PROVIDENCE — Boston College coach Jerry York was 10.5 seconds away from being college hockey’s all-time wins leader. Now, he and his Eagles will have to wait 22 days before they’ll have another crack.
York’s Boston College Eagles (11-2-1, 9-2-1 Hockey East) let a two-goal third period lead slip away and surrendered the game-tying goal to Providence’s Nick Saracino with 10.5 seconds remaining in regulation as the Eagles and Friars skated to a 3-3 tie in front of a soldout Schneider Arena crowd.
The Eagles now must wait 22 days before their next game, the opener of the Mariucci Classic in Minnesota, where BC will face Alabama-Huntsville at Mariucci Arena on December 28.
“Providence played hard, played physical, and were a tough team to play against,” said York. “We take the point, but we leave with some real good learning experiences for our club.”
That fact that Saracino had the chance to even the game was due in large part to the play of Providence netminder Jon Gillies. The rookie finished with 26 saves, the most important of which came with 4:19 remaining in regulation.
With the Eagles leading 3-2, BC’s Bill Arnold looked to finish off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Kevin Hayes to give BC a comfortable two-goal cushion. The puck, though, was pulled off the goal line by Gillies. Despite originally being called a goal on the ice, video review showed otherwise, giving the Friars hope.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t see it,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “It doesn’t surprise me though if you see some of the saves he makes in practice. When he competes, he’s 6-foot-5-inches, but so athletic. You think you have [a goal], but he’s so long and can take up the net.”
Gillies counterpart, Parker Milner, was equally as impressive. His 34 saves included 13 in the opening period, where the Friars buzzed all around the BC net but couldn’t score.
Though the Eagles mustered only three shots in the opening period, Johnny Gaudreau gave BC the lead at 12:39 when he potted his 11th goal of the season. Gaudreau drove the net after Pat Mullane won an offensive zone draw and fired a high shot that hit Gillies in the shoulder and rolled over, trickling across the goal line for the 1-0 lead.
Despite holding the 13-3 shot lead in the first, Providence (7-6-2, 5-4-1 Hockey East) was frustrated by Milner. He made a number of big saves in the period, none bigger than back-to-back short-handed saves, one on a breakaway and a second on the rebound, on rookie Brandon Tanev in the closing seconds.
BC opened the second on a power play, and rookie Teddy Doherty nearly extended the lead when his one-timer clanged off the left post at 1:17. BC did cash in, though, later in the period when Michael Matheson netted his third goal of the season at 16:06, firing a screen shot that beat Gillies high over the glove.
Despite trailing in shots, 28-12, through two, BC appeared to open a 3-0 lead late in the second when Quinn Smith skated in short-handed. Though the goal light went on, an extensive video review resulted in a no-goal ruling by referee Kevin Keenan.
“They said that the puck went over the line, but Quinn’s momentum pushed the puck and the goaltender over the line,” said York of the explanation on the play.
In the third, Providence pulled within a goal quickly when Derek Army scored his fifth of the season, driving the net from the right wing and stuffing a shot five-hole just 22 seconds into the frame.
BC responded quickly. Less than two minutes later, Matheson scored his second of the game on a similar play to Army’s, driving the net and firing a low shot through Gillies.
As quick as BC’s response was, the Friars had another. Just 12 seconds later, Noel Acciari picked a BC defender’s pocket and fired a quick shot that surprised Milner to pull the Friar back within a goal.
That set up all of the late fireworks — from Gillies big save to Saracino’s game-tying tally in the waning seconds.
Leaman said his team’s ability to notch the comeback was certainly a moment of pride.
“In the past, we’ve gotten down by a goal and it hasn’t been very good,” said Leaman. “It was a big step for our team in the right direction.”