PROVIDENCE — One of the top matchups in the nation this weekend pitted No. 2 Boston College at No. 7 Providence College on Friday night at Schneider Arena.
Both teams were playing in their 14th Hockey East matchup of the season and points have been at a premium throughout the season.
The Eagles were looking to sweep the season series against the Friars, increase their unbeaten streak to 12 games, and widen their lead at the top of the league standings.
In a tightly contested game with strong defense and goaltending on both sides, the Eagles eked out a 2-0 victory to go 11-0-1 since the beginning of December. BC improved to 19-4-3 and 12-1-1. PC dipped to 15-7-5 and 7-6-1.
Both goalies, BC freshman Thatcher Demko (30 saves) and PC sophomore Jon Gillies (28 saves), were on top of their games although great scoring chances were difficult to come by.
“It was a hard, hard game to play,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “A lot of physical contact, a lot of scrums. I thought Thatcher played extremely well in goal for us. He’s just getting better and better. For an 18-year-old player, boy, he’s a pretty special player.’’
After a scoreless first period, during which PC outshot BC, 10-8, the Eagles broke through at 10:45 of the second.
Sophomore right wing Brendan Silk beat Gillies on a shot from deep in the right circle for his second goal of the season.
Late in the period, Demko staved off a furious flurry by the Friars.
In the middle of the third, both teams had power-play opportunities but couldn’t cash in.
Left wing Johnny Gaudreau scored the second Eagles goal at 14:01, extending his nation’s best point streak to 21 games.
The junior has 28 points over that span, 14 of which are goals. For the season, Gaudreau has 51 points. His linemate, senior right wing Kevin Hayes who suffered a hip pointer early in the game after falling awkwardly on the ice, had his point streak snapped at 12.
For PC, it was a bit of a missed opportunity.
“I thought it was a pretty even game,’’ said PC coach Nate Leaman. “I thought we competed hard. I didn’t think we got to the net enough. I thought we stayed on the perimeter a little bit and passed up some shots. I thought we were really going in the second period and I thought we passed up some good shots and we passed up some opportunities to take pucks to the net. That came back to sting us a little bit.’’
Leaman said with chances to hard to come by as the season reaches the stretch run, it’s important to capitalize on those you are able to get.
“I thought we were looking for the perfect play instead of looking to manufacture plays,’’ he said. “Because of that, I thought we passed over some opportunities. At this time of the year, it’s tough to generate chances. The margin of error is a lot tighter. You’re not playing the public course anymore. You’re playing Augusta and if you hit it in the rough, it’s going to cost you.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.