Leading up to Friday night’s tilt, Providence men’s hockey had not lost a game in regulation in Hockey East play. Despite a strong effort, Boston College men’s hockey was not able to give the Friars their first blemish.
BC (5–5–3, 4–3–2 Hockey East) was unable to take advantage of Mitch Benson’s 39 saves Friday night and fell to No. 10 Providence (9–3–4, 6–0–4) in a shootout.
The Friars outshot BC 2–1 in the shootout—which earned them two points in the Hockey East standings—but the game officially goes down as a 1–1 tie.
The Eagles earned one point for their shootout loss.
Providence came out strong following the opening faceoff, playing fast, and its forecheck caused numerous BC turnovers in the Eagles’ own end. These miscues were a common theme in the first 10 minutes of the first frame, but the Friars were unable to break through for a goal, largely due to Benson.
“I thought in the first period, we were a little flat-footed,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “The ice felt pretty tilted toward our end.”
The Eagles were finally able to spend some time in the offensive zone once Providence forward Riley Duran committed a hooking penalty at the 13:36 mark, which sent BC’s scorching power play onto the ice.
BC took advantage, as Cutter Gauthier blasted a one-timer past Providence goaltender Philip Svedebäck for his eighth goal of the season. Stationed just above the right circle, Gauthier received a feed from Eamon Powell and hammered a slapshot that Svedebäck couldn’t handle.
“[Cutter’s] shot is big time,” Brown said. “He understands when to get [it] off. He can adjust his body to get that one-timer off from a lot of different places.”
Providence, however, did not waste time responding. Less than three minutes after BC took a 1–0 advantage, the Friars’ defenseman Guillaume Richard joined the rush and slotted the equalizer into the back of the net.
Cody Monds carried the puck into the offensive zone up the right-wing boards before sending the puck to the goalmouth where Richard was waiting to tap it in. A lack of communication between BC defensemen Aidan Hreschuk and Charlie Leddy allowed Richard to get in behind them.
“[Providence] did a great job of stretching the ice, making the ice big, and then really skating to support each other,” Brown said.
The Eagles improved their even-strength play in the second period, and there was a lot more back-and-forth action. Benson stood strong, making multiple point-blank stops to keep the game tied at 1–1.
Both teams found themselves frequently visiting the penalty box in the third period—in total, there were 11 penalties all night. Neither side, however, could break the tie.
“I think we have to be way more disciplined,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said of the penalties. “You’re playing with fire with that power play.”
A similar opinion was held by Brown as well.
“You want to be physical, and you want to play through guys, but you have to know where the line is,” Brown said. “There’s no way to win if you’re constantly going to the box.”
The Eagles had a great opportunity to win it in the closing seconds of the third period, but the puck slid off Cam Burke’s stick before he was able to pull the trigger on a shot attempt. With that, the game went to overtime, still tied 1–1.
Both teams took a patient approach to the overtime period, but the Friars had the majority of scoring chances. Benson continued his dominance, single-handedly keeping BC in the game, totaling five saves in the extra period, including back-to-back stops from the slot with about a minute to play.
The luck ran out for Benson and the Eagles once the shootout began. Bennett Schimek lifted the puck into the top of the net in the first round, and that was all Providence needed. The BC trio of Gauthier, Nikita Nesterenko, and Trevor Kuntar wasn’t able to solve Svedebäck, and Providence came away with the extra point.
“At the end of the day, there has to be a winner and a loser,” Benson said. “Unfortunately, that’s how it’s dealt with in the regular season. But I think we had a really solid effort tonight, and even though we did come up on the short end, I think it’s a great, great effort for our team.”