BOSTON — When he last started in net against Colorado College on November 27, Boston University goaltender Stephan Siwiec yielded seven goals in two periods, then had to watch from the sidelines as sophomore John Curry emerged to claim the No. 1 goaltender’s job. But when Curry suffered a separated shoulder on Thursday night, Siwiec got a chance for redemption.
For Siwiec, so far, so good: After stopping eight of eight third-period shots to preserve a 2-1 win on Thursday, Siwiec went the distance Saturday, stopping 25 of 27 shots as BU beat Providence 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,224 at Agganis Arena.
Providence tied the game twice but BU answered quickly on both occasions. Dave Van der Gulik notched the game-winner at 6:10 in the third. John Laliberte and Brian McConnell each added a pair of assists, while Chris Chaput and Eric Lundberg each assisted on both Friar goals.
“A couple of things jump out at me,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “The pace of the game was what we wanted. Even though Providence tried to slow the pace down with a 1-2-2 back-off forecheck, I was happy with how we played to try to keep the pace up. I was happy with the goals we got: They were pretty goals, but they were goals we got because people were going to the net.
“It was a hell of a college hockey game. The best part of it was that every time they scored, we answered, quickly.. We didn’t lose our poise. And I thought Siwiec played very well. He had some tough chances — especially in the third period with some pressure on — and he played well.”
Providence coach Paul Pooley was pleased with the effort but, obviously, not the outcome.
“Disappointing,” Pooley said. “First time for a while that we felt on the bench that these guys believed in what they were doing — positive sign. Scored the goal, they came back the next shift and scored. That’s the thing we’ve got to get rid of — you have momentum, and then you lose it. That’s the disappointing part.
“Can’t play much harder for the most part: 12-6 in shots in the third period — we wanted that game. But you know what? We’ve got to continue to get better because we’re not winning.”
For Siwiec, it was satisfying to finally have the opportunity to put the Colorado College debacle behind him. “That was a tough game, and then John Curry got really hot,” Siwiec said. “You’ve got to go with the hot goalie in the NCAA, and I had no problem with that. He’s won awards this year, and our team is winning, so I can’t complain. I just tried to work hard in practice on some things, tried to refocus on my game. When the opportunity was going to come, I wanted to be ready.”
Siwiec didn’t need to be ready for much of the first period, as the Terriers dominated. Jekabs Redlihs set up Laliberte for a good chance at 3:15, and then Dan Spang made it 1-0 44 seconds later. On a nice give-and-go, Spang fed Laliberte on his right wing and continued toward the net. Laliberte slipped it back, and Spang flipped a gorgeous backhander into the slim space between Cacciola’s glove and the top corner .
At 7:20, Laliberte beat his man badly to set up a great chance, only to have Trevor Ludwick clear the dangerous rebound from the crease. Half a minute later, Brian “Boomer” Ewing went in alone and shot high. Providence didn’t really get it going until talented freshman Jon Rheault had a pair of chances in the 19th minute.
BU had more chances early in the second. Just after they nearly scored on a three-on-two at the three-minute mark, Van der Gulik fooled Friar goalie David Cacciola with a shot through considerable traffic. The shot also deceived the goal judge, who turned on the red light when the low shot hit the inside of the crossbar on the goalie’s glove side before rebounding clear.
Gradually, the Friars settled into some better play and had a few good chances halfway through the period, only to fail to get to a few key rebounds left by Siwiec.
At 16:51, though, Providence tied it up when an odd bounce in the neutral zone set up a two-on-one. Siwiec stopped the initial shot by Chris Chaput on the left-wing side, but the rebound caromed off the skate or leg of Nate Meyers and into the net.
The game only stayed tied for 30 seconds. On a two-on-one of their own, Ewing opted to hold the puck, faking the shot, before going around Cacciola to shoot it behind the goalie’s back and in. “He was tracking people down tonight and on the puck,” Parker said of Ewing, who looked the best that he has since separating his shoulder against Providence earlier this season. “He could’ve had six goals tonight I thought. He had some unbelievable chances.”
Providence really came to life in the third period. After BU struggled to clear the zone, Lundberg slipped the puck from the right point to Jamie Carroll heading in on the right-wing side, unmolested.
“I saw he was going to shoot; I tried to cut down the angle a little bit,” Siwiec said. “I probably could’ve come out a little more. He got it between my arm and my pants. Not a great goal on my part, but I tried to just let it go and go on with the game.”
Indeed he did. Providence followed up with their most intense pressure of the game. Colin MacDonald narrowly missed a goal from the right-wing side at 5:20, and then Tony Zancanaro found himself all alone with Siwiec at 5:57, only to have the junior stop his point-blank backhander.
“My mind frame was different,” Siwiec said of his play recently. “Earlier in the season, I put a lot of pressure on myself: I wanted to play and keep playing.. I was too nervous. On Thursday, I was a little jittery the first minute, but I told myself to calm down, and I did. I could feel it. That’s the approach I took to today’s game, and it seemed to work out really well.”
Just 13 seconds after that big save, Van der Gulik scored his game-winner on another give-and-go play revolving around Laliberte. “Libs made a great pass — that’s what it all comes down to,” Van der Gulik said. “We had a turnover; I picked up the puck went over the line, dropped it to John, and he made a great pass back to me. I was fortunate to get it by him; I don’t even know where the puck went in.”
Like the first two goals, it was a glove-side shot that beat Cacciola. The teams traded chances the rest of the way, and Providence had opportunities to tie it at the end despite pulling the goalie with just 37 seconds left, but the Terriers held on.
BU (15-10-1) hosts Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday night, while Providence (7-15-3, 2-10-3) hosts Boston College on Friday before playing at Lowell on Saturday. It looks probable that Curry will not play on Friday at the very least.
“They said when it happened that he’d be out two to three weeks,” Parker said. “But today my trainer told me he’s already a week ahead of that, so it’s possible that he’ll be back for the Beanpot. I doubt if he’ll be back on Friday. He might not play the first round of the Beanpot; it’ll be up to the doctors and trainers and how he feels.”