Boston University’s embattled ice hockey program got back to the ice Saturday night at Agganis Arena and the Terriers got back to the business of playing winning hockey with a 4-2 victory over Providence College in the Hockey East opener for both teams.
After the program was rebuked by a scathing university internal review of the team’s wayward “hockey culture,’’ the Terriers seemed to put the program in more of a positive light after rallying from a 2-1 deficit with a pair of goals in the final 4:02 of the second period. The win to kick off their 91st season seemed to be the first step in repairing their tattered image.
“We’re just looking to start a new chapter here,’’ said sophomore forward Cason Hohmann, who recorded assists on BU’s first two goals, by its top defensive pair of Ryan Ruikka and Garrett Noonan, before tallying the go-ahead goal at 18:57 of the second. “I think we did very well tonight in starting a new chapter.’’
Certainly, BU coach Jack Parker, back on the Terriers’ bench for his 40th season, was hoping to turn the page.
“These guys just got to go out and play hockey, they know who they are,’’ Parker said. “We know who we are. So we’re not worried about repairing an image. We’re worried about continuing to do well in all three areas — school, social, and hockey. We’ve had good kids here for a long time and this group of kids is a real good crew.’’
Ruikka, a senior who last scored a regular-season goal nearly two years ago, tallied BU’s first goal when he took a centering pass from Hohmann and let rip a blue-line blast that beat PC goaltender John Gillies (30 saves) over his right shoulder. Ruikka’s fourth career goal gave the Terriers a 1-0 lead at 7:52 of the first.
The Friars wasted little time responding, getting the tying goal at 14:53 by Ross Mauermann, who beat BU freshman netminder Matt O’Connor (26 saves) with a goal in heavy traffic in front of net.
In the second period, the Terriers seemed to be playing on their heels when Matt Lane was sent off for elbowing at 2:42, giving PC its first power-play chance. Gillies averted disaster when BU captain Wade Megan failed to pull the trigger on a shorthanded bid after he missed on a loose puck that floated on the doorstep of the crease.
O’Connor wasn’t as fortunate, however, when he allowed a softie by Paul de Jersey at 5:18. The freshman winger swooped in from the right to scoop up a rebound of O’Connor’s pad save on Noel Acciari’s goalmouth bid. De Jersey’s second career goal gave the Friars a 2-1 lead at 5:18
PC threatened to expand its lead when the Friars gained a two-man advantage.
The Terriers survived the 4-on-3 situation, getting a huge pad save by O’Connor and a deflection by Matt Nieto that disrupted an odd-man rush.
BU erupted for a pair of goals late in the second to take a 3-2 lead.
Noonan tied it for BU at 15:58 when his blue-line blast, which appeared to be redirected by Megan, got past Gillies. Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues were credited with helpers.
Hohmann broke the 2-2 stalemate when he converted a pretty reverse pass from Rodrigues, who threaded a no-look dish between the legs of PC defenseman Kevin Hart. Hohman pounced on the loose puck and rifled it home from the left circle, giving the Terriers a 3-2 lead at 18:57.
Ben Rosen punctuated the victory when he flipped a loose puck from BU’s defensive end across the ice for an empty-net goal at 18:49.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.