PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Providence Friars rebounded from their first dose of defeat in strong fashion on Saturday evening, besting Northeastern by a 4-3 score in front of 2,574 at Schneider Arena.
Providence (8-1-0, 3-1-0 HEA) tallied two power-play goals less than three minutes apart in the last frame en route to victory. Peter Zingoni slammed a rebound through the pads of NU’s Keni Gibson at the 12:08 mark and the Friars never looked back.
Freshman James Pemberton had the initial shot on Zingoni’s ninth goal of the year and also set up the final score for Providence, firing a blast from the blue line that forward Cody Loughlean redirected in. The score was Loughlean’s fourth of the season, two shy of his career total.
“It was definitely a war this weekend,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “They got the breaks last night and we were able to find them tonight. I was proud of the effort our team put forth tonight and our second power play came up big.”
The Friars used their depth to propel them to victory. Junior Jonathan Goodwin and Senior Michael Lucci also scored on the evening, marking the first game of season for Providence that its top line of Peter Fregoe and co-captains Jon DiSalvatore and Devin Rask did not score a goal.
“Every night is a battle out there, especially in Hockey East,” said DiSalvatore. “Most nights are going to come down to hard work and heart, and I feel that our work ethic and the effort that we’ve put in during the offseason is going to pay off for us in the last 20 minutes of the game.”
“Tonight was another one of those hard-fought league games that comes down to special teams and playing with discipline,” said Rask. “We were able to get those two big power-play goals in the third from our second unit and that’s obviously a huge lift for our team.
“They’ve got a great line that can really do some damage to you and we tried our best tonight to really keep the pucks out of their hands,” said NU coach Bruce Crowder.
In light of all the defensive attention, the trio was able to extend its point streak to eight games with Rask and DiSalvatore assisting on Lucci’s power-play goal.
Despite the late-game heroics, Northeastern (2-5-2, 1-3-1 HEA) stormed out of the gates for the second night in a row. Freshman Mike Morris slid a wrist shot through Providence netminder Bobby Geopfert’s pads just 1:29 into the game. The Friars panicked after the early score and got whistled for four consecutive penalties, including Fregoe’s 10-minute misconduct.
“Our penalty kill was very strong for us the whole weekend. We had to kill consecutive penalties in the early going and they were able to play strong for us and help to swing the momentum,” said Pooley.
Senior captain Mike Ryan paced the Huskies again, scoring two goals including an extra attacker score late in the third period to cut the Friar lead in half. It marked the second night in a row that the sniper notched a pair of scores. Despite his offensive proficiency, Ryan also found himself in the penalty box three times on the evening.
Keni Gibson was able to stand strong until late in the third period, making 45 saves on the evening. Although he made the first save time and time again, Providence was able to score three rebound goals on the young netminder.
“I thought he was tremendous, certainly equal to the task before him. I also think that our defense played pretty strong in front of him. Two or three tough saves, but he got beat on a couple of rebounds. It’s the first time that he’s played back-to-back games, but he definitely had a tremendous weekend for us,” said Crowder
On the Friar side, freshman Geopfert dueled Gibson and earned the win, remaining perfect on the season with four wins in four chances. He stopped 29 of 32 attempts on evening.
Providence will spring back into action with a rare league matchup on Tuesday evening against Boston College while Northeastern will prepare for a tilt with Maine on Saturday.