The NCAA hockey championship game features familiar foes as the Boston University Terriers take on their Hockey East brethren Providence College Friars tonight at TD Garden in Boston.
This is the first all-Hockey East title game since 1999 according to Boston University’s athletic website. The puck drops at 7:30 and will televised live on ESPN and can also be seen on ESPN3.
The two rivals know each other well, as they are about an hour’s drive apart. They have played twice this season with each team winning on the road — BU won (4-1) on October 31 while Providence got revenge the next day, winning 2-1 on November 1.
Update: Providence defeated BU 4-3 to win its first hockey national championship. Trailing 3-2 in the third, Providence defenseman Tom Parisi cleared the puck into BU’s zone but Terrier goalie Matt O’Connor made a huge blunder — kicking the puck into the back of the net to knot the game up.
Then with 6:17 remaining in the third, Brandon Tanev scored to give the Friars a 4-3 lead. Providence goalie Jon Gillies made 49 stops and was named Most Outstanding Player.
BU (28-7-5) is going for its sixth national championship while Providence (25-12-2) is looking for its first ever crown. Terriers’ head coach David Quinn, who is a Rhode Island native and former BU player, upcoming game on Friday.
BU (28-7-5) is going for its sixth national championship while Providence (25-12-2) is looking for its first ever crown. Terriers’ head coach David Quinn, who is a Rhode Island native and former BU player, talked about the upcoming game on Friday.
“I know it’s been a long time coming for Providence. It’s been a great program for a long time. I’m happy for the team. I’m happy for the school. But I will be happier to beat them.”
BU is the youngest team in the nation. The Terriers, who have just two seniors on their roster, play nine freshmen regularly. BU won just 10 games a season ago.
The Terriers won both the Hockey East regular season title and conference tournament crown. BU also won the famed Beanpot tournament — which involves the four Boston area schools (BU, BC, Harvard and Northeastern).
BU came into the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed overall. The Terriers defeated Yale (3-2 OT) and Minnesota-Duluth (3-2) to capture Northeast Regional crown. BU then defeated No. 2 North Dakota (5-3) in the Frozen Four as Hobey Baker award winner Jack Eichel totaled three points, including two goals.
Eichel, who has a nation’s best 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists), leads a high-powered BU offense. The Terriers led the country in scoring with 3.88 goals a game. Senior Evan Rodrigues was second in the NCAA with 61 points, while three others totaled at least 26 points. Junior Matt O’Connor (25-3-4, 2.13 GAA) is expected to be in goal for the Terriers.
Providence is an experienced team with four impact seniors and 12 juniors, according to Pat Bradley of New England Sports Network. The Friars (25-13-2) got off to a slow start especially on the offensive end, as they started the season going 4-4-2 in their first 10 games. Providence averaged 2.1 goals a game during the stretch but finished as the second highest-scoring team in the nation with 3.38 goals contest.
“Early on in the season we played against some tough opponents, working hard and not getting the results we wanted,” said Providence senior forward Ross Mauermann. “The coaching staff and some of the other guys for sure, from our previous experiences, kind of knew we just had to keep working hard in practice and keep bringing it. And I think the biggest thing was to make sure we’re getting pucks to the net, not trying to make the pretty play all the time. Early we were doing that too much.”
The Friars finished second in the Hockey East regular season and then were upset in the conference tournament quarterfinals by New Hampshire. Providence scored just four goals in the best-of-three quarterfinals, but the Friars have scored 15 goals in the NCAA tournament. The Friars defeated Miami (Ohio) 7-5 in the opening round and then defeated Denver and Nebraska-Omaha by identical 4-1 scores.
Junior Jon Gillie s( 23-13-2, 1.98 GAA) has been solid all year in goal for the Friars, who are making their first title game appearance since 1985. Gillies stopped 25-of-26 shots against Nebraska-Omaha in the semifinals.
Nick Saracino leads Providence with 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) and has six points in five NCAA tournament games. Noel Acciari, who is on a four game point streak, and Trevor Mingola lead the squad with 15 goals apiece.
“Anytime you get a chance to play in a game of this magnitude, you can never take it for granted. You need to take advantage of it. We’ve come too far and put too much into it,” Quinn said. “I think our guys feel that way. The thing that I liked after our game last night is there was a level of excitement, but it was subdued. I think there was a feeling in the locker room that we were excited about winning the hockey game, but I got a sense shortly thereafter that our guys were getting ready to win the national championship against a very good Providence team.”
[photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]