BOSTON — Last spring, Peter MacArthur wasn’t sure he was ready for college hockey.
Now he’s got four goals and two assists in his first four games, including one of each Friday, as Boston University beat Providence 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 3,806 at Walter Brown Arena.
Playing against his twin brother Tony, Brad Zancanaro matched MacArthur’s output with a goal and assist of his own, while Chris Chaput managed the same for the Friars. Both goaltenders played well: David Cacciola kept Providence in the game while his team was dominated through two periods, while improbable success story John Curry got his second win in his second career start for BU.
“All told I thought we played very, very well in most phases in the game.” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “They came close because they made a couple of nice plays on the power play, but after two periods we attempted 50 shots and they attempted 24.
“I like the way we defended tonight, but in the third period we were out of step. We only had 11 forwards dressed [due to Kenny Roche being sidelined because of a concussion] and wound up with one — Bryan ‘Boomer’ Ewing — getting hurt in the first period, so we were mixing and matching lines and that kind of wore us down a little bit. In general, I thought both teams played real hard and had good goaltending.”
Friar coach Paul Pooley found some consolation but no moral victory in the final frame. “They took it to us for two; we took it to them in the third and just fell short,” Pooley said. “It’s as simple as that. First road test for this group, and I thought we didn’t handle it too well for the first two periods. We came out like gangbusters the first five minutes of the third — really generating something down low offensively — and then we took two penalties. We can’t do that on the road.”
MacArthur’s early-season success has surprised him more than anyone else in the Terrier program. “I didn’t expect to play too much coming to a program like this, but Coach Parker does a great job of getting the freshmen in the lineup,” MacArthur said. “I have to give him a lot of credit for the freshmen doing well. We’re all happy to contribute a little each night.”
Parker recalled the New York native’s hesitancy to make the leap to the collegiate ranks.
“The funny thing about MacArthur is that we recruited him; he’s committed to come. He plays in the U.S. junior league. He’s played just a half year because of the first-half injuries, and he’s not sure if he can play at this level yet. He’s saying, ‘Should I play another of juniors? Would you like me to play another year? I don’t have to come this year.’
“This was going on in March, April, May, June. Even in the summertime, he called me. He wasn’t confident that he was going to step in, and I finally said, ‘Hey, Pete, we’ve only got 12 forwards. If you don’t come, we’re in trouble.’”
BU didn’t appear as if it would have any trouble through the first two periods. MacArthur almost scored a shorthanded goal in the first 10 minutes, then linemates Chris Bourque and Boomer Ewing looked terrific on some near misses following flashy passes.
“I thought that line of Bourque, MacArthur, and Ewing were playing unbelievable until Ewing got hurt,” Parker said. “Ewing was a whirling dervish — I thought he was playing great. He’s been playing as well as anyone since day one. It’s going to hurt to have him out; he’s going to be out three to four weeks. He’s got a shoulder separation.”
Yet the Terriers didn’t break on top until 18:26, when Zancanaro carried the puck in on the left wing. Impeded by a defender, his shot was weak, but it eluded Cacciola to make it 1-0.
Cacciola redeemed himself by stopping breakaways by Zancanaro and David Van der Gulik in period two.
“He did a great job for us tonight, held us in the game, gave us an opportunity to win down the stretch,” Pooley said.
However, a dominating Terrier power play led to the team’s second goal at 6:15.
“It was a great play by [Kevin] Schaeffer to get the puck across to Boomer Ewing — he found a seam in the middle, and then Boomer and Laliberte just crashed the net,” MacArthur said. “It was all them. I was floating out high because I’m a little guy and couldn’t get in there. It just popped on my stick, and I shoveled it in there.”
Torry Gajda came close to halving the margin at 17:10 when he attempted to stuff it past Curry after wheeling around from behind the goal line, but the puck popped in the air, and Curry caught it.
On a five-on-three early in the third period of a game that featured a whopping 19 power plays, the Terriers made it 3-0 when a Jekabs Redlihs slapshot from the left point cleanly beat the screened goaltender.
Enjoying a man advantage of their own, the Friars made it 3-1 at 7:31 when Chaput potted a rebound. The Friars picked it up a notch, and Dinos Stamoulis and Bill McCreary had excellent chances halfway through the period. Then Providence made it really interesting, as Chaput broke in with Colin MacDonald on his left wing, dishing to the big sophomore. MacDonald buried his third goal in three games to make it 3-2.
With Cacciola pulled, Stamoulis had a chance to tie it in the last second, but it would not have been a buzzer-beater, and Curry turned it aside anyway.
Providence (2-1-0; 1-1-0) plays a home-and-home pair against conference opponent Massachusetts next weekend.
For BU (2-2-0; 1-0-0), the next official game is at home against Maine on Halloween, but in the meantime the Terriers will play an exhibition against their most skilled opponent of the season: the BU alumni.
With proceeds designated to benefit the Travis Roy Foundation and the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation, BU will face off against a star-studded lineup at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena. The alumni will feature Chris Drury, Mike Grier, Shawn McEachern, Jay Pandolfo, Scott Young, Shawn Bates, Tom Poti, Adrian Aucoin, Dan Lacouture, Rick DiPietro. and Boston Bruins coach Mike Sullivan to name a few. Tickets will be $22.00.