Providence College stifled Northeastern’s power play, and a late line change paid off as the Friars took a 3-2 overtime win in the Hockey East championship semifinals Friday night.
PC (23-10-4), which reached the finals for the first time since 2001, will meet BU at TD Garden at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Brandon Duhaime converted the deciding goal at 9:55 of overtime, finishing after a Tommy Davis shot was blocked. it was his seventh goal of the season.
The No. 7 Huskies (23-9-5) were within inside two minutes of victory after a shorthanded score by Dylan Sikura and freshman Adam Goldstein’s first collegiate goal. But the Friars’ Kasper Bjorkqvist equalized at 18:09 of the third period, after joining Duhaime on a line centered by Scott Conway.
“I thought maybe we needed a little more experience together in those top two lines,” PC coach Nate Leaman said. “As soon as I put Kasper there, he got the tying goal. I thought that kind of sparked them a little bit.”
PC opened the scoring as Vimal Sukumaran finished the rebound of a drive by freshman Davis Bunz from the right point at 8:57 of the first period. It was Sukumaran’s 10th goal of the season and Bunz’s second collegiate point.
Northeastern seemed sluggish on the power play, but when the Huskies were able to threaten, Hayden Hawkey made impressive saves on Adam Gaudette and Nolan Stevens in the second period. Northeastern outshot the Friars, 16-7, in the second, but did not score until late in the period.
The NU power play’s first opportunity, set up as Gaudette drew a holding penalty from Jason O’Neill at 4:24 of the second period, was hindered as the first line sat out the first minute in recovery mode. NU earned two more power plays in quick succession as Jacob Bryson was penalized for hooking, then high sticking 11 seconds after leaving the penalty box.
Sikura equalized, backhanding past Hawkey off a breakaway with Gaudette at 18:06, his 21st goal of the season and first shorthanded score of his career. Goldstein broke the deadlock with his first collegiate goal, finishing a rebound of a John Picking wrister at 3:03 of the third period.
Bjorkqvist tied the score, roofing a shot at the right post after missing on a deflection from the left side of the net, then regaining possession off the boards, at 18:09.
“We had a couple good looks on all the power plays,” NU coach Jim Madigan said. “Some of the teams, lately, they go into a box, really passive box. That’s not the way Providence penalty kills, but that’s the way they feel they have to do it for us. If they’re going to box, you have to move the puck fast.
“But we had some looks. It just didn’t happen tonight. Two of the three [skaters on the power play] — Gaudette, Stevens, and Sikura — were just coming off the ice, so we didn’t have them fresh. But that’s the way the game ebbs and flows.
“It’ll sting. We had goals and one of them was Hockey East. And, even though we clinched a spot in the [NCAA] tournament last weekend, this tournament is special. This is a tough league and it’s hard to get to this spot.
“Two years ago, we were known as the Hockey East champion, and you want to have that same feeling this year, but it’s not going to happen.”
Northeastern, Hockey East champions in 1988 and 2016, and winners of the Beanpot last month at TD Garden, had a seven-game winning streak snapped and has now lost eight times in the tournament semifinals.
“You can’t be real aggressive against their power play,” Leaman said of Northeastern. “Everyone we watched, every tape we watched, and from playing them twice, you can’t be aggressive, you can’t get stretched out. They find that back door, they find the guy in the middle. It’s a power play you’ve got to be real passive against, and when you’re passive like that, you spend a lot of time in your end, and we did.”
The third-seeded Friars, Hockey East champions in 1985 and 1996, had a 1-0-1 record against NU during the regular season (both games going to overtime) and had a 1-1-1 record against BU.
“It’s a hard league,” Leaman said. “When you look at someone as accomplished as [former UNH coach] Dick Umile, and he won twice in 28 years, an unbelievable career. When I heard that — it’s a tough championship, lot of good teams, it’s a tough road. [BU’s] Jordan Greenway is third-team [Hockey East All-Star] and he’s probably going right to the NHL. That tells you what type of league it is.”