The Takeaway: Friars’ Late Heroics Delay York’s Record

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Boston College was 10.5 seconds away from giving Jerry York his record-breaking win, but Nick Saracino ruined the celebration plans when he banged home a loose puck to tie the game at 3-3. The Eagles had a few chances to win it in overtime, but Providence’s Jon Gillies (26 saves) made a couple big saves to preserve the 3-3 draw.

The Eagles (11-2-1, 9-2-1 Hockey East) took a 1-0 lead 12:39 into the game when Pat Mullane won an offensive-zone faceoff and Johnny Gaudreau managed to chip the puck past Gillies. BC added to its lead with 6:54 left in the second when Michael Matheson scored a power-play goal on a shot through traffic.

Derek Army cut the lead in half 22 seconds into the third when he split the BC defense and beat Parker Milner (34 saves) with a backhander. Matheson restored the two-goal lead 1:34 later with his second goal of the game, but then Noel Acciari answered for the Friars (7-6-2, 5-4-1 HE) 12 seconds after that. The score stayed that way until Saracino’s late heroics.

What I saw
-The Friars outshot BC 13-3 in the first and pretty much dominated the entire period, but they found themselves trailing 1-0 at the break. The only reason they weren’t leading or at least tied was Parker Milner. The BC goalie made several great saves to keep his team in front. Steven McParland had back-to-back chances from atop the crease, but Milner somehow got a piece of both. Then he stopped a Stefan Demopoulos forehand-backhand move from right in front. But the biggest save came in the period’s final minute when he robbed Brandon Tanev on a shorthanded breakaway.

-The Eagles had two potential goals waved off after review. The first came on a play where Quinn Smith drove hard to the net and forced the puck over the line as he slid into Gillies. It was ruled no-goal on the ice, a call that was upheld after the review because Smith’s momentum had knocked Gillies and the puck over the line. The second came when Bill Arnold appeared to beat Gillies on a tic-tac-toe finish, but replay showed that the puck never crossed the line.

What I thought
-The Friars’ physicality knocked BC off its game and really set the tone for the night. They were landing multiple hits seemingly every shift, and it clearly made BC a little uncomfortable. York admitted after the game that his team didn’t do a very good job responding to the Friars’ physical play. Providence coach Nate Leaman said his team has to be physical against a team like the Eagles because if they have time and space to skate, it’s hard to keep up.

-Considering that the Friars went 0-4-0 against BC last season and were outscored 18-3 in those games, this was a big point for them. It shows that not only can they get a point against a top team, but they can control play for long stretches against a top team. Leaman said after the game that the big difference between last year’s team and this year’s is that this year’s wants to play in big games, whereas last year’s had a habit of tightening up in those games.

What they said
-Providence coach Nate Leaman: “I thought it was a good college hockey game. Just proud of our guys. We struggle sometimes at executing a game plan for 60 minutes. We could’ve easily imploded when you’re down 1-0 after the first with some of the chances we had. … I’m proud of the guys that they kept coming back in the game. That was a good learning tool for us. I thought it was a big step for our team in the right direction for sticking to our game plan and showing some mental toughness.”

-BC coach Jerry York: “I thought the early goal in the third period really gave the Friars life. We have a 2-0 lead going into the third period. They get it to 2-1 really quick, and I think that gave them a little spark. … The reason we were leading 3-2 was because Parker’s play was outstanding in goal. I thought he made some just incredible saves. The breakaway in the first, the guy walked in alone on him and he just made a great save. I thought Parker certainly was our best player tonight. Providence played hard, they played physical, and they were difficult to play against.”

What else you should know
-York’s next chance to break the all-time wins record will come on Dec. 29 against Alabama-Huntsville in the Mariucci Classic.

-BC defenseman Isaac MacLeod left the game in the first period with a shoulder injury. York said after the game that he wasn’t yet sure of the extent of the injury.

-Providence’s Mark Jankowski missed the game with a hip injury, while BC’s Destry Straight remained sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

-The Eagles and Friars won’t meet again until a home-and-home series the first weekend of March.

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