask, Peter Fregoe and Omicioli already on the ice, Providence coach Paul Pooley decided that was a key moment of the game and put together his best offensive players for the power play, adding DiSalvatore and Regan Kelly to the mix.
However, Providence was unable to capitalize on its sixth man advantage of the night. The Friars came close when Fregoe fed Rask in the slot, but Braun made the initial save and was able to stop a rebound on his back.
The Friars threatened with an extra attacker as time wound down, but fell out of striking distance when Chris Lynch picked up a loose puck and deposited it in the empty net for the 3-1 win.
“We had a lot of chances tonight and a lot of things could have happened,” said DiSalvatore. “There are no excuses. We need to start getting those bounces and putting them home, whether they be from luck or hard work.”
Fregoe added, “We aren’t going to use the excuse of being young anymore. We have guys that need to get things done and we aren’t doing it. We had chances. Hats off to Northeastern for coming out with a win, but it could have easily been the other way.”
Both coaches seemed to agree with that sentiment.
“In this league every game is a battle. Both goalies played tremendously and we were fortunate to come out with the points,” said Crowder. “Overall, we bent, but we didn’t break.”
Pooley said, “The goaltending was great, but we still haven’t gotten 60 minutes of hockey from all of our guys. We have yet to play a complete game.”
Schaefer was first to set the tone of the game, denying Ryan on a broken play in the slot less than a minute into the opening period. It seemed like a sure goal, but Schaefer slid across the crease and was able to tip the puck wide with his blocker.
Braun was quick to follow suit, as he slammed the door shut on a Friar chance. Within a minute from Nolan’s work, John Luszcz had the puck behind the net and fed Drew Omicioli in front, but Braun kicked the initial shot to the side and smothered the rebound.
Play continued up and down in the first with both teams creating chances, but the goaltenders stood strong to end the first period in a scoreless tie.
Providence (3-5-0, 2-3-0 HEA) looks to put together those 60 minutes Saturday night when it heads to Matthews Arena for the second edition of the home-and-home with Northeastern (3-4-2, 2-2-1).