BOSTON — Boston University has cracked down on offensive behavior at Agganis Arena this season.
Tonight was no exception, as BU and Providence College both struggled to generate anything on the offensive.
After 43 minutes of scoreless hockey, Chris Higgins knocked in the rebound of a Kenny Roche shot to make a winner of John Curry in goal for the Terriers. Curry was the easy choice of No. 1 as his 22-save shutout keyed the 1-0 victory for the Terriers in front of 5,793 fans at Agganis. Netminder Tyler Sims stopped 19 of 20 shots for the vanquished Friars.
“In general, we played pretty hard all night long,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I liked our effort; I liked our legs. I don’t like the fact that we’re not scoring on the power play, and we’re not scoring, period. When you’re not scoring it’s nice to have John Curry there so you can win one-nothing.”
Providence coach Tim Army reached a similar verdict. “I thought we played really well,” he said. “I think we’re playing good hockey right now. We’re not getting anything to show for it right now, but we’ll stay with it. I like the things that we’re doing, and we want to play our best hockey as the season progresses.”
The first ten minutes could be described as a chess match, except for the fact that you don’t see too many grandmasters contemplate moves before throwing massive body checks. Terrier defenseman Brian Strait and Sean Sullivan dished up some physical punishment early on, ultimately resulting in retaliation and penalties for PC.
BU ended up with a five-on-three at 6:10 but did almost nothing with it. “The first [five-on-three] in the first period was unbelievable how bad [it was],” Parker said. “It was like we’d never been out there together before in our lives.”
Besides Peter MacArthur dinging a slapshot off a post in the early going, there were almost no scoring chances for either team over the first 17 minutes. Jason Lawrence and MacArthur had good bids in the 18th minute, but that was about it.
Providence turned the tables on the shot chart in the second period. “We put more pucks to the net,” Army said. “The first period we had three penalties in a row, and we killed a three-on-five. That sometimes can take a little energy away from your team. We started well; there wasn’t much happening either way. There’s less offense in a big rink anyway, but we might have been gassed, took us a little while to get our legs, but we didn’t put enough pucks to the net. I think we had 12 shot attempts in the first period and 26 in the second.”
It easily could have been 2-0 Providence through 40 minutes if not for Curry. At 11:30 on a power play, Friar forward Nick Mazzolini took a shot from the right point, and freshmen Chris Eppich had a great chance for his first collegiate goal on the rebound, only to be thwarted by Curry’s stick.
Then, while shorthanded at 14:00, Friar centerman Tony Zancanaro-identical twin brother of former BU centerman Brad-stole the puck from freshman d-man Strait at the red line and went in on the breakaway. “Well, I’m used to going against his brother, and he kind of has the same approach,” Curry said. “He looked like he was going to shoot, and I gave him the five-hole for a little while and he went for it. The rebound was sitting there, and he almost batted it in. A breakaway is a breakaway; it can go either way. I just tried to do what I usually do, and sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Three minutes later, BU had their one great scoring chance of the period. Jason Lawrence broke to the net and had a golden opportunity to tap in a pass, only to be interfered with by a Providence defender. It would have been a smart penalty to take, but instead it was no penalty at all. Referee Tim Benedetto made no call and appeared to ignore Parker’s attempts to discuss the matter.
Shortly after a power play expired in the third period, Roche gathered the puck and headed out to the left point. “We were working the power play pretty good, and right at the end of the power play Rochey curled up with it up on the blue line,” Higgins said. “He looked like he was going to pass it across, and he saw a guy trying to commit himself. He took a shot on net, and I was just in the right place at the right time for the rebound.”
At 5:01, Zancanaro hit Kevin Schaeffer hard into the boards and was given a five-minute major and game misconduct. During that power play, another Friar penalty on Colin McDonald-his third of the night-gave BU a full two minutes of five-on-three advantage, but they couldn’t capitalize and only had a couple of good chances.
After weathering that, Providence got a power play of their own a few minutes later, but Army acknowledged that his special-teams troops were “gassed” at that point and didn’t generate much.
There was another potential major or minor at the 15-minute mark when BU blueliner Kevin Kielt was knocked into the boards, but Benedetto again made no call. “I didn’t get any explanations,” said Parker, who yelled toward the ref extensively even after the game ended, only to be ignored completely.
The Friars did have three good chances in the last four minutes. John Cavanaugh raced in on the left wing at 16:20, only to have the juicy rebound of his shot become a moot point when the net went off its moorings. Seconds later, Mark Fayne made a nice move around Lawrence at the point, driving in before dishing to Jon Rheault in the slot. Seemingly Rheault just missed getting wood-or graphite-on the puck.
At 17:55, a nice look from Pierce Norton set up Trevor Ludwig racing in from the point, only to have Curry come up big again.
BU (3-2-4, 3-2-3 Hockey East) hosts Harvard on Tuesday, while Providence (3-8-1, 2-6-1) is off until Friday, when UMass-Lowell travels to Schneider Arena.