Despite junior defenseman David Farrance’s first collegiate hat trick, the Boston University men’s hockey team (2-2-4, 1-1-3 HE) could not get by No. 11 Providence College (5-3-2, 3-2-1 HE) in a 6-5 thriller at Schneider Arena on Saturday night.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “Coming down here and scoring five? And losing? It’s brutal.”
First-period fireworks set the tone of Saturday’s contest, with the hosts getting on the front foot 11 minutes in when sophomore defenseman Michael Callahan’s long-range effort nicked off a body in front and beat graduate goaltender Sam Tucker to open the scoring.
BU responded quickly as David Farrance got a wrister through 26 seconds later on assists from junior forward Jake Witkowski and his freshman linemate Marcus Boguslavsky, both getting on the scoresheet for the first time this season.
“I thought we scored some really nice goals and made good hockey plays,” O’Connell said. “I think that bodes well.”
Farrance struck again three minutes later on the power play, working a silky give-and-go with freshman forward Trevor Zegras and finishing at the right post. Freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone was also involved in the move, earning the secondary assist.
“Our power play is dangerous, so that’s a positive to take from the weekend,” O’Connell said.
Not to be outdone, Providence made it 2-2 just 28 seconds later on as an off-target shot caromed back to the goalmouth and freshman forward Jamie Engelbert was there to shove home his first as a Friar and knot up a four-goal first period.
O’Connell labeled Engelbert’s tally as a “fortuitous bounce.”
The high-flying offense continued into the second and BU thought they had taken the lead three minutes in when senior forward Patrick Harper punched in a Zegras pass on the power play. However, the officials would call the goal back due to a previous offsides.
In another goal that triggered a video review only a minute later, PC freshman defenseman Max Crozier forced in his first collegiate goal amidst a scramble around Tucker. This one would stand, and the Friars would draw first blood in the second.
“That was a big goal momentum-wise in the game,” O’Connell said.
The lead became two for the first time in the game at 7:30 when freshman forward Parker Ford buried a loose puck in Tucker’s crease, provoking O’Connell to replace the grad transfer with sophomore Vinnie Purpura.
“We were just trying to change the momentum,” Farrance said in regards to BU’s decision to switch netminders.
The goaltending change achieved its desired effect of awakening the Terriers, who came to life a minute later when Trevor Zegras fired in his second goal of the weekend on assists from Harper and Farrance, who had led the rush into the Friar end.
“[Zegras] keeps getting better and better,” O’Connell said. “He had a really good weekend.”
BU got back on level terms with eight minutes left thanks to another David Farrance strike, capping off his hat trick and a five-goal series for a share of the team lead in goals with seven.
The power play rocket was teed up by Zegras and freshman defenseman Domenick Fensore.
“It’s a pretty special feeling,” Farrance said, who now leads all of Division I college hockey defensemen in goals and points.
Once again the tie would not last long. A minute after Farrance’s equalizer, PC sophomore forward Tyce Thompson roofed a rebound from just outside the crease to send the hosts into the second break ahead 5-4.
The Friars dealt a killer blow three minutes into the third period when a seeing-eye blast by Max Crozier found its way through Purpura and in to double the lead. That would be the night for Purpura, and Tucker re-entered for the final 17 minutes.
“It was just a slapshot from the blue line, and that’s the difference in the game,” O’Connell said.
Timely stops by Tucker kept BU within striking range, and with seven minutes to play, freshman forward Ethan Phillips swiped a loose puck across the goal line for his first goal as a Terrier with the help of freshman defenseman Case McCarthy and Mastrosimone.
“I think we showed a lot of resiliency,” Farrance said.
Ultimately BU’s late comeback push came up just short, as Providence hung on to maintain the 6-5 final.
As Farrance put it, “you can’t give up six goals and expect to win.”
With a strong offensive effort but only another winless weekend against a Hockey East contender, the men in scarlet and white were left with mixed emotions following the loss.
“We have to clean some stuff up,” O’Connell said. “There are some plays being made out there that are just insane. With that said, we scored five goals.”
Above all, Farrance and his head coach both know that the Terriers still have a long way to go.
“I think we can only get better,” said the junior blueliner.
O’Connell agreed, “I think we’ll continue to get better as guys become a little more mature and experienced.” He added, “Our intelligence as a hockey team has to grow. That’s the biggest thing.”
BU will face another tough test in Frozen Four finalist No. 2 University of Massachusetts Amherst (6-1-0, 2-1-0 HE) next weekend, with the series kicking off at Agganis Arena on Friday night before shifting to Amherst on Saturday.