BOSTON -- Penalties have been the story of the season for Boston University.
When the Terriers did not allow Providence to the power play once during the third period, momentum in Saturday night’s game at Agganis Arena swung in an instant.
Juniors Brandon Hickey and Nikolas Olsson scored consecutive goals in less than a three-minute span in the final frame of regulation, lifting the Terriers into a 2-2 tie and a three-point weekend in Hockey East play for the second time this season.
“I’m certainly proud of our guys with the way we battled back in the third period after really making life difficult for ourselves in the first two,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “I thought there was a stretch over the last three weeks where we weren’t taking penalties, but we were right back at it.”
BU committed eight minor penalties through 40 minutes, and the visitors generated 11 of their 22 shots on goal ― and its first goal of the game ― thanks to power plays.
In the third, no power plays and just one minor.
“The third period, it was like we turned a switch on,” Quinn said. “We stopped getting involved in the bull (after the whistle), we shut up, we played hockey, and we were able to get a point out of it.”
The Friars had slightly more half as many shot attempts as BU (22-14) in the first period, but a power-play goal and one just one second after its next advantage expired gave the visitors a two-goal lead. Sophomore Hayden Hawkey came up with nine saves in the opening stanza, including one on BU’s Kieffer Bellows low on the right side after he turned the puck over behind the net.
Scott Conway scored the fourth goal of his sophomore season at 12:14, taking a centering feed from defenseman Josh Monk for a shot that beat BU freshman Jake Oettinger to his short side.
Junior assistant captain Jake Walman doubled the Friar lead at 17:44. Off a feed from Conway, Walman fired from inside the right faceoff circle for a shot that hit Oettinger in the chest and bounced over the line for his third goal this season.
The hot start was a strong sign for Nate Leaman’s team that featured 11 freshmen or sophomore skaters in the lineup, and a sophomore goaltender. This season’s first half was full of trials and tribulations, but steps in the right direction are being made.
“It’s a little frustrating to only come out of this weekend with one point, but in our hearts I think we know how we played,” Leaman said. “It’s part of our growth. This was a good step in our process. Tonight doesn’t hurt, tying the game. What hurts is outshooting someone 39-18 in your building and come away with a loss. … Sometimes these struggles make you better.”
Things kept tipping in PC’s favor in the second as it posted a 16-9 shot advantage, but Oettinger was equal to every task in what turned out to be a scoreless frame.
The script, as Quinn mentioned, flipped in the third.
“I think we needed a goal to ignite us. Then, all of a sudden, we started ― we were feeling sorry for ourselves,” Quinn said. “We were our own worst enemies for the first two periods. We were getting frustrated, then Hickey makes a great play and we get a goal.”
Just minutes after Hawkey made a great pad save on BU sophomore Jordan Greenway, Hickey cut the visitors’ advantage in half with his second goal of the season at 14:50, banging his own rebound home from just outside the crease after driving from the corner to the front of the net.
The Terriers kept grinding in the final frame, ultimately putting 16 of its 29 shot attempts on Hawkey. Nikolas Olsson got credit for the primary assist on Hickey’s goal, then scored the equalizer himself at the 17:11 mark.
“Our two goals, we’re playing the right way,” Hickey said. “That’s why we got them. If you continue to play the right way and you continue to go hard on the forecheck, get sticks on pucks like we did on both forechecks, you’re going to get rewarded.”
Hawkey made a tough stop on freshman Patrick Curry from the left side, but Olsson knocked home another rebound for his second goal of the season after Charlie McAvoy got a touch for the primary assist.
Olsson also scored the game-winner in Friday’s 2-1 decision in Providence, his first game back after missing seven straight due to injury.
“It’s great to have (Olsson) back,” Quinn said. “He’s an older kid, he’s physical. We don’t have a lot of those guys, so it’s nice to have him back in the lineup to give us some depth. It’s nice to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet.”
While the Friars had a 3-2 shot edge in overtime, BU’s faithful nearly went home happy as sophomore Bobo Carpenter stormed in on a shorthanded breakaway in the final seconds, but Hawkey made the stop as the buzzer sounded.