PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On Saturday afternoon, 2010 came to a close for the Providence Friars as they were looking for their first win in their last three tries. Entering the third period with a three-goal lead, the Friars knocked off the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-2 score at Schneider Arena.
Andy Balysky, Matt Germain, Ian O’Connor, Jordan Kreymr and Derek Army all tallied goals for the Friars, and Alex Beaudry made 33 saves in net. Yuri Bouharevich and Ben Arnt scored for the Bobcats.
2010 began with disappointment for the Friars, who missed out on the Hockey East playoffs in March. However, the team has rebounded since the start of the 2010-11 season, and coach Tim Army attributes his team’s turnaround to the experience and senior leadership.
“It’s important when your guys can be emotional leaders,” he said. “All four of them [Kyle MacKinnon, O'Connor, Ben Farrer and Germain] have been terrific. It’s been good because when you do something right off the ice it translates to on the ice. And everybody can learn from that example.”
The Friars have played particularly well at home, losing only once so far this season and improving to 4-1-3 with Saturday’s win. They will need to keep up that success as the new year will bring two visits from Boston College and visits from Boston University and New Hampshire.
“It’s difficult to win on the road in our league,” Army said. “You got to be good at home. If you can put up some points and get some wins, that gives you a cushion. But we have to come out and play with speed and physicality and establish the tempo.”
Quinnipiac finds itself in a similar situation in ECAC Hockey. Entering Saturday’s matinee, the Bobcats were tied with Clarkson for fourth in the league, trailing a trio of Ivy League schools.
The meeting between the Friars and the Bobcats was only the fourth ever, with Providence holding a 2-1 edge. The Bobcats took the last meeting in Hamden, Conn., in 2008 by a 5-2 score. That was after the Friars had dominated the first two meetings in the series in 2001 and 2004.
This game was almost all Friars the entire way as the Friars had two separate three-goal leads and a four-goal lead en route to the win over the Bobcats.
“I liked our push back today,” Army said. “We tried to be aware of their key guys on the ice. We don’t see them a lot, so that was important. They come out hard but we got settled and into a real nice rhythm.”
The Friars jumped out to a two-goal lead with quick goals late in the first period. Balysky picked up his second of the season and then Germain scored his fourth just 57 seconds later.
Eric Hartzell started and had been Quinnipiac’s best puck stopper so far this season, posting a 5-1-0 record with a 2.33 goals-against average.
The Bobcats turned the game around in the second, cutting the Friars lead to 2-1 with Bouharevich’s goal. Quinnipiac managed more scoring chances and outshot the Friars 11-8.
Despite the upped pressure from Quinnipiac, the Friars managed to extend their lead back to two goals with O’Connor’s fifth goal, batted out of the air past Hartzell. The goal at 9:21 was O’Connor’s 15th point and tied him with fellow captain MacKinnon for the team lead.
Providence added to the lead late in the second. Jordan Kremyr took a pass from Germain and the puck trickled past Hartzell. The goal was Kremyr’s fifth of the season and the assist was Germain’s second point of the game.
“That goal was a back breaker,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “Really, the third and fourth goal were just poor. So many of our guys are not committed to the defensive side of the game and they are not preparing well for games. It’s been like a yo-yo all semester.”
Army’s goal at 1:32 was his fourth tally of his freshman season. The power-play goal, just the Friars’ ninth all season, extended the lead to 5-1. The Bobcats cut the lead to 5-2 a few moments later on a goal from Arnt but could not overcome the lead the Friars had built up.
“It’s good to finish the first half with a win,” Army said.