BOSTON — Providence’s Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament is complete, and it had some time to spare. 

At 10:20, exactly 100 minutes before the stroke of midnight, the Friars captured their first title in program history with a 4-3 victory over Boston University in an all-Hockey East championship game at TD Garden on Saturday. 

“We beat a terrific opponent tonight,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “I think that’s what makes it a little bit sweeter. That BU team is terrific. They had us on our heels for a lot of the first and second period and we were just kind of handing in there. Johnny (Gillies) held us in there. And I thought it’s kind of a little bit like our season. We started a little bit slow, but we got better and better.” 

The Friars — the No. 4 seed out of the East Regional and last team to make the field — became the third straight first-time winner at the Frozen Four, joining Yale in 2013 and Union in 2014. It’s the first time that’s happened since the first three years of the tournament. 

A stroke of luck paved the way to the title as Providence (26-13-2) scored twice in the final 8:36 to rob the Terriers of their sixth national title. Trailing 3-2, Kyle McKenzie lofted a puck on net from the red line. BU goaltender Matt O’Connor misplayed it with his glove hand and the puck dropped to his feet, where he kicked it in trying to cover it up with his pads. 

Gillies felt for his goaltender counterpart. 

“As a goalie you feel for him,” Gillies said. “I know him personally. He’s a wonderful goalie. He had a great year and he was fantastic throughout the tournament to get here. And from a goaltending standpoint we’ve all had one of those and you feel for him, and I think that it energized our bench a lot.” 

Brandon Tanev delivered the championship-winning goal two minutes later, skating into the slot and sniping a shot over O’Connor’s glove-side shoulder. Tanev’s goal came just moments after BU coach David Quinn used his timeout in an attempt to settle his players down. 

“Just a heck of a faceoff call by coach Steve Miller and Kevin (Rooney) did a great job winning it back and I was fortunate enough to get the puck up and get a clean shot off and it happened to go over O’Connor’s shoulder,” Tanev said. 

Gillies did the rest, stopping 49 shots. His final save was the biggest, making a diving stop on Nick Roberto with a minute left. 

“First off our wingers and our defensemen and everyone were absolutely eating pucks and doing a fantastic job forcing shots wide and forcing the BU guys to make a play that they didn’t necessarily want to make,” Gillies said. ” So it starts there. And if it does get to me I just kind of play big and there’s a six on five so there’s a lot of traffic in front. You let the puck hit you. If it does squirt out or something at that point in the 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.” 

Gillies’ 49 saves were a career high. He had 37 saves through two periods, setting a new championship game record. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player, making 74 saves at the Frozen Four.” 

“He was big time for us,” Leaman said of Gillies. “He held the ship. I think it’s very much like our season. He held us in there. And then we were able to kind of respond in the third period there. But he was our best player tonight.” 

Despite just six shots on net in the first period, the Friars found the back of the net first on a blast from Anthony Florentino at 9:25 of the first period. After a shot from Noel Acciari rang off the pipe, the puck came out to Florentino, whose shot beat O’Connor stick side. 

The game turned in a matter of seconds. Four seconds to be exact. The Terriers (28-8-5) grabbed a 2-1 lead in the first period when Ahti Oksanen and Danny O’Regan netted goals four seconds apart. Oksanen slipped a shot between the near post and Gillies’ skate for the first and O’Regan backhanded the puck past Gillies from the slot after the Terriers won the ensuing faceoff. 

The four seconds between goals is the fastest in tournament history, surpassing Michigan’s feat of scoring twice in five seconds in 1948. 

Providence didn’t waver, tying the contest with a power-play goal on a one-timer from Mark Jankowski off a circle-to-circle pass from Trevor Mingoia at 4:29 of the second period. 

Carson Hohmann put BU back in front at 11:36 of the second period. Hohmann was in the right place at the right time, as a deflected shot came to him in the slot and he buried the chance. 

O’Connor finished with 39 saves. 

The Terriers held a 52-43 edge in shots, but the Friars had a 20-12 advantage in the third period. The 95 combined shots ranks second in championship game history and most in a regulation game. The current record of 96 was set in 1984 in a four-overtime contest between Bowling Green and Minnesota-Duluth. 

“There’s not much I can say to make our guys feel any better of feel anybody associated with BU hockey feel any better right now, but it’s been an incredible year,” Quinn said. “One team wins the last game of the season. The things we’ve accomplished, when nobody thought we could do any of it is an incredible testament to the two guys to my left (Matt Grzelcyk and Hohmann) and everybody else associated with our team.” 


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