PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A lucky bounce finally went Providence’s way on Tuesday night, and David Cavanagh was the willing recipient.
Cavanagh scored the first goal of his career in overtime against Northeastern, propelling the Friars to a 4-3 win and finishing off a wild night of lead changes between two clubs desperate for a Hockey East victory at Schneider Arena.
Cavanagh’s goal came courtesy of a Jon Rheault pass off the left wing that deflected off the stick of a Huskies player in front. Cavanagh skated forward into the right circle and got just enough of the bouncing puck to force a knuckleball past Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen 2:42 into the extra session.
“It’s just very frustrating when you’re on the other side of those bounces,” Cavanagh said. “The coaches have given us a lot of confidence, just saying to stay with it and that the bounces would come our way. Finally, it did tonight.”
“It’s just something the guys can feel good about,” Providence head coach Tim Army said. “As much as you try to say that you’re doing good things and to stay with it, they’re looking for some results. They need a reward as well to maintain their energy level.”
Both teams entered the game struggling through three-game losing streaks, with Providence having dropped six of its last eight overall. The Friars were just 2-6-0 at Schneider on the season in their first eight entering Tuesday, more losses than they suffered all last season on home ice. Northeastern was searching for its first conference win and appeared to have the momentum after tying the game 1:39 into the third period.
Chad Costello’s shot from the left side deflected off the stick of Providence defenseman Mark Fayne and into the open net. Friars’ goalie Tyler Sims had no chance to make the stop, assuming that the puck was going wide into the right corner.
“I thought at that point we had been on the other end of the puck-luck,” Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin said. “I thought at that point that maybe luck was on our side but…wow.”
The winning goal capped a two-point night for Cavanagh, a freshman defenseman who was a two-time RIIL All-Stater at Warwick’s Toll Gate High before prepping for a year at Salisbury (Conn.) School. He combined with his cousin, freshman center John Cavanagh, to rack up four points on the night.
John Cavanagh notched a pair of assists in the second period as the Friars scored three unanswered goals to dig out of a 2-0 hole and David Cavanagh combined with Bryan Horan to set up Kyle Laughlin and stake the Friars to a 3-2 lead after two periods.
“You see his game starting to blossom because he’s very, very intelligent, he’s got good instincts and he competes,” Army said. “That offensive side of his game is blossoming. He’s been due for an opportunity like that.”
“It’s been nice to get 10-11 games under my belt,” Cavanagh said. “Coach has given me a shot right from the beginning. He’s been patient. I’ve just been trying to work hard every day in practice and every game, and I’m feeling better every game.”
Providence turned up the pressure in the second, outshooting the Huskies by a convincing 19-6 margin, and generated odd-man rushes through the neutral zone with its superior speed up front.
The Friars drew level when Jamie Carroll knocked in the rebound from the high slot off a shot by John Cavanagh at 8:05. Providence took its first lead of the night less than four minutes later when Laughlin converted on a 3-on-2 break by beating Thiessen high to the short side from the left wing.
Northeastern built a two-goal lead early in the first, capitalizing on a pair of good breaks in front of Sims. Ray Ortiz poked in a loose puck that had deflected off the leg of Providence defenseman Dinos Stamoulis for a power play goal at 3:52 and Joe Santilli made it 2-0 a mere 1:05 later, banging home a slow roller that trickled through the legs of Sims toward the goal line.
The Friars were able to turn things around on the power play with 42.9 seconds left, as Fayne snapped a shot through traffic from the right point that beat Thiessen for his first career goal. Fayne’s contribution gave Providence some positive energy that it carried into the second period, erasing the bitter taste of another slow start.
It was the eighth time in 11 games this season that Providence has gone behind by a two-goal margin to open the game, setting up what could have been another disappointing night for the Friars.
“It’s hard because you get a little frustrated,” Army said. “The group gets frustrated, but you stay with it and, eventually, some things will go your way.”