PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Thirteen days ago when Providence battled to a 3-3 tie with Boston College, it was a tie that felt much more like a win.
On Thursday night in a 4-4 draw with Vermont, this was a tie that felt very much like a loss.
The Friars broke open a tied game in the third period with goals by Stefan Demopoulos at 4:25 and then a seeming backbreaker when Steven McParland scored shorthanded at 6:27.
But then Providence, in the words of head coach Nate Leaman, got careless. Before you knew it, Vermont struck twice, both coming off turnovers in the Providence end and knotted the game 4-4 by the 13:26 mark of the third.
Neither team could find the net in the remainder of regulation or overtime, leading to the 4-4 tie in front of 1,631 at Providence’s Schneider Arena.
“I’m disappointed,” said Leaman. “We failed to keep the game simple. You have a two-goal lead and you have two bad turnovers by upperclassmen. A two-goal lead at home and your leaders are making poor decisions.”
Of course, when one coach is unhappy with a tie, generally the opposing coach is often thrilled as was the case for Vermont’s Kevin Sneddon.
“We did a great job mentally,” said Sneddon. “We make a couple of mistakes and get down 4-2, but I thought our response was fantastic. That was the key to tonight’s game.”
The tie was an unfortunate outcome for Providence goaltender Russ Stein. The senior made his first-career start taking the place of rookie Jon Gillies, who is currently with the U.S. under-20 national team in preparation for the World Junior Championship that begins next week in Russia.
Stein hardly looked wet behind the ears, making 28 stops on the night and on most goals, being hung out to dry by his defense. Three of the four goals came on defensive miscues, including the two third-period tallies by H.T. Lenz at 8:28 and Chris McCarthy at 13:26.
“I want to give credit to their goaltender,” said Sneddon. “Everybody is talking about trying to take advantage of Gillies being at World Juniors and I thought [Stein] played one heck of a hockey game.”
The Catamounts (4-8-3, 3-5-3 Hockey East) opened the scoring in the first as Jonathan Turk picked up the second goal of his rookie season taking a long pass from Brett Bruneteau and skating in on a breakaway. Turk changed speed as he gathered the pass, flew past the defender and roofed a shot blocker side on Stein at 15:07 for the 1-0 lead.
It appeared the game would go to intermission that way but a late Vermont penalty, the third of the period to the Cats, resulted in a late goal. After Derek Army’s shot from the slot buzzed wide of the net, the puck hit a stanchion in back of the net and landed right back in the crease where Nick Saracino scored his second goal of the season at 19:38.
The Friars grabbed its first lead early in the second. Tom Parisi was given plenty of time at the left point to walk in and fire a wrist shot through traffic that banked off the left post and past Vermont netminder Brody Hoffman (32 saves) into the net at 4:27 for the 2-1 lead.
Providence was the beneficiary of the game’s first four power plays, but late in the frame when the Catamounts got the man-advantage, they cashed in and evened the game.
Just as Providence’s power-play tally in the first was fluky, so, too, was Jacob Fallon’s fourth goal of the season. He fired a high wrist shot from the left point that appeared to hit Friars’ defenseman Kevin Hart in the head and deflect into the net at 10:25 to knot the game at two.
That set up a wide-open third period with both teams able to cash in before the eventual tie.
“The third period opened up,” said Sneddon. “Both teams knew how important the game was.”
With the tie, Vermont now breaks out of a three-way deadlock with Merrimack and Massachusetts, now sitting a point ahead of both in solo fifth place. Both the Warriors (three) and Minutemen (one) have games in hand.
Providence (7-6-3, 5-4-2 Hockey East) remains in fourth place by itself, two points ahead of Vermont.