You’d be hard-pressed to name a player who has made a faster impact in college hockey than Providence goalie Alex Beaudry.
The Friars announced that the Ontario native had committed to attend the school on Friday. After one practice, the team named him the starter for Saturday’s game versus Lowell. Beaudry got the win and was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week Monday.
Tuesday, Beaudry stopped 38 of 40 shots to lead the Friars to a 4-2 win over No. 2 Boston University in front of 4,242 at Agganis Arena. It was Providence’s second Hockey East win of the season as well as their second in a row. Matt Bergland scored twice for Providence, while Ian O’Connor and Matt Taormina contributed two points apiece for the victors. Colin Wilson and Chris Higgins each notched two points for the defeated Terriers.
“I thought we played very well,” Providence coach Tim Army said. “We had good speed; we had good legs. Alex made some big stops to keep us in there early, and then I thought we were opportunistic… Aside from lazy penalties, I thought we played very well, and I thought we were really poised for a team that had only one Hockey East game going into tonight.”
With goaltenders Justin Gates and Chris Mannix struggling with save percentages in the vicinity of.850, Army made the executive decision to bring a new netminder for the second semester. “I felt we needed to find somebody for the second term,” Army said. “We had a number of goalies that we were evaluating, and we liked Alex the best — his academic ability, his age, and his desire to get to school just kind of fit.”
Terrier coach Jack Parker believed the outcome was more attributable to his opponents than a reflection of poor play on his team’s part. “First of all, I want to give Providence a lot of credit,” Parker said. “After having a tough first semester, they’ve won two in a row now. They played extremely well. It’s the first time this season that we’ve had a team come in and outplay us here. It doesn’t look it because of the shots: We got 40, and they get 25. We played pretty hard, but in reality they played harder.
“I’m not upset with my team. It’s not as if we went out there and cruised around… We made three unbelievable mistakes and gave them three goals; I don’t think they were Rollie’s fault at all,” said Parker, alluding to BU freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser.
BU got off to a slow start. Bergland clanged a shot off the far post at 3:40, and then the Friars took the lead at 9:30. Matt Taormina made a long cross-ice pass out of his zone to Chris Eppich crossing the blue line. His shot pinged off the far post and went in.
BU dodged a bullet when Rollheiser denied freshman Rob Maloney on a total breakaway at the 12-minute mark and then got the equalizer at 15:50 on a power play. Chris Higgins passed it from behind the PC net to Colin Wilson, who crossed the puck through the top of the crease to Brandon Yip for the tap-in goal.
In the last minute of the period, a Matt Gilroy shot was redirected by his fellow Terrier co-captain John McCarthy for another ringer off a post.
Early in the second period, BU had some sticks in the air for what looked like a possible Chris Connolly goal, but Beaudry seemed to pull it out of the air near the goal line, and a video review confirmed that it was no goal.
Then Providence went ahead for good at 8:24 on a Matt Bergland goal. “We set up on the cycle drill, and I found my way to the net,” Bergland said. “[Ian] O’Connor found the great pass going behind the net — pulled the goalie over and slid it back door, and I tapped it in.”
The lead increased to 3-1 during a two-man advantage for the visitors. Some tic-tac-toe passing led to another goal for Bergland near the crease.
Colin Wilson almost got one back with 18 seconds left in the period, only to have Beaudry sprawl to make the save on a rebound in tight.
“We know all about what happened to them first semester,” Parker said of the Friars’ opting to bring in Beaudry last week. “We went through a year of it last year. There’s nothing worse than not having solid goaltending, and they got more than solid goaltending tonight.”
BU made it 3-2 just 21 seconds into the third period on a two-man advantage of their own. Colby Cohen passed from the left point to Wilson in the right-wing faceoff circle, and the sophomore crossed to Higgins for another tap-in goal.
BU proceeded to play their most spirited hockey of the night for much of the third period, but the backbreaker came at 10:12. Colby Cohen lost an edge behind his own net, and O’Connor swooped in to grab the puck and take two quick shots to beat Rollheiser.
“Most of our guys played pretty hard and played well,” Parker said. “A few of our guys were out to lunch, and that hurt us obviously.”
BU (14-5-1, 7-5-1 Hockey East) will look to get back on track in league play this weekend, visiting Merrimack on Friday night before hosting archrival Boston College on Saturday. Providence (5-12-1, 2-8-1 Hockey East) will attempt to keep up their winning streak with a pair of road games, traveling to UMass on Friday night before playing at Maine on Sunday afternoon.