BOSTON—Although its basketball team lost 73-69 to Texas A&M in the first round of the March Madness, Friars fans still have something to cheer about.
The Friars overcame a 2-1 deficit in the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament to win 3-2 in overtime against the Northeastern University Huskies to advance to the championship game, which they last won in 1996. This was the first time since 1989 that both semifinals rounds went to overtime as Boston University topped rivals Boston College in the earlier game to advance to the championship game.
Sophomore forward Brandon Duhaime won the game for the Friars in the overtime period with a rebound goal just under ten minutes into the extra period. Providence had a shot blocked by a Huskies defender, but the rebound fell perfect to Duhaime, who slotted it past Cayden Primeau—who ended the night with 31 saves.
The Huskies led the game for most of the third period, but a goal from Kasper Björkqvist with just under two minutes to play brought the teams level and forced the game into overtime. Providence head coach Nate Leaman attributed the victory to a lineup switch he made during the game.
“I bumped Kasper [Björkqvist] up with [Duhaime] and [Scott] Conway and that combination hit it off for two goals,” Leaman said. “I thought that we needed a little more experience together in those top two lines and as soon as I put Kasper [Björkqvist] there…that sparked it a little bit.”
Providence opened the scoring nearly nine minutes into the first period with a goal from sophomore Vimal Sukumaran. Defenseman Davis Bunz pinched from the point into the slot and fired a shot on goal, which was tipped by Sukumaran past Primeau, who nearly pulled it away with his stick at the last second.
Northeastern pulled even with Providence in the second period despite being on the penalty kill. While Biagio Lerario was serving a matching hitting after the whistle penalty and a roughing penalty, forward Adam Gaudette made an impressive solo play to carry the puck into the Friars end. Right after he lost the puck, however, Dylan Sikura capitalized and fired a shot right between the leg pad and blocker of Providence goalie Hayden Hawkey—who had 34(update) saves—to tie the two at one.
The Huskies did take the lead early on in the third period with a goal from freshman Austin Goldstein. This goal was Goldstein’s first-ever collegiate goal but did not prove to be enough for a Northeastern victory.
Despite bowing out in the semifinals of the tournament, Northeastern has already clinched a spot in the national tournament due to their impressive regular season record. While Huskies’ head coach Jim Madigan wanted to get a chance to win the Hockey East championship, the fact his team had already secured a tournament berth kept his head up high.
“It’s overtime. One team is going to win and one team is going to lose,” Madigan said. “Unfortunately for our guys we came up on the short end of the stick.”
The Friars will take on the Boston University Terriers in the Hockey East Championship game Saturday, a rematch of the 1995 championship game that the Terriers won 3-2. Leaman didn’t see the fact his team has a shorter turnaround as a huge disadvantage for his team.
“Both teams played an overtime game [tonight] so I think [tomorrow] is going to be a pretty good game,” Leaman said. “Us and them in this building tend to be good games.”