CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Providence took a 1-0 lead into the third period, then blew out Boston College with four goals in less than four minutes en route to a 5-1 win.
With the two points, the Friars temporarily regained a share of first place in Hockey East, tied with BC and Massachusetts-Lowell, pending Saturday night and Sunday games by Lowell and New Hampshire (one point behind), who both hold a game in hand.
The two combatants came into the weekend part of a four-way tie for first place, but Providence failed to hold serve at home on Friday night, dropping a 3-2 decision.
“We wanted to be sure that we answered back after the tough loss,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “We wanted to make sure that we brought our best.
“Any time that you lose on Friday night and then you go back on the road, [it's tough]. I thought we were fragile early. The first goal helped us, but in the third period, once we got the second one, the guys loosened up a little bit. Fortunately for us, it went well the rest of the way.”
A sweep at BC’s hands would have likely cost the Friars home ice for the playoffs in the tightly-contested Hockey East race. Instead, the Friars remain in the race for the regular season title with the impressive bounce-back win. They face Lowell in a home-and-home series next weekend that, while difficult, gives them considerable control over their own destiny.
Arguably, the Friars’ fourth line and power play decided this game. Fourth-liner Noel Acciari scored the first-period goal, taking a rebound of a sharp angle shot by linemate Chris Rooney and roofing it home.
The Friars power play then capitalized on two third-period BC penalties, the second of extraordinarily boneheaded proportions by Michael Matheson, who had won the Friday night game almost singlehandedly with a goal and two assists.
On the first power-play goal, John Gilmour faked a slap shot from the left point, then fired a pass to Nick Saracino on the doorstep, where he faked and stuffed the puck around Parker Milner.
On the second, Tom Parisi wristed a shot from the point through traffic and it caromed in off a BC defender.
The Friars fourth line then got back into the action, making it a 4-0 game just 17 seconds after Parisi’s goal. Chris Rooney redirected a shot from the left boards by his brother Kevin Rooney. Acciari followed with the final nail in the coffin, a backhanded shot while short-handed that eluded Eagles goalie Park Milner, resulting in the goaltender getting pulled for Brad Barone.
“Our fourth line and our power play both were very good tonight,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “This is back-to-back weekends that our fourth line was our best line on Saturday night. So that’s a really good positive for us going forward.”
The victory ends a Providence drought against Boston College that dates back to Feb. 29, 2008, during which the Eagles dominated the series, 15-0-3.
With the loss, Boston College loses control of its own destiny in the Hockey East race. The Eagles have faced depth concerns all year, and those only got worse in the pre- and early-game. Senior defenseman Patrick Wey could not play due to a skate cut on the back of the thigh suffered late in the Friday night game, and top goal scorer Steven Whitney lasted only a few shifts due to a thigh contusion.
“I’ve had better Saturday afternoons,” BC coach Jerry York said. “We played pretty solid hockey through two periods, but they wore us down in the third period. The two penalties that resulted in power-play goals were real turning points.”
The Eagles denied freshman Jon Gillies his fifth shutout with a Quinn Smith rebound goal with 1:20 remaining. Gillies had turned in a first-period highlight-reel save perfect for the whirring NESN cameras when he skated behind the net to corral the puck, only to have it take a crazy bounce out in front. Brendan Silk seemed poised to score the easiest goal of his life, only to have Gillies dive and stop the puck with the paddle of his stick.
“I told him he did that just for TV’s sake,” Leaman deadpanned. “But it shows just how athletic he is.”
The team teams finish deadlocked in their season series, 1-1-1. With head-to-head records thus removed from the tiebreaker criteria, BC wins the tiebreak based on more league wins, 14-12.