Difference-maker Wilson fills his role capably in Lowell’s semifinal win

For a while, the unlikely heroes were threatening to grab the headlines.

2013 Hockey East Championship

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To be sure, freshly named All-Hockey East goaltender Jon Gillies was flashing his pads for Providence and robbing Massachusetts-Lowell shooters. To a lesser extent, his second-team counterpart, Connor Hellebuyck, was following suit.

But in the first period it was fourth-liner Kevin Rooney who scored his first goal of the year off a rebound at the goalmouth. And that goal threatened to hold up as Providence took the 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

Then, 34 seconds into the third, Lowell’s A.J. White scored only his second goal of the season to tie it, capitalizing on a rebound that left him with a wide-open net.

Another greasy goal. Scored by being in the right place at the right time. Just whack it in, no top-shelf snipe. Just hard work and being prepared.

Massachusetts-Lowell celebrates a goal in its 2-1 victory over Providence (photo: Melissa Wade).

The unlikely heroes, members of the lunch-pail gang, left the game deadlocked with only eight minutes left in regulation.

Then that special skill of the most gifted scorers rose to the fore and decided the game, ending Providence’s season and sending Lowell into the Hockey East championship game.

Scott Wilson dished the puck to Riley Wetmore on the left wing and the senior captain returned the pass to Wilson cruising into the slot. Although John Gilmour appeared to have Wilson well-covered, that proved no problem at all. Wilson opened his hips and one-timed a shot between Gilmour’s legs and into the net.

It was a goal-scorer’s goal, one that the muckers and grinders in the lunch-pail gang, for all their unquestioned value to their team, would have gotten a stick on but little more.

“He’s a talented individual,” Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “He’s somebody who can shoot off the pass. There aren’t many guys who can shoot off the pass, and he did.”

Of course, Wilson wasn’t born with that skill. It has taken years of development and hard work.

“One of the biggest things for me coming into college was I needed to get pucks off faster,” Wilson said. “So I’ve been working for the past two years with the coaches [so] no matter what the spot on the ice, [I’m] just trying to get it off.

“I knew Gilmour’s legs were open so I just tried to get it on net.”

And in a game that had been dominated by the goaltenders and the lunch-pail gang, Lowell’s difference-maker proved his worth, delivering Providence its first loss in two years under coach Nate Leaman when entering the third period with a lead.

“We came out and played a really good third period,” Leaman said. “At the end of the day, Scott Wilson made a play.

“That was a heckuva play. He’s a big-time player and he made a heckuva play in a 1-1 game.”