The Hockey Show from April at The Frozen Four
PROVIDENCE IS DIVINE
Providence College Friars win school's first hockey title
BOSTON, Mass. - The Providence College men's hockey team captured its first ever National Championship, and the third all-time team title for the College, a with a third period, come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Boston University at TD Garden on Saturday, April 11.
In the third period, Tom Parisi (Commack, N.Y.) tied the game (11:24) while dumping the puck in the BU zone. Terrier netminder, Matt O'Connor, mishandled the puck and it crossed the line to tie the game 3-3.
Two minutes later, Brandon Tanev (Toronto, Canada) netted the biggest goal in Providence College history at 13:43 with the game winner when he beat his defender and connected on a wrist shot from the slot that went high past O'Connor.
"It was amazing," Tanev said. "I couldn't even register what was going on. It was a heck of a draw win by Kevin Rooney. Steve McParland was able to give me some space and I was able to rip that puck and it went in. It's something I dreamed of ever since I wanted to play college hockey. The words can't describe how I feel right now."
Jon Gillies (Portland, Maine) earned the 60th win of his Friar career by making a career-high 49 saves.
The Friars opened the scoring in the first period as defenseman Anthony Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.) scored his third goal of the season at 9:25. Shane Luke (Dauphin, Manitoba) carried the puck into the Terriers zone before getting off a shot on goal that was kept out of the net by O'Connor. However, the rebound created a scramble in front of the BU crease as Noel Acciari (Johnston, R.I.) collected the puck and got off a shot that hit of the post and darted to Florentino, at the blue line. Florentino's blast beat O'Connor to put the Friars ahead 1-0.
"You know it didn't even cross my mind," Florentino said of scoring. "We just focused on defense tonight. I saw the puck squirt out, saw an opportunity, and just tried to get it on net. Our forwards are doing such a great job crashing the net."
Later in the first period, Boston University responded to Providence's lead by netting a pair of goals. Ahti Oksanen tied the game at one when he found an opening between Gillies' skate and the goal post at 12:50 of the period. A.J. Greer recorded the assist on the Terriers first goal of the game.
Setting a NCAA Tournament record for fastest two goals, Danny O'Regan scored just four seconds after Oksanen's goal to put the Terriers ahead 2-1 (12:54). After Jack Eichel won the face-off at center ice, he carried the puck into the Friars zone, eventually left the puck for O'Regan in the slot. O'Regan's backhander at 12:54 beat Gillies to give BU the lead for the first time in the game.
In the second period, Mark Jankowski (Dundas, Ontario) evened the game at two with his eighth goal of the season, and his third playoff goal of the season. Ross Mauermann (Janesville, Wis.) started the play for the Friars as he sent a pass to Trevor Mingoia (Fairport, N.Y.), while the Friars were on the power-play. Mingoia was positioned in the right face-off circle when he sent a pass through the slot to Jankowski, who tapped the puck by O'Connor at 4:29 of the period.
Boston University would regain the lead before the close of the second period as Cason Hohmann scored at 11:36. After Hohmann won a face-off for the Terriers in the Friars defensive zone, Oksanen carried the puck into the corner of the ice before reconnecting a pass to Hohmann.
The Terriers had a perfect 19-0-0 mark this season entering third period with a lead, but all that changed when the Friars had an amazing third period comeback that will be long remembered in Frozen Four.
With the Friars trailing 3-2, Providence kept the pressure on O'Conner throughout the period and eventually Tom Parisi (Commack, N.Y.) scored the game-tying goal (3-3) at 11:24. Parisi scored the equalizer after he collected a BU clear in the neutral zone and went to dump the puck high on net. O'Conner mishandled the puck as it slipped past the goal line.
Following a faceoff in Providence' offensive zone, Tanev scored coming off the right wing to beat a defender and fired off a wrist shot from the slot to the right corner. Kevin Rooney (Canton, Mass.) was credited with the assist when he won the faceoff and dished it to Tanev.
Gillies was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player after finishing the game with a career-high 49 saves, including 21 in the second period - a single season record total for saves in a period in the NCAA Championship game. Gillies joins former Friar netminder Chris Terreri '86 as Frozen Four MOP's from Providence College.
O'Connor ended the game with 39 stops.
Providence went 1-for-3 on the power-play while BU went 0-for-1.
BU entered the game with a 4-0 record at the Garden this season, capturing the Beanpot and the HOCKEY EAST title. The Friars ended their undeafeated run at the Garden with their NCAA title win.
The Terriers held the overall shot advantage at 52-43, however, Providence outshot BU in the third, 20-12.
JON GILLIES SIGNS WITH CALGARY FLAMES
From the Calgary Herald/
VANCOUVER — The flight from Boston’s Logan International Airport left at 8 p.m. After clearing customs much later on the West Coast, Jon Gillies wearily dropped into the Calgary Flames’ team hotel at 2 a.m.
Ten hours later, he found himself virtually alone on the ice at Rogers Arena taking extra work with goaltending guru Jordan Sigalet.
Signed, sealed and delivered.
Enough to discombobulate anyone.
Three days ago, the 6-foot-5, 21-year-old puck-stopper’s 49-save clinic backstopped Providence to a shocking 4-3 win over Boston University in the Frozen Four finale, right in the teeth of Terriers’ country, at TD Garden.
But the good-old-college try is now a thing of the past for Jon Gillies after agreeing to a three-year entry-level pro contract only hours before flying to Vancouver.
“It’s happened pretty quickly, over the past couple days,’’ he said in a deserted visiting dressing room on the morning of Game 1 of the Canucks-Flames tiff. “I’m just trying to soak in everything I can. It’s been pretty cool. There’s no other way to describe it.
“You can’t really put it into words, that accomplishment. It was an unbelievable ride and I wouldn’t want to do it with any other people. Obviously great players, but the way we came together, interacted off the ice was really second to none. It’s a moment we’ll cherish forever.
“A pretty quick turnaround obviously, with the celebration with my Providence team (Monday) at our rink with our fans and then today, being here.
“It’s been a lot of dreams coming true at one time. Amazing.
“This is a whole new thing to represent. When you play for this organization and have this logo on your sweater it’s about a lot more than yourself. It’s not an individual thing. It’s the great team that’s here, the great staff, the great management and the great city of Calgary.
“It means everything to be able to be a symbol of hope for them and hopefully we can do our best.’’
Hope is something Jon Gillies has become adept at providing.
At Providence this year, the Flames’ third-round pick, 75th overall in the 2012 draft posted a miserly 2.01 GAA and .930 save percentage. Over a 108-game collegiate career, he’s been chillingly excellent — 60 wins, 13 shutouts, a 2.08 GAA and .931 save percentage. He concluded his sophomore season with a national championship and MOP laurels.
Still, the swiftness in negotiations to get a deal done startled even Gillies.
“I had no idea. I was just told to focus on our season. I didn’t need to be told that. I knew what was ahead of me.
“I don’t know if there’s any moment (knowing you’re ready to turn pro). You just listen to the people that you trust the most, in terms of your career, that have been there for a while and know you personally, on and off the ice.
“When the organization that holds your right says ‘You’re ready’, that’s who you believe the most.’’
With Karri Ramo back in harness and Joni Ortio off emergency recall and out of the picture, Gillies finds himself only a pulled calf muscle and tweaked groin away from making his NHL baptism in the hothouse environment of the playoffs.
“Yeah, but I know Jonas (Hiller) and Karri are going to be great in there. And if by chance my number is called, I’ll be ready, but for now I’m supporting everyone the best way possible.’’
For the Flames, this allows Gillies to begin acclimatizing himself with the organization, the lifestyle and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“As we’ve seen with a lot of guys, being in the atmosphere, not only getting to know the organization and his teammates is a great experience,’’ said GM Brad Treliving.
“It’s a difficult position to play and it takes time. The position usually has a long runway in terms of getting to that point where you’re establishing yourself at the NHL level. But we look at our reserve list and we feel we’ve got real good depth at a real important position.
“What jumps out at you is his size. But size can be deceiving. This guy is very athletic. It’s a really unique combination, for a guy that big to be that athletic. Long limbs, but he doesn’t just rely on being big. He’s a real great athlete. He’s able to move and quite frankly I love his IQ. I think it’s one of the most important qualities. The ability to read plays, see things develop, anticipate.
“We talked to him at development camp to go back and really carry a team. And I think he did that. They had a good team in Providence but a couple weeks ago there were questions of whether they were going to get in the tournament.
“But he went through that experience of carrying a team through to a championship. Being able to play in big games, being on big stage, those are experiences you don’t replicate.
“I like people that have won.
“Jon went in and played a national championship game, in Boston, against BU, on a big stage. Those are experiences he can lean on.’’
What Treliving wanted to make abundantly clear, however, was that Gillies arrived from Boston hauling his equipment, not Mount Sinai toting tablets.
He’ll be allowed to progress at the rate that’s best for him.
“All that started today,’’ said the GM, “was the stopwatch on his career. You look at the top goaltenders in the league, it’s taken awhile.
“Trust me, we are not all on one knee. The messiah didn’t just show up here today. This is a young guy we think is going to have a great experience here over the course of the playoffs, but he’s just starting his career.
“There’s no pressure to come in and be The Blessed One.’’
BRUINS TAB DON SWEENEY AS NEW GM
BOSTON – After 15 years as a player for the Boston Bruins and nine seasons in the Bruins' front office, Don Sweeney will have an opportunity to transform the visions of a championship team he has in his head into a reality on the ice.
Sweeney, whose 16-year career as a defenseman also included one season with the Dallas Stars, was introduced Wednesday as the eighth general manager in Bruins history, replacing Peter Chiarelli. Sweeney worked for Chiarelli in several capacities, including the past six as an assistant general manager.
The Bruins missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight seasons in 2014-15. Under Chiarelli they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, reached the Stanley Cup Final a second time in 2013 and won the Presidents' Trophy last season. Chiarelli was fired April 15. Sweeney will be tasked with turning the Bruins back in the right direction.
"I'm excited about the challenge in front of us to get back to where we need to get to," Sweeney said. "I know what it's like to be booed in this city, to be cheered in this city, as a player, and I expect at times to take criticism. But that's part of it. And I think, we finished with 96 points this year, we did not meet expectations, but we're not as far away as what people may think.
"The group had won a Stanley Cup and gotten back to the finals. There's a lot to be said for that. We have a coach (Claude Julien) in place at this time that has a lot of success and been a big part of that. There will be some changes going forward, personnel changes, there will be staff member changes. When we decide to make those will be in due time, but I'll make the right decisions based on what's the best decision for the organization. Not necessarily the easiest one, but I'll make what I think is the best one in conjunction with the great number of people that I have a chance to work with."
Bruins president Cam Neely said the search was narrowed down to four candidates and then two before the decision was made to promote Sweeney. Familiarity with the organization tipped the scales in Sweeney's favor.
"Ultimately, it boiled down to where we are as an organization, the team that we currently have, feeling like we don't have to completely change a great deal," Neely said. "And the fact that Don knows the organization from top to bottom played a huge factor in the decision to go with Don Sweeney. He knows the coaching staff, he knows the scouts, he knows the players in Providence, he knows our prospects. He's done a great job in the eight years that I've worked here. I've seen Don develop, I've seen his work ethic and I have a good understanding of his commitment to the Boston Bruins."
Neely and Sweeney were teammates for many years with the Bruins, but Neely wanted to quash the idea that Sweeney was named GM because of friendship. "I've been president of the Bruins since 2010. I have not hired a friend or someone close to me. I certainly wouldn't hire a friend to be general manager of the Bruins," Neely said. "It's a very important role in any organization and it's something that I know Don is going do a great job at. First and foremost is we feel that Don will be extremely good at this job. He's very passionate about the Bruins."
Sweeney knows the Bruins are hampered by a lack of room under the salary-cap ceiling. He also knows the Bruins are starting to draft better after some lean years (2007-2009) that produced few contributors or assets. But starting with Julien, who's still under contract, Sweeney plans to reassess all Bruins personnel in an attempt to better the team as quickly as possible.
Among the concerns are finding the right mix of players of different types of skill and improving an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the NHL this season.
"From a staff standpoint, there's a bit of a shift that needs to come -- from our transition game, from our ability to create anxiety in other teams, because I think we, at times, had a retreat mentality," Sweeney said. "You can be the best defensive team in the National Hockey League, and all four teams playing [currently in the conference finals] ... are very good teams. They suppress what we call shot value and scoring opportunities very, very well. Their goaltenders are a big part of it.
"We have a very good goaltender [Tuukka Rask]. But if you don't create anxiety in the other team and have the ability to score goals in a timely fashion or generate quality chances, then you're going to find yourself chasing the game. And this year, we chased the game too much. We were behind in third periods. We didn't score enough third-period goals as to what we normally have in the past, and there are reasons for that. So the staff ... it takes some time to evaluate the pieces that we need to get in place that can take the group forward."
Whether Sweeney and Julien can get on the same page about philosophy will determine if Julien, who has coached the Bruins for eight seasons, will remain in his current position. Beyond the coach, Sweeney will have to make decisions on several players. Center Carl Soderberg and defenseman Adam McQuaid are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer, and defenseman Dougie Hamilton can be a restricted free agent. Forward Milan Lucic is scheduled to enter the final year of his contract with unrestricted free agency looming in the summer of 2016. Sweeney will also have to make determinations on where several prospects fit in and execute a draft plan with the Bruins choosing 14th, the highest they have since they acquired the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Sweeney continues to formulate this plan for on-ice success, he expects he'll remain the same type of person off the ice.
"A big part of my makeup is the communication aspect," Sweeney said. "I've spoken to every player that's ever gone up and down, in terms of to Providence [of the American Hockey League] and to Boston. I've had a 1-on-1 conversation with [them]. That's not going to change in terms of my communication with players and being comfortable in a locker room.
"That was where I was comfortable for a lot of years, and I'm going to continue to do that, and that way, you have a pulse on things to support a coach and to support a staff, and hopefully have them challenge you back, because that's what you want. You want people that are going to be willing to challenge or push you to get better."