Providence, RI. — Many in the crowd were wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day. One team’s fan base would be going home feeling green with envy. The other would be buying tickets for next weekend’s 35th edition of the Hockey East Championship weekend at TD Garden in Boston.
The opening period was a back and forth fast paced affair. The Friars had a few chances quickly to open but Joseph Woll looked to be on form. The Eagles would get the game’s first power play when Scott Conway was called for a Face-Off Violation just 1:52 into the game. BC had had 2 solid chances on the man advantage and on one of those chances referee Jamie Koharski whistled the play dead while the puck was loose. The Friars killed it off and built some momentum, getting two quick shots on Woll.
BC’s Casey Fitzgerald would be sent off for Charging at 5:48 giving PC it’s first man advantage of the game. BC did a good job of keeping the Friars to the outside and limiting their chances.
The game had a great pace, as would be expected in a win or go home between the two Hockey East titans. Greg Printz blocked a BC pass at his blueline and was on his way towards Woll. He got a shot off but it was high over the net. At 12:16 matching penalties were assessed to BC’s Michael Karow and PC’s Jack Dugan for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. The four on four play was frantic as each team tried to take advantage of the extra space.
An Oliver Wahlstrom Slashing penalty at 18:53 had PC on the attack as the first period wound down. The Friar’s Tyce Thompson dinged the post for the period’s best scoring chance. The first ended scoreless, which each team getting 10 shots on goal. The Friars had the edge in face-offs 14-12.
The second period had an Interference call on PC’s Dugan at 1:10. PC had a good shorthanded bid but again Woll was there. The pace of play carried over to the middle frame. At 5:43 an Embellishment call on BC’s Wahlstrom and a Hooking call on Conway would result in the game’s second four on four.
A Hooking call on Kasper Bjorkqvist at 7:07 led to BC getting another power play. This time the Eagles made the Friars pay. A Michael Kim shot from the top of the left circle found its way thru the scrum in front of Hayden Hawkey and into the top right corner at 8:22 for the 1-0 Eagle lead. The Eagles would score first in all three games of this series.
PC had a quick three on two after the BC goal, but again Woll was able to make a big stop. BC had solid pressure with five minutes remaining, but Hawkey was equally as solid as his counterpart in maroon. At 16:22 Luke McInnis and Thompson would be sent off for Roughing. This would be the game’s third four-on-four. After PC pressure, last night’s hero, Logan Hutsko dug the puck out of the corner and skated it the length of the ice and beat Hawkey with a snapshot that rang the post.
The second period ended with intensity, as each team had chances. The Friars outshot the Eagles 11-9 for a 21-19 margin through two. BC outworn the face-off battle 15-13 evening that at 27-27 for the two period total.
The third period opened with a point-blank save by Hawkey on J.D. Dudek on a loose puck. A McInnis Cross-Checking penalty at 2:17 gave PC the man advantage but BC had a solid kill. At 4:33 Conway would get his third penalty of the game. This one for Hooking. At 5:30 BC’s Wahlstrom would be called for Interference.
PC had good pressure on the 57-second four-on-four. Conway, fresh out of the box would bang home a rebound from Josh Wilkins blast to even the game at 1-1 with just over 13 minutes to play in regulation.
Hutsko would take a feed from Fitzgerald at the blueline and walk in and fire a wrist shot from the right face-off dot under the arm of Hawkey at 11:55 for the 2-1 BC lead. PC was frantic after this, getting multiple looks at Woll but couldn’t get the puck by him. Hawkey vacated his net with roughly 1:30 left in the period.
BC held on for the 2-1 win after two face-offs in their zone. The first at 1:05, and the second at 00:28. PC outshot the Eagles 38-27 (17-8 3rd) but it wasn’t enough to down the suddenly high-flying Eagles.
For Friars coach Nate Leaman it was simple as to why they lost.
“I thought we were just chasing the game. We were just chasing the puck a lot tonight.” The coach said of Logan Hutsko “he scored two big-time goals in the series, I thought he was really good. He was shifty every time he had the puck. We just didn’t have him. He got a look and he buried it.”
“I felt confident we could win,” Eagles coach Jerry York said in the post-game press conference. Next, he heaped praise on his starting goaltender. “He (Joe Woll) just performed really well this weekend. Very consistent, very strong in the net. Some of the saves he made were spectacular. It was a well-earned victory for us. We competed hard, we battled.”
The Friars must await the semifinals and finals action to be done before they know if they have another game in their season, while BC has a date with Massachusetts on Friday at 7:30 pm.