PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Mayor’s Cup has been a series of horrors for Providence. Coming into tonight’s matchup, the Friars under coach Paul Pooley held a 2-5 record against Brown in the city rival game, now in its 16th season.
To add a little bit more pressure to the mix, Providence had not won a Mayor’s Cup game at home since 1991, and Brown had swept St. Cloud and Connecticut this weekend while Providence only managed one point, a tie with UConn.
It wasn’t easy, but despite that history going against it, Providence defeated Brown, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night, as Drew Omicioli scored 1:18 into overtime. It was a repeat of 1999, when Omicioli, a native of West Warwick, R.I., and then a freshman, scored the game-winning goal the last time the Friars beat Brown.
“The puck just squirted out and sat in the high slot,” said Omicioli. “I wasn’t facing the net and I fired a turn-around slap shot. Once the place went nuts, I didn’t even look back.
“I remember sitting on the bench thinking about what I’d say if I scored the goal. I wanted to make sure we were even in my four years and this was a huge game for us a team.”
“He’s got a cannon and he let one loose,” said Pooley. “It was a nice goal for Drew, especially since he’s a Rhode Island guy and a senior. Hopefully it can get him going again.”
The win was hardly pretty for Providence. Up by a 3-2 score with less than five minutes to play in the third period, Friar freshman goaltender David Cacciola misplayed a puck several strides from the crease. Adam Saunders controlled the loose puck for Brown and deposited it into the empty net to force overtime.
Providence also had to battle back from a 2-0 first-period defecit, surrendering the first goal for the 12th time in 18 games. The Bears stormed out of the gates, forcing Cacciola to make 15 saves in the opening frame.
“To be honest, Cacciola played a great game,” said Omicioli. “He faced 17 shots in the first period of his third college game and that’s our fault as forwards and defensemen. He never got down on himself and we were able to pick it up for him.”
“Cacciola grew as a goaltender tonight,” said Pooley. “He made some great saves in the second and the third. We won the game with him in net and he should certainly be proud of that.”
Providence used a power-play goal to get back into the game, improving to 3-for-9 on the man advantage in its last two games. That 33-percent efficiency is certainly a departure from the Hockey East-low 12 percent that the Friars brought into the weekend.
“Actually, we almost had two,” said Pooley. “We scored our third goal of the game with our second power-play unit on the ice just as the penalized man came out of the box.
“Special teams will continue to be a key of our success along with winning faceoffs. It’s something that we still need to work on, but we are certainly getting better.”
For Brown, the second period was a killer. The Bears were outshot, 11-3, and outscored, 2-0.
“The second period is one of the worst we’ve played in a while,” said Brown coach Grillo. “I thought we stopped skating hard. We didn’t battle and they took advantage of it.
“We’ve still got one non-conference game up at Lowell and we need to work on our consistency before we go back into conference play. We get soft at times and we certainly can’t afford to do that. We’re a young team, but that’s hardly a crutch. In order to be on top, we’ve got to play harder.”
Brown goaltender Yann Danis had been on fire as of late, but was unable to come up with the win. He stopped 24 of 28 shots as his record dropped to 4-4-2.
Cacciola finished with 29 saves and the win, bringing his record to 2-1-0.
Providence will look to carry momentum into a critical weekend series with HEA foe Boston College, while Brown will strive for consistency against a tough UMass-Lowell team in a week.