March 16, 2012

BC doubles up Providence, advances to Hockey East finals

By Jesse Connolly

After knocking off Providence, the Eagles are heading back to the Hockey East finals. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Final: Boston College 4, Providence 2

Recap: Saves were few and far between in the early going, as the Eagles and Friars both got on the board quickly. Paul Carey opened the scoring 1:15 into the contest, outmuscling Providence d-man Barrett Kaib before burying a wraparound to make it 1-0 in favor of BC.

Kaib atoned for the lost battle, tying things up just 1:13 later. Derek Army then put the Friars ahead, 2-1, before five minutes had even elapsed in the contest. Little did PC likely know that was the last time they'd find the back of the net.

The Eagles got a power-play strike from Jonny Gaudreau and Steven Whitney's tally eight minutes into the final frame all but sealed the deal. Parker Milner stopped all nine shots he faced in the final frame, helping BC return to the Hockey East championship for the third-straight season.

Tournament Records: Boston College 3-0-0; Providence 2-2-0

Key Play of the Game: Providence was moutning a valiant comeback effort, but Whitney's strike clearly slowed their momentum. The winger went hard to the net and was in perfect position to bang home a rebound off of a shot by Barry Almeida.

Connolly's Commendations: Milner wasn't exactly shaky in the first period, but the red-hot netminder's stat line wasn't looking so great early on. But after Derek Army's strike put Providence ahead, Milner stepped it up big time. He stopped all 18 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes of play.

Army was the one-man show for the Friars in this one. He certainly deserves credit for keeping his seventh-seeded squad in it for most of the nihgt, as Army factored in on each of Providence's tallies with a goal and an assist.

BC's offensive leader was Carey, who opened the scoring and also added an assist. Chris Kreider, the prized possession of the Rangers, had two helpers.

Connolly's Critiques: Providence didn't exactly go on a parade to the penalty box in the contest, but BC's 4-2 edge in power-play opportunities clearly made a big difference as Gaudreau's strike on the man advantage in the second proved to be the game-winner.

The only way the Friars were going to pull off the upset was if goalie Alex Beaudry stood on his head. Beaudry was a lot better than he was in his last matchup with the Eagles -- in which he coughed five goals in the first period before being yanked -- but he was well short of spectacular.

Notes: Boston College will now look to make it five Hockey East titles in six years. Providence still hasn't won the tournament since 1996.

Next: Boston College will play the winner of Maine-BU on Saturday night at 8 o'clock at TD Garden.

Check back later tonight for more coverage of the Eagles' win and the looming game between Maine and Boston University.