Men’s Hockey: No. 3 BU’s slump continues in Providence

By Joe Eachus

Boston University men’s hockey’s slump continued on Friday night at Schneider Arena, as the No. 3 Terriers skated to a 2-2 tie against No. 10 Providence, with the Friars picking up the extra Hockey East point in the shootout.

BU (19-8-2, 13-4-2 HEA) is now 3-4-1 since the highly-touted series against Boston College in late January, while the Friars (16-9-3, 9-6-3 HEA) picked up a key two points to pull ahead of UMass for sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings.

“Overall, we did some good things. A little bit of shooting ourselves in the foot again with mistakes. This time of year, [that] can’t happen,” coach Jay Pandolfo said.

Providence was first on the board at the 4:34 mark of the opening frame, as Hobey Baker nominee and Friar captain Chase Yoder tipping Guillaume Richard’s point shot past Caron to open the game.

Despite a relatively clean game overall, with just three penalty calls between the teams, special teams proved critical. With Macklin Celebrini taking up residence in the box for a slash, Nick Zabaneh’s unassisted short-handed effort led to BU’s first goal of the game.

Zabaneh intercepted a cross-point pass, beat the lone defender, and lifted it backhand over the left shoulder of a diving Philip Svedeback for his fourth tally (and second short-handed) of the season.

The teams headed to the locker rooms through one period of the top-10 matchup knotted at one goal each. Caron was nearly-flawless in the first frame, turning aside 16 of 17 shots. BU managed just six shots on goal.

The Terriers turned up the intensity in the second period, with a handful of opportunities on net. However, Svedeback was dominant in the crease for the Friars.

The forecheck proved to be the difference, as Jack Hughes and Jack Harvey forced a turnover in the Friar end, and Harvey threaded a pass to a streaking Sam Stevens between the hashmarks, who’d easily float the puck over Svedeback for a 2-1 BU lead.

“That was what we talked about, playing behind them. Win a puck on the forecheck, get it to the slot. I’d like to see us create a little more than one even-strength goal. Still, we’ve got to bear down even more,” Pandolfo noted.

Providence answered back three minutes later on the power play, with a puck movement clinic leading to Tanner Adams scoring his sixth of the year off a slick feed from Graham Gamache.

“We pressured on that one, but [Providence] ended up making a play. When you’re aggressive on the [penalty] kill, you’re going to give up some chances like that,” Pandolfo said.

20 more minutes of hockey solved nothing, even with a power-play chance for BU late in the frame, and the two squads headed to 3-on-3 overtime. Just four shots between the two teams (BU 3 shots on goal, PC 1) and perfect goaltenders on either end led to an official tie and a shootout for the extra point in the standings.

“I didn’t like [the power-play] tonight, that’s for sure,” Pandolfo said. “We only had one, and we weren’t in sync, the execution was not very good.”

With the playoffs looming, both teams needed to have the extra point to bolster their place in the standings, but only one could earn it.

Providence won the shootout, with Hudson Malinoski scoring the lone goal and Svedeback a perfect 3-for-3 on save attempts, stopping Quinn Hutson, Celebrini, and Lane Hutson.

The two squads return to action on Comm. Ave. tomorrow night, with puck drop scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game streaming on ESPN+.