By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
When the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team played Providence College earlier this season, the Terriers (14-6-1, 11-4-1 Hockey East) were plagued by a slow start and faced a three-goal deficit by the end of the first period in the game. Even the team bus arrived late that night.
But on Friday evening at Agganis Arena, the Terriers made up for that slow start with a four-goal first period against the Friars (9-10-2, 7-6-1 Hockey East). They rode that strong start to a 6-1 win and moved into sole possession of first place in the league.
Providence starting netminder Alex Beaudry was chased from the game after venturing way out of position on the third Terrier goal, which came 13:23 into the first period.
“We had the puck going in the net for us tonight,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I thought my team played great for almost the entire game. We really played well in the first and we really played well in the third.”
Sophomore forward Sahir Gill started the BU barrage with a goal off a loose puck at the top of the crease 1:31 into the game. His goal stood as the lone score until 10:40 in the first, when junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson blasted a shot from the right point past Beaudry to double the Terrier lead.
Junior forward Ryan Santana scored his first goal of the season on the strangest goal of the period. Santana hustled into the play on a line change and caught up to a dump off sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan’s stick. Beaudry came out to the top of the circle to challenge Santana, who chipped it by a sprawled Beaudry and watched as the puck trickled into the net.
“His eyes probably lit up when he saw the goalie coming out,” Parker said. “[He probably thought] ‘If I can just get it over him’. But I think Ryan Santana is a real hard-working player every day in practice. It wouldn’t surprise you that he went hard for that puck because he goes hard for every puck.”
Sophomore forward Matt Nieto capped the first-period scoring at 14:43 when he deflected an Adam Clendening shot past senior backup goalie Justin Gates, who replaced Beaudry.
The Terriers took their game down a notch in the second period. BU was out-shot 20-11 in the frame and took three lazy penalties. They failed to test Gates and attempted only 14 shots, a whopping 25 less than they attempted in the first period.
Providence made BU pay for its careless play 8:59 into the period. Providence had just finished a power play and worked the puck to the net, where the entire BU defense surrounded Millan but failed to prevent Providence from launching a barrage of shots on the goaltender. Friar freshman Shane Luke finally pushed a puck through to tighten the score to 4-1. The goal was the first of his collegiate career.
“I thought we played a terrific second period,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “I even thought we played a pretty good first period outside of the pucks that went in our net. I thought for the first 40 minutes, I thought we played really well. But their pucks went in our net, and I thought they won the net-front battle around their net.”
In the third period, Providence co-captain Daniel New’s hit on Alex Chiasson gave BU a five-minute power play that effectively ended the Friars’ night. New was ejected from the game because of the hit, and BU scored twice in its five minutes of a man-advantage.
The first goal of the power play came on an Alexx Privitera slap shot from the blue line, increasing the Terrier lead to 5-1. Sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan made it 6-1 when he lifted a shot over Gates’s right pad with a little over two minutes remaining on the five-minute power play. The goal was Noonan’s second in as many games.
Although the Terriers did not score after the power play expired, they continued to control play in their offensive zone for the remainder of regulation.
The first and third period efforts helped BU to its 14th win of the season, and it also marked Parker’s 400th victory in Hockey East. Parker was mum on the milestone and simply noted how old he must be to have 400 wins. Just as Parker took a lighthearted shot at himself, his players also playfully chimed in on their coach’s value.
“He still brings a lot of energy to the rink every day,” Nieto said. “He can get a little cranky at times, but other than that, he does his job well and brings out the best in us.”