By James Garrison
The No. 20 Boston University men’s hockey team (16-10-3, 11-6-3 Hockey East) traveled south Thursday night to take on the No. 17 Providence Friars (18-12-2, 9-10-1 HE). Looking to continue their win streak, the Terriers took the contest 4-1.
Even with two incredibly high-stake Beanpot games between this game, the Terriers still faced a very important matchup with major implications for both their Hockey East standings and their national ranking.
Going into Thursday, the Terriers sat even with UConn for third place in Hockey East, with Providence only two points back. Additionally, with BU sitting 20th in the USCHO national rankings and the Friars at 17th, there was much to play for.
“Hard to play a game in between the Beanpot,” said Terriers’ Head Coach Albie O’Connell in his post-game press conference. “Especially against a team like Providence in such an important game within our standings,” O’Connell added.
It was just under two weeks ago when these two sides met for the first time this season at Agganis Arena, with the Terriers taking the contest 5-2. Two goals from junior forward Wilmer Skoog led BU past Providence on Jan. 30.
Both teams came out flying Thursday night, exchanging chances on both ends of the ice in what was a tight-checking, highly competitive and physical first period.
The scoring finally opened up in the second period after junior forward Jay O’Brien took an elbowing penalty that was reviewed for a potential major. O’Brien would not be in the box long after being dealt a minor.
Friars’ junior forward Patrick Moynihan put Providence up 1-0 at 10:09 of the second. O’Brien would soon get revenge against his former team though by evening things up at 8:28, scoring a power-play goal identical to the one he scored on Monday against Harvard.
For the second time this season, the coach’s challenge would come up big for the Terriers. BU’s coaching staff challenged a hit on Case McCarthy earlier in the second when the Terriers were on the penalty kill.
“Live it looked like a clear hit from behind,” O’Connell said. “John Sherman did a good job, he called down and said it was for sure a ‘five.’ It was definitely on the numbers”.
After the review, the Terriers would be awarded a five-minute major power-play. Continuing his hot streak, junior forward Matt Brown sniped one short-side on Friar goaltender Jaxson Stauber to put the Terriers up 2-1 late in the second.
Brown has gone on a tear in which he has thirteen points (7g, 6a) in his last twelve games dating back to Dec. 3 against UNH––Brown’s second game back from injury.
Early on in the third, the Terriers’ power-play would continue its red-hot streak with goals in four straight games and seven goals across that stretch overall with another tally from O’Brien, putting the Terriers up 3-1.
“I think we’ve got guys in the right seats,” O’Connell said. “We’ve got [Brown] and [O’Brien] on those two half-wall spots. Both guys can score, both guys like to shoot.”
Freshman forward Brian Carrabes, who was re-inserted into the lineup in Ty Amonte’s absence, got on the board to pad the Terriers’ lead, putting them up 4-1 to finish off the night.
The Terriers were able to use their speed and skill at Agganis the last time they played Providence. Coming into Providence on Thursday night, the Terriers were forced to play a much grittier, chippy game.
Forty-one combined penalty minutes aside, the Terriers continue to find ways to win, even if the game is not played on their terms. This is much unlike the BU team that we saw in the first half of the year.
O’Brien seemed to be just about everywhere Thursday night, continuing to build his stats against his former team. With two goals and an assist Thursday, O’Brien brought his points total to eight points in four games against Providence since he joined the Terriers.
“Coming back here, he definitely gets up for some games,” O’Connell said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy that he played well (…) he’s turned into a little bit of a leader on the team.”
With the win, the Terriers jump into second place in Hockey East standings with 35 points, passing both UConn and Massachusetts who have 32 and 33, respectively.
Although second place may be temporary for the Terriers, as every team in the conference has games-in-hand on them except for Providence, they are starting to cement their position at the top of Hockey East in the final few weeks of the regular season.
The Terriers will earn a well-deserved weekend off before they continue their stretch of big games with their biggest tilt yet this year, a date with the Northeastern Huskies in the 2022 Beanpot finals at 7:30pm on Monday.
“It’s going to be an electric, electric crowd,” O’Connell said about the Beanpot. “The Beanpot is back and kind of the way it used to be (…) it seemed like it had a way different vibe and more of an old-school vibe. The guys will be pretty excited for it.”
Follow along on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and on Twitter @BOShockeyblog for live updates of the Beanpot championship Monday. Previews and recaps can also be found before and after the game on the blog.