A barrage of penalty minutes, an inability to win faceoffs, and zero power play goals proved fateful for the tenth-ranked Eagles as they fell 6-2 to No. 7 Providence on Friday night at Kelley Rink. Despite the grit displayed by BC, it didn’t match up to Providence’s poise on the ice, handing the Eagles the loss in their first Hockey East game of the season.
“Tough way to start the Hockey East conference,” said BC head coach Jerry York in the postgame press conference. “Down 0-1 now in the conference. We really pointed to this game as kind of a start, really getting our going in that league.”
A decently uneventful first period left the Eagles down one as the Friars scored their first goal of the night at 18:25 off a rebound from Spencer Knight’s pad. Statistically, the game seemed evenly matched throughout the first; both goalies had seven saves, and Providence only notched one more shot and won one more faceoff than the Eagles.
However, a lack of power play goals held BC from shifting the momentum their way. Over three power play opportunities–totaling two minutes, 43 seconds–in the first period, the Eagles only got three shots off, which accounted for almost half of their shots in the period.
Granted the dullness of the first period wouldn’t be hard to beat, the second period brought a torrent of goals and penalties faster than the announcers could figure out what was going on.
Providence’s Matt Koopman opened the second period show with a goal at 8:08 to put the Friars up 2-0. Less than a minute later, BC’s Graham McPhee cut the deficit in half, finding the back of the net on a high short side shot to make the score 2-1.
Before anyone could gather what had happened, Providence had snagged a faceoff at the center point, setting up Cam McDonald to score through a partial screen for the Friars’ third goal of the game at 9:01.
The scoring gods must have been present in the second period, as the fourth goal in under two minutes found the back of the net–this time for BC. Logan Hutsko blasted a shot from the left goal line at an improbable angle, surging the energy in the team and the crowd as the Eagles found themselves within one of the Friars.
“It was good to see Logan back in the lineup for us tonight,” said York. “That line [of Hutsko-Mattila-Cotton] is going to be one of our keys as we go through the year.”
Just as quickly as the spirit had picked up, the momentum plunged after a nasty hit on Providence’s Jason O’Neill by Ron Greco at 11:29, raising tensions and causing the gloves to come off on both teams. Greco was handed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, giving the Friars a significant 5-on-4 advantage.
“One of the key moments, you know, was that five-minute major on us,” said York. “We were talking all week about cutting back on penalties, cutting back on penalty minutes.”
About one minute later, David Cotton was called for a hooking penalty to put Providence at a 5-on-3 advantage over the Eagles. The Friars were able to take advantage of this opportunity, with Michael Callahan adding on the last goal of the crazy period to make the score 4-2 at 13:15.
The Eagles had a few more chances to even the score, but were unable to get anything past Providence goalie Michael Lackey. Julius Mattila, Graham McPhee, and Marshall Warren all had great looks, yet couldn’t get the shot they each needed. Even with another power play opportunity in the period, the Eagles again failed to take advantage.
Another tiff ensued as the period came to a close, displaying the animosity between the two teams that continued throughout the game.
The third period gave the Friars two more goals to seal their 6-2 victory over the Eagles. Jack Dugan used his team’s faceoff win to get a shot past Knight at 9:04; at 17:16, Greg Printz grabbed his own rebound to nail the sixth and final goal for Providence.
Providence outplayed the Eagles, winning 38 faceoffs to BC’s 28 and going 1-for-4 on the power play, while BC came up short on their four power play opportunities. Although Providence head coach Nate Leaman thought his team “showed [their] youth,” they were still able to beat out a more experienced BC team.
This was the second game in a row that the Eagles gave up six goals, having given up six to Denver on Oct. 19. Knight, who had 26 saves on the night, has justified his worth to be on this Eagles roster, but the freshman still has some learning to do in terms of the way the game is played at this level.
“We gotta get better in a lot of different areas,” said York. “We gotta play with a little more desperation, we gotta be quicker. Right now, there’s not a whole lot of positives we can look at, but those are some areas we’ve gotta improve on. Just play with a little more sense of urgency and just quicker.”
The Eagles have one week to work out the kinks before taking on the University of New Hampshire on the road on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.