Long list of firsts ends BU’s magical season in championship

Danny O'Regan gets knocked down.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan gets knocked down.
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

For the last game of the year, there sure were a lot of firsts occurring Saturday night. Unfortunately for the Boston University men’s hockey team, none of those firsts went its way.

In 19 games where the Terriers held a lead after two periods, the Terriers were winners of all 19.

In five games at TD Garden, BU was undefeated.

In games where the Terriers took at least 50 shots, they never lost.

In title clinching, playoff-elimination and tournament games, BU boasted an unblemished 8-0 record.

In the National Championship Game, those streaks came to a crashing end.

The season that had been filled with many trophy ceremonies, new hats and smiles ended only in heartbreak and disbelief. BU did not win its first championship in six years. Providence College celebrated its first national title. The smiles, trophy and new hats were on the other side.

For a team that seemed to have endless magic, one last miracle never happened.

But even in tough moments throughout Saturday’s final game, it didn’t initially seem like the luck would run out.

Like when BU fell down early 1-0, the Terriers answered back with a quick, albeit unusual, goal from junior winger Ahti Oksanen that snuck in between the post and goaltender Jon Gillies’ right pad. By the smallest of margins, the game was tied.

BU’s first line then came out for a faceoff, won the draw and skated it down the ice, with junior forward Danny O’Regan scoring a goal. In four seconds, the Terriers had taken the lead and set an NCAA Tournament record for fastest consecutive goals. In the blink of an eye, BU was back in control.

Even when forward Mark Jankowski tied things up 4:29 in the second, there was no panic. BU peppered Gillies with 22 shots in the period, finally breaking the tie when senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann wristed one in halfway through the period. That all but ensured a one-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

It looked as if everything was all coming to fruition, and it would culminate in one last championship. But everything was not as it seemed.

Providence pushed hard, as one would expect, in the opening ticks of the third. Just like they had against University of North Dakota the game before, BU hung on through the initial storm. At the 11:24 mark, though, everything changed.

Defenseman’s Tom Parisi’s simple chip-in from center ice was flubbed by an indecisive junior goaltender Matt O’Connor, and with the unluckiest of plays, the game was tied. The Terriers had overcome weak goals given up by O’Connor before, including one in each of the two previous games. This time that didn’t happen.

Brandon Tanev celebrates his goal.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Brandon Tanev celebrates his goal.
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Even after a timeout that looked like it might settle the Terriers down, Providence’s Kevin Rooney won a faceoff against freshman center Jack Eichel in the BU zone, winger Brandon Tanev corralled the puck and roofed it high over O’Connor’s left shoulder. With 6:17 left, Providence, not BU, had the lead.

But that’s when BU’s top-six forwards were supposed to step in. That’s when the formidable line of senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues-Eichel-O’Regan was supposed will its way to a tying goal. That’s what happened all season. But it’s not what happened Saturday night.

Rodrigues, who had been so integral to this season’s late run, was held off the score sheet. And although O’Regan and Eichel worked to score BU’s second goal, they were held in check by Rooney’s line. The trio had 11 shots on goal, but none hit twine in the third period.

And in the final push with an extra attacker, Gillies, who had been unshaken throughout the third, left one open opportunity with one minute remaining, one BU had cashed in on time and time again. A diving attempt by both Hohmann and sophomore forward Nick Roberto looked like it would have eyes and head into the gaping net. It looked to be enough to at least force overtime.

Like every other play in the third period, it wasn’t enough. Gillies made a sprawling save, stunning the BU bench. The Terriers wouldn’t get a better chance in the following 60 seconds.

In such a special season, BU came up just short for the first time.

By the Numbers: BU versus Providence (Part II)

The No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team lost for the first time since March when it fell to No. 12 Providence College on Saturday night. For the first 25 or so minutes against the Friars (2-3-1, 1-1 Hockey East), BU (4-1, 2-1 Hockey East) played some of its worst hockey since that time. From bad penalties to lack of puck possession, the Terriers fell behind early and could not come up with a big goal late.

Again, we’ll take a look at the Corsi and Fenwick numbers of even strength play for this By the Numbers.

*A note with this edition — our shot chart has some discrepancies with the shot count. Some of the shots on the chart aren’t clearly marked a power-play chance or a blocked shot, so the numbers might be off by a couple. The percentage should not be thrown off by more than one or two points. *

Corsi Full Game

Corsi For: 54 (Shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots)

Corsi Against: 39

Corsi For Percentage: 58.1

Corsi First Period 

Corsi For: 9

Corsi Against: 18

Corsi For Percentage: 33.3

BU Goals: 0

PC Goals: 1

Corsi Second Period

Corsi For: 21

Corsi Against: 15

Corsi For Percentage: 58.3

BU Goals: o

PC Goals: 1

Corsi Third Period

Corsi For: 24

Corsi Against: 6

BU Goals: 1

PC Goals: 0

Fenwick Full Game

Fenwick For: 41 (shots on goal, missed shots)

Fenwick Against: 27

Fenwick For Percentage: 60.3

Fenwick First Period

Fenwick For: 5

Fenwick Against: 11

Fenwick For Percentage: 31.3

Fenwick Second Period

Fenwick For: 18

Fenwick Against: 12

Fenwick For Percentage: 60

Fenwick Third Period

Fenwick For: 18

Fenwick Against: 4

Fenwick For Percentage: 81.2

Takeaway

As a whole, the Terriers had the advantage in Corsi and Fenwick. The first period and first half of the second frame, however, was the undoing of the team. Providence’s forecheck pushed the puck forward and cycled it well through this portion of the game.

But not everything for the Terriers was a negative. A positive BU can take from this game is its third period. Clearly, BU dominated the final frame — just as its done every game this season. Only stonewall that was goaltender Jon Gillies kept this game from going to overtime.