Jon Gillies backstops Providence to NCAA championship win over BU
The Providence College Friars defeated the Boston University Terriers 4-3 Saturday to clinch the 2015 NCAA championship, the program’s first.
It was only the Friars' second trip to the championship game, and their first since 1985. Here's three thoughts on an exciting end to the college hockey season:
1. Sometimes, you just need to catch a break
With less than nine minutes left in regulation and down 3-2, it looked as if Providence was going to need a big play quickly if it wanted to stay alive.
Then the Friars caught the biggest break they could have hoped for. Defenseman Kyle McKenzie cleared a puck into the offensive zone on Terriers goalie Matt O’Connor. O’Connor couldn’t handle it, dropped it between his legs and couldn’t stop it from sliding into the net.
Two minutes later, forward Brandon Tanev, younger brother of Canucks defenseman Chris, took the puck across the offensive zone circle off a faceoff win and deposited into the top right corner of the net, catapulting the Friars to a 4-3 lead in the most unpredictable sequence of events.
2. Jon Gillies came up huge
In my keys to victory, Jon Gillies was No. 1 for Providence. If the Friars had any shot they needed their stalwart to do what he had done all season: keep the puck out of the net.
No small task against the nation's top-ranked offense in BU, but Gillies was up to the challenge. He stopped 49 pucks, the second-highest total in a national championship game, as he carried the Friars all the way to the title.
With his team trailing for most of the game, Gillies had to come up big in the clutch. When his team took the lead with 6:17 remaining, he got even better.
With the BU net empty and the Terriers pressing hard, Gillies made a sprawling, highlight reel save to clear the puck out of the crease and keep the Friars in the lead.
3. We all knew BU could score in a hurry but c’mon…
With three 50-point scorers on the top line and averaging 3.88 goals per game, it was pretty obvious: the Terriers could score seemingly at will.
They brought that scoring reputation to a new level on Saturday when they turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead in a matter of seconds.
Forward Ahti Oksanen tied the game at one at 12:50 of the first period with a bad angle shot from the boards that somehow found its way between the post and the arm of Gillies.
Four seconds later, BU struck again when Jack Eichel won the faceoff to winger Danny O’Regan, who marched down and flipped a backhander over the Gillies' shoulder for an early 2-1 lead.
The tallies were the quickest back-to-back goals in the history of the Frozen Four and the fourth-fastest in NCAA history.