Author: Mike Halford

Mark Jankowski, Matt Lane

Providence stuns BU to capture first-ever NCAA title


Providence captured its first-ever NCAA men’s hockey title on Saturday night in thrilling fashion, scoring twice in the final nine minutes to shock the Jack Eichel-led Boston University Terriers 4-3 at TD Garden in Boston.

Brandon Tanev, the younger brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev, scored the game-winning goal at the 13:43 mark of the third, capping off a daunting comeback — heading into tonight, BU was a remarkable 19-0-0 this season when leading after two periods.

With a record like that, one would assume something significant would have to occur for the Terriers to cough up a third-period lead.

At the 11:24 mark, it did.

BU goalie Matt O’Connor gloved a harmless dump-in and tried to flip the puck to a teammate. That marked the beginning of calamity; O’Connor put a hitch in the flip and the puck came loose, hitting the ice — then the back of his leg — before crossing the goal line.

O’Connor appeared rattled from that point on.

In the other goal, Providence netminder Jon Gillies looked anything but. He finished with a whopping 49 saves on 52 shots, including several in the frenzied final minutes when BU pushed to even the score.

“Frenzied” was a good way to describe several portions of the title game. After Providence opened the scoring with an Anthony Florentino goal midway through the first period, the Terriers responded in rapid fashion scoring twice in a four-second span — the first by Ahti Oksanen, the second by Danny O’Reagan.

From there, the teams traded markers in the second period with another Flames draftee — Mark Jankowski — scoring for the Friars while Carson Hohmann tallied for BU.

As for Eichel, the freshman Hobey Baker winner finished the night with one assist and six shots on goal in what will likely be his last collegiate game. The 18-year-old is expected to be the No. 2 pick behind OHL Erie’s Connor McDavid at this June’s NHL Entry Draft, and will be going pro.

Here are your Eastern Conference playoff matchups

New York Rangers  v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two

Want the lowdown out West? Read about it here.

After a wild Saturday, the four opening-round playoff series in the Eastern Conference have been set.

The top seed and Metropolitan Division champion New York Rangers, who captured their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994, will take on Pittsburgh after the Pens clinched the second of two wild card spots with a 2-0 win over Buffalo.

The Atlantic Division-winning Canadiens, who edged out Tampa Bay on the final day, will get an all-Canadian matchup against Ottawa. The Senators clinched the first wild card spot earlier in the day with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia, capping off a remarkable playoff push.

After falling short of the Atlantic crown, the Lightning will take on the Red Wings in Round 1. This series will hold special significance for Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, who spent his entire Hall of Fame career in Detroit and captained the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups.

The final matchup in the East was decided yesterday — the Washington Capitals will take on the New York Islanders in the playoffs for the first time since 1993. That series, of course, is best remembered for Dale Hunter’s cheap shot on Pierre Turgeon in the waning moments of Game 6.

Three reasons for Ottawa’s improbable playoff berth

Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers

The Ottawa Senators capped off their Cinderella story on Saturday, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It’s a fairytale, to say the least.

Seven weeks ago, the idea of Ottawa playing past Apr. 11 was pure fantasy. The Sens were 10 points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 17, but then proceeded to go 21-3-3 — not a typo — to surge into the postseason.

So, how did they get it done?

1: The Hamburglar

The biggest and most obvious reason is the play of Andrew Hammond, the 27-year-old undrafted goalie that took the starting reins in mid-February and proceeded to go on the run of a lifetime. Saturday’s win in Philly pushed Hammond to a remarkable 20-1-2 on the year — yes, just one regulation loss — with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage.

Oh, and three shutouts.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ottawa center Kyle Turris said, per Yahoo. “I’ve never seen a guy come in and make an impact like that and change the season around.”

2: The coaching switch

Remember, this wasn’t a popular move at the time. The Senators took plenty of heat for turfing head coach Paul MacLean on Dec. 8; though they appeared listless at times — and had just an 11-11-5 record — MacLean was held in high regard and just two years removed from winning the Jack Adams as NHL coach of the year.

But the switch to Dave Cameron paid dividends.

Sens GM Bryan Murray described Cameron as “a teacher,” and projected he’d mesh well with a young Senators team that MacLean often chided. The overall sense was Cameron would better relate to young players, whereas MacLean’s tell-it-like-it-is style — though entertaining — started to wear on the group.

“I thought when [MacLean] came here he was a guy that related very well to the players,” Murray explained. “He had been a player himself. He understood what it took to play in the NHL. But it seemed that kind of drifted. Maybe it’s the pressure of the business here. Maybe you guys are too tough on our people.

“But very definitely he became more demanding of some of the players, and more critical of some of the players.”

Cameron took over with 55 games left in the regular season. Since then, the Sens have gone 32-15-8.

3: The kids

This one’s in lockstep with No.2. Whereas MacLean was nervous about his roster — “I’m just scared to death every day of who we’re playing,” he infamously uttered just prior to his firing — Cameron embraced Ottawa’s youth and gave the kids bigger roles.

The biggest beneficiary? Mark Stone.

Stone, Ottawa’s rookie forward, has blossomed under Cameron — he scored 35 points over Ottawa’s last 31 games of the year and pushed himself into a Calder Trophy conversation that, for most of the season, had been comprised of Johnny Gaudreau, Aaron Ekblad and Filip Forsberg.

As the season went along, Stone became a vital part of this team. He got decent minutes from MacLean, but nothing like what he’s received from Cameron; Stone had at least 20 minutes in four straight games from Mar. 31 to Apr. 7, and seemed to thrive with the increased workload — in Saturday’s win over Philly, he scored the opening marker and insurance tally for his 25th and 26th goals of the year.

“Stone has definitely developed into a solid player,” Sens captain Erik Karlsson said, per the Sun. “He just keeps raising the bar for himself and that’s what you want from a player to keep challenging yourself.

“I really think he has done that and we can’t really ask him to do much more than he has.”

To be fair, the Sens relied on more youngsters than just Stone. Fellow rookie Mike Hoffman has been great while the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old) Mika Zibanejad (21), Cody Ceci (21) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) all found increased roles under Cameron, and responded well.

Also — in the interest of fairness — credit has to go to Ottawa’s scouting department. While Ceci, Lazar and Zibanejad were first-rounders, the likes of Stone (178th overall in 2010), Hoffman (130th overall in 2009) and Pageau (96th overall in 2011) were all late-round finds.

Here are the East finalists for Kraft Hockeyville


The nominations are in and we have a Top 10 for Kraft Hockeyville — watch the videos below to see the five rinks from the eastern half of the United States who will now vie to make the Top Four.

Quincy Youth Arena in Quincy, Massachusetts

Opened in 1973, the Quincy Youth Arena — just minutes from downtown Boston — has provided a place for young hockey players to hone their craft for over 40 years.

Highgate Sports Arena in Highgate, Vermont

Highgate is home to the Missisquoi Amateur Hockey Association and, when hockey isn’t in season, plays host to a variety of activities including soccer, field hockey and summer library programs.

The Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora, New York

Following the first-ever Winter Classic in Buffalo in 2008, the Aurora Ice Association purchased the ice-making equipment from the NHL and created The Healthy Zone Rink, which has been a staple of Western New York ever since.

War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania

War Memorial was the home of the Johnstown Jets, the former minor-league team that inspired the iconic hockey movie “Slap Shot.” Over 70 players that’ve called War Memorial home have gone on to play in the NHL.

Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Constructed in 1939, Pullar is one of the oldest artificial rinks in the U.S. still in operation. It is home to a number of a teams, including the NAHL’s Soo Eagles and the NCAA’s Lake Superior State University.

Those are your five from the East. Voting begins on April 14 by clicking on, and closes on April 16.

Here are the West finalists for Kraft Hockeyville


The nominations are in and we have a Top 10 for Kraft Hockeyville — watch the videos below to see the five rinks from the western half of the United States who will now vie to make the Top Four.

Pickwick Ice in Burbank, California

Home to the California Golden Bears hockey club — established in 1964, one of the oldest in Southern California — Pickwick is located just 30 minutes away from the beaches in Santa Monica and remains one of the Golden State’s most recognizable rinks.

St. Michael Albertville Arena in Albertville, Minnesota

The lone finalist from the “State of Hockey,” St. Michael-Albertville Arena is unique in that it houses two communities in the same arena.

Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois

The Decatur Civic Center hosts both the “Tournament of Friends” — an annual event now in its 25th year — and the Decatur Flames youth hockey team; this year, the pee wee Flames won the Illinois state championship.

Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks, Alaska

Formerly a World War II airplane hangar, the Big Dipper was transformed into an ice area in 1968 and has gone on to host a number of local teams. Beginning in 2004, the Dipper also became home to the annual “Hockey Week in Fairbanks” celebration.

The Thunderdome in Rapid City, South Dakota

The Thunderdome is home to the Rushmore Hockey Association, which has emerged as one of the premier clubs in the state.

Those are your five from the West. Voting begins on April 14 by clicking on, and closes on April 16.