BOSTON (CBS) — It looked as though the Boston University Terriers were on their way to their sixth NCAA title in school history on Saturday night.
But disaster struck for BU goaltender Matt O’Connor midway into the third period at the TD Garden.
With the Terriers holding on to a 3-2 advantage over Providence with 8:36 left to play, Friars defenseman Kyle McKenzie lifted a harmless shot toward O’Connor from the red line. The junior netminder easily gloved it out of the air, but what happened next proved to be costly for the Terriers.
O’Connor put the puck on the ice, and it trickled back and into the net. That tied everything at 3-3, and just a two minutes later Brandon Tanev beat O’Connor to put Providence on top.
The Friars won their first NCAA Championship in school history with the 4-3 victory.
O’Connor struggled to find words after the loss.
“Everyone in this locker room deserves a lot better. They deserve to be hoisting a National Championship right now,” said O’Connor, who made 39 saves on Saturday.
“I looked into my glove and for whatever reason I thought it was maybe sliding out. I dropped to my knees, it caught my pad and rolled in,” he said of the play. “I thought maybe I’d throw it to Jack [Eichel], who was coming in. It was just a weird, indecisive bounce.”
O’Connor said the accomplishments of the season, with BU claiming the Beanpot and Hockey East title earlier in the year, would eventually mean something again. But all he could think about after the game was how he let his teammates down.
“Sports are tough,” said O’Connor. “Everyone worked hard and what an unbelievable year we had. I thought we played well; sometimes you just lose the puck in the lights, or you get a weird bounce and things happen. But our team deserved a lot better.”
O’Connor’s coach and teammates were quick to pick him up after the loss.
“You know, you have college sports for people like Matt O’Connor. A great athlete, a great student — he’s exactly what you want in a student athlete. We won championship after championship this year and I think we had the least amount of losses in the country, and you don’t do that with just good goaltending.”
“Everything we went through, [we went through] as a team. It’s tough for us all,” said Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel.
“That was a 60-minute game,” said Quinn. “There were a lot of reasons why we lost tonight; a big one was the way Providence College played.”
Providence came out strong in the third period, sending 20 shots O’Connor’s way. It’s the two he couldn’t stop that will likely lead to some sleepless nights in the near future.
“A very weird, indecisive moment right there cost us a National Championship,” he said.