By Josh Sullivan, Former Sports Editor
BOSTON — A misplayed puck by BU goaltender Matt O’Connor was all the fuel Providence needed to back their third period comeback in the National Championship game at the TD Garden Saturday. The Friars won the school’s first ever hockey national championship by taking down BU 4-3, who was led by arguably the best line in college hockey in Evan Rodrigues, Jack Eichel and Danny O’Regan.
“We beat a terrific opponent tonight and I think that makes the victory a little bit sweeter,” said PC head coach Nate Leaman. “They had us on our heels for the first and second period and Jonny held us in there.”
Leaman was referring to his goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s 2.01 goals against average is the best in Hockey East. The former goalie for the U.S. World Juniors team from South Portland, Maine had 49 saves on the night, none more important than when he managed to stop Cason Hohmann from evening the score at four with his outstretched stick with just over a minute left in the game. “We got a heck of a bounce, and I think that kept our bench alive a little bit,” Leaman said. That fateful display of puck luck that decided who would be crowned the best team in the country happened with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period. Tom Parisi dumped the puck on O’Connor so the Friars could get a line change. O’Connor gloved the puck, yet misplayed it will retreating back in his crease and the puck fell out of his catcher and through his five-hole into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, PC forward Brandon Tanev fired an absolute rocket over the shoulder of O’Connor. The puck found the back of the net via the top shelf, and the momentum that had seemed completely in the hands of BU had vanished, along with the Terriers lead.
“When you get to this stage its all about who can capitalize on these opportunities,” BU captain and Boston Bruins prospect Matt Grzylak said.
BU graduates standouts Rodrigues, Hohmann and O’Regan, who combined for 53 goals this season.
“I’ve been coaching for 20 years and I’ve never had more fun than coaching these guys,” Terriers head coach David Quinn said. “It’s a tough one to swallow without questions, but we’ll be back.”
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