Type to search

  • BU and Providence set for Frozen Four title game

    Daily News

    BU and Providence set for Frozen Four title game

    Bob Snow April 11, 2015

    (Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk will captain the Terriers in the National title game vs. Providence on Saturday night. Photo credit: BU Athletics)

    Two local and storied rivals meet Saturday night at TD Garden for the ultimate bragging rights: the 2015 NCAA national championship.

    Boston University returns to center stage for the first time since 2009 when they won it all for a fifth time in a scintillating come-from-behind, 4-3, OT win over Miami (Ohio). Providence College came razor-close to its first title 30 years back in 1985 when they bowed to Rensselaer, 2-1.

    With the last two national champs — Yale and Union — being first-timers, the Friars look to keep that streak intact for the first time since the tournament began in 1948 after being the very last team selected to make the 16-team NCAA Tournament.

    The BU-PC matchup features a first final between two Hockey East teams since Maine took out New Hampshire, 3-2, in OT in 1999, and the first for two New England teams in the eight times the tournament has been hosted in Boston.

    BU is the only previous team to win it all in Boston — in 1972, 4-0, over Cornell.

    Here’s a look at Saturday’s final two teams with comments from Providence coach Nate Leaman and BU coach David Quinn — and a prediction from your’s truly.

    Providence College

    The Friars took out Nebraska-Omaha, 4-1, in Thursday’s first semifinal with three key factors: They played shutdown defense at one end, crashed the net at the other, and sported arguably the best goaltender in the tournament in Jon Gillies. They gave up 25 shots while pouring 44 on Omaha’s Ryan Massa, while Gillies turned all but one away. The shot chart shows multiple in-close scoring chances for Providence, while the 13 upperclassmen led the way.

    “We felt like we had a second life,” Leaman said Friday about making the tournament. “Read a book this summer from Malcolm Gladwell about David and Goliath, and he calls it ‘Near Misses.’ We had a near miss. I think it was probably a good thing for us because it increased our level of desperation, it increased our level of intensity, it brought us together, I think, as a group. We’ve been playing our best hockey.”

    About BU?

    “They have a great transition game,” Leaman summed. “I think they’ve got a very good power play. And obviously I think they have the premier forward in the country.”

    Boston University

    The two No. 1 seeds met in the second semifinal when BU beat North Dakota, 5-3. BU’s second-best power play in the country was on display with three power play tallies. Better still, the eight freshmen showed up big with six points, including four goals, two by that “premier forward,” Jack Eichel. The frantic finish in which UND pulled to within one at 4-3 after trailing, 4-1, into the third was not over until Eichel buried the open-netter with under 20 seconds left in regulation.

    It would be those three factors: BU’s man advantage, the freshmen play, and its high-octane talent and transition game that most contributed to the victory.

    “Anytime you get a chance to play in a game of this magnitude, you can never take it for granted. You need to take advantage of it,” Quinn said Friday at BU’s press conference. “We’ve come too far and put too much into it. And I think our guys feel that way. The thing that I liked after our game [Thursday] night is there was a level of excitement, but it was subdued. I think there was a feeling in the locker room that we we’re excited about winning the hockey game, but I got a sense shortly thereafter that our guys were getting ready to win the National Championship against a very good Providence team.”

    About Providence?

    “They both have great goalies,” he said comparing Providence to North Dakota. “They both have mobile D cores. Their forwards are big, strong, and physical. Seems like we’ve been playing teams like that all last month, to be honest with you. They’re well coached. They’re an older group. So we’re going to have to earn every inch of ice we get out there.”

    Prediction: Unless Gillies plays the best game of his NCAA career for Providence, Boston University’s overall firepower and freshmen maturity lead the way to its sixth National Championship with a 4-2 victory.

    (Bob Snow has covered the Frozen Four since 1998.)

    Facebook Comments

    Leave a Comment