Last night, the Providence College Friars came back in the 3rd period to steal a National Championship from Boston University, one of the top teams in the entire NCAA. It was the 1st National Championship in Providence’s history.
Boston University was stunned and devastated by the turnout. Standing in the locker room after the game, the players sat in their stalls in disbelief, heads buried in their hands, eyes puffy and watery, teammates consoling fellow comrades realizing just how quickly the game slipped away.
While it wasn’t the only reason BU lost the National Championship, Matt O’Connor’s blunder in the 3rd period (his 2nd in as many games) directly resulted in the game-tying goal. The wheels fell off afterwards as Brandon Tanev rifled a wristshot past O’Connor that even Patrick Roy in his prime wouldn’t have been able to stop. It wasn’t until the last two minutes of the game that BU had a flurry of shots and sustained pressure in the Providence zone, but the Friars – backstopped by Jon Gillies – held off the onslaught to capture the victory.
After the game, Coach Quinn had this to say about his team:
“…People lost sight that despite all our success — we’re the youngest team in the country. We have four 18-year-old defensemen playing in the game tonight. We’ve got eight freshmen in the lineup.
Sometimes experience is the best remedy for situations that we were in tonight. And we don’t have a lot of it. And to go from the year we had last year to be that close to winning a national title is an incredible accomplishment.
And it shouldn’t be lost in all of this. And I would love to be sitting here as the national champion. I’d like to have our guys have smiles on their faces instead of tears in their eyes, but sometimes it’s a process. And we’re close, and I don’t think many guys around our team thought we were going to lose tonight. I just love the way we played from the get-go. And, again, sometimes experience is the best remedy to handle a one-goal lead in the third period of a National Championship game.
We don’t have a lot of it.”
As the youngest team in the NCAA, the BU met Providence on the biggest stage against a more experienced club and their nervousness seemed to show at key parts in the game. Instead of pushing the pace of the game, they sat back and waited allowing the Friars to take control of the majority of the 3rd period. With the bitter taste left in their mouth from a National Championship loss, bigger questions surround the Terriers heading into next season.
Seniors Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues (2nd on the team in points) will not be returning. Jack Eichel will be the 2nd player taken in the draft and, although he wanted to win the title with BU, will likely sign an entry-level contract nullifying his ability to play for the Terriers. Danny O’Regan (San Jose) and captain Matt Grzelcyk (Boston) might forgo their senior season to sign contracts with their respective clubs. With their play this season, juniors Matt O’Connor, Ahti Oksanen, and Matt Lane have certainly garnered interest from NHL clubs and might join their aforementioned teammates by signing NHL deals.
Will BU be as bad as their previous 10-win season?
Will BU be nearly as good next season as they were this season?
While it’s rare you see a group of freshman outperform their peers and make it to the National Championship, they managed to outshine every opponent all season long and did an admirable job despite the inexperience. Their returning class still has a great deal of promise and their young defense has gained valuable lessons in what it takes to be a successful college team. BU has a talented recruiting class with Jordan Greenway and Charlie McAvoy among others coming into the 2015-16 season. However, without many of their key players next season, the Terriers and Coach Quinn certainly have their work cut out for them.