Ice Hockey, Sports

Cooked by the Friars

On paper, the matchup was laughable: the nation’s second-ranked team playing host to a four-win club entrenched in the cellar of Hockey East.’ ‘ ‘

Two hours after the opening faceoff, the only ones laughing were the Providence College Friars.

Freshman Alex Beaudry, who joined PC last week to address the team’s rocky goaltending situation, racked up 39 saves to back Providence’s 4-2 upset victory over No. 2 Boston University last night at Agganis Arena.

Rookie winger Matt Bergland potted two goals ‘- including the eventual game-winner 12:08 into the second period ‘- for the last-place Friars (5-12-1, 2-8-1 HE), who won their third straight following an 11-game winless streak.

‘I want to give Providence a lot of credit,’ BU coach Jack Parker said. ‘I thought it was the first time we had a team come in and outplay us here. We played pretty hard, but in reality they played harder. Their goaltender played very, very well. They played extremely well in all phases of the game.’

Despite an impressive shot total (41) and power-play goals from senior forwards Brandon Yip and Chris Higgins, BU (14-5-1, 7-5-1) struggled to generate the grade-A scoring chances that had become so routine during the Terriers’ eight-game unbeaten streak since Nov. 22.’ ‘

‘We were on a pretty good roll and doing a pretty good job at home,’ Parker said. ‘Providence comes in as the last-place team and pulls us back to the middle of the pack and gives them a lot of confidence.’

That renewed confidence can be attributed to Beaudry, who won his collegiate debut last Saturday against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell after playing 29 games this season in the Central Junior Hockey League, where he posted a 3.54 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

PC coach Tim Army said the Friars were eager to pursue another option in net, given the first-half struggles of freshman Justin Gates (3.81 GAA, .853 save percentage) and senior Chris Mannix (4.47 GAA, .851 save percentage).

‘We needed to find somebody for the second term,’ Army said. ‘There were a number of goalies that we were evaluating, and we liked Alex the best.’

Following a first period in which the teams traded goals, Bergland asserted himself in the second stanza with a pair of his own. Just under four minutes after lifting a backhander inside the right post at 8:24, Bergland struck again during a PC 5-on-3 advantage by capping a series of tape-to-tape passes around the net with a bid that beat BU freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser (20 saves).

Awarded a 5-on-3 of their own in the final minute of the second period that extended into the third, the Terriers pulled within a goal 21 seconds into the final stanza. Stationed at the top of the left circle, sophomore defenseman Colby Cohen threaded the puck to the bottom of the right circle and sophomore forward Colin Wilson, who found Higgins with a cross-ice feed for an easy conversion at Beaudry’s right doorstep.

The goal revitalized the 4,242 fans on hand hoping to see the Terriers dodge a bullet, but the upstart Friars put an end to that dream when sophomore forward Ian O’Connor stuffed home his own rebound inside the right post with 9:48 remaining.

‘We played with some poise for a team that had won only one Hockey East game,’ Army said.

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