PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Hockey coaches often say that their goaltender is their best penalty killer. Boston College’s Cory Schneider proved why that cliche has hung around for so long on Friday night at Providence’s Schneider Arena.
Schneider, the Eagles’ junior All-American, stopped 45 shots and led No. 15 BC to a critical 2-1 win over the Friars.
Thanks to No. 7 Maine’s 5-1 spanking of No. 14 Vermont on Friday, the Eagles jumped into third place in the Hockey East standings with their victory and are now at the top of a four-team battle for the final two home-ice spots in the upcoming playoffs.
Those four clubs are separated by a total of four points, and Boston College head coach Jerry York sensed that Schneider could ultimately make the difference down the stretch with performances like the one he produced on Friday.
“This is kind of what Cory did last year — he took the team on his back and led us to victory,” York said. “I thought he did that again tonight.”
“It was a lot of work,” Schneider said. “I was getting pretty tired there at the end, but it’s fun. It keeps you in the game. It keeps you focused, and you just keep battling within yourself to stay focused and try as hard as you can to get your team a win.”
Freshman Matt Price netted the game-winning goal with 3:41 to play in the second period, the first of his career, to cap off a solid night by Boston College’s fourth line. All three members of the line earned points on Price’s goal, as center Ben Smith set up left wing Andrew Orpik in the left circle for a shot that was eventually pushed in by Price after a wild scramble in front of Providence goalie Tyler Sims.
“Our role is just to get the puck in deep there and keep it there, try to keep the puck down, get a little pressure and get the momentum for our top couple of lines,” Price said. “When we put one in there it’s a bonus for us.”
“The line played well I thought,” York said. “They gave us a lot of energy and made some real good plays.”
Price’s goal gave Schneider a lead that he never relinquished despite several stretches where Providence dominated the play. The Friars outshot the Eagles by an 8-0 margin during the opening 7:22 of the middle period and blitzed Boston College with a 15-3 barrage in the third. Schneider was up to the task all night, and now Providence stands just two points ahead of UMass-Lowell for the eighth and final playoff spot with one game in hand.
“There are some very good goaltenders in our league, and (Schneider is) a guy who is obviously at the very top of that class,” Providence head coach Tim Army said. “He’s outstanding. Everything is under control with him.”
Providence’s season-long struggles on the power play continued on Friday. The Friars came into the game converting just 9.2 percent (11-for-120) of their chances and, despite firing 13 shots at Schneider, finished a frustrating 0-for-7. Providence hasn’t scored with the man advantage since Colin McDonald did it in a 4-2 loss to Boston University on Dec. 8, 2006, a span of 11 games.
“It is critical when you don’t score a lot to cash in on your power play,” Army said. “We haven’t. We continue to work on it. We’re devoting two days of practice to our power play, and we’ll keep working at it until we’re able to cash in.”
Jon Rheault beat Schneider on a partial breakaway 2:36 into the game, stuffing a backhander home coming off the left wing, and Providence missed a golden opportunity to take a two-goal lead when Boston College’s Pat Gannon was sent to the penalty box for interference exactly one minute later.
Friars’ captain Tony Zancanaro sent shots off both the left and right posts on the ensuing power play, and the Eagles’ Brett Motherwell tied the score on his team’s first power play chance of the game when he forced a shot from the left circle between Sims and the left post.
“I thought we had the better of the play, and we just couldn’t get that second one to get ourselves a lead,” Army said. “No question — if Tony capitalizes there, if the puck doesn’t go off the post — 2-0, I think with the way we started, it would have been difficult to play with us.”
ICE CHIPS: With Friday night’s win, Boston College goaltender Cory Schneider moved into a fifth-place tie with Jim Logue (1958-1961) and Greg Taylor (1993-1997) on the Eagles’ all-time wins list. Schneider, an All-American last season and a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2004, picked up his 53rd career victory in the 2-1 win over Providence and now stands just two behind Paul Skidmore, who notched 55 career victories from 1975-1979. Scott Clemmensen (1997-2001) holds the Eagles’ career mark with 99 wins. … Current Providence Bruins head coach Scott Gordon is third on the list, winning 64 games from 1982-1986. Gordon helped lead the Eagles to the 1985 Frozen Four and was a Hockey East First-Team All-Star in 1986. He was the on the losing end against Providence in a 4-3, triple-overtime thriller in the 1985 NCAA semifinals against the Friars, who were captained by current Providence head coach Tim Army. The Friars went on to lose to RPI, 2-1, in their lone championship game appearance in program history. … Warwick natives John and David Cavanagh were each scratched from the Providence line-up for the third straight game. The cousins, both freshmen, each suited up for the Friars’ first 18 games this season, but John Cavanagh has been out of action since breaking his arm against Wisconsin on Dec. 30, 2006, missing the last nine games. He practiced with the team on Thursday and Army said Cavanagh might be able to return next weekend for the home-and-home series with Northeastern. David Cavanagh has been a healthy scratch each of the last three games, the result of Providence head coach Tim Army’s decision to dress 12 forwards and just six defensemen. … Linesman Kevin Kennan was struck in the nose by a stick in the second period and did not return. Referee Tom Fyrer and linesman Jack Millea were forced to work a two-man system for the game’s final period, each calling penalties.