PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Friday’s matchup proved the hockey maxim that a hot goaltender can steal a game. Despite playing behind a defense that gave up 56 shots on goal, Connecticut (5-10-6, 4-6-4 MAAC) goalie Artie Imbriano made an incredible 54 saves to earn a 2-2 tie at Providence (9-11-3, 5-7-1 HEA).
“For us to have a chance in the game, we needed Artie to have a night like this,” said UConn coach Bruce Marshall. “We’re only going to generate 20 shots or so, and he’s probably going to face 40. He was able to come through tonight against another Hockey East team after playing good games against Merrimack and UMass-Amherst.”
“We hit a hot goalie and just couldn’t get it done,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “There’s no excuse to lose this game; it’s not like we didn’t dominate. We made costly turnovers and they scored two goals off of them. You run into a hot goaltender like Imbriano and there’s just not much else you can say.”
Halfway through the third, two Rhode Islanders were able to connect for the UConn equalizer, knotting the score at two. Anders Johnson had the game-tying goal on an assist from Charles Ridolf. Both players were standouts for a Mount St. Charles program that has dominated Rhode Island high school hockey for nearly 30 years.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Providence,” said Johnson. “I won two state championships on this ice and to be able to come out and have the big game that we did tonight was certainly something special.”
“Actually, I thought that we would be able to pull this game out,” said Imbriano. “The longer you are in the game with a Hockey East team like this the more you believe that you can win.”
Through two periods the Friars couldn’t believe that they put 32 shots on the board and only had one goal to show. After Providence scored within the first 90 seconds of the game, one imagined that there were many more to come, but Imbriano stayed positive.
“After the first 10 shots or so, you can begin to feel how the game is going to go,” said Imbriano. “This time we had to get over the hump after the early goal, but you get to feel confident as the game goes on. I knew I wasn’t going to have a shutout. So, giving up the early goal wasn’t going to end the game.”
A determined Providence team took the ice and scored shortly into the third period to grab a 2-1 lead, but Imbriano and the Huskies had the last word, escaping on the road with a hard-fought tie.
Providence goaltender Nolan Schaefer stopped 20 of 22 shots for the Friars.
Saturday night might prove to be just as challenging for both teams. After a stunning 4-1 Brown victory over No. 3 St. Cloud, the teams will swap with St. Cloud coming to Providence and UConn traveling crosstown to Brown.