PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Too little, too late for Providence College worked just fine for Boston University.
The eighth-ranked Terriers scored four straight goals, three of them in the second period, to take a big lead over the Friars before holding on for dear life in a 6-4 win. It was the Hockey East opener for both squads in front of a sold-out Schneider Arena gathering of 3,030.
Diminutive defenseman Dan Spang scored twice for the Terriers (2-0-1), but the 5-1 lead Kenny Magowan had given BU prior to the evening’s midpoint was in deep trouble after the Terriers allowed Providence to score the game’s final three goals.
Colin McDonald scored his first as a Friar with the team shorthanded and Chris Chaput’s second of the season made it 5-3 as the two sides completed two periods of play. Senior Cody Loughlean cut the deficit to one at 5-4 at 8:56 of the third, though it was as close as the home team could crawl.
Providence (4-1-0) nearly completed the improbable comeback, too. After coach Paul Pooley pulled his goaltender from the nets in the final minute defenseman Stephen Wood had BU goaltender Sean Fields dead to rights. But Wood’s wrister with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation sailed over the net and crashed into the glass behind Fields (22 saves).
The miss came back to haunt Providence. Brian McConnell’s empty-netter with under 10 seconds left wrapped it up.
“We made it 5-1, and we were hoping the game was over,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They just kept battling. Give them a lot of credit. I thought we still played well territorially, but we didn’t play with the focus we needed to defensively … We weren’t nearly as thorough as we were through the first two periods.”
For the Friars, sophomore goalie Bobby Goepfert didn’t make it out of the second period, but backup David Cacciola made 23 saves in a stellar relief effort.
“We just made it too easy for them,” said Pooley. “They’re a good hockey team. Once their (defensemen) activate and their forwards start picking and cutting back, they’re difficult to handle.
“When it was 5-1, I called timeout and said, ‘Hey, we’re not national champions. We’ve just got to get better and keep getting better and getting better.’ And you know what? We came back.”
John Laliberte put BU on the board at the three-minute mark of the first period, but Wood evened things at 6:11 with his second of the season and first on the power play. The Terriers took a first-intermission lead on Spang’s first at 12:25.
The gates opened for the two teams to hop back on the ice to begin the second stanza at the same time the floodgates opened to the Friar goal. Mark Mullen and then Spang again scored goals 53 seconds apart — both high hard ones from the left circle — to send Goepfert to the showers 1:55 into the period.