BOSTON — For the second night in a row, Providence had No. 10 BU on the ropes, but couldn’t land the knockout punch.
One night after BU rallied from a two-goal deficit to win at Providence, the Terriers fell behind by a goal twice and came back each time to emerge with a hard-fought 3-3 tie in front of 5,050 at Agganis Arena.
Freshman Danny O’Regan scored the last game-tying goal with 6:39 remaining and added an assist for BU, which also received a goal and an assist from left wing Matt Nieto. Providence freshman Jon Gillies made 28 saves, including six in overtime, for the Friars.
“Overall, I thought it was a terrific college hockey game as the game progressed,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “It was a little slow to start with, but as the game wore on it became better and better to watch. Both teams were really competing hard.
“We got five out of six points against Providence College this year in the regular season, and that’s an accomplishment because this Providence team really works hard. They pride themselves in outworking the other team. They’ve got plenty of talent as well. We really had to dig deep tonight.”
Providence coach Nate Leaman found some consolation in earning a point on the road coming off the tough loss at home on Friday.
“I thought it was a good college hockey game,” Leaman said. “Over the last two nights, one goal separates the two teams over 120 minutes. So, I thought it was pretty competitive hockey and two teams that are pretty close right now, although both teams are banged up. I thought our guys did a good job of handling a lot of adversity tonight. We battled through it, and it was a good step for us coming back off a tough loss last night.”
It appeared that Providence might have the early lead at 5:31 of the first period when Derek Army nudged the puck in right after BU freshman goalie Matt O’Connor covered it. However, the referee immediately waved off the goal, perhaps because he intended to blow the whistle, and did not go to video review.
BU made it 1-0 at 17:34 when freshman Matt Lane raced in on the left wing and fired a shot between a defender’s legs. Gillies made the initial save, but Ben Rosen popped in the rebound.
Providence tied it just over a minute later early in a power play. Big defenseman Myles Harvey blasted a slap shot through traffic, and O’Connor got a piece of it before it trickled in. Freshman Paul De Jersey almost gave the Friars the lead less than a minute later, backhanding a rebound wide of the net. If he had been a left shot, it probably would have been a goal.
A bad turnover by BU freshman Sam Kurker led to the next Providence goal early in the second period. Steven McFarland took the puck away from him and had only to beat O’Connor for the 2-1 lead.
BU got that one back with the help of a five-on-three advantage later in the period. With the BU fans impatiently yelling “Shoot!” as the Terriers passed the puck around the triangle of defenders, Matt Grzelcyk finally teed it up for Nieto low in the right-wing circle. Despite the sharp angle, Nieto buried the one-timer.
“I’ve actually been working on that shot in practice,” Nieto said, noting that teammate Garrett Noonan, who missed this series due to a two-game suspension for spearing, and assistant coach Buddy Powers had been working with him on this particular shot.
Providence stunned BU with a goal just 39 seconds into the third period to take the lead. Ross Mauermann carried the puck into the Terriers’ zone before dishing to Shane Luke on his left wing, where the sophomore beat O’Connor with a high wrist shot.
BU picked it up at that point and played great the rest of the night after being stymied by Providence’s forecheck much of the first two periods. After a few near misses by Kurker and Sahir Gill, the Terriers tied it on O’Regan’s goal, though not without some controversy.
Sean Escobedo took a shot, and O’Regan picked up the rebound and went for the wraparound attempt. Meanwhile, PC defenseman Steven Shamanski knocked BU winger Ryan Santana into the crease and pinned him there while O’Regan slipped in the shot. The goal was initially waved off, but ruled good after video review.
Leaman appeared disgusted with the call, but later explained that he thought it was a good call: He was objecting to the failure to do a video review on Providence’s first-period goal.
“What I’m frustrated about with the call as we scored a goal in the first period, and he wouldn’t review it.”
From there on, it was quite a cliffhanger. BU had the better of the chances in overtime, including a near miss on a three-on-one, but Providence had a good look on one shot, only to miss the net. Nieto raced in for one last chance, and Gillies made the save on what may or may not have been a buzzer beater if it had gone in.
Still, Parker was pleased, especially with Noonan out for the suspension and hot forward Evan Rodrigues out with a hand injury.
“We survived with a couple of important guys out of the lineup, and everybody chipped in and stepped up,” Parker said.
BU (13-9-1, 10-6-1 Hockey East), which tied a game for the first time since October 2011, also received good news about Rodrigues. Last night, it seemed he might have a broken hand, but now it appears to be only a contusion. He might be back for Friday’s game at Massachusetts, and seems probable for the Beanpot.
Providence (10-11-3, 8-6-3) travels to Maine next weekend.