What a horror show this was. Left Charlestown with BMac @ 2pm. Sat in traffic until 330pm. That was to be expected on a Friday afternoon. Not bad timing actually for Boston to Providence. The parking was awful, because there wasn’t enough. The shit hit the fan once you got into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center & saw the mob. There we no lines for tickets, just a major swarm. 7 windows. No actual lines. Every ticket had to be picked up @ 1 of these 7 windows, Will Call or Walk-up. No etix or print @ home. Every person looking to get into the game, that didn’t have a ticket already, had to join the swarm. It was like the penguin huddle on Antarctica! So even though we were in the building well before 4, we had to wait in this throng & miss the 1st period! When I finally got to the ticket window I still had to wait. The tickets needed to be printed still. Huh? They’ve known all week the particulars. Providence hosts every other year! How was it such a debacle in the lobby?!?! Why was the 1 seed playing @ 4pm? Especially being less than 50 miles away from its campus against a team from the same city that’s hosting? Give the night cap to the game with westernmost team in the tourney! They ran out of pizza before the end of the 3rd period! Of the 1st game! Just a complete horror show.
Luckily the game, Harvard vs Providence was a great take for all that did get inside! The 1st Period, aka “missed period” was a 0-0 affair. So at least I didn’t miss anything special. The Crimson came out flying to start the 2nd period. A Tyler Moy goal @ 18:56 put Harvard up 1-0. Moy threw the puck on net from the right corner & it found its way past Hayden Hawkey. Each team had some nice chances throughout the period. Harvard keeper Merrick Madsen was up for the task. For me, I know Madsen is a good goalie, but that’s where my concern was for advancing. After some questionable officiating, each team survived their short handed minutes. At 17:46 Adam Fox scored on a nifty backhand to put the Crimson up 2-0. The play leading up to that was a frenzy in front of the net, with Hawkeyes stopping Ryan Donato & Alex Kerfoot before Fox was able to lift one over the goalie.
The 3rd period was all PC but again Madsen was a wall. He was punching shots out of mid-air, even sent one out to the blue line to clear the zone! Harvard was certainly getting some lucky bounces on rebound chances but when you’re good that happens. The Crimson sealed the game when Moy scored his 2nd goal on an empty net with 1:51 left. He outraced a Friar defender for a loose puck and was able to slide it in from just inside the PC zone.Harvard won its first NCAA playoff game since 1994. It was a complete solid team effort. Madsen turned back 41 shots for the shut-out. And the Crimson should have quieted any doubt about their ability. They shut out a good Providence team, in Providence. So there’ll be no repeat of 2015 for the Friars, there’s still a strong chance for 1989 redux on the Crimson’s part.
The second game featured a talented but hurting Western Michigan vs a sneaky good Air Force team. Not many people stuck around for this one, which was kind of a shame because it has some very good hockey players involved. Air Force’s G Shane Starrett is one of the best goalies that you (or I) don’t know! WMU’s Matheson Iacopelli, Griffen Molino & Sheldon Dries are 30+pt guys. The Falcons got on the board 1st just :56 into it. Jordan Himley’s 21st of the year on a put back. The Falcons carried play for a majority of the 1st period. With AF on the PK WMU was starting to breakout of their zone when Kyle Haak pick the pocket of the Bronco defenseman and walked in alone and wristed one past G Ben Blacker for a shocking, early 2-0 lead. Western Michigan showed some fight though & answered @ 14:20 on a snipe from Sr. Frederik Tiffels in the low slot to Starrett’s right. Aidan Muir set him up on some crafty stick work retrieving the puck from a scrum around the net. The period would end with AF up 2-1.
At that point it was time to head back home (I didn’t want to but when the ride is ready…) And the way this Providence journey went, we headed 20 minutes south instead of north! Oh well.
Air Force would would build a 4-1 lead, only to see Western Michigan close it to 4-3 @ 5:11 of the 3rd. AF would make it 5-3 @ 6:45 on a Tyler Ledford goal and hold on to win 5-4. This sets up an Air Force vs Harvard Regional Final tonight @ 8:30pm.