Playing on a Thursday for just the second time this season, the Boston University men’s hockey team will head down to Rhode Island to take on No. 8 Providence College.
The Terriers (13-15-3, 11-8-2 Hockey East) are back to winning ways. After securing two victories against the University of Vermont last weekend, BU has won three consecutive contests heading into Thursday’s game — their final matchup against a ranked opponent.
“It was a good sweep,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said of the Vermont fixtures. “It’s huge. We battled hard.”
BU has experience this season heading down to Providence’s (20-9-5, 13-7-2 Hockey East) Schneider Arena and emerging victorious. They handled the Friars 4-3 to top out a five-game stretch without a loss last month.
After shutting out the University of Connecticut on Feb. 16 with a perfect night from junior goaltender Jake Oettinger and goals from sophomore forward Ty Amonte and freshman linemate Joel Farabee, BU rolled over the Catamounts (12-18-2, 5-15-2 Hockey East) to leap into a tie for fifth place in the Hockey East standings.
The UVM students brought the ruckus both nights, with more than 3,500 supporters piling into Gutterson Fieldhouse for each game. The first night, Oettinger was impeccable again, stopping 12 shots in the third period to preserve a scoreless tie and send the tilt into overtime.
“Our defense played hard,” O’Connell said of the weekend games at Vermont. “We gave up one goal on the weekend, so it was positive. [Oettinger] was dynamite. He didn’t make a mistake all weekend, so that is a great sign for BU hockey.”
Junior defenseman Chad Krys finished off the Catamounts with an unassisted game-winner 4:44 into the extra frame, and Oettinger finished the game with 29 saves.
The following night, Vermont got on the board first with a power play goal just after the seven minute mark in the first period.
BU garnered the equalizer at the end of the second stanza as junior forward Patrick Harper netted his fourth goal of the season off assists from classmate Patrick Curry and sophomore defenseman Cam Crotty.
Oettinger was able to keep the Catamounts at bay throughout the third period, clearing the way for Farabee’s game-winner with 57 seconds remaining off helpers from sophomore forward Logan Cockerill and sophomore defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo.
“It was a really good showing,” O’Connell said. “Just to get a sweep on the road, it’s not easy. We made two really nice plays that ended up winning us the game.”
The Terriers were able to find success last weekend against a Catamount team that was ranked below them in the Hockey East standings. Providence, however, sits at second in the conference, four points ahead of the Terriers with one game in hand.
An interesting freshman matchup will take place Thursday between two future Philadelphia Flyers teammates from each side. PC defenseman Jay O’Brien will be out on the ice facing off against BU’s Farabee, both of whom were picked up by the Flyers in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The Friars have won three consecutive games against ranked opponents. No. 14 UMass Lowell was no match for the Friars two weekends ago, as PC swept the home-and-home series by a combined score of 7-1.
Last Saturday, the Friars hosted the first-place Hockey East team, UMass Amherst. After falling behind the nation’s second-ranked team in the first period, Providence outscored the Minutemen 3-1 over the final two periods to garner a big win.
Providence forward Scott Conway scored the go-ahead goal for the Friars in the third period of that game, and he has produced plenty of tallies this year. The England native has 13 goals, good for a shared second-place spot on the team.
The leading scorer for the Friars this season is forward Kasper Björkqvist, who hails from the same Finnish hometown as BU’s Kotkansalo. Björkqvist registered two goals in Providence’s 6-1 win over UMass Lowell on Feb. 15.
Brady Gardner contributed to the reporting of this article.