BOSTON – The name of the game was flat-out “easy” for the No. 2 Boston University Terriers as they controlled play from the opening face-off in a 6-1 drubbing of the Providence Friars on Friday night at Agganis Arena.
For BU, the victory was its fourth in as many tries during the New Year and the 300th in Hockey East play in the 39-year career of head coach Jack Parker.
“We had the puck going in the net for us tonight,” Parker said. “My team played great for almost the entire game. We played really well in the first and in the third. There were some points in the second where we took some stupid penalties and made a couple bad reads at the blue line, giving them some opportunities.”
The victory also avenged a 5-3 loss to the Friars in PC’s season opener at Schneider Arena on Oct. 14, 2011. BU has won just one of the last four games on the road at Providence and will head there on Saturday to close the series, hoping for the season series win and all-important tiebreaker in the conference standings.
The Terriers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as sophomore Sahir Gill was on the spot in front to bang in a rebound just 1:31 into the contest, flipping a loose puck in front over Providence senior Alex Beaudry.
“I think four of their first six shots went in the net there right off the bat,” said new Providence head coach Nate Leaman. “We came out a little bit on our heels…and Kieran made some really great saves.”
Rookie Evan Rodrigues was credited with the lone assist on the play as he set up Gill for his seventh goal of the season, which is now a new career-high.
However, scoring is something the Terriers would do quite often in the remaining stages in the period as they stepped off the ice with four goals on just ten shots in the stanza. In the period, the Terriers were out-shot by an 11-10 margin but had five more chances on the whole at 25-20.
Junior Alex Chiasson doubled their lead at 10:40 as he fired a slap shot from the right circle through a screen and past Beaudry.
At 13:23, Beaudry saw his night come to an end as he allowed junior Ryan Santana to chip in his first goal of the season in just his fourth game. Beaudry came out of his net in an attempt to clear a loose puck, but came too far as Santana was able to corral the loose change and lift it into the open net.
With that the Ontario native’s night was complete after just 13:23 and six saves. Fellow senior Justin Gates, a native of Cranston, R.I., came in and allowed a fourth goal to sophomore Matt Nieto as he deflected a shot from the point into the goal at 14:43.
“Three goals on six shots,” said Leaman. “I just thought we needed a change there. Their second goal usually does not go in on him and the third one, I just thought it was a bad decision for him to come out towards the blue line and poke check that puck…Beauds has been great all year and when I saw that, those two plays were pretty uncharacteristic. We needed a change…”
Providence was finally able to crack the scoreboard at the 8:59 mark of the second period as Terrier senior Kieran Millan finally allowed one in the form of Shane Luke’s first as a Friar.
The offense was camped out right on the right side of Millan’s crease and Luke received credit for the score on the fifth or sixth whack at the puck on the doorstep.
In the period, the Friars dominated the offensive chances with a 28-14 total edge and a 20-11 advantage in shots on goal.
“I thought we played a terrific second period,” Leaman added. “I thought we played an outstanding first period outside of the goals that went in our net. I thought we had some great chances, our first two power plays were really good…I thought for the first 40 minutes we played really well, but their pucks just went in our net and I thought they won the net-front battle in front of their net. I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Providence started the third period with a five-minute major penalty just 4:14 in when captain Daniel New threw a late hit in the left wing corner, leading to two more BU goals to officially shut the door.
Less than one minute into the advantage, Alexx Privitera fired a drive from the center point and beat Gates on a rocket for the team’s fifth of the game and the rookie’s third of the year.
Captain Chris Connolly opened a hole in the Friars defense and took a shot on net about seven minutes in and sophomore Garrett Noonan flipped the rebound past the left post for the 6-1 edge – officially counted at the 7:02 mark.
Millan finished the evening with 36 saves and Parker was very fast to praise his second 35+ save performance. Gates finished the final 46:37 with 27 saves.
“He made some unbelievable saves early on,” Parker said. “It’s not just the quantity of saves he was making, it was the quality. He certainly was on top of his game tomorrow night.”
“I liked the way everybody played from my club tonight…obviously, [sophomore Adam] Clendening had a hell of a night, getting three assists. Getting Gilroy, Nieto and Chiasson back on the scoreboard was great for us, getting two power-play goals was great for us.”