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Providence College captures first Frozen Four Championship

Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- Sometimes, an old adage says, it's better to be lucky than to be good.

Providence was certainly a combination of both in Saturday night's Frozen Four title game at the TD Garden, but there is no doubt a stroke of luck was on its side as junior defenseman Tom Parisi received the most fortunate of bounces with 8:36 left in regulation.

Parisi's shot from center ice bounced off BU junior Matt O'Connor's glove behind him and over the goal line before junior Brandon Tanev scored the winning goal off a faceoff just more than two minutes later, at the 13:43 mark, to lift the Friars to their first national championship in program history with a 4-3 win.

"We had a heck of a bounce, and I think that got our bench alive a little bit," PC head coach Nate Leaman said. "And then Coach (Steve) Miller drew up a heck of a faceoff play coming out of that TV timeout and the guys executed well. They were kicking our butts on faceoffs a lot throughout the game and probably in the third period we did our best on faceoffs."

PC becomes the third consecutive first time college hockey national champion with the win, a feat which has happened once previously but not since the first three years of the tournament (1948-50), and the ninth champ in Hockey East history.

"We beat a terrific opponent tonight. I think that's what makes it a little bit sweeter. That BU team is, they were terrific. They had us on our heels for a lot of that first and second period and we were just kind of hanging in there."

The Friars killed off the first penalty of the game just about six minutes into the first period and was able to ride some of that momentum into scoring the first goal of the game at 9:25.

Friar junior captain Noel Acciari hit the post on a shot from low inside the right circle and sophomore Anthony Florentino was able to bury the rebound that bounced right onto his stick at the top of the circle for his third goal of the season.

Beginning with 7:10 left in the frame, BU scored the fastest consecutive goals in NCAA tournament history to take the lead away and into the first intermission, 2-1.

After junior Ahti Oksanen made a great play to keep the puck in, he scored his 25th goal of the season on an off-angle shot that beat PC junior Jon Gillies between his post and his body from his right side.

"I mean, obviously that's one in a big game that you'd like to have back," Gillies said, "but I think it's a testament to our team where they had my back 100 percent and didn't lose faith in me."

Freshman Jack Eichel fed junior Danny O'Regan with a pass off the faceoff just four seconds later to put the Terriers ahead. In addition to being the fastest back-to-back goals in tournament history, they now stand as the fourth fastest consecutively in overall NCAA history.

PC tied the score with a power-play goal 4:29 into the second period as junior Trevor Mingoia made a great backhand feed to find classmate Mark Jankowski for a one-timer from the right circle for his eighth goal of the season.

Oksanen picked up his second point of the night with the primary assist on senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann's go-ahead goal at 11:36. Hohmann controlled a puck that bounced between the circles, skated around Gillies and popped home his 11th goal this year and fifth in the last seven games.

Parisi's lucky goal, which O'Connor lost between his legs and knocked into the net from under his skate, was his fifth of the season and the first of his career in postseason play.

"I couldn't really see it in my glove," O'Connor said. "I thought it rolled of it. I tried to drop and throw it to Jack (Eichel) and it was too late."

Junior Kevin Rooney won the faceoff that led to Tanev's second goal of the season and of the tournament, which turned out to clinch just the second all-time title by a No. 4 seed nationally.

The Terriers had golden opportunities to tie the game in the final minute, including with exactly a minute remaining as Gillies made the most emphatic of his career-high 49 saves on a diving effort to rob Terrier sophomore Nick Roberto and Hohmann who were at the net front.

"You don't do anything different," Gillies said. "You let the puck hit you. If it does squirt out or something at that point in game, you just try to get something in front of it and try and battle for the guys that are battling for you in front."

It wasn't all easy, just ask Leaman.

"We're fortunate enough to have support (from the entire school) if you're going to be successful. And we're fortunate enough to be a Catholic school where they say a lot of prayers."