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Matt O'Connor gaffe costly for BU

By Josh Brown
College Contributor Network

BOSTON -- It's something you hear all the time.

On one end of the rink, jubilation, the moment of a lifetime. Providence College had just won its first NCAA Championship in program history, becoming the only team all year to beat Boston University when trailing entering the third period.

On the other end, heart break, devastation, shock. A storybook season highlighted by a Beanpot, Hockey East regular season and Hockey East tournament championship had just one more notch to go: an NCAA Championship.

But there they were, faces white as a ghost, hurled over looking as if they were going to vomit. Digesting the unimaginable.

No one felt that pain more than BU goalie Matt O'Connor.

Up 3-2 midway through the third period, O'Connor caught a seemingly harmless lob from Tom Parisi, who was just clearing the puck in deep looking for a change.

Then the glove opens up.

And the puck slips out.

And slides in to the back of the net.

Tie game.

"I couldn't really see it in my glove," O'Connor said. "I thought it rolled out of it. I tried to drop and throw it to Jack and it was too late."

Minutes later Brandon Tanev would score the game-winning goal, but it's not nearly the one people will remember.

O'Connor's gaffe will inevitably go down as one of the great blunders in college hockey history. Even with all the success the Terriers had this season, it will be that play, that moment, that slight indiscretion that will define the 2014-2015 BU season.

Sitting in the locker room with his jersey still on, you could sense the disappointment. The shame. The sense of responsibility for what just happened.

Answering question after question, an honorable reaffirmation of his reputation as one of the "good guys", the message was clear.

"Everyone in this locker room deserves a lot better," O'Connor said. "They deserve to be hoisting the national championship right now."

No matter how many teammates consoled him, told him it wasn't his fault, it was impossible to feel anything but shallow and all alone.

Jon Gillies, the Providence goalie who had a masterful performance, making 49 saves en route to being named the Frozen Four's "Most Outstanding Player" was sitting on top of the world, an NCAA Champion.

Even he could feel O'Connor's pain.

"As a goalie you feel for him," Gillies said. "I know him personally. He's a wonderful goalie. And from a goaltending standpoint we've all had one of those, and you feel for him."

Dave Quinn, the coach of BU, had pure sadness in his eyes following the game.

Yes his team lost. That's sports.

But more than anything what was evident was the pure sense of empathy for his goaltender.

His goaltender whose college career will now be remembered by one play.

"You know, you have college sports for people like Matt O'Connor," Quinn said. "Great athlete. Great student. Everybody here if you spend ten minutes with him, he acts like he's 35 years old."

"He's exactly what you want in a student-athlete. And we wouldn't be here without him. We've won championship after championship this year. The least amount of losses in the country."

"You don't do that with just average or just good goaltending."

Joshua Brown is a Sports Correspondent for the Boston Globe. He is a color commentator for Northeastern University basketball and hockey and also writes for USCHO and College Hoops Daily. Follow him on twitter @josh_brown31

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