By: Jarett Leonard
BOSTON – When Boston University and Providence College meet up, it’s usually a low-scoring, defensive battle, and Saturday night’s season-series finale was no different.
After the two teams traded shutout wins earlier in the season, the Terriers and Friars split the final two points of the series with a 2-2 tie at Agganis Arena.
“Our games are always tight with BU ever since the National Championship game,” Providence College Coach Nate Leaman said. “They’re always charged up, we know we get their A-game. I thought they were terrific tonight. I told Quinny that after the game. They’re by far one of the best teams we’ve played.”
Despite two early Terrier penalties that gave the Friars over a minute of 5-on-3, the first period ended without a score, but both offenses would break through in the middle frame.
Midway through the second, Josh Wilkins entered the zone and fed Kasper Bjorkqvist, who quickly moved it back to Wilkins. The sophomore forward stick handled to get BU goaltender Jake Oettinger out of position and buried the backhander to give Providence the lead.
“I thought we were missing a lot of passes, but when we were connecting on the passes and we were getting out of our zone we were able to attack with speed and get going and play to our strengths,” Leaman said.
But Bobo Carpenter then took matters into his own hands, deflecting a John MacLeod shot past Friar netminder Hayden Hawkey (31 saves) to tie the game with five minutes left in the second.
“Bobo is a money player,” Quinn said. “He gets to the areas where you need to get to to score. He plays at a pace. He’s a great teammate, a great team player, he continues to improve, and it’s good to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet.”
Just under two minutes later, Carpenter forced a turnover on the back check, raced into the Providence zone, and snuck a wrist shot past Hawkey to give BU the lead.
“My line mate made a great move going wide to open up some ice for me and I found that seam,” Carpenter described his second goal. “I just got it on net for the rebound and it squeezed through.”
The Friars would even things once again before the end of the middle frame, though, as Vincent Desharnais took advantage of a failed clearance, snapping the puck on net where it was tipped in by Erik Foley.
Aided by three chances on the man advantage, the Terriers outshot the Friars 9-4 in the third period, but a rusty BU power play unit could not capitalize.
Around the 14-minute mark of the third, Vimal Sukumaran hit Dante Fabbro into the end boards, and while Fabbro remained down on the ice behind BU’s net, the officials did not stop play and had not called a penalty. But at the stoppage, the officials gathered and charged Sukumaran with a five-minute major and game misconduct.
“They didn’t talk to me, I don’t know what the explanation was,” Leaman said. “I can’t give you an explanation there. It goes from nothing to five. But on the road, you’re going to hit some adversity and it was a good test for mental toughness for our guys.”
Quinn said after the game that Fabbro’s injury does not appear to be serious.
But BU could only gather one shot over the five minutes, one of six unsuccessful power plays, including an opportunity early in overtime. Quinn said that Fabbro’s injury, a flu bug that kept Patrick Harper out of both games this weekend and caused the team to cancel practice on Tuesday, and the disruption of the schedule due to World Juniors combined to slow the power play.
“The bottom line is, we had our first team practice on Thursday since December 7 and we haven’t practiced the power play since before that,” Quinn said. “I thought it hurt us that we had all those power plays to be quite honest with you. Our best players played more than I wanted them to.”
The draw moved the Terriers into a tie for fourth in Hockey East with UMass Lowell at 16 points. It was the first weekend that BU earned more than two points since a tie and win over Connecticut in October.
“It’s a long season and we’ve been telling ourselves we just want to be better every weekend and every day,” Carpenter said. “We feel we definitely have been going up the ladder. We definitely did want that extra point and it would’ve helped but the way we’re playing, the future looks really good and we’re excited for what’s to come.”
Oettinger turned aside 41 of the 45 shots he saw this weekend, having to make just 19 saves on Saturday, and Quinn pointed to the goaltender’s play as a key to his team’s success.
“Obviously we would’ve liked one more point, but we’re going in the right direction,” Quinn said “The biggest thing since the break is Jake Oettinger looks like Jake Oettinger.”
Another Hockey East series awaits next weekend as the Terriers will play a home-and-home series with Merrimack. BU will travel to North Andover for a game at Lawler Rink on Friday night before hosting the Warriors on Saturday at Agganis Arena.