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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Boston University 5, Men's Hockey 2

Scarlet night at Schneider

Friars slip in second, lose to BU

For at least one twenty-minute window, the Providence College Friars, backed by their masked man of momentum Chris Mannix, were able to prolong Boston University’s early-season-wakeup migraines in a diverse, petite array of stats and quirks.

But once they clicked, the of late goal and win-starved Terriers finally shot out of their fetters to sculpt a 3-1 edge in the middle frame. From there, they smoothly paced themselves towards downing PC 5-2 before a noticeably bipartisan mass of 2,132 on campus Thursday night.

With that setback to think of instead of a carry-over from last weekend’s nourishing three-point bargain from UMass-Amherst, the Friars look forward to a rare layoff weekend before they gear up to trek out to Maine a week from Friday.

Early on, the Friars stopper Mannix was spotless in his gradual introduction to the snarling 0-4-1 Terriers, who started off with nine first period shots, generally distributed in intermittent, single-shot visits to the zone. Countering goalkeeper Brett Bennett would start the same way, though not before a wake-up call on his first shot faced.

By the six-minute mark of the first period, BU had a 2-0 edge in the shooting gallery, had barred the Friars from kindling anything on their first power play, and was settling in for its own man advantage.

But after keeping Mannix’s borders locked for the first ninety seconds, the Friars cleared and afforded their first rush of the night. Manned up by two shadowing Terriers as he withheld the puck, penalty killer John Cavanagh shuffled down the near alley to the goal line, all the while tilting Bennett to the post and thrust the disc out into the slot. Defender Matt Taormina, whose tape has been particularly magical of late, went out of his way to pick up the feed and one-time it into the vacated cage at 7:48 for his second goal in as many outings, third on the year.

It didn’t help the Terriers’ cause to have their first conversion on Mannix washed off. But at 13:18, after pointman Colby Cohen’s launch looped over Mannix’s catching glove and in, a video callback determined that a screening Chris Higgins had guided it home with a high stick.

That notwithstanding, Bennett handled four more PC shots before intermission and another two early in the middle frame before BU sparked its decisive tempest. Shortly after two of his bids fell through in a heated swarm, Boston point patroller Kevin Shattenkirk accepted Bennett’s lob to neutral ice and singlehandedly carried out the do-over. The Colorado Avalanche first-rounder strolled down the far end and flicked the equalizer bar down.

Seven minutes later, after a little more back-and-forth sway pulled the shot clock virtually even, BU took the lead as Nick Bonino set up far point patroller Eric Gryba for a homeward bound blast.

In the final minute before adjourning to their dressing room again, the Terriers crashed the net in pursuit of blueliner Brian Strait’s rebound and converted when Brian McGuirk extracted it from the fallen columns of Friars and Terriers. McGuirk handed it over to associate Ryan Weston, who thrust it home over a seated Mannix.

For the first half of the final stanza, the Terriers sprinkled seven more shots and generally kept Providence from pestering Bennett before he was put back to work on a Friar power play starting at 11:14. That fell through, but the home buffs were briefly perked up again with less than four minutes remaining thanks to another shorthanded break.

Nineteen seconds into a slashing sentence to Mark Bastarche, co-captain Jon Rheault cuffed a rushing Matt Gilroy, tipping him over and breaking alone on Bennett, zapping home his second goal of the season and stretching his point-streak to five games.

But less than two minutes later, the Friar Fanatics in attendance began to pour out back to their dorms as Boston’s Pete MacArthur absorbed Shattenkirk’s parallel feed at the near outer hash marks and snapped a low rider through the five-hole for a power play connection.

Higgins, last year’s top collegiate gun in the heart of the Hub, snagged a dollop of personal redemption from his first period washout with 69 seconds left, stripping the desperate Friars of a neutral zone rush and inserting an empty netter.

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