Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor is going to be kicking himself for a long time. O’Connor scored on his own net to give up a third-period lead over the Providence Friars at the Frozen Four championship. Providence went on the win the game and the NCAA Div. I title.
Scoring on your own net in the championship game has to be every hockey player’s nightmare. Doing it as a goalie only makes it more painful. Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor accidentally scored on himself to squander a lead, then surrendered the deciding goal to give the Providence Friars a 4-3 win in the NCCA Div. I championship game on Saturday.
O’Connor’s terrible flub came with his BU team ahead 3-2 with under nine minutes remaining in the third. O’Connor caught a skipping dump-in from the red line and then seemed to get confused. First he turned his head to the referee at his left, then realized he’d dropped the puck at his feet. O’Connor instinctively dropped into a butterfly position, but that only managed to knock the puck back and into the net. And just like that, Boston University’s lead was gone. It’s pretty painful to watch.
It was an inglorious end to an otherwise solid game for O’Connor, who managed to turn aside 45 of 49 Providence shots in the loss. The Providence Friars were considered the underdogs coming into the game, but they can now boast their first national championship in program history. Providence has several drafted players, including three whose rights belong to the Calgary Flames. including several whose rights belong to the Calgary Flames. The Flames have goalie Jon Gillies, defenceman John Gilmour and forward Mark Jankowski at Providence, while Buffalo has Anthony Florentino and Mark Adams, Washington has Brian Pinho and St. Louis has Jake Walman. Boston University also has several NHL-drafted players on the team, including Daniel O’Regan (San Jose), John Piccinich (Toronto), Robert Baillargeon (Ottawa), Brandon Hickey (Calgary), Matthew Grzelcyk (Boston), Johnathan MacLeod (Tampa Bay) and Doyle Somerby (New York Islanders). Florentino, Jankowski and Brandon Tanev scored for Providence, while Kyle McKenzie was credited with O’Connor’s own-goal. Boston University had goals from O’Regan, Ahti Oksanen and Cason Hohmann. Top prospect Jack Eichel assisted on O’Regan’s goal but didn’t manage to score any of his own. And while he fell short of the ultimate NCAA trophy, he still has plenty of hardware to boast about as he heads into this summer’s draft. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award on Friday as college hockey’s top player, becoming only the second freshman to win the award and the first since Paul Kariya. He was also named Hockey East player and rookie of the year, Hockey East Tournament MVP and winning of the Tim Taylor Award as college hockey’s most outstanding freshman. Eichel led Div. I with 71 points in 42 games this season, including 26 goals. No freshman has won the NCAA scoring race since Kariya did it with 100 points in his Hobey Baker-winning season. All those trophies and numbers have Eichel ranked second overall by NHL Central Scouting, behind Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters in the OHL. Still, if Eichel goes second in the draft, he would become the highest-drafted Hobey Baker winner. Kariya was drafted fourth overall in 1993. As for the 23-year-old O’Connor, he’s been heavily courted by several NHL teams and is expected to sign with one in the near future. Whoever lands him will be getting a capable 6-foot-5 netminder who has already learned a valuable lesson about paying attention on dump-ins.