PROVIDENCE -- Friday night away from home was no problem for the Boston University Terriers.
The sixth-ranked team in the nation ran circles around its hosts, scoring twice in the middle period en route to a 4-1 victory over Providence at Schneider Arena.
BU improved to a perfect 4-0-0 for the first time in 13 years with the win. Its last league game was also its last fixture away from Agganis Arena - a 8-1 triumph on Oct. 10 at UMass.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team," BU head coach and Cranston, R.I. native David Quinn said. "I loved the way we moved the puck, I loved the way we defended. ... We played simple, smart hockey."
Despite the end result, the Friars had an excellent home crowd on its side and took the advantage 7:27 into the first period on a soft shot from Steven McParland found its way through layers of defense and past BU junior goaltender Matt O’Connor.
Senior captain Ross Mauermann held the puck in at the blue line and cycled it to his left where McParland wristed a shot from the far side of the right wing circle that had eyes for the junior’s first point of the year.
Although the Friars drew first blood, head coach Nate Leaman was not happy with his team's effort from start to finish. It was that kind of play the team needed to get an edge in a tight game, but it had little effect regardless.
"They outworked us, they outsmarted us, and they out-battled us tonight," he said. "We have to start competing. ... We were giving up breakaways right away in the first period. I thought it was ugly right from the start for us tonight. You have to give a lot of credit to BU; their feet were moving."
BU answered fast at 11:46 as freshman defenseman and Tampa Bay Lightning draftee John MacLeod posted his first collegiate goal, fluttering a wrister off from the center point that beat Friar junior Jon Gillies cleanly over his shoulder. Junior Matt Lane won the puck back from the end board, feeding MacLeod for the walking wrist shot.
"The puck came right out to me," MacLeod said, "and I just wanted to get a shot on net and I thought the guys were going to go to the net, but it just happened to go in."
The potent top line of the Terriers popped its first power-play goal of the season in just 2:12 into the second period, jumping ahead on the scoreboard for the first time in the game.
On a perfect cycle play, junior Ahti Oksanen tipped a rebound home off freshman Jack Eichel’s initial wrist shot from the left wing. The goal was the Finnish left winger’s third of the season and the line’s first connection of the evening after many close calls.
BU jumped up by two at the 13:41 mark of the second as senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues finished off a brilliant sequence by the second line, banging in a rebound off sophomore Robbie Baillargeon’s initial shot.
"It was nice to first get an assist on Ahti's goal, and then to bury the rebound," Rodrigues said. "We had a great shift and to see a result in a goal is good for our line."
The third period begun just as the second ended, with BU attacking and finding the back of the net. Eichel got into the goal column for the fourth time this year, taking a blind centering pass from junior right winger Danny O’Regan for a shorthanded wrist shot and 4-1 lead at 3:21.
BU allowed just three shots in the final stanza, finishing the game with a dominant 41-18 advantage in that statistical category and as much energy as it had from the outset.
"When you have talent and you play simple, smart hockey, good things are more likely to happen than not," Quinn said. "I'm really happy with our effort. We never took our foot off the pedal and we just kept going."
The series shifts to Agganis Arena on Saturday night as BU closes a two-game weekend against the same opponent for the first time this season. Quinn knows the going will not be as easy on the back end and there is still a lot of work to do in the series.
"We're going to find out an awful lot about us tomorrow night," Quinn said. "This isn't coach talk, but I am sure we are going to have the most difficult game of the year tomorrow night."