In the span of just eight seconds midway through the second period, a promising opening frame for Boston College men’s hockey was erased and a winless start to the New Year continued.
A costly penalty paired with a turnover behind the net from Eagles goaltender Joseph Woll set up back-to-back goals for visiting Providence at roughly the 12-minute mark in the second period, completely conceding the momentum.
The Friars didn’t give it back. They kept up the offensive pressure, then added a pair of empty-net goals en route to a pivotal 4-1 conference win. No. 11 Providence (15-7-1, 8-4-1 Hockey East) claimed the three-game season series and made up ground in the Hockey East standings, pulling within three points of the first-place Eagles (11-8-3, 10-4-0) .
BC came out and played an excellent first period, outshooting the visitors, 7-2, constantly pressuring Providence. The persistence paid off midway through the period: the Eagles killed off a penalty and then got a chance of their own. The Friars had six men on the ice, and it cost them, as Casey Fitzgerald’s shot from the blue line was deflected in at the net by Logan Hutsko.
BC’s lead held deep into the second, but there was no question which team was controlling the game. The Friars came out firing and kept the pressure up, and it was inevitable they’d eventually break through. Providence failed to convert a pair of power plays, but the third time was the charm.
Kasper Björkqvist scored with a shot from the low slot to equalize after Woll was called upon for a flurry of saves. He’d managed to get a glove on it, but Providence’s Brian Pinho poked the puck loose to set up Björkqvist’s one-timer.
Just eight seconds later, the sophomore netminder misplayed the puck behind the net, and Brandon Duhaime was able to finish off of Greg Printz’s pass on what was a wide-open cage.
Woll followed his blunder with an impressive latter half of the game, turning away countless chances. He piled up 29 saves and kept the Eagles in it, but even that wasn’t enough. BC struggled to manufacture good looks on net, and Friars goaltender Hayden Hawkey did his part with 19 saves.
Pinho and Josh Wilkins finished off the night with a pair of empty-netters, dealing the Eagles their second loss in three games. BC faltered in the Ice Vegas Invitational last weekend, dropping a matchup with Michigan Tech and skating to a tie with Northern Michigan. The woes continued on Friday night, as its own mistakes cost it the lead and an important win.
The big difference between the two previous meetings had been penalties. In the series opener—which the Eagles won in overtime—BC had just one minor penalty the entire game and kept the Friars off the board during its one-man advantage, providing enough time to mount a comeback. In the second game, a narrow Providence win, the Eagles recorded 10 penalties and conceded a game-changing power-play goal.
This time, it was an eight-second sequence that haunted the Eagles. The youth of BC has been a focal point throughout this season, and the pedestrian 3-3-2 record it has posted since rattling off seven wins in a row is a cause for concern.
While some will say the final score was misleading, it shouldn’t go without mention that several of the 33 shots the Friars launched at Woll could have easily found their way to the back of the net. BC was outplayed from the first period on, and it’s back to the drawing board with five Hockey East games and the Beanpot looming.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor