Beaudry Tries to Find His Groove
by Jillian Saftel/CHN Reporter
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Every game is a series of ups and downs for a goaltender, one minute the opposition is skating toward you with the puck and you’re preparing to dart, leap or shift in order to make the save, and the next your defense has cleared the puck and the pressure is off — if only for a second.
For senior goaltender Alex Beaudry and Providence, it’s the entire season that has felt like a rollercoaster, filled with big wins against Hockey East powerhouses like Boston University and Merrimack that caused buzz in the college hockey community and disappointing losses, like their 5-2 New Year’s Day loss to Rhode Island rival Brown in the Mayor’s Cup — the Friars' first game of the second half.
“It’s 25 days off, and I thought that was pretty clear with us. … That’s a long layoff,” first-year Providence coach Nate Leaman said of his team’s loss to Brown. “Overall, they were a lot more game sharp than we were.”
Throughout it all, one thing has been constant for the Friars, and that’s Beaudry. He’s played in all but one of Providence’s games throughout the first half of the season.
With a .898 save percentage and an average 2.93 goals against, you won’t find Beaudry on the list of top NCAA goaltenders, but to qualify his play by that would be a disservice.
“He’s played almost every game for us so I think he really has been in a groove. I think he’s got a good confidence right now. He’s the backbone of our team,” Leaman said.
At Schneider Arena on New Year’s Day, Beaudry certainly started the game against Brown as just that, a backbone. He made eight saves in the first period and confidently and decisively blocked what came his way, with a strong Friar defense in front of him.
But, as the second period began, Beaudry had difficulty staying on top of the puck, blocking a majority of the shots that came his way, but unable to stay on top of them, resulting in rebounds that gave Brown a second chance to shoot on him.
“The first period, he was great, the wrap around chance was great. To be honest, he made some big stops, but he caused a lot of it, too. I mean, he wasn’t holding pucks real well, and it put a lot of heat on our net,” Leaman said.
If anything, Leaman said he chalked Beaudry’s trouble up to rust after the long break. He said he wasn’t unhappy with his goaltender’s play, but that he was kicking out rebounds that normally he’d have under control.
“He hasn’t played a game in 25 days, and he was stopping. I thought he did a really good job of stopping a lot of first pucks, but there were also a lot of rebounds there that made things tough on our defense and got you kind of scrambling there a little bit,” Leaman said.
“He’ll sharpen that up.”
For Beaudry, this season has been all about succeeding in his role and giving his team every opportunity to get a win in every single match up. Regardless of whether the opponent is a Hockey East contender or not.
“I’ve just got to be able to bring the same thing every day, hard work in practice, hard work in games and go from there. I’ve got to give my team a chance to win every day, and that’s my job,” Beaudry said.
The hardwork paid off for Beaudry in December, who boasted a 1.66 goals against average and .938 save percentage in the month with a 2-1-0 record.
Sitting right in the middle at fifth place in Hockey East, Providence will face a number of critical conference matchups as the second half of the season moves on, starting with Massachusetts Thursday night and New Hampshire on Jan. 13.
Beaudry said for him, the second half will come down to more hard work both on and off the ice that can affect his play.
“It’s hard work in practice; it’s doing style things both in the gym and on the ice,” the goaltender said. “And that will translate into the game.”