On Friday night against No. 13 Northeastern University, redshirt sophomore goaltender Max Prawdzik went in-between the pipes for the first time of the 2017-18 season for the Boston University men’s hockey team.
Prawdzik got his first start after the Terriers’ (5-6-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East) main sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger gave up his fifth goal to the Huskies (6-3-1, 4-1 Hockey East) at 13:55 in the third period.
Although it wasn’t the number of the goals that had Oettinger going to the bench for the first time all season, it was the fashion.
Northeastern forward Lincoln Griffin raced up the ice with freshman forward Ty Amonte a pace behind him and Oettinger came out to poke the puck away. However, Griffin wove through the two players, sending Amonte into the air and Northeastern with another goal on the night.
Prawdzik played for five minutes and 58 seconds without fault until freshman forward Bobby Hampton slipped a power-play goal past the sophomore with seven seconds remaining in the period.
But that was the previous night. The following evening, Prawdzik saw his first collegiate start of his career against the No. 9 University of New Hampshire and the Terriers emerged with a 4-0 win and two Hockey East conference points.
BU head coach David Quinn said the decision to put Prawdzik in the net was an opportunity he earned.
“I think Jake needed a mental break first and foremost,” Quinn said. “Two, Max has been playing well and I just thought it was the right time and he rewarded us for the opportunity that he earned.”
The goaltender stopped all 29 shots he faced including 23 in the first two periods and successfully hindered all four of UNH’s (6-3-1, 3-2-1 Hockey East) power play opportunities throughout the matchup.
The Andover native credited his teammates for helping him adjust to the game in the beginning and limiting the shots directed his way.
“I think the guys did a really nice job, like we played a really simple game,” Prawdzik said. “We were playing well, but at the same time I still got some touches so I felt like I was able to get adjusted to the game early and from then on out the guys were rock solid.”
Among many of Prawdzik’s key saves for the team, Quinn noted that one of the most important saves the goaltender made was during a UNH power play late in the second period to keep the game at 2-0.
“If it’s a 2-1 game going into the third, that’s a completely different game and I’m well aware of that,” Quinn said. “Him making that save was key and it was big.”
Prawdzik has been with BU since the 2015-16 season, but redshirted his freshman year so he did not appear in any contests.
In the 2016-17 season, the arrival of Oettinger pushed former Terrier goaltender Connor LaCouvee to the No. 2 spot and Prawdzik subsequently decided to take the spring semester off to play with the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League.
The goaltender played 14 regular season games and 11 contests in the playoffs with the Brahmas and led them to win the Robertson Cup.
Prawdzik posted a .924 goal save percentage and 1.56 goals against average in the playoffs after registering a .908 goal save percent and 2.14 goals against average in the regular season.
The sophomore said the time away really helped him “fall back in love with the game.”
“I got to play hockey again and enjoy it and enjoy the work,” Prawdzik said. “I learned a lot down there about practicing hard, playing under pressure and I just grew so much. Those experiences and playing in big games down there, I felt that really aided me tonight in knowing how to prepare myself to try to help the team win.”
Prawdzik became the first BU goaltender to collect a shutout in his first collegiate start in 17 years and noted how special the game was.
“Playing at BU’s pretty special,” Prawdzik said. “[Amonte and I] are Mass. guys and for us, you grow up wanting to play at BU and it’s been a long road. We work really hard to get here and it was just a really, really great night.”