PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For 59 minutes, No. 6 Providence was seemingly back on track.
Then Northeastern’s Braden Pimm took his first shot two shots of the game and in the span of 46 seconds, vaulted the No. 16-ranked Huskies to a stunning 2-1 overtime win over the Friars at Schneider Arena.
Perhaps some motivation came from the last meeting in December when the Friars erased a 3-0 deficit to tie Northeastern.
“We were talking [about it] during the intermission – they stole a point in our building, we were trying to do the same here,” Pimm said. “It feels pretty good coming out of it with two [points].”
Northeastern coach Jim Madigan coyly claimed he erased the December game from his memory.
“I don’t look at it as redemption [for that],” Madigan said.
The loss was the second for Providence in the last three games and leaves the Friars winless in three consecutive games for the first time this season.
“We’re not bearing down,” Providence coach Nate Leaman noted. “The shots we’re generating, the chances we’re generating – I like those – but we’re not finishing them and because of that, we didn’t put the game away tonight.”
Providence came out of the gate flying, dominating the time of possession in the attacking zone and forcing Clay Witt to be active in the Northeastern crease.
It took a few saves for Friars’ goalie Jon Gillies (27 saves) to settle in, shaking off the rust in his first start since the World Junior Championship.
In the first period, Gillies spilled a few inviting rebounds in front after a handful of Northeastern shots from the perimeter, but became more comfortable as the game wore on.
Ross Mauermann was again the catalyst for the Friars, opening up the scoring 7:57 into the first period after Stefen Demopoulos fired a spinning shot from the right wing boards, knocking in a rebound after the puck was deflected by Shane Luke.
It was Mauermann’s 14th goal of the season, adding to a career high and putting him into a tie with Northeastern’s Kevin Roy for second-most in Hockey East.
After a frenetic start to the second period, the Huskies’ offensive zone time proved to be fleeting as Providence suffocated them defensively and limited them just six shots in the period.
Yet despite the defensive strength, the Friars couldn’t put away multiple opportunities for an insurance goal in the third period. Witt (38 saves) made several diving saves on rebound attempts and the Friars aided him by missing the net on multiple scoring chances.
Meanwhile, the Huskies kept picking their spots, increasingly finding Pimm open on the rush.
With a minute to go and an extra attacker on the ice, Pimm carried the puck over the Providence line alone on the left wing and sniped a wrist shot past Gillies’ glove hand to tie the game, letting the air out of an arena ready to celebrate a share of first place in the Hockey East standings.
Then just 12 seconds into the extra period, the Huskies again placed their top scoring line on the ice. Roy, usually on the receiving end of passes on the rush, found a wide-open Pimm streaking behind the Providence defense and Pimm did the rest, chipping it top shelf past Gillies, who elected not to cut down the angle or challenge the shooter.
It was quietly Pimm’s 12th goal of the season, placing him among the league’s top scorers, just two tallies behind Roy and Mauermann.
“Something happens when it’s the last half of your senior year,” Madigan remarked about Pimm. “Maybe the last two years haven’t been as good as he’s wanted to. You get into a zone. We’ve all been there as players and that’s what he’s in right now.”
While the Huskies could celebrate a boost to start the second half of conference plat, the Friars are left searching for answers as they head into a road game against first-place Boston College this Friday night.
“I’m angry right now,” Leaman said. “That was the message to the team after the game – we’ve got to be hungrier.”