PROVIDENCE, R.I. – It’s not often that a college hockey team will score six power-play goals in one game, and even less common that it happens against a team with one of the top 10 penalty killing units in the nation.
The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team defied that logic when they touched up a Providence College penalty kill – ranked ninth in the country entering the weekend – for eight power-play goals in 15 chances. By the time BU (15-6-1, 12-4-1 Hockey East) was finished with the Friars (9-11-2, 7-7-1 Hockey East), the Providence penalty kill fell all the way to 32nd in the national rankings.
The Terriers were especially masterful with the man-advantage in Saturday night’s 8-0 BU win at Schneider Arena. BU scored six of its eight goals on the power play, marking the first time a Terrier team potted six power-play goals in one game since accomplishing the feat March 9, 1996 against the University of Massachusetts in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
BU scored more power-play goals this weekend than Dartmouth (seven power-play goals) has scored all season. BU also equaled University of Alabama-Huntsville and Sacred Heart University’s season total for power-play goals. For local comparison, Northeastern University has scored just nine power-play goals this season.
BU coach Jack Parker attributed the Terrier’s strength on the power play over the weekend both to good puck movement from his team and poor goaltending from Providence netminders Alex Beaudry and Justin Gates.
“In order to have great penalty killing, you have to have great goaltending,” Parker said. “And Beaudry’s been playing really well all year, but I don’t think he was at his best this weekend. But we’ve been at our best on our power play no matter who we’re playing lately. We’ve been moving the puck very, very well.”
On Friday night, BU did not cash in on the power play until the third period, when Providence co-captain Daniel New was assessed a five-minute major and ejected from the game for a hit from behind. The penalty handed BU its third power play of the game, and freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera scored first on a slap shot from the point. Noonan cashed in 2:06 into the power play when he chipped a rebound over Gates’ pad.
The 2-for-6 showing Friday night was a decent performance, but it did not come close to hinting at just how dominant BU would be Saturday.
At Schneider Arena Saturday, the Terriers utterly dominated with the man-advantage by putting up a 6-for-9 showing. The Terriers excelled at capitalizing on second chances, as both sophomore forward Sahir Gill and sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan netted power-play tallies by jumping on rebounds to the side of the net. BU was also able to get bodies in the slot, when junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson fired a shot through a screen by junior forward Ross Gaudet past Gates.
But other than advantageous positioning, the Terriers struggled to explain their power-play dominance over a team with a previously strong penalty kill.
“I’m not too sure,” Noonan said on what led to the success. “I just know [sophomore defenseman Adam] Clendening was firing from the point and [senior captain Chris] Connolly from the side. It was just getting through.
“I’ve never seen anything like [BU’s offensive dominance] before. And [Providence] is a good team. I don’t know if it shows, but they’re a really good team.”
After Saturday’s game, BU’s power play jumped from the 23 spot in the national rankings (19.6 success rate) to fifth in the country with a 23.9 success rate. The team trails only Harvard (33.8), Maine (29.7), Connecticut (26.9) and Union (25.0) in terms of power-play success.
BU’s accomplishments on the power play do not stand alone. The team that, over winter break, was expected to suffer greatly from the departure of two of its top scorers, is third in the nation in scoring offense and now sits in first place in the Pairwise rankings, the most important poll factoring into NCAA tournament seeding.
Six games – and five wins – removed from the intersession, however, the Terriers are not thinking about how far they have come since those departures. Instead, they are simply enjoying themselves.
“We’re just having fun,” Noonan said after Saturday’s game. “This is the most fun I’ve had at BU. I think we just want to keep it going and right now, we’re looking forward to Maine next weekend and getting another four points.”