By: David Souza
BOSTON — On a night where the Terrier offense scored four goals for the first time in six games, it was redshirt sophomore goaltender Max Prawdzik who earned the game’s number one star, shutting out No. 9 New Hampshire in his collegiate debut. In doing so, Prawdzik became the first Boston University goaltender to blank an opponent in his first career start since Sean Fields on November 4, 2000.
Led by their net minder, No. 15 Boston University prevailed, 4-0, to salvage a weekend split.
“You feel so good for Max for what he’s been through since he’s been here at BU,” said Head Coach Dave Quinn. “[He] just keeps working hard and persevering, and the guys were excited for him.”
Prawdzik was called on to make 29 saves in his debut as a Terrier, with UNH testing the sophomore right out of the gate. The Wildcats peppered the BU cage with 12 shots in the first period, trying to rattle the young net minder early. Instead, Prawdzik stood tall, turning aside numerous UNH scoring chances and withstanding four Wildcat power plays.
Taking a leave of absence from the team and the university last year, Prawdzik credits most of his growth as a goalie to his time with the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League. The Andover, Mass. native joined the Texas-based team last year, backstopping them to a title before returning to Comm. Ave.
“It’s kind of cheesy, but, I kind of fell back in love with the game,” Prawdzik said. “I learned a ton about practicing hard and playing under pressure, and I just grew so much down there. And those experiences and playing in big games down there, I felt that really aided me tonight.”
That growth and big-game experience propelled Prawdzik back to BU, allowing him to fill in for Jake Oettinger on Saturday night. The usual starter was given a “mental break” against the Wildcats after playing in 11 straight contests.
And while the Terriers struggled to find the back of the net on Friday night at Northeastern, they jumped out to an early lead against UNH. Ty Amonte buried a beautiful feed from Patrick Curry into the top right corner of the net halfway through the opening period. Drew Melanson began the play deep in the Wildcat zone, dropping a pass between his legs to Curry to the right of Tirone. The sophomore mirrored Melanson’s actions, feeding a drop-pass to Amonte in the low slot that the freshman nestled over Tirone’s left shoulder.
That offensive success continued in the second period, when Dante Fabbro doubled the BU lead three minutes in. With the Terriers keeping up offensive zone pressure, Fabbro wristed a quick shot on Tirone from the near point. The attempt looked like a simple dump-in, as Fabbro threw the puck on net after whirling around to contain a Chad Krys pass moments before. Tirone never moved on the shot until the puck hit the netting behind him.
In his post-game press conference, Quinn discussed the importance of BU’s defense in the last half of the second period. With the Terriers leading by a pair of goals, a UNH strike would have certainly changed the complexity of the game. And with the Wildcats buzzing, Prawdzik was called on to make his biggest save of the night.
After Patrick Curry blocked a shot at the right point, the puck found its way down low to the left of the BU net. A UNH shot looked to be going into the open net, but Prawdzik was able to slide over and throw the his right pad in the way of the attempt. That save, along with the Terriers’ improved defensive efforts, held New Hampshire scoreless for the entire night.
“We broke the puck out better [against Northeastern] and tonight,” Quinn said. “We were a little bit more alert defensively and got to people and ended plays. So, we’re a work in progress in that area; and we’ve got to keep getting better defensively, and we will.”
The back-breaker came eight minutes into the final frame when junior Jordan Greenway cleaned up a rebound in the crease. A sprawling Tirone denied Brady Tkachuk’s wrap-around bid, but the goaltender wasn’t able to contain the rebound. With Tirone out of position, Greenway skated to the far side of the cage and slammed home the loose puck to give BU a 3-0 lead.
Bobo Carpenter iced the game with just over six and a half minutes to go in the contest. The junior tallied his team best seventh goal of the season, slotting the puck over Tirone’s right shoulder from the slot after receiving a pass from Tkachuk at the top of the offensive zone.
The night began and ended with celebrations at Agganis Arena. Before puck drop, Boston University honored long-time UNH Head Coach Dick Umile – who is set to retire at the end of the season – with a tribute on their video board. After the final horn, the Terriers and their fans cheered loudly as Prawdzik was announced as the number one star of the game.
“Playing at BU is pretty special,” Prawdzik said. “You grow up wanting to play at BU, and it’s been a long road. We worked really hard to get here and it was just a really, really great night.”