BOSTON, Mass. — After Saturday’s game between Boston University and Providence, Yogi Berra would have been quite correct in saying it was deja vu all over again.
For the third consecutive time in games between the Hockey East foes, the Terriers rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the last 21 minutes to knock off the Friars. Kenny Magowan’s two third-period goals provided the margin in BU’s 4-2 win over Providence in the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series.
Friar co-captain Devin Rask reflected on that disturbing trend for the Friars.
“I don’t how many times I can count this year that we’ve been up on a team in the third or even in the last two minutes, and we can’t hold on to the lead and end up tying or losing,” Rask said. “We’ve got to learn to win.”
In this particular episode of the recurring theme, Jack Baker scored a bad-angle goal with just 39.6 ticks left in the second period to tie the game 2-2, setting the stage for Magowan’s first career multi-goal game. Baker’s goal came off of a critical faceoff win for the Terriers
“The faceoff goal at the end of the second period kind of tells it all,” Friar coach Paul Pooley said. “[We're] going into the third period up two-to-one if we win the draw. That just can’t happen if you’re going to win games. We just couldn’t close it out.
“I thought our kids played hard till the end,” Pooley added. “It could have been worse.”
Indeed. Only the heroics of goaltender Nolan Schaefer — who matched his career high by making 44 saves for the Friars — in the third period kept PC in the game in front of 1,958 fans at Walter Brown Arena.
“I thought it was a real well-played game, and I thought we played real well given the fact that we could have got jumpy, but we played a real solid game even when we were down a couple times,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “I thought we just kept going after them and going after them so I was real pleased with our effort on the ice. And I thought it was as well a refereed hockey game [by Tim Benedetto] as I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
The loss ends a disappointing season for the Friars (13-20-5), while the Terriers (25-8-3) have wrapped up a NCAA tournament berth and can look forward to Maine in the Hockey East semifinals on Friday night.
The first period was well-played by both sides, and the teams generally traded solid shots without mustering many golden scoring opportunities.
On a turnover that reminded Terrier fans of their current lack of blueline depth — defensemen Pat Aufiero (ankle) and Bryan Miller (shoulder) remain sidelined — the Friars’ fourth line gave them the lead at 12:33.
Sixth defenseman Ryan Priem let himself get trapped in the neutral zone, turning over the puck to Stephen Wood, who launched a two-on-one the other way. Marc Suderman slipped the puck to David Carpentier, a freshman centerman who didn’t even play in game one. He beat Sean Fields for a timely first collegiate goal.
But after pulling off their 14th come-from behind victory this season the night before — only ten of the team’s 25 wins have comes in games in which they have never trailed — perhaps the Terriers believed that they had the Friars right where they wanted them.
Sure enough, the Terriers tied the game up just 2:38 into the second period. From behind the Friar goal line, Pandolfo hit Collins cruising into the slot, and the junior put it past Nolan Schaefer for his tenth goal of the season.
Things looked even worse for the Friars when Regan Kelly — arguably the best of their young defensive corps — headed into the locker room shortly thereafter with an apparent shoulder injury.
But Providence answered that goal in short order on a somewhat similar goal, as Peter Fregoe got the puck behind the Terrier goal and fed Jon DiSalvatore just outside the top of the crease. The right-winger popped the puck up and over Fields to make it 2-1 at 4:55.
The Terriers survived a tough four-on-three situation in the waning minutes of the period, and the Friars handled a Terrier power play after that with no damage despite several slapshots from the points.
Just when it looked like the teams would head into period three with the Friars up 2-1 for the third consecutive game between the two clubs, the Terriers struck unexpectedly with 39.6 ticks left in period two. Baker took an innocuous-looking shot from a very sharp angle in the left-wing faceoff circle. Perhaps Schaefer was distracted by Sabo crashing the net, but in any event the game was knotted up 2-2.
Between the shot total in the second period — 19-9 in favor of BU — the injury to Kelly, and the deflating last-minute goal, the Friars’ season certainly looked endangered.
Sure enough, at 1:28, the Terriers went up 3-2.
“The first goal was a great drive by Gregg Johnson,” Magowan said. “He just cut to the middle and took a little shot, and I was fortunate enough to get a stick on it. It went off Schaefer — I think it went off my shinpad and in — but I’ll take those garbage goals any day.”
After a few bids to break the game open, the Terriers finally got the fourth goal at 6:53. Once again, Magowan did the honors from the seat of his pants, knocking home the rebound of a Skladany shot after the Slovakian attacked the net from behind the goal line.
It was an interesting night for Magowan, who took more than his share of knocks in the second period. On successive shifts, he hobbled off after a Cody Loughlean hipcheck before taking a Mike Robinson elbow to the helmet.
“I got hipchecked, kind of tweaked my knee, but it’s not too bad,” Magowan said. “And the next shift I got blindsided — got my bell rung — but it feels good now; it’s not bothering me any more.
“All the guys on the bench were saying I should get hurt more often.”
At that point, with the help of another Friar penalty, BU began to barrage Schaefer with shots, some requiring dramatic saves.
It got uglier for Providence when defenseman Jason Platt got a five-minute major and a game misconduct with 8:56 to play after smashing Sabo’s head into the boards with a hit from behind.
While Providence hopes for better fortunes next season, BU is expected to play in the later game on Friday night at the FleetCenter.