BOSTON, Mass. — No. 6 Boston University entered tonight’s contest on a seven-game winning streak, the longest stretch in three years for the Terriers. But after last weekend’s seventh win, a home-ice clinching victory over Lowell, there was some fear that the Terriers would be all bark and no bite.
BU certainly silenced those critics tonight, skating past Providence, 5-2, to keep pace for the Hockey East regular-season title.
“I was a little worried that we would be too pleased with ourselves after winning seven in a row,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I was concerned that we wouldn’t be ready to play mentally; we scored two goals in the first period and I was very pleased that we didn’t have a letdown.”
Those two quick goals, combined with a little controversy in the second period, proved to be enough for the Terriers to hang on for two crucial points in the league standings.
Halfway through the second period with BU leading 3-2, Providence defenseman Regan Kelly hit fellow Friar Drew Omicioli with a home-run pass, blue line to blue line. Omicioli stickhandled through a Terrier defenseman and, as he was taken down, managed to put one past goaltender Sean Fields while the net came off its moorings. Referee Jeff Bunyon, after conferring with his linesmen, ruled that the net had been dislodged before the puck crossed the goal line and Providence’s third score was disallowed.
“I thought it was in without a doubt,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “The referee told me that he didn’t think the puck had a chance to go in with the net off, but we should have had it tied up. I’m not going to comment any further about the officiating; he’s the referee and he makes the call.”
Subsequent replays from the television cameras showed that the Omicioli attempt was a goal, with the puck crossing the line before the net came free, but video review is not allowed in Hockey East regular season games.
The play was certainly a huge swing in momentum. A visibly frustrated Providence team began to press for the equalizer, but couldn’t beat Fields.
Just minutes later, Peter Fregoe had a rebound fall on his stick in the low slot with a sure empty net, but Fields was able to make a spectacular save, sprawling across the crease to tip the chance away with his outstretched glove.
Tempers flared to end the second period and Boston University was placed on a power-play for the start of the third. The Terriers cashed in on the opportunity, taking a 4-2 lead just 32 seconds into the final period to pull away.
“We were lucky that Fields was able to keep us in the game during the second period because we watched them skate right through us,” said Parker. “Territorially, we haven’t been outplayed like that in a long time. As much as we dominated the first, Providence owned the second period. Luckily we were able to come out again in the third like we played in the first.”
“We were able to weather the early storm, and should have come into the third with at least a tie” said Pooley. “But we came out in the third period and gave up a power-play goal in the first minute. We’ve got to play better hockey than that.”
The Terrier power play proved to be essential for victory. They were able to score two goals in six attempts, equaling Providence’s entire offensive output for the night.
“We changed the power play early in the streak and we’ve been scoring at about 30 percent since,” said Parker. “Special teams are a huge reason why we’ve been able to win those games and it will continue to be a big part of our success.”
Despite allowing five goals, Providence netminder Nolan Schaefer, defending Hockey East defensive player of the week, was impressive in net, stopping 42 shots. Tonight’s game marked the fifth time this season that Schaefer made 40 or more saves and was unable to get the win. The contest was also the 20th time this season where Schaefer has made 30 saves.
Fields was able to play solid in net when he needed to, stopping 27 of 29 Providence shots en route to the victory.
Frantisek Skaldany paced the Terriers with two goals and an assist.
On a side note, Hockey East rookie of the week, Justin Maiser, was a healthy scratch on a coach’s decision due to violation of team rules. Stephen Greeley, who played in Maiser’s place, scored BU’s first goal of the night, matching his career goal total to date.