Hockey East: Providence College wins in OT, will play BU in conference championship


Kriby Paulson and Kirby Paulson

Boston, MA –  Have you ever witnessed a really good game of tug-of-war? Two sides, fairly even matched pulling their hardest to bring the ribbon on the rope to their side. It’s a beautiful thing to watch knowing that each side brings different talents that make the compete level that much more entertaining.

In a way, that’s what fans at TD Garden got on Friday night when the Providence Friars defeated the Northeastern Huskies 3-2 in overtime of the second Hockey East semifinal game.

On one bench, there was the offensively dangerous Northeastern Huskies and their potent first line of Nolan Stevens, Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura. On the other bench stood the defensively sound Providence Friars.

“Our games with [Northeastern] have been outstanding this year,” Providence College head coach Nate Leaman said. “I thought it was a good college hockey game, I thought we came out with obviously the start we wanted.”

Though his team was eliminated from the Hockey East bracket, Jim Madigan’s Huskies performed well enough throughout the season to make the NCAA Tournament. However, that doesn’t mean that the Huskies aren’t disappointed about the outcome.

“This is a tough league and it’s hard to get to this spot and when you get here you want to take the opportunities of it,” Madigan said. “Two years ago, we were known as Hockey East Champions and you want to have that same feeling and it’s not going to happen, it’ll be between two other teams.”

The Friars were able to jump up on a 1-0 lead just under nine minutes into the opening period. A shot from Davis Bunz at the point somehow found the skate of Vimal Sukumaran and was deflected past Northeastern goalie Cayden Primeau and into the net for the first goal of the game.

Northeastern was unable to find the back of the net during the first period and the majority of the second period. However, the offensively talented Huskies would not head to the locker room after the conclusion of the second period without finding the scoreboard.

With under two minutes remaining in the frame and while shorthanded, Gaudette made offensive zone entry but lost control of the puck. Without thinking twice, a trailing Sikura picked the puck up and blistered it past Hayden Hawkey from the left face-off circle evening the score at one apiece.

In a game that goals weren’t easy to come by, the Huskies were then able to break the tie in the third period thanks to freshman Austin Goldstein. The Malden Catholic High School product put home a rebound on a shot by John Picking tallying his first collegiate goal at a crucial point in the game.

But it wouldn’t be a 2018 Hockey East semifinal game without some flair.

With 1:51 remaining in regulation, Kasper Bjorkqvist corralled a puck off the boards and beat Primeau glove side to tie the game at two.

After a short period of time in which no one was able to break the tie, the game headed to overtime.

It took 9:55 of overtime play for a victor to be determined and a hero to be mobbed, but after a long near 70 minutes of hockey, Providence College sophomore Brandon Duhaime sent Friars fans home happy.

“Scott Conway found me in the slot there and I kind of fanned on the puck and Tommy Davis steps in, takes a slap shot and the puck kind of sat in the crease and Casper Bjorkqvist was net front, taking away the goalies’ eyes and kind of made it easy for me to put it in the net,” Duhaime explained.

The forward’s goal secured the Friars a spot in the Hockey East Championship game in which they will face off with the Terriers of Boston University. The last time these two met on the TD Garden Ice was the 2015 National Championship, a game that ended with Providence College securing the title.

The Friars and Terriers will battle for the Lou Lamoriello trophy tomorrow night with puck drop scheduled for around 7 p.m. at the TD Garden.