PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Friday night’s Hockey East game at Schneider Arena was a thing of beauty for Boston University head coach Jack Parker and an ugly reminder for the home fans of just how much Providence is struggling this season.
Parker recorded win No. 750 on the Terriers’ bench and his team kept the Friars in their season-long tailspin, as No. 13 Boston University rolled to a 5-1 victory.
The Terriers won their third straight against Providence to sweep the season series and gave Parker his second milestone win over the Friars this season. Boston University’s 1-0 victory over Providence on Nov. 17 had given Parker win No. 745, moving him past former Bemidji State head coach Bob Peters into third place on the NCAA’s all-time victory list.
Parker is far and away the leader in victories by a coach at a single Division I institution, as all of his wins have come during his 34-year career on the Boston University bench.
“It means I’m getting older by the moment,” Parker quipped. “In order to do that, you’ve got to be around a long time. That’s all.”
Providence’s losing streak now stands at six, including three straight in Hockey East, and the Friars have dropped seven of their last eight overall. They still have 15 league games left, more than half the season, to try to shake whatever it is that has plagued them thus far, but the road back to contention is getting steeper with each defeat.
“It hasn’t worked out as planned to this point,” Providence head coach Tim Army said, a rueful grin on his face. “I would have thought we’d be better than 4-14-1 (3-8-1 HE). We’ll keep battling. What are you going to do? You come back to work tomorrow and you keep trying to fix it.”
First-period goals by Matt Gilroy and Bryan Ewing gave Boston University a 2-0 lead, but things started to get ugly for the Friars in the second. The Terriers made it a three-goal cushion when Kenny Roche intercepted a shot from the point and slipped a backhander past Providence goalie Tyler Sims from the left circle 3:52 in.
Sims was hooked in favor of back-up Chris Mannix, a sophomore making his first career appearance in a Friars’ uniform, and Mannix was pulled in favor of an empty net less than two minutes later when BU’s Kevin Schaeffer went to the box for holding. That gave Providence a 6-on-4 advantage on the power play, but the Terriers were cool under pressure and Ewing set up Chris Higgins for a shot from center ice that hit the back of the Friars’ empty cage 1:15 into Schaeffer’s penalty.
The few Friar fans in the seats, outnumbered by traveling Terrier fans clad in their scarlet and white, let out a mocking round of applause when Mannix jumped the boards and headed back to the net.
“I just felt that (emptying the net was) kind of a message from me to the guys that we’re staying on it,” Army said. “We’re going to stay as aggressive as we possibly can. I thought if we could sneak one in, pull the goalie, get a little energized, 3-1 — we’ve got a fighting chance at that point. That was the thinking behind it.”
Boston University wasn’t exactly in the mood to cooperate. Freshman Zach Cohen snapped home the first goal of his career with 2:29 left in the period to finish the Terriers’ onslaught.
“The first two periods were as well as we’ve played all year and probably as well as we’ve ever played down in this building,” Parker said. “We moved the puck. We were really focused. We had the puck zipping around pretty good.”
Providence’s lone highlight came with 33.3 seconds left, as Colin McDonald notched his team leading eighth goal of the season to break up Boston University goalie John Curry’s shutout and put the Friars on the board for the first time in almost 120 minutes after being shut out by Wisconsin, 5-0, on Dec. 30. Curry still managed to improve on the 2.02 goals against average that he took into Friday’s game, and the Terriers are now 7-1-4 when they score more than one goal in a game.
“The difference in the game also is that we got great goaltending when we needed it,” Parker said. “John made a couple of really tough saves and after we got the first two goals — which their goalie (Sims) had no chance on, we made some pretty plays — and we got a couple of greasy ones that really helped us out.”
ICE CHIPS: Boston University head coach Jack Parker picked up win No. 750 on Friday, the latest milestone in his storied, 34-year career. Parker’s win total is the most by any Division I coach at one school and he currently stands third behind Ron Mason (926) and Boston College head coach Jerry York (758) on the all-time list. Parker trails only York among active coaches. Parker won three Beanpot titles as a player with the Terriers and was the team’s captain during his senior season in 1967-68 before being named the school’s 10th head coach on Dec. 21, 1973. He has since added 19 more Beanpots on the bench, along with national championships in 1978 and 1995 and six Hockey East titles. The ice surface at Boston University’s Agganis Arena is named in Parker’s honor. … Injuries are starting to pile up for the Friars. Senior forward Jamie Carroll (broken foot) missed his third straight game on Friday after suffering the injury in a 4-2 loss at BU on Dec. 8, while freshman forward John Cavanagh missed the first game of his career after dressing in 18 straight. The Warwick native is out indefinitely after breaking his right arm in a 5-0 loss at Wisconsin in the Badger Hockey Showdown on Dec. 30. Defenseman Marc Bastarache (upper body injury) and goalie Ryan Simpson (groin) were also scratched on Friday, and forward Brad Cooper played in his third straight game after sitting out the first 16. Forward John Mori also returned to the line-up after three straight DNPs. … BU senior defenseman Kevin Schaeffer recorded an assist on Friday, his second point in as many games since returning from surgery for a fractured orbital bone that he suffered in a pre-dawn attack on Dec. 3. Schaeffer and teammates John Curry, the Terriers’ starting goaltender, and Sean Sullivan, another defenseman and BU’s captain, along with Terrier women’s lacrosse player Lauren Morton, were assaulted by multiple men allegedly wielding bats, wrenches and other weapons while leaving an off-campus party in Allston, Mass. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident thus far.