CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — They say that patience is a virtue, but if you’re the Providence Friars trying to win at Boston College for the first time in more than five years, it’s more of a solution.
The Friars, who hadn’t tasted victory at BC’s Kelley Rink since January 24, 2003, displayed the utmost patience with the Eagles on Friday night. Despite allowing BC the best of the offensive chances, Providence was able to make the most of its opportunities to earn a hard fought, 3-2 victory at Boston College on Friday.
Providence controlled play early and actually grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first only to see the Eagles dominate the second and third periods. But thanks to solid play from PC goaltender Tyler Sims (36 saves), the Friars were able to hang even with BC until late in the third.
After killing off a penalty for too many men on the ice — a power play in which the Eagles literally swarmed the Providence net — Matt Taormina was Johnny on the spot, finding space on an odd-man rush and blasting a shot just inside the right post with 4:27 remaining. Solid defense and goaltending in the closing minutes gave the Friars the victory.
“I thought we were pretty poised at the end,” said Providence head coach Tim Army. “We handled the end of the game well. The guys show good poise.”
Taormina, a defenseman, read the play on the game-winning goal well, seeing space created as two Friars drove to the net. He called forward Nick Mazzolini off the puck as the space opened and blasted a perfect shot that found the small hole over the left shoulder of BC goaltender John Muse (20 saves).
“I had just come off the bench and saw the opportunity to jump into the play,” said Taormina. “I saw the far corner and luckily it hit off the post and went in.”
A major reason for Providence’s success was the play of its penalty kill, which held the BC, owners of the number one power play in the nation, off the scoreboard in four chances.
Army said that the key to success on the penalty kill was his team’s ability to take away time, pressuring the BC puck-handlers as soon as they got possession. BC was still able to get some good looks at the end, but when needed, Sims came up with the key save.
“Sims played fabulous on the penalty kill,” admitted BC head coach Jerry York. “The goaltender is generally your best penalty killed and he certainly was tonight.”
The Friars jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead thanks to some fortunate bounces and BC miscues.
Jon Rheault put Providence on the board at 5:44 when an Eric Baier shot from the left point hit Muse in the stomach but then fell back to the ice, allowing an uncovered Rheault to poke the puck into the open net for the 1-0 lead.
Just 2 minutes, 10 seconds later, Greg Collins was the beneficiary of a BC defensive miscue. After BC’s Nick Petrecki leveled a Providence forward at the blue line, fellow defenseman Mike Brennan got caught watching the hit and didn’t cover the open Friars Collins, who moved in alone and buried a shot stick side for a 2-0 Friars lead.
In the second, the Eagles turned on the intensity and played a superior period physically. The translation was two BC goals and a 2-2 tie heading to the third.
Kyle Kucharski scored his first goal of the season to get the Eagles offense going at 3:25. He was attempting to wrap up puck to the front of the net from behind the goal line when the puck hit Sims’ left leg and bounced into the net.
That break gave BC the momentum, which resulted in a plethora of scoring chances. Defenseman Tim Kunes hit the crossbar from the right faceoff dot at 10:55. Just seconds later, Kucharski picked off an errant pass and walked in alone on Sims, firing a shot into the goaltender’s pads. And less than a minute after that, Ben Smith fired wide on a wide-open one-timer from the slot.
Finally at 16:38, the offensive attacked translated to the scoreboard as Matt Greene buried a centering pass from Pat Gannon over the glove of Sims to knot the game at two heading to the third.
BC continued to onslaught in the third. Matt Price was stonewalled on a shot from the left post at 5:30. A minute later, a loose puck sat untouched in the crease for what seemed like an eternity before the Friars finally cleared the puck. And with the power play after the Providence bench minor at 13:12, it seemed just a matter of time before the Eagles would score.
Instead it was Taormina’s tally just 25 seconds after the penalty expired that sealed the victory for the Friars.
One might think that frustration would be the tone coming from the Eagles bench boss York, particularly heading into Monday’s opening round matchup of the Beanpot against rival Boston University on a sour note. Instead, he was full of optimism calling Friday’s game “one of the best” his team has played all season.
“Technically we were excellent. Competitively we were high end,” said York.
On this night, though, it was Providence’s patience, not BC’s performance, that translated to a victory.