PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With less than a minute to play, Boston College had put together an impressive third-period comeback, scoring three goals to cut the Providence lead to one, and was threatening for the equalizer. However, the Eagles’ David Spina made a freshman mistake, getting whistled for slashing as BC awaited a faceoff with an extra attacker on the ice.
The penalty neutralized the extra attacker, evening the sides at five. After weathering a brief BC attack following the drop, Jon DiSalvatore found a streaking Devin Rask for a rare empty-net, power-play goal and a 6-4 victory.
“We were obviously trying to tie the hockey game and lost our composure,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Two guys were hitting each other with sticks and one guy got whistled. I’ve got to look at the film to see what happened for sure, but the bottom line is that we can’t get involved in that type of play.”
The win could be attributed to an impressive first period, arguably the best 20 minutes of the season for the Friars. They got out of the gates quickly, scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the play. Friday night’s contest marked only the seventh time this season that the Friars notched the first goal of a contest and only the third time the Friars enjoyed a 2-0 lead.
“We need breathing room, room for error and that’s the big thing with this team. They broke us down in the third period in our defensive zone, but the bottom line is that we came out strong and found a way to win this game,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley.
The team attributed part of the momentum in the first to a student-packed Schneider Arena, nicknamed “The Coffin.”
“When you have a huge crowd like that [Schneider's first sellout this year], it’s always a big lift right out of the gates. The band and the atmosphere were totally different tonight than most of the home games we’ve played this year. Hopefully they’ll continue to come out and support us in that way,” said Providence captain Rask.
The early deficit dealt Boston College a serious blow, marking an uphill climb for a team that only dressed 16 skaters.
“Everyone gets banged up,” says York. “We’ve got to find a way to win hockey games. Although, in some ways, this is a blessing in disguise because guys that normally don’t find themselves in key roles are having to play them.”
“Boston College has such great talent that they don’t look like they are missing players,” said Providence captain Jon DiSalvatore. “I know that Forrest, Eaves, and Murphy are out, but they are still dangerous with the other guys they’ve got.”
The resurgence of Rask, an All-American, in the offense has proven to be a huge lift for the Friars. The junior captain book-ended the game with the first and last scores of the contest and added an assist for a three-point night.
“Well, DiSalvatore [three assists], myself, and Peter Fregoe [two goals, one assist] are carrying the offensive load lately and doing a good job with it,” said Rask. “We’ve got great guys on the power play and that’s starting to come along, but we also have to credit the rest of the guys for doing the things we need to do to win.”
The modest co-captain has come on strong to start the second half of the season, scoring eight points in his last six games.
Providence also notched two power-play goals in five opportunities, bringing the team to 6-17 in its last three games — a huge improvement for the league’s worst power play at 13 percent.
BC’s Matti Kaltiainen only made 15 saves, allowing five goals on 20 shots en route to the loss.
Nolan Schaefer made 31 saves for Providence in the win.
Both teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on Sunday afternoon at Conte Forum.
“We’re going to meet tomorrow, review some game tape, and try to get things on track for Sunday,” said York. “Hopefully J.D. [Forrest] will be back because he’s had some sort of flu. That would give us a lot more depth and experience.”
“The game will be on Sunday,” said Fregoe. “But I think that we can certainly carry the momentum over and head into the game with some confidence.”