PROVIDENCE, R.I. — This is how it goes for goaltenders.
Brown’s Yann Danis made 39 stops on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to get the Bears a victory. At the other end of Scheider Arena, Danis’ counterpart, Providence’s David Cacciola, allowed only one goal to lower his already obscenely-low goals against average, but that wasn’t enough to pick up a win either.
The Bears and Friars skated to a 1-1 draw in the 18th annual Mayor’s Cup, marking the fourth time the two teams have worked into overtime in the game featuring Rhode Island’s two Division I hockey programs, and the second time it has ended in a tie.
Providence retained the Mayor’s Cup after winning the previous two and is 10-6-2 against Brown in the series.
Brown’s Les Haggett and Providence’s Torry Gajda swapped power-play goals to account for the only scoring of the night, but the play of the netminders was all anybody really saw.
Danis made 18 third-period saves for the 15th-ranked Bears, thwarting, for the most part, a 25-shots-in-25-minutes barrage on behalf of Providence that began when the third period commenced and didn’t end until the overtime period had concluded. Brown coach Roger Grillo was plenty happy for that final buzzer to sound, too.
“Yann was Yann,” Grillo said. “Yann’s the one guy in the last two years that’s come ready to play every night, and he has to. Because if he doesn’t, there’s nobody there to back him up.”
Danis was at his best in that final period. He twice stoned Providence’s Chris Chaput from the low slot with under five minutes remaining in regulation, and after his defensemen left him out to try in the final minute along the left wing wall, he had to watch Friar Peter Zingoni skate around the back of the net and try a wraparound that he calmly snuffed out with his pad.
“Both teams are good defensively, so I wasn’t expecting a lot of goals,” Danis said. “It is strange [to have a tie], but it’s better than losing.”
Providence coach Paul Pooley challenged his team to erase its one-goal deficit heading into the third, and Gajda answered with his seventh of the season at 1:54. It couldn’t do any more than that.
Cacciola was good again without anything to show for it. He’s now 0-3-2 on the season, but his goals against dropped to a miniscule 1.68 and his save percentage improved to a gaudy .945. He stopped 26 of the 27 shots fired his way by the Bears, allowing only Haggett to sneak a one-timer past him at the 10:59 mark of the second.
“There’s really nothing I can say,” Cacciola said. “I do my job and the team does their job. The puck isn’t bouncing our way. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to keep going from here. The wins will come.”
Pooley wants Cacciola to challenge himself to find more in his game and do what he can to steal a win when the team isn’t doing it in front of him.
“This is all part of it,” Pooley said. “We obviously need to find a way to win for him, but he needs to find a way to win, too. Stats are stats, but wins are wins. He plays outstanding, and he did a great job for us tonight.”
And neither team took what they really wanted from Schneider — the proverbial ‘W.’
“I was really disappointed with the way we played in the third,” Grillo said. “We looked slow, we looked tired, we looked lazy. We were a step behind all night. … We need to skate and battle to compete. When we don’t do that, we’re not a very good team. Nobody is.”
Said Pooley, “We went for broke, because this was a game we needed to win or come back on. We needed to go away feeling good about ourselves because we’ve got (11 days off) coming up.”
And did they?
“Yeah, I thought we played a decent game,” Pooley said.