Over the course of the last four games, BC has given their opponents a whopping 24 power plays while they themselves have only had 10 over that time span. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the calls started to go our direction. That's exactly what happened Friday night when Providence defenseman John Gilmour leveled Johnny G from behind into the boards early on in the second period. It's the type of hit that just doesn't belong in this sport. Gilmour could have seriously hurt Johnny if he had his head facing the boards. The Eagles took advantage of their extended PP chance, scoring two quick goals to gain the all important two goal lead this team has been trying so hard to establish over the course of the past few games. BC went with one real big unit with Johnny G, Mullane, and Arnold as the forwards while Steven Whitney and Mike Matheson ran the point. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better defensive pair in the country that runs the power play as good as Matheson and Whitney do. They have all the essentials for that position. They can move pucks, they can shoot, and they have speed. After the two goals, the Eagles still had close to two full minutes of power play time but PC forward Ross Mauermann flat out beat Matheson in the neutral zone, eventually capitalizing on a breakaway move to beat Parker Milner, making it a one goal game. Besides that error, I really liked the way BC's power play looked tonight. About 5 minutes after the Mauermann goal, BC was handed another power play but this time they weren't able to come through, well technically they didn't. With time winding down on the man advantage, Gilles slipped in the crease allowing BC to have a pretty open shot on goal. After Mike Matheson fired one just wide, the puck bounced right out to Steve Whitney who easily one-timed it by the freshman goalie, giving BC the two goal edge once again. Simply put it, BC's power play was terrific tonight. They moved the puck around exceptionally well, they created great chances on Gilles, and they scored when they needed to.
The third period was one of the most nerve racking/up and down periods of hockey I've seen all year. After a Teddy Doherty tripping penalty very early in the third, Providence created a 2 on 1 through the neutral zone that resulted in a Nick Saracino goal from around the left face-off dot. It was a great shot and all but I'm pretty sure that Milner would have liked to have it back. He seemed just a tad out of position and in this league, guys are skilled enough to make the one little error become a game changing goal. So now, BC had 16 minutes of hockey to either keep their case going for a #1 overall seed or become seriously close to falling down to a 3 seed. They came this close to it being the latter. The Friars got their big chance on the night when Pat Mullane and Isaac Macleod took two penalties within 30 seconds of each other, giving PC a long 5 on 3. Thanks to some superb penalty killing by Billy Arnold, Mike Matheson, and Quinn Smith, plus some big saves by Parker Milner, the Eagles killed it off and suddenly had all the momentum back on their side. As time winded down, Providence continued to create a bunch of flurries around Milner but BC's forwards and defenseman did a solid job of chipping pucks off the walls and getting it deep in the PC end. In situations like those, you don't want to have an odd man rush and have it be another 3 on 1 or 3 on 2 the other way. To avoid this, the Eagles just tried to get pucks deep and send one guy in hard, with the other two forwards staying back for the most part. Thankfully, it worked and BC got a huge victory.
So, last night's win basically sets up another game that could go a long way in deciding BC's playoff fate. With a win and some help around the country, they could move up to #2 in the pairwise along with maintaining their #1 spot in Hockey East. A loss puts them right back in the mix to go out West during tournament time. One observation I had from last night was that it was one of the most physical games I have seen in a long time. Providence certainly plays a different brand of "smash mouth hockey". They hit you in any way they can and actually, it left a couple of Eagles really banged up after the game. Pat Wey was cut with a skate in the final seconds of the third period, causing blood to spill all over the BC dressing room but according to sources, he is all set to play in this afternoon's game...his final regular season game @ Conte Forum. I'm expecting another hard fought, low scoring, and certainly physical game today but if BC can continue to build off of what they did last night, they can get what would be another big time victory tonight.
Why BC Won-
1. They capitalized on their power play chances. Lately, BC has been doing everything except for scoring when they are on the man advantage. That changed in a big way last night as all three of BC's goals happened because of a power play.
2. They bended but didn't break late in the game. Providence was able to get a couple of real good shots on goal late in the contest, including one right in front of Milner with 5 seconds left that eventually missed the net. Good job by BC's defense of staying course throughout the night.
3. Their best players were great. Whitney, Johnny G, Mullane, Arnold, and Matheson all had big games last night. I also thought BC's secondary group of forwards was solid for the majority of the game. Really liked the way guys like Pat Brown and Mike Sit played.
Penalties in the third period. When you're winning a game by two or more goals, the biggest thing you have to avoid is penalties, especially when you're playing a team like Providence, a team that doesn't score a ton of goals. The Eagles were fortunate not to give up more than one goal in the third.
Player of the game- Steven Whitney