Boston -- When Brandon Tanev scored the game-winning goal off a face-off win by Kevin Rooney with 6:17 to play in the game, it was a fitting tribute to two players who sometimes go under the radar.
"It was amazing. I couldn't even register what was going on. It was a heck of a draw win by Kevin Rooney. Steve McParland was able to give me some space and I was able to rip that puck and it went in," explained Tanev.
It was the game-winning goal for Providence College, the last team to squeak into the NCAA Tournament after losing in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. The Friars upset Boston University, 4-3, on Saturday night to capture the school's first ever NCAA Championship in men's hockey.
"It's very fitting that they got the game winner because they've been great in these four games," said Providence coach Nate Leaman, in his fourth season as the bench boss of the Friars.
Tanev had a goal in three of Providence College's NCAA Tournament games, including Saturday's Frozen Four Championship Game victory over Boston University. Rooney had a goal and two assists over the past three games.
But, Tanev and Rooney's impact on the Friars' post-season success extended much wider than just their imprints on the score sheet. When Nate Leaman needed two forwards out for an important situation late in the game or on a key draw, it was often Tanev and Rooney who got the call. The pair provided a lot of the grit and did a lot of the little things needed to win a championship.
"You win with guys that are gritty at this time of the year," said Leaman.
Tanev and Rooney exemplify the types of players Leaman wants on a night in and night out basis. They bring speed, energy and are tenacious on the forecheck and compete hard in their own zone.
"I think they're two guys that skate very well," said Leaman.
Tanev and Rooney are members of a junior class that has been the face of the turnaround in the hockey program at Providence. The 11 Friar juniors, including Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player Jon Gillies, are the class that has been the driving force in bringing relevance back to a program that hadn't reached the NCAA semifinals since 1985.
"I think they're two guys, again in that junior class, that played nearly every game of their career. I just think they're two winners," explained Leaman.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.