BOSTON — Boston University coach Jack Parker saw plenty to worry about when he scouted Providence on Friday night in its opener, an 8-2 win over Sacred Heart. In his notes, he repeatedly wrote “fast and tenacious.”
For the better part of two periods, Providence lived up to that billing. Ultimately though, the Terriers pulled out a come-from-behind 4-2 win due to some speed and tenacity of their own. Trailing 2-1, BU scored two goals in three minutes and shut down Providence the rest of the way, sealing it with a last-minute empty-net goal by Ben Rosen.
A crowd of 4,850 at Agganis Arena enjoyed seeing some early-season questions answered. BU’s three sophomores — Cason Hohmann, Evan Rodriguez, and Alexx Privitera — all had fantastic games, showing every sign of improving on nondescript freshman years. After scoring just eight points in 35 games last year, Hohmann had three points. Rodrigues added two assists. Ryan Ruikka also scored the first goal of the season after not scoring once all of last year.
Perhaps the best news of the night was that freshman goalie Matt O’Connor looked solid, especially when his team needed it the most. O’Connor won his college debut with 26 saves, none bigger than a pad save on a great chance by centerman Tim Schaller on a four-on-three. That kept the game at 2-1, and BU’s rally came shortly thereafter.
“I thought we played very well,” Parker said. “All of our guys turned in a good effort and seemed to be alert. I thought the turning point of the game was when they had the four-on-three. The thing that impressed me the most about my team was our freshman goaltender. After he gave up two goals, he didn’t give up any more. He could’ve been a little jumpy, and he wasn’t. He played very cool.”
“I thought it was a good college hockey game,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “I thought both goaltenders played well for being freshmen. We’re up 2-1 on the road; we had a two-on-one [break] and a four-on-three [power play] to make it 3-1. We had a chance to separate ourselves, and we didn’t. Then they got two goals in three minutes and got the building back in the game. Credit them.”
BU came out strong and got the first goal at 7:42. Hohmann teed up Ruikka’s one-timer from the point, and the shot sailed high through traffic and found the net. The Friars tied it up with Ross Mauermann’s second goal in as many games, seven minutes later. Then Providence almost scored again seconds later during a wild scrum near the BU crease, with defenders flopping around desperately before clearing it.
The momentum tilted to Providence, and it took the lead early in the second period. O’Connor made the pad save on a soft shot from the point, but he left a chunky rebound to his right. Freshman Paul de Jersey flipped it over his pad for the lead.
BU tied it at 15:58 when Hohmann set up defenseman Garrett Noonan for another shot through traffic from the point. Then the Terriers got the eventual game-winner. Freshman Matt Grzelcyk made a nice cross-ice pass to spring Evan Rodrigues on the left wing, and the sophomore made a slick drop pass between a defender’s skate to get the puck to Hohmann for the shot and a five-hole goal against freshman goalie Jon Gillies.
Parker said that Hohmann is playing with much more confidence, partly from experience and partly because he doesn’t have to be anxious about whether he’ll have ice time this year. “And, you know, people grow up,” Parker said.
The third period featured very little in the way of scoring chances for either team, as Providence had clearly lost its jump. Ben Rosen sealed it in the final minute. Almost immediately after Gillies was pulled for the extra skater, Rosen got the puck inside his own blue line and flipped it high in the air. Remarkably, the puck went straight into the net, giving Rosen as many goals in the first game as he had all of last season.
“Pretty nice lift on the nine-iron, there,” Parker said.
BU (1-0) plays UNH on the road next Saturday, while Providence (1-1) plays a pair of games at Miami University next weekend.