Euphoria is defined as a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. This term seems fitting for the scene that surrounded the Providence Friars Saturday night at the TD Garden. All it took was one fluky goal. With that fluky goal came the lifeline that the Friars had been desperately searching for all game long. And once that lifeline was available, it was all but over for the Terriers of Boston University.
With 8:36 remaining in the third period, Providence defenseman Tom Parisi had planned on simply dumping the puck into the offensive zone so the Friars could get some fresh legs out onto the ice. Little did he know this would be the greatest lob of a hockey puck that has ever come off of his stick to this point in his life. BU goalie Matt O’Connor caught the lob and proceeded to drop the puck in between his legs. Not knowing where it had gone, the junior from Toronto, Ontario unintentionally pushed the puck across his own goal line and into his own net. With the score now tied at three, the Friars held all of the momentum in the building for the first time all night.
BU head coach David Quinn called a timeout less than a minute later to try to calm his troops. Instead, at the ensuing faceoff, Brandon Tanev snatched up the puck, glided into the slot, and ripped a wrister past O’Connor for the biggest goal in PC hockey history to put the Friars up 4-3. Providence would manage to hold on for the remaining, anxiety filled, slow motion 6:17 to bring home the program’s first ever National Championship. Of course, this came with a little help from PC goaltender Jon Gillies with just a minute left in the game.
From an entertainment perspective, the entire game was oscar-winning. From a hockey perspective, maybe not the cleanest of showings. But just looking at each team’s goaltending situation can provide a lens through which one can understand how this game was won. Matt O’Connor dropping a puck into his own goal and proceeding give up another two minutes later is representative of one side. While in the other net, we see Jon Gillies making 49 saves and sprawling across the crease to make a season saving stop. Without Gillies performance, a Providence third period comeback is impossible. What everyone will remember is Matt O’Connor dropping the puck into his own net. But what everyone should remember is that without Gillies standing on his head at the other end of the ice, the own goal would not have even mattered.
It took a heck of a bounce, and some late game heroics, but for the third straight season, the NCAA crowned a first time champion. Coming into this season, the Friars were favorites to win the Hockey East title. But a rough start, and inconsistent play down the road allowed for the Terriers to take both the regular season title and conference championship. PC would end up being the last team to qualify for this year’s NCAA tournament. As we now know, they would eventually get the last laugh.
One may say that an improbable comeback like this is something you see in movies. I would have to agree. The tale of the 2015 NCAA Hockey Final had quite the plot, resulting in euphoria in one locker room and shock in the other. I would like to personally thank PC and BU for putting on one hell of a show last night. That’s not one I will soon forget.
P.S. GO FRIARS