By Matt Dresens
PROVIDENCE – In a game where Providence outshot Boston University 46-20, BU was more than fortunate skate away from Schneider Area with a point and slim chance to still get home ice in the Hockey East playoffs.
Jake Oettinger was simply magnificent and there is no denying he was the only reason BU was in this game. Time after time, the Lakeville, Minnesota native was there to bail his teammates out.
“Our goaltender is the story,” stated head coach Albie O’Connell “From after ten minutes on, he was lights out. He didn’t make a mistake.”
Despite eventually turning into a nail-biting, hang-on-for-your-life type of game, BU came out hot and set the initial tone. Chad Krys took one of the first rushes all the way in on Providence goalie Hayden Hawkey (19 saves) and beat him clean. The one problem? Krys could not have hit the post more squarely.
BU broke through 7:25 into the game on a four on one rush. Joel Farabee took the initial shot and Hawkey batted that away with his blocker, only to have Shane Bowers bang in the rebound for his 11th goal of the year.
“We played well for the first ten minutes and that gave us a chance to get a goal, added O’Connell. “The rest was Jake Oettinger.”
The Terriers play throughout the night was, to use O’Connell’s term, “sporadic.” There were scoring chances and good ones at that, but there was an overall lack of consistency.
The breakouts were not sharp and that was five one five and on the power play. Specifically, one at the end of the second period was completely inept. BU could hardly manage a breakout never mind a scoring chance on the man advantage. In fact, Oettinger probably faced the best scoring opportunity short-handed.
When BU did manage to get the puck out, they were gassed and forced to either dump the puck in with little to no forecheck, or put and out ice the puck. In the second period alone, BU had five icings. They only had six shots in the same period.
“The icings was us,” said O’Connell. “Instead of using an indirect to get it out, we were shooting it too hard up the ice. A lot of our dumps were at the end of a long shift, so we didn’t really have the energy to establish a forecheck at times.”
To say the poor play was on BU is fair, but Providence did play a strong game. They, unlike the Terriers, had a very effective forecheck and controlled the game one every sense for the final 50 minutes. Another key to that was face-offs. Scott Conway alone won 17 draws for the Friars.
Oettinger’s brilliance was on display right from the get-go. He limited PC’s second chance bids and when rebounds were there, he was quick to sprawl on them or knock the puck out of harm’s way.
Providence finally solved Oettinger late in the third. Jack Dugan slipped in behind the Terrier defense off a headman saucer feed from Greg Printz. Dugan powered his way to the top of the crease where he beat Oettinger five-hole on the backhand to tie the game.
Despite not playing anywhere near a perfect game, BU managed to stay out of the box all night. The Terriers were not whistled for one penalty all night. It was the first time since January 15, 2008, vs Dartmouth that BU was penalty-free for a whole game.
The focus now shifts to the ever-looming Hockey East standings. With the split point, PC locked up home ice in the first round. BU, on the other hand, will need some help from their old friends over in Chestnut Hill.
BU sits in fifth, two points behind Northeastern and Lowell for the final home-ice spot. NU plays Boston College twice this weekend, while Lowell faces UNH. BU will face Merrimack Saturday night.
Currently, as it stands, BU owns the tiebreaker with NU because of their head to head record. As for Lowell, the Riverhawks own that tiebreaker because currently, they have more league wins than BU and the head to head record is 1-1-0.
Game time for senior night is 7:00pm, Saturday at Agganis Arena.