Maine Hockey Journal

Gillies leads Friars to first Division I men’s hockey national championship

Jon Gillies, the most outstanding player of the tournament carries the trophy after Providence defeated the Boston University Terriers 4-3. (Winslow Townson|Providence College)

Jon Gillies, the most outstanding player of the tournament carries the trophy after Providence defeated the Boston University Terriers 4-3. (Winslow Townson|Providence College)

BOSTON – It took a little bit of luck for Providence College to pull a win out of the contest, but the luck they got will be talked about for years to come.

With the Boston University leading by a goal, the Friars tallied a pair of the third period goals to win its first NCAA Division Men’s hockey title in program history with a 4-3 score before 18,168 at the TD Garden in Boston.

With 8:36 to go in the game and down by a goal, 3-2, Providence defenseman Kyle McKenzie dumped the puck on Boston University’s junior goaltender Matt O’Conner, who caught the puck in his glove.

As he dropped the puck to the ice to pass to a fellow Terrier, the puck found its way between the legs of the goalie and trickled into the net to tie the game at 3.

“As a goalie you feel for him,” said Providence goalie and South Portland native Jon Gillies, who finished with 49 saves. “I know him personally. He’s a wonderful goalie he had a great year and he was fantastic throughout the tournament to get here. And from a goaltending standpoint we’ve all had one of those and you feel for him, and I think that it energized our bench a lot.”

Like the Terriers did earlier in the game, the Friars scored directly off the faceoff to take the 4-3 lead only two minutes later.

Brandon Tanev took the assist from Kevin Rooney and put the puck past O’Conner to get what would eventually be the goal that won the Friars its first national championship.

“Just a heck of a faceoff call by Coach Miller,” said Tanev on his game-winning goal. “Kevin read did a great job winning it back, and Steven boxed out and I was fortunate enough to get the puck up and get a clean shot off and happened to go over O’Connor’s shoulder.”

Though the Friars would hold on to the win, Boston University had a golden opportunity late in the game with their goalie pulled. The puck was loose around the crease, and the Terriers managed a shot from in close that couldn’t make its way over the goal line with a combined effort between Gillies and his defenseman.

It was a play that possibly saved the Friars their championship.

Providence got on the board first on a rocket slap shot that found its way past the Terrier goaltender. Noel Acciari shot the puck off of the post past the scrambling goalie as the puck bounced to Anthony Florentino past the right faceoff dot.

Florentino wound up for the big shot and sunk the goal past O’Conner.

The lead would only last 3:25 second for Providence as the Terriers fired two back-to-back goals only four seconds apart.

The quick tallies set a new NCAA record that was previously two goals scored five seconds apart by Michigan.

The first of the two goals came on a shot from Ahti Oksanen, who fired the puck from an odd angle and snuck between the post and the torso of Gillies. The goal that tied the contest was certainly one that Gillies would want back.

Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel carried the puck into the zone, and dished it over to Danny O’Reagan, who backhanded the puck past Gillies, putting the Terriers out front, 2-1.

With 17.4 seconds remaining in the first period of the game, the Terriers’ John MacLeod took his second penalty of the game to give the Friars another opportunity on the man advantage.

Providence would take their opportunity and cash in as Mark Jankowski slapped a one-timer past O’Conner to tie the game. The goal came with 15:31 remaining in the second period.

Boston University would answer back with a goal of their own by Cason Hohmann who, after the puck bounced to him on a deflection, outwaited the Frozen Four MVP Jon Gillies to put the puck in the net.

The goal would eventually be answered on the dump-in by McKenzie, and the Friars would move on to win their first national championship.

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