BOSTON — Providence College’s Jon DiSalvatore had a major objective entering this season — to become more of an impact player. He also had a desire coming into Saturday night’s game at Northeastern to quiet the Matthews Arena faithful — better known as the “Dog House.”
On a career night, DiSalvatore scored four goals, including the game winner that broke a 3-3 tie with six minutes remaining, as the Providence Friars knocked off the Northeastern Huskies, 5-3, on Saturday night.
DiSalvatore, who was appointed assistant captain just two days ago by the Friars coaching staff, worked more effectively than a volume control on a radio. Just seven seconds after Northeastern tied the game on Mike Ryan’s power-play tally, DiSalvatore notched the game-winner. Matthews Arena went from raucous pandemonium to dead silence.
“Those guys in the Dog House really get at you,” said DiSalvatore, noting the Northeastern fans’ tendency to even call the opposing players at 1:30 in the morning the night before games. “To look up at them [after scoring] and know you shut them up is a great feeling.”
DiSalvatore scored the game-winning goal from the center ice faceoff after the Ryan equalizer. Lined up on the right wing, DiSalvatore cut across the faceoff circle and picked up the loose puck from center Doug Wright. He then turned Husky defenseman Arik Engbrecht, walked in alone on goaltender Jason Braun (16 saves) and buried the goal.
“Sometimes you have a little vision of what might happen off the draw,” DiSalvatore said, “and that’s exactly what seemed to happen.
“I thought everyone was just going to scrum towards the [Northeastern zone], and I’d be able to drag the puck out. Once I did, I just cut around the defenseman.”
That goal completed DiSalvatore’s first collegiate hat trick, though he would better it, scoring an empty-net tally on a 100-foot shot with 13 seconds remaining.
Supporting DiSalvatore in the victory was goaltender Nolan Schaeffer (30 saves), who made big save after big save to keep the game close early after Northeastern had taken a 2-0 lead.
The victory for the Friars averted a weekend sweep to the Huskies, who won Friday night in Providence, 3-1. It also brings Providence back to .500 in Hockey East, after early season struggles.
“It was a win we certainly needed for our team and for our confidence,” said Friars head coach Paul Pooley. “We were down and out a little bit, but had a great third period.”
It certainly did seem like the Friars were down and out. Trailing 2-1 entering the third, having been outshot 23-11 through 40 minutes, the Friars responded with four third-period goals. It’s the first time all season the Friars have come from behind in the third period and the first time in two seasons that the Huskies have lost when trailing through two.
Northeastern controlled the pace of the game in the early going. Holding a 14-6 advantage in shots in the first, Chris Lynch got the Huskies on the board at 15:29. His pass deflected off the skate of Schaeffer and into the net for a 1-0 Northeastern lead.
Jim Fahey continued his torrid scoring pace in the second scoring on the breakaway at 3:26 for a 2-0 lead. It was the eighth goal of the season for the senior blueliner. He added an assist in the third period for his seventh multiple-point game of the year.
Providence began its comeback midway through the second when DiSalvatore scored on the power play. A deflection off a Northeastern stick found him alone in the high-slot for a one-timer that he blasted over Braun’s glove to pull the Friars within a goal.
At 5:59 of the third, DiSalvatore tied the game with a shorthanded tally. After blocking Engbrecht’s shot at the right point, DiSalvatore skated past the two blueliners alone on Braun, made a nifty move to the left and snuck the shot under the fallen goalie to even the game.
Stephen Wood gave the Friars their first lead of the game with 9:40 remaining when his wrist shot from the point beat Braun through a major screen in front.
Northeastern would tie the game scoring on the power play at 13:53. Fahey faked a shot from the point and found Ryan alone at the right post for the equalizer that sent the Matthews faithful to the highest decibel level of the night.
But the excitement would only last for seven seconds before DiSalvatore turned down the volume from the Dog House, scoring the game-winner.
The win is the first on the road for the Friars, who have opened the season 4-5-0. Northeastern falls to 3-6-2 (2-3-1 Hockey East) with the loss.
Providence won’t have a lot of time to recuperate; it faces defending National Champion Boston College at Conte Forum on Wednesday night. Northeastern travels to Maine next Friday for its only game of the weekend.