PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Having been named the No. 1 team in the country just 24 hours earlier, some were worried about the way a young Boston College team would respond to wearing the target for a No. 11 Providence squad that garnered a first-place vote.
Any of those doubts were silenced as the Eagles, led by its top line of Ben Eaves, Patrick Eaves and Tony Voce, rolled over the Friars, 6-1, at a sold out Schneider Arena in Tuesday night Hockey East action.
“This afternoon, we talked about having the mindset that we are proud to be number one,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “A lot of teams worry
about being ranked too high too early in the season, but we want to be
great and our kids feel it’s an honor that they work at and deserve and
want to keep. We want to go out there every night and prove that we are
From the opening drop, Boston College (7-0-1, 4-0 HEA) was a step quicker and used that jump to propel itself to an early two-goal lead that would prove insurmountable. The Eagles cycled beautifully in the Providence zone and dominated puck possession for three periods. Ty Hennes opened the scoring less than two minutes into the contest, sneaking a wristshot past Friar netminder Nolan Schaefer.
The goal seemed to take the wind out of the sails on a Providence ship that was already taking on water. In the opening minute of the game, The Friars (8-2, 3-2) had a breakaway and a semi-break, but were unable to capitalize as Matti Kaltiainen stood strong in net, giving the Eagles a big lift.
“Matti’s early play was a great indicator of how things were going to go for us tonight,” said York. “They had some terrific chances early and that gave us momentum.”
Although Kaltiainen only faced six shots in the first frame, more than half of the pucks he stopped were legitimate scoring chances.
“Obviously those chances would have been big for us. If we were able to come out and get those scores, it would have been a completely different game,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “Instead they were able to come down and get a quick score … that could have been huge for us.”
“When you go away from home, it would have been a different game if he didn’t make those saves early. Their crowd would have gotten into it and Matti stopped that early, ” said York.
Just 10 minutes later, Ben Eaves notched the eventual game winner at the 11:59 mark of the first period, converting a rebound chance on a sprawled out Schaefer.
The Eaves score was just the beginning of what his line had in store for the Friars. Boston College’s top trio, including Patrick Eaves and Voce, rattled off four consecutive goals through two and a half periods, putting the game away at 5-0 with less than seven minutes to play. The Eagles’ big line asserted a 4-3-7 line on the night, sending a message to Providence that they are another one of the country’s top combinations on both sides of the puck.
In stark contrast, Providence’s top line of Jon DiSalvatore, Devin Rask, and Peter Fregoe, earned a -10 on the evening and was held scoreless, marking the first game in 10 contests that it did not register a point.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the way we played tonight. Some people might say that it was our third game in five days, but that’s no excuse,” said Rask. “I was a minus-4 and our line was a minus-10 and they were expecting big things out of us. It’s a letdown in a big game. Now we just need to focus on bouncing back for Friday.”
On a positive note, Friar freshman Torry Gajda tallied the lone score for Providence at 16:15 of the final period.
Schaefer finished with 33 saves on 39 shots, taking the loss to stand at 4-2-0 on the season. Kaltiainen stopped 23 of 24, improving to 3-0-1.
Providence will have no easy task as it takes the show to New Hampshire, while Boston College will look to remain undefeated, battling cross-town rival Boston University.