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Friday, March 7, 2008

Boston University 2, Men's Hockey 0

Egg-annis Arena

Friars go down swinging in another BU blanking

Report based on NESN broadcast

BOSTON- Prior to this season curtaining series against Boston University, Friars’ coach Tim Army had only once felt compelled to call upon a fireman in relief of senior goaltender Tyler Sims. That was back on December 28 against regal Michigan when Chris Mannix took the final twenty minutes of a 6-0 slide.

Before even two minutes of Friday’s second period were through, he had swapped his crease custodians on consecutive nights, calling upon Ryan Simpson. Sims had just relinquished two goals on a mere 10 Terrier shots while his skating praetorians had been arid on the scoresheet all weekend.

To their credit, the Friars promptly revived their lopsided shot clock trend –something they didn’t do nearly as explicitly in Thursday’s glacial meltdown at home- to eventually outshoot Boston, 33-17.

But the Terriers were a few hops ahead in the shuffling game, as goaltender Karson Gillespie confirmed by bolstering a 2-0 final before 5,532 at Agganis Arena.

For all the spotless play by established starter Brett Bennett, who pitched Thursday’s shutout with a fairly digestible 26 shots faced, BU professor Jack Parker implicitly started Gillespie for sentimental Senior Night purposes.

By the looks of the end result, Gillespie earned the envy of Sims, whose chances of putting on formal game attire at Schneider Arena have officially dispelled.

With Boston College’s OT collapse to Northeastern, the Friars remain deadlocked for the fourth and final home ice seed in the Hockey East playoff bracket. But the Eagles have one more chance to hurdle ahead and stamp their final claim.

What’s more, the Huskies (12-12-2) are only one point behind both PC (11-11-5) and BC (10-9-7).

That data points to a near-certain return trip to the Hub for next week’s best-of-three. Come what may, the best the Friars can do is ensure they are out of the fetters that plagued them for the better part of this series.

Much like the Thursday fixture, a generally air-hockey paced contest unfolded for the bulk of the first period, both strike forces at best affording a single slurp of java per visit to the nets. But when there were prolonged, substantial buzzes, Boston did all the quality berry-picking, at one point testing Sims with four succeeding shots in the thirteenth minute.

And at 6:28, in one of their quicker, more unruly swirls, the Terriers planted the early edge. Winger Jason Lawrence assumed control of a fugitive puck around the far hash marks and flicked it through a black forest to Joe Pereira. Pereira just as nimbly settled it with his left boot and thrust a backhander over Sims’ trapper.

The Friars, meantime, amassed their shallowest bushel in a stanza this season with five registered stabs at Gillespie.

Army made his call to the bench door at 1:33 of the second when BU promptly rekindled its power play productivity (they had converted both of their limited opportunities Thursday, but went dry on their first two Friday) for the 2-0 edge. Colin Wilson set off a magnetic feed out of the far corner to pointman Matt Gilroy. Nick Bonino emerged to accept Gilroy’s return feed along the post and thrust it home.

Once Simpson was on duty, however, the Providence strike force perked up. For the remainder of the period, they dictated the shooting gallery, 13-6, for a cumulative lead of 18-16 by intermission.

The Friars sustained that long-needed molecular trend well into the closing frame, charging up six unanswered shots within the first 8:30 of play. And they continued to stoke around Gillespie’s porch –ultimately mounting a 15-1 advantage on the period- well enough to hound the Terriers into a cringe-worthy rash of penalties. Between 13:46 and 17:39, BU’s Bonino, Bryan Ewing, and Eric Gryba all took two-minute sentences, setting up two 14-second 5-on-3 stretches in the process.

But even that tide turned as Gillespie swallowed and tilted everything and in effect deflected some frustration on the Friars. Gilroy drew late minors on both Nick Mazzolini and Jon Rheault within the last three minors to help neutralize PC’s last ditch sugar rush.

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