Less extra-attacker drama but the same result for Frozen Four-bound Providence

Providence’s Tom Parisi fires the tie-breaking goal in the Friars’ win over Denver on Sunday (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence coach Nate Leaman had just finished his opening statement in the postgame press conference Sunday following the Friars’ win over Denver when he leaned over the microphone to add a final thought.

“One last point: We were able to hit the empty nets,” he said, referring to the two late goals Providence scored with Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet pulled for a 4-1 victory. “We hit the first empty net and the guys were celebrating on the bench and I’m like ‘No, no, there’s a lot of game left here, boys. Remember last night.'”

Leaman was referring to Saturday’s game against Miami, where the Friars watched the RedHawks score three extra-attacker goals to turn a 6-2 lead into a heart-throbbing 6-5 advantage, and nearly connect on a fourth to tie the game before Brandon Tanev sealed the win with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

The Friars found themselves in a similar situation Sunday night. Up 2-1 on Denver thanks to a late power-play goal by Tom Parisi, Providence once again faced an extra-attacker situation as the Pioneers pulled goalie Tanner Jaillet in the closing minutes, looking for the equalizer.

But this time the Friars held, as Tanev and Kevin Rooney each added an empty-net goal to secure the win and send Providence to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1985.

It was an interesting weekend for the fourth-seeded Friars, who not only watched Miami come roaring back Saturday but saw Denver tie it up with a fluky power-play goal midway through the final period.

Defenseman Joey LaLeggia launched a shot from the point that ripped off the glass, rolling on top of the net before bouncing off goalie Jon Gillies and past the goal line.

“I watched it go over the net and then I heard it hit the glass and I saw a bunch of eyes in front of me looking straight up and I fell backwards and hit the puck into the net,” Gillies said.

It was the type of goal that could have given new life to Denver, as the Friars and Gillies had successfully stymied the Pioneers’ high-powered attack for much of the game. But Providence held tight and took the lead for good on Parisi’s goal at 14:59.

“It was an unlucky bounce but the boys had my back and we were able to battle back,” Gillies said.

LaLeggia hit costly

Denver coach Jim Montgomery likes to attack. It’s how the Pioneers play, and it’s been a large part of their success this year.

But that aggressive style cost them against the Friars, as LaLeggia was called for a five-minute major and game disqualification for contact to the head after wiping out Providence’s Steven McParland near center ice at 10:37 of the third period.

“He’s playing the way coach wanted us to play,” Denver senior Daniel Doremus said. “We’re not going to change the way we play. We were just going hard and trying to win the game.”

Montgomery didn’t necessarily disagree with the call, saying it was a great hockey play, but acknowledged the way the game is played has changed. Still, he said he sees the need for consistent officiating throughout college hockey.

“I guess you’re supposed to back off and let a guy attack you instead of angling that puck like I’ve taught them,” Montgomery said. “Joe LaLeggia did everything I asked of him on that play and unfortunately it was head contact. …

“I do think that we need uniform officiating in college hockey; it’s long overdue. During the regular season, when an East team comes West, or when a West team goes East, you’re playing by a new set of rules. I think it’s important that as a body of coaches that we get one guy in charge of all the other supervisors of the different leagues.”


• Providence will make its fourth Frozen Four appearance. Besides 1985, the Friars also appeared in the 1983 and 1964 Frozen Fours.

• Forwards Shane Luke, Noel Acciari, (Providence) and Grant Arnold (Denver), along with LaLeggia, Parisi and Gillies were named to the all-East Regional team. Acciari was named the regional’s most outstanding player.


  1. That call absolutely ruined the game. Why was the kid’s head down? Was he trying to draw a call?

    If his head had been up where it should be, then it’s not even a penalty.

    • I’m a little on the fence about whether it was a penalty or not. Definitely not a major and definitely agree the kid should have had his head up. Not sure what LaLeggia could have done differently other than not hit him and I don’t think that is the right answer.

      • Exactly. Not hitting him is only thing it seems like you can do, and then you’re letting him be the aggressor. Refs not used to western hockey I think. Feel pretty sure that wouldn’t have been a major in NCHC.

  2. There was no reason providence as the four seed should of had this type of home ice…that said they played a great two games..and deserve to head to Boston. Was it a major probably not ..bit as my coach used to tell me…if youre better than the other team beat them ….dont put yourself in a position to get beaten by the reff

  3. Realistically I thought the NCHC would get 2 teams to the FF, but it’s not the 2 i expected. Either way I think it was a good showing for the conference.

  4. I watched the replay (on a wide-screen HDTV) several times. While the penalty directly resulted in Denver losing this game, the penalty had to be called. It was textbook “contact to the head”. LaLeggia’s elbow hit McParland’s head first, before any other contact point. Yes, at full speed it can be difficult to avoid this type of hit. Yes, McParland’s head was down, but that is because he had just received the puck (he didn’t even get a chance to take a stride, change directions, or brace for impact). The rule is there to protect players. It’s just my opinion, but I strongly support the rule and this particular call on the ice. And YES, it should have been a 5-minute major and game DQ. Stop for a second and ask yourself if you would have felt the same way had McParland hit LALeggia in this exact same manner?

    • Still not convinced it should have been a major. A minor, sure i’ll buy that. There was no intent. The only legitimate major that I saw this weekend was on RIT against UNO tonight. It was the only one where there seemed to be intent and an injury.

    • I agree it was a penalty, however LaLeggia’s elbow was tucked against his body when he made contact. Maybe he should have played the puck due to not really having a good angle on the Providence player. I would feel exactly the same if the hit was on the Denver player.


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