Apparent remnants of the nose-dive virus that throttled the Bruins in Washington on Monday resurfaced Thursday at Schneider Arena to plague the Friars.
The final shooting gallery favored PC, 26-20 –an uncharacteristic count for both clubs, who came in with the two most active stick racks in the conference. Yet on its first seven allotted stabs, Boston University sculpted a 4-0 lead –the first three of those goals all coming from heat gun Pete MacArthur- by the 7:03 mark of the second period, at which point PC coach Tim Army summoned a time out.
By the start of the closing frame, BU had inched ahead 5-0, the muffled home portion of the audience had condensed considerably, and PC’s backup goaltender Ryan Simpson had succeeded Tyler Sims –who has perhaps taken the last bow of his distinguished collegiate career on home ice.
By night’s end, the Terriers had stamped a 6-0 triumph. For them, it was snappy supplementary redemption from last Saturday’s 5-1 drawback against UMass –where they authorized five goals on a slim 15 shots against and cut off their seven-game winning streak. They also guaranteed that the Friars cannot catch them in their bid for second place in the playoff bracket.
Instead, when these teams reconvene at Agganis Arena on Friday, Providence will be lashing out everything in their hands to preserve a home slot for next week’s quarter-finals. But there are eight other Hockey East teams, three within striking range of the fourth-place Friars, who will have a game in hand until late Saturday.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time (studying) our opponent. We’re a good hockey team when we come out ready to play to our strengths, so nothing changes for us,” said Army. “Obviously, home ice is at stake, but home ice will mean nothing if we don’t come prepared to play the best possible game we can play.”
In the wee minutes of Thursday’s contest, the Friars looked to be scraping out rewards of preparedness, charging up all of the first eight registered shots within 9:05 of play. The Friars’ close shave tempest climaxed with senior captain Jon Rheault dangling the BU defense and coming face-to-face with goaltender Brett Bennett, only to fumble the puck before he could muster a shot.
Afterwards, the Terriers took five unanswered, albeit sparsely distributed, stabs at Sims and converted on two. In the eleventh minute, their top forward unit ran a prolonged grinding session behind the cage that had Bryan Ewing lacing a feed up front to Chris Higgins. Higgins handed it off to his captain MacArthur, who batted it into the gaping right half of the net.
Later, with less than two minutes till intermission, Higgins forwarded the puck across neutral ice to an unguarded MacArthur, who bolted in alone from the blueline and ultimately jammed home his own rebound.
At 4:22 of the middle frame, Ewing again thrust out a feed for Higgins from behind the net. MacArthur again snuck in to the right of Sims and buried Higgins’ feed, polishing his natural hat trick and his linemate’s playmaker trick.
Eighty-five seconds later, Friar Chris Eppich was flagged for holding, inviting the Terriers to another extra-man strike. In another head-spinning tour around the PC zone, Brandon Yip unleashed a low slapper from the straightaway point and watched Nick Bonino catch it on the spot and lasso it around a flopping Sims.
At 15:05 BU’s Jason Lawrence clamped down a fluttering fugitive puck and nimbly raced it down the far alley. He shipped it across to linemate Joe Pereira, who skipped it through Sims’ legs.
Simpson stepped in for the third, getting his first lick of game action all season, and helped to generally compress the bleeding. But Bennett, who had his sweatiest period of the night with 10 shots faced and two penalty kills, pushed everything away while John McCarthy finalized the 6-0 blowout with 10:58 to spare.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press