BOSTON — Even with a calculator, it would be difficult to do the math for Saturday’s Game 2 between Providence College and Boston University.
First, divide the number of shots that the Terriers had in Game 1 by two, then multiply the numbers of goals they scored in the opener times two and the scoring chances by about three. In a classic case of addition by subtraction, BU beat Providence 2-0 despite outshooting the Friars only 26-20 — one day after they enjoyed a shot margin of 52-20 but still lost 4-1.
The all-freshman line of Peter MacArthur (two assists), Chris Bourque (one goal, one assist) and Ryan Weston were the only Terriers on the scoresheet. Sophomore John Curry made 20 saves for his second career shutout, while freshman Tyler Sims stopped 24 of 26 shots in a losing effort for the Friars.
“For starters, we get the first goal which allows us to be more open, and they have to come after us a little bit more,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “They still tried to play a real slowed-down game, but I think we adjusted a little better and went to the net better — both of our goals were going to the net.
“We tried to be quicker in going to the net instead of trying to make plays at their blue line. We also took a lot less shots from the periphery tonight; we tried to get it deep and work it to the crease. We did a better job of getting people at the net.”
Friar coach Paul Pooley had little to say after the loss. “BU came out, scored an early goal,” Pooley said. “I give them a lot of credit. They played well tonight, they clamped us down. We’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow night.”
With Terrier forward John Laliberte just back from the flu and David Van der Gulik questionable shortly before the game for the same reason, Providence seemed to have an opportunity going into the game. However, the Terriers held up well despite a physical, fast-paced game.
“They did a couple different things,” Pooley said. “I think they settled it more on their forecheck, which I didn’t expect, but we were ready for it. But I think they threw the puck to the net, and Bourque’s line was pretty good tonight. Obviously, they’re fighting some illness, but I thought that their depth was good tonight, and we couldn’t match it. That’s why it was two-zip.”
BU got the eventual game-winner at just 2:03 of the first period. In the BU zone, Terrier defenseman Kevin Kielt fed it to Bourque near the red line. Bourque passed to MacArthur breaking on the left wing, and the centerman rushed in while Bourque raced to the far post for the crossing pass and the tap-in goal.
“He made a great play rushing the net on that first goal,” MacArthur said of his linemate. “Busted his butt, flew to the back door and poked it in. We were actually practicing that play earlier today.”
“Those two especially had a little more jump in their game and a little more confidence,” Parker said.
The goal made it difficult for Providence to match its defensive style of Game 1 and helped the Terriers loosen up.
“We felt a little pressure,” MacArthur acknowledged. “You always have in the back of your mind that if we lose this game, our season could be done. Three seniors could be done. We did get 52 shots last night but half of them were dump-ins. So all we said was ‘Let’s put a couple in the net.’ We got to the goalie tonight and put in a couple of back-door goals. I don’t think we had half as many shots as last night but a lot more quality chances.”
Bourque looked great again at 8:40, beating two or three defenders for another good chance. The Friars only had a few nominal scoring chances, including one at 14:00 when Chase Watson slipped a pass from the point down to Nick Meyers at the top of the crease, only to have the left wing lose his footing and the handle.
Friar freshman Jon Rheault, who had scored a pair of goals Friday, including one gem on a breakaway, threatened to score again at 6:50 of period two, fighting his way down the left wing and lugging the puck across into the slot for a good shot.
Referee John Gravallese countered the laissez-faire officiating of Scott Hansen in game one with a more tightly-called game, resulting in numerous power plays. BU looked good on several but couldn’t get an extra-strength goal.
“It was certainly a different game with specialty teams,” Pooley said. “There was no flow to it.”
Playing four-on-four at the 16-minute mark, Terrier sophomore Kenny Roche made a nice move to set himself up for a chance, only to slip his against-the-grain backhander wide.
Just after a Providence power play ended, the Terriers got the critical second goal. MacArthur got the puck near the Providence bench and took his speed up a gear, racing in before crossing to Weston crashing the far post for the shot and score.
“The coaches have been telling me to use my quickness to my advantage,” MacArthur said. “Instead of maybe waiting and looking for a pass, just get the puck and take off. That’s what I did on the two goals.”
Chris Chaput threatened to narrow the margin as time reached expiration after 40 minutes.
Five minutes into the final frame, a Bryan “Boomer” Ewing touch pass in the neutral zone set up captain Brian McConnell for a breakaway, but Sims got all of the shot. Then Bourque almost got his second on yet another dash to the far post to be on the receiving end of a MacArthur shot. Losing his balance, he hit the side of the net.
John Curry was solid in the net but — like Sims Friday — he rarely was tested and didn’t need any heroics to preserve the shutout.
“I thought it was a well-played game by both clubs,” Parker said. “Pretty physical too in a good way, quick and physical. I thought Curry played well; I thought their goalie played well.”
The best-of-three series concludes Sunday night at 7 p.m.; all other Hockey East quarterfinals are now over. If BU (22-12-4) wins, it will advance to the semifinals to play New Hampshire, while BC would play Maine.
If Providence (12-20-4) can pull another upset, it will face the Eagles, while northern neighbors Maine and New Hampshire would face off against each other.