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Boston College is the No. 1 hockey team in the country

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Boston College Eagles survived the difficult process of dislodging a reigning champion.

Center Jack Malone gave BC its first lead at 3:06 of overtime in a 5-4 victory over defending national champion Quinnipiac in the Providence Regional final on Sunday at Amica Mutual Pavilion.

“We wanted to get more traffic to the net and throw more pucks on net,” said Malone, a graduate transfer from Cornell. “Colby (Ambrosio) did a great job creating chaos in front of the net and it came out to me and I tried to rip it and it went in.”

The No. 1 ranked and top seed Eagles (33-5-1) equaled the school single season record for wins, extended their win streak to 14 games and advanced to the Frozen Four for the 26th time. BC opened the season with a 2-1 overtime victory at Quinnipiac.

BC, a five-time national champion with four in this century, will face the winner of the Michigan vs. Michigan State Maryland Heights Regional final on April 11 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Hockey East runner up Boston University will take on Denver in the other semifinal.

“It is always hard to play a team that has won because they know what it takes and they don’t beat themselves,” said BC coach Greg Brown. “You have to do a lot of things right and all in all we beat a very good team.

“When you are playing the defending champs, I don’t know who is the favorite in that one. They did a lot of things right to be successful last year and be right back at it this year.”

Quinnipiac finished the season with a sparkling 27-10-2 record. But with 14 players back from last year’s title run, the Bobcats’ uncompromising effort against BC showed they were not ready to assume the empty status of former champions.

“The goal from day one when we first stepped on campus was defend our crown,” said Quinnipiac captain Jayden Lee. “Ultimately we fell short but I’m just so proud of our group and how far we have come from this summer.”

Quinnipiac blew up a 3-3 deadlock on a power play goal just 16 seconds into the third period. Junior center Jacob Quillan fired a bad angle wrist shot from below the left circle that beat BC freshman goalie Jacob Fowler (26 saves) for his 16th of the season.

BC tied the game 4-4 at 15:16 from an unlikely contributor. Freshman defenseman Aram Minnetian took a pass from Cutter Gauthier in the high slot and ripped a wrist shot that beat Bobcats goalie Vinny Duplessis (27 saves) for his third of the season.

“Quinnipiac was clamping down and we hardly got any shots in the third,” said Brown. “We were able to breakthrough with Aram’s goal which got us jumping again to finish out the third very solidly and, in the overtime, we had our legs.”

The first period displayed the contrasting offensive styles of the two elite college programs. Quinnipiac employed an elevated risk-reward swarming attack (think: Jim Montgomery) while BC countered with its opportunistic high energy transition game. The first period ended 0-0 with BC holding 15-10 advantage in shots on goal. The penalty-filled second period would be something totally different.

The Eagles found themselves down 2-0 less than two minutes into the second period. Bobcats’ sophomore left wing Sam Lipkin ripped a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that beat Fowler on the power play at 1:19.

Quinnipiac went up 2-0 at 1:54 when defenseman Hvari Rasanen intercepted a clear at the left point and fired a slapper through a screen for his fourth of the season.

“As a team I don’t think we’ve trailed by two very often this year,” said Fowler. “Playing in these types of tournament games at some point you going to face some adversity but credit our group we responded quickly.”

BC made it 2-1 on a power play goal by freshman right wing Ryan Leonard at 2:20 of the frame. Leonard, a Washinton Capitals first round draft pick, took a feed from Cutter Gauthier at the bottom of the right circle and fired it near post for his 30th of the season.

The Eagles tied the game 2-2 at 11:35, just seconds after their power play expired. Oskar Jellvik delivered a pass from the end boards to sophomore left wing Andre Gasseau at the top of the left circle. Gasseau’s wrist shot beat Duplessis to the far post for his 12th of the season.

Quinnipiac regained the lead at 15:59 when sophomore left wing Anthony Cipollone flicked home a Charles Alexis Legault rebound for his eighth of the season.  BC tied the game 3-3 at 17:55 on a wraparound goal by Leonard, his second of the match and 31st of the season.

“They kept throwing the first punch and we kept having to respond,” said Brown. “Fortunately, we got the last punch.”

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