CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Against Boston College, the difference makers for Providence, two freshmen with four career goals between them coming into the contest, were surprising, .
Providence forwards Jordan Kremyr and Ian O’Connor proved that late in the season, sometimes the contributions from the least expected sources.
Kremyr netted two first period goals and O’Connor added some key insurance in the second period to help the Friars defeat BC, 3-2, in front of 6,208 at Kelley Rink.
“They’ve been playing really well for us,” said Providence coach Tim Army of his young players. “As we’ve got through Christmas and the second half, they’re finding a little more poise offensively.”
The win moves Providence into a tie for fourth in the Hockey East standings with BC at 26 points. The Friars now have the tiebreaker in the battle for home ice in the Hockey East playoffs, having clinched the season series against BC.
The key momentum swing came with the Eagles trailing 2-0 late in the second period.
BC forward Andrew Orpik pounced on a rebound off an Anthony Aiello shot, beating Providence goaltender Tyler Sims low to cut the Providence lead to 2-1.
Just over a minute later, O’Connor was on the spot when the Friars got a great bounce. It appeared that Providence had missed a great opportunity when John Cavanaugh could not catch up to puck in the slot.
BC goaltender John Muse swept the puck into traffic, and it popped back out into the slot to O’Connor who wasted little time with his shot, giving Providence a 3-1 lead at 17:29.
“(He’d) probably like to have that third one back,” BC coach Jerry York said, “It’s a decision where the puck’s coming and everyone’s coming in, chasing him. I think it’s safe to just put a glove on it and get a face off.”
During a February which has not seen many good breaks for Providence, the Friars got many against the Eagles early as goaltender Tyler Sims (36 saves) was sharp from the opening whistle.
“He’s been on fire lately,” O’Connor said, “Hopefully, he keeps it up and carries us for a while.”
The Eagles best early opportunity came eight minutes into the contest when Hobey Baker candidate Nathan Gerbe, scoreless in his last six games, skated in on a breakaway. Sims was up to the task, making a right pad save on Gerbe’s shot.
Moments later, Kremyr, skating with speed behind the BC net, abruptly stopped and cut in for a stuff attempt. Kremyr’s first shot was stopped by Muse, but the freshman put home the rebound to put the Friars up 1-0 at 8:41, pumping both his fists in celebration of the second goal of his career.
Career goal no. three came just ten minutes later.
A long clear by Providence bounced off of BC defenseman Mike Brennan and right to Kremyr, who skated down the open left wing and casually fired a shot over Muse’s shoulder into the opposite side top corner at 18:46 to put PC up 2-0.
“He’s had some really good chances and he’s played really well,” Army said of Kremyr. “He’s been shooting some blanks, and I think as all kids (do), they start to squeeze the stick too tightly, but he got one against New Hampshire, and played really well last weekend. (He’s) been hitting some tough luck, but he found his range again tonight.”
In the second period, when Nick Petrecki tripped Providence forward John Mori on a breakaway, the Friars were awarded a penalty shot at 5:57.
Mori, a right-hander, deked to his backhand, but Muse moved with him and made a right blocker save to keep BC within striking distance.
Trailing 3-1 late in the third period, the Eagles finally broke through on the man advantage after Ben Smith deflected a Joe Whitney shot from the point past Sims at 16:50.
That broke a BC drought of 16 straight power plays without a goal and gave BC some life in the closing minutes.
However, on a night when the Eagles continued to struggle for offense, the key goal proved to be elusive.
“Technically we played very solid,” York said. “We’re not getting any puck luck at all.”