Category Archives: Hockey East

Hockey East NCAA Tournament Preview: Regional Keys to the Game for BU and UMass-Lowell

Here is the second of a two-part series on the four Hockey East teams in the NCAA Tournament, written by Danny Jaillet with assistance from our Hockey East Senior Writer Joshua Kummins.

Part I: Northeast Regional Keys to the Game (Boston College & Maine)

BOSTON — The Boston University Terriers will be traveling out to St. Paul, Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers on Saturday. After losing to Maine in the Hockey Eat semifinals, Jack Parker and Co. want to prove that they had an off night and that it is not a sign of things to come. If they want to win, here is what they need to do:

1. Get the scorers going early
BU is second in the nation in team offense with 3.58 goals per game. In order to get it going they need to find their major scorers, guys like Alex Chiasson (15 goals, 29 assists) and Matt Nieto (16 goals and 26 assists). Earlier in the year the Terriers were a little short personnel wise due to disciplinary action and a big question mark came about in regards to who will fill that “scorer” role for BU. Luckily, the team did not have to look far and Chiasson, along with Nieto filled that role nicely.

2. Draw penalties…
BU is ranked 8th in the nation in power play percentage with 22.6 %. The need to force Minnesota to commit penalties: play physical, smart hockey. Get in the head of the team a little bit. Do a little talking here and there. If I were BU, I would do whatever means necessary (within the rules, of course) to try and draw a penalty here and there. Put that explosive power play on the ice as often as you can and get as many scoring chances as possible while you are out there.

3. …But don’t commit them
This has been an Achilles heel for BU all season: committing stupid penalties. BU is second in the nation with an average of 18.82 minutes per game. Garrett Noonan lead the team with 28 penalties which account for 64 minutes, BU has to play disciplined, effective hockey, because the last thing you want to do is give Minnesota (who ranks third in the nation in total offense with 3.55 goals per game) ample scoring chances.

4. Be consistent
We have seen it many times this season: one game the Terriers will be playing like they are the No. 1 team in the country and the next game, look like a junior high team. They need to play hard for the full 60 minutes skate fast, and give it their all. What they cannot do is play hard for 20 minutes and then rest for the next 40. This is the time of year where you play teams, which if you make mistakes, can capitalize on them. They need to play Saturday’s game as if it is their last, because you never know, it may be.

5. Kieran Millan
I mean exactly what the title says. Milan has to be on his game on Saturday of he wants to win. Just like the team, he can be up and down. But when he is on, he is a brick wall. I have a feeling he will be determined not to let a playoff win slip through his glove. I predict that he will have a Beanpot-esque sort of game. Yes, I know he lost, but he played very well. All these factors and more will make for an exciting Saturday in St. Paul.

UMass-Lowell’s story is truly of the underdog variety. After going 4-21-2 last season, the River Hawks soared into playoff contention with a 23-12-1 record and a second-place finish in Hockey East. So, what do they need to do to keep this magical season going? Check out the “Keys to the Game:”

1. Don’t stray away from their game plan
You are probably thinking, “Why is that a key for the game?” Well, Lowell has not reached the postseason in a couple of years and this is a very young team. As long as they stick to what they have been doing, and they do not try to force the issue with the puck they should be fine. Staying calm is key on the big stage.

2. Feed the freshman
Scott Wilson has 16 goals and 21 assists as a freshman! This kid has proven what he can do and has shown that he can be an impact player for Lowell. The Hobey Baker candidate has provided a spark for Lowell all season and now is the time to make an even bigger impact. Look to see him all over the stat sheet tomorrow night. I predict at least two goals and two assists.

3. Will the upperclassmen step up?
Besides Wilson, the River Hawks have many other weapons at their disposal. For example, junior Riley Wetmore is the team’s second-leading point-getter, with 12 goals and 25 assists. Next in line is sophomore Derek Arnold with 12 goals and 25 assists. Like many of the teams in Hockey East, Lowell is very balanced in terms of offensive output and has multiple weapons that can hurt you. If they are clicking on all cylinders, Lowell could make a very deep postseason run.

4. Doug Carr
Carr has been an excellent goaltender for Lowell all season and is second to Parker Milner in many goaltender categories. I think a solid game from him tomorrow night will be a stress-reliever for the rest of the tam. If Carr can make a few saves early, that prospect could really open up the offensive attack. I think they will be tentative in the early going, but if Carr can play with excellence I think the rest of the team will follow suit.

5. Norm Bazin
First year head coach Norm Bazin has dine a pretty fine job. However, will he crack under the pressure of being in his first playoff game? I don’t think so. But, it will be interesting to see if he shows any signs of nerves like being too high or low emotionally, telling his team to change to a different style of play or things like that. It should be quite dun to watch the team and coach compete on Friday.

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Hockey East NCAA Tournament Preview: Keys to the Game for BC and Maine at the Northeast Regional

Here is the first of a two-part series on the four Hockey East teams in the NCAA Tournament, written by Danny Jaillet with assistance from our Hockey East Senior Writer Joshua Kummins.

This installment features Boston College and Maine at the Northeast Regional tomorrow at DCU Center. Part two comes later today.

WORCESTER – The top seed Boston College Eagles are back in a familiar place: Worcester for the Northeast Regional. After an early first-round exit last year, BC looks to avoid that for the second year in a row. If they want to do so, here is what needs to happen. Let’s take a look at my “Keys to the Game:”

1. Get Gaudreau going
He scored two goals against Maine on Saturday, and when he has the puck, he is able to do “magical” things with it. His puck-handling skills are incredible and his constant awareness of where the puck is really elevates his game. His 19 goals and 20 assists tell it all, and at this point, he is no longer a freshman. He needs to be the catalyst of this team if the Eagles want to make a deep run. Johnny needs to be aggressive and make plays for this offense. When he does that, everything else opens up. The best thing is, he is playing his best hockey at exactly the right time.

2. Limit the shots on Parker Milner
Parker Milner has been great for BC this month. However, they cannot let Air Force pepper Milner with shots. The Eagles need to clog the lines and get back in time on defense if Air Force makes a rush. The last thing you want is a tired goaltender when the third period begins. Will Milner have to make some saves in the early going? Yes, or course. But the Eagles can minimize the amount of shots Milner faces just by playing smart in their own zone, handling the puck cleanly, and at the very least trying to get the puck past the blue line.

3. The penalty kill
I predict a very physical game Saturday night. I think both teams will come out ready to battle. BC ranks third in the nation in their penalty kill as they kill 87.5 percent of them. The ideal situation would be to not take any penalties. But if that does happen BC is in good shape. Last weekend against Maine, they killed off five penalties and gave the Black Bears’ power play fits.

4. The power play
There will be goals scored, but they will not be at a premium. It is important that when the Eagles do get chances, they make Last Saturday against Maine, they went 1-for-3 on the power play with the lone power-play goal being scored by Johnny Gaudreau. 1-3 is not terrible, but it could be better. In order to win the Eagles need a full team effort on the power play.

5. Balance
This should not be last on the list because I believe it is the most important: balance. Lines 1-4 need to contribute in all aspects of the game if a win is the goal. That is one of the main reasons why BC got here in the first place. From senior Barry Almeida to freshman Johnny Gaudreau, every BC player has contributed in one way or another. Besides the Beanpot, the freshmen really have not played in a playoff atmosphere. This is their moment to shine on a big stage. Will they rise to the challenge or shy away from it? Judging by the way the freshmen have played, I think that they will rise to the challenge. It should be interesting to see how it will all play out on Saturday night.

It has been a rollercoaster of a week for the Maine Black Bears. After defeating Boston University on Friday in the Hockey East semifinal, 5-3, the Black Bears did not look themselves in a 4-1 loss in to Boston College. But can they redeem themselves? They certainly can, and here is what they need to do to achieve that goal.

1. Spread the wealth
Maine’s leading scorer, senior Spencer Abbott, is likely to be out this weekend after suffering a hit to the boards in Friday’s Hockey East semifinal against the Terriers. This leaves a big void in the scoring department for Maine. The good news for them is that they do not lack options. With that being the case, I expect Joey Daimond to step up and really fill that hole. He is the team’s second leading scorer with 25 goals and 22 assists. Brain Flynn with 18 goals and 29 assists should also play a big role in the outcome of this game.

2. Limit self-inflected wounds
Mine is third in the country in penalty minutes with 18.56 minutes per game. Oftentimes is is key scorer Joey Diamond who we see in the box most often. The Black Bears need all their guys on the ice if they want to win this game and that means not taking bad penalties. Diamond is notorious for doing so.

3. Get shots early
One thing I noticed about Maine last Saturday is that once they got some quick test shots on Milner, which spread their game out as a whole. Once they begin to get a feel for what the opposing goaltender can do, I think then they can formulate a game plan as to how they want to attack him. In the early going, they do not have to be quality shots either, just some test shots to keep the goalie on his toes.

4. Dan Sullivan
For Sullivan, this is a rebound game as well. In last Saturday’s game against BC, he let in four goals and gave up a rebound that went straight to Johnny Gaudreau. If anybody doubted him, his time to prove those people wrong is now. He made many decent saves against BC, but I think that first period doomed him as it shook his confidence. He just needs to regroup, refocus and play like the Dan Sullivan Maine fans know and love.

5. The fans
Maine fans are very loyal and travel extremely well. Their chants echo throughout arenas and a smaller arena like the DCU Center that could give the Maine players, confidence and an early advantage. I expect them to be there in full force on Saturday night and they might even play a big role in the outcome of the hockey game.

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Hockey East Sends Four to NCAA Tournament; BC Earns No. 1 Overall Seed, Worcester Regional Berth

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON — Four Hockey East teams were selected to advance to the NCAA Tournament and league champion Boston College (29-10-1) earned the tournament’s top overall seed before competing in this weekend’s Northeast Regional at the nearby DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

The Eagles earned the automatic qualifier following victories over Providence and Maine during the Hockey East Tournament this weekend at TD Garden, clinching their league-record 11th title.

BC will take on Air Force (21-10-7) in a live ESPNU game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. This weekend, the Eagles — the unanimous top team in the nation, according to both national polls — open the school’s 31st all-time NCAA appearance and the 13th in head coach Jerry York’s 18 seasons in Chestnut Hill.

The Falcons currently sit No. 16 in the nation following their fifth Atlantic Hockey title in the last six years. AFA is led by Hobey Baker Top-Ten selection Tim Kirby, who is the school’s third-ever finalist and the nation’s third-best scoring defenseman with 12 goals to his credit.

No. 3 seed Maine (23-13-3) also joins BC in Worcester, facing No. 2 seed and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth (24-9-6) in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. The Black Bears lost the Hockey East title game by a 4-1 to the Eagles on Saturday night and advance into the field of 16 for the 18th time and the first instance since 2007.

The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs advance for the eighth time ever and third time in the last four years after falling twice in extra sessions during the WCHA Final Five last weekend, including a 4-3 loss to tournament runner-up Denver in double-overtime in the semifinals.

UMD’s leading scorer Jack Connolly is also a Hobey finalist and has scored 18 goals and 56 points in 38 games this year, including a team-high 22-game point streak, entering the tournament. He and his brother Chris, the captain at Boston University, could meet in a possible Frozen Four semifinal if both teams were to advance.

Speaking of BU (23-14-1), the Terriers were shipped to the West Regional as the No. 3 seed and what is their prize? A date with No. 2 seed and No. 6-ranked Minnesota (26-13-1) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday at 5 p.m.

BU fell 5-3 against Maine in the second Hockey East semifinal on Friday, but still earns its 32nd NCAA appearance and first since earning the program’s fifth national title in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

The Gophers make the 12-minute ride over to St. Paul to open their 33rd national appearance, but their first since losing to eventual champion BC at DCU Center in 2008. UM is led by sophomore Erik Houla, whose 40 points are tied for fifth overall in the WCHA.

No. 13 UMass-Lowell (23-12-1) enters the tournament for the first time in 16 years as the third seed at the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. The River Hawks will face No. 2 seed and seventh-ranked Miami (24-12-2) at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The River Hawks were a lock at-large bid, despite falling to No. 7 seed Providence in three games in the Hockey East quarterfinals two weekends ago. UML became the first-ever No. 2 seed that failed to advance to the TD Garden for the semifinals.

In UML’s last two appearances in 1994 and 1996, it defeated two-time national champ Michigan Tech in the first round to advance forward but the River Hawks have been unable to reach the Frozen Four in their Division I history.

The Red Hawks are led by 30-goal and 48-point scorer Reilly Smith, another Hobey finalist, who is second in the nation in goals per-game (0.79).

Hockey East has captured seven national championships – including three of the last four – and advanced to the Frozen Four on 36 occasions. The conference has recieved 88 bids in its 28-year history and averaged 3.11 per-year coming into the 2012 tournament.

This year’s Frozen Four will take place on April 5 and 7 with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the University of Alabama-Huntsville serving as hosts at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

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Boston College vs. Air Force: Mike Mullowney on the Eagles in the NCAA Tournament

Our own Danny Jaillet talked with Mike Mullowney of The Boston College Hockey Blog about this weekend’s NCAA Tournament regional semifinal against Air Force at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

Here’s what Mike had to say:

DJ: What does BC need to do to stop Air Force?
MM: I don’t think it should how to “stop” Air Force for the Eagles, it’s really about how to avoid a big time upset. For them to do that, they need to stick to what they have been doing, staying out of the box, getting good production from all four lines, and get great goaltending.

DJ: We have seen what Johnny Gaudreau can do. How much of an impact will he play in this game?
MM: 
Gaudreau plays a big impact in any game he plays in. His ability to see the ice and use his speed to create grade-A offensive chances is second to none. I wouldn’t worry about “Johnny G” showing up for this weekend’s games.

DJ: This is being called another “BC home game” due to the fact that it’s in Worcester. Do you think the home crowd will play a big part in deciding the outcome of this game?
MM: I do think it will. Last year, the Eagles lost to Colorado College in part because the team had to go all the way out west and it was just a tough situation. The last two times the Eagles have won the National Championship, they won their first two games in Worcester.

DJ: Who do you think (besides Gaudreau) needs to step up in this game?
MM:
I would like to see the Destry Straight-Kevin Hayes-Chris Kreider line be a little more effective. I think they have the skill to do some serious damage on the offensive end, so look for them (especially Kreider) to step up their games this weekend.

DJ: What are some. things that BC did well last game, that they need to continue to do in order to beat Air Force?
MM:
Like I said, the penalty kill against Maine was fantastic. With the Black Bears having the top power play in the nation and scoring four power-play goals against Boston University on Friday, I was worried about the penalty kill. I thought they were fantastic. The biggest thing that needs to continue is the play of Parker Milner. With him playing at the level he is right now, BC will be tough to beat.

DJ: Finally, what is your prediction for Saturday’s semifinal?
MM: Boston College 5, Air Force 3

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Boston College 4, Maine 1: Eagles Three-Peat as Hockey East Champions, Clinch No. 1 Overall Seed in NCAA

photoby Joshua Kummins

BOSTON – For the first time in Hockey East history, the league’s tournament champion is a three-peat winner. The No. 1 Boston College Eagles led from start to finish as they captured their 15th straight victory with a 4-1 win over the No. 11 Maine Black Bears on Saturday at the TD Garden.

With the win, the Eagles captured their league-record 11th tournament title and set a new tournament record with 12 straight victories, dating back to a stretch from 1998-2000.

VIDEO COVERAGE:
Final Minute/Post-Game Celebration
Post-Game Press Conferences: Maine | BC
Game Highlights (courtesy of NESN)

“I’m very excited,” said Eagles head coach Jerry York. “The Lamoriello Cup is something we look towards here and the Garden as a major goal for us…Every time Maine had that surge on a sure-fire goal, [junior goaltender Parker Milner] would make a save on it.”

The Hockey East Tournament’s top seed has now won the tournament on 14 instances, including two in a row with the Eagles in that spot. Top seeds now have a 14-6 record in title game play.

BC also wraps up the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week. The Eagles will likely be placed a mere hour from home in the Northeast Regional at Worcester’s DCU Center, but the answer will not be known until Sunday’s noontime Selection Show live on ESPNU.

“I think the four teams that will qualify for the tournament from our league – BU, Lowell, ourselves, and Maine – all have a chance to do some real damage and make a run at the national crown,” York concluded. “I really feel that way because our league is so good this year.”

The first period featured “The Johnny Gaudreau Show” for the Eagles as he scored their first two goals in just over seven and a half minutes. Over the first 20 minutes, the Eagles out-shot Maine by a 20-11 count.

For his efforts, the Carneys Point, N.J. native was honored with the Bill Flynn Most Valuable Player Award. He was the fifth-ever freshman to capture the honor and the fourth from BC. A rookie had not been crowned with the honor since Boston University goaltender Kieran Millan took it home following a 1-0 win over UMass-Lowell in 2009.

“Johnny’s skills are incredible,” said Eagles senior captain Tommy Cross, who will continue his career with the Boston Bruins organization following this season. “Even his own teammates admire what he can do in practice and on the ice…The biggest thing is that he is a team-first guy.”

The combined 31 shots on goal is now the second-highest total between both teams in conference title game history, trailing only the 2007 match between BC and New Hampshire – a 5-2 Eagles victory.

On the first marker, junior Patch Alber stripped the puck off a Maine defender’s stick and found Gaudreau between the circles for the turnaround shot that beat sophomore goaltender Dan Sullivan for his 18th of the season.

His second of the game came on the power play at the 7:31 mark of the opening stanza as he buried the rebound on the backhand from the right-hand circle.

“[The Beanpot and Hockey East MVP awards were nice], but it is more important that we won the big trophy with the team,” Gaudreau said. “We have had a lot of success from every single player on the team. We are so close in the locker room. We’ve been a close team together and that has helped up along the way.”

The pace of play dropped a bit in the second period, but the Black Bears were able to cut their deficit to 2-1 at the 7:37 mark as senior Brian Flynn lifted the backhander over Milner’s blocker for his 18th goal of the year. Junior Joey Diamond was credited with the assist off his nifty pass to the Lynnfield, Mass. native.

BC ensured its lead with an even-strength goal at 18:39 as junior Pat Mullane beat Sullivan with the one-timer from the slot, capping an up-ice rush off Gaudreau’s lead.

Despite solid chances, the teams were scoreless for the majority of the third period until junior Barry Almeida iced the Eagles’ sixth title in seven years, taking the headman feed from junior Steven Whitney and putting the puck into an open net with 1:01 remaining in the contest.

The Eagles held a 43-42 shots advantage in the game overall, despite a 17-9 disadvantage in the third period. A total of 85 shots on goal in regulation time set a new Championship record, which was previously set by the Eagles and rival BU in 1986.

Milner stopped a career-high 41 shots in the win, including 17 in the final period, to improve to 25-5-0 this year. Despite his tenth loss, Sullivan was tremendous with 39 saves to his credit.

In what is by far the most frequent championship pairing in Hockey East history, BC now holds a 5-2 advantage over Maine as well as an 8-5 edge in all tournament rounds.

The Black Bears were hurt by the loss of senior and leading scorer Spencer Abbott, who was injured on an elbow to the head during Friday’s semifinal with BU.

“I thought Maine played well…For [Abbott] not to play tonight, they responded very, very well. It was certainly a blow to their championship aspirations to lose their best player and certainly one of the best in the country.”

Heading into the national tournament, Maine carries a 23-13-3 record overall and could also very well seed third in the Worcester regional where they would join the Eagles.

With that possibility in mind, Maine head coach Tim Whitehead had high praise for York and the team.

“It’s hard to say,” he said when asked about what it would take to beat BC. “They’re a very strong team at all three positions…With Johnny Gaudreau getting the quick ones likes that, it’s a tough team to come back against. I think typically you want to get the first one—that usually helps.”

2012 Hockey East All-Tournament Team
G: Parker Milner, Boston College
D: Will O’Neill, Maine
D: Brian Dumoulin, Boston College
F: Alex Chiasson, Boston University
F: Joey Diamond, Maine
F: Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College (MVP)

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Boston College vs. Maine: Eagles, Black Bears Meet to Decide Hockey East Title

BOSTON — Greetings from the TD Garden for tonight’s Hockey East Championship Game between No. 1 Boston College and No. 10 Maine. These two teams have met in the title game on seven previous occassions – the most frequent championship match-up in conference history. BC leads the match-up, 4-2.

The puck is set to drop at 8 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on NESN. If you are not in the New England area, the game will be nationally broadcast on NBC Sports Network.

Joshua Kummins will be providing live coverage of the contest, including in-game Twitter updates @JoshuaKummins).

Here are the starting line-ups:

Black Bears
John Parker – Brian Flynn – Joey Diamond
Mark Anthoine – Stu Higgins – Matt Mangene
Theo Andersson – Klas Leidermark – Jon Swavely
Adam Shemansky – Kyle Beattie – Andrew Cerretani

Will O’Neill – Mike Cornell
Ryan Hegarty – Mark Nemec
Nick Pryor – Brice O’Connor

Dan Sullivan
Martin Ouellette
Josh Seeley

Eagles
Barry Almeida – Bill Arnold – Steven Whitney
Destry Straight – Kevin Hayes – Chris Kreider
Johnny Gaudreau – Pat Mullane – Paul Carey
Quinn Smith – Michael Sit – Danny Linell

Tommy Cross – Edwin Shea
Brian Dumoulin – Patrick Wey
Isaac MacLeod – Patch Alber

Parker Milner
Brian Billett
Chris Venti

by Danny Jaillet – GAME PREVIEW

At the beginning of the year, ten teams battled for Hockey East supremacy. After a long season of trial and tribulation only two teams remain. the Maine Black Bears and the Boston College Eagles will go to war tonight, with one team being crowned king. But, who will it be?

Boston College Eagles
Boston College is on fire right now as it has won 14 straight games. That is the longest streak in the Jerry York Era. The previous mark of 13 was set back in 2007 from February 15th to April 5. In Hockey East Tournament play, BC has won 10 trophies – eight under York and two in 1987 and 1990 under Len Ceglarski. Overall, they are 58-23-2 in the tournaments’ 28 championships. The seniors (Tommy Cross, Barry Almeida, Paul Carey, Tommy Atkinson, Edwin Shea and Chris Venti) has gone a remarkable 14-1 in the tournament. The lone loss was to the rival Terriers in the semifinals in 2009. Overall Boston College is 43-18-1 in the Garden and that includes a 20-7 record in the tournament.

Two players I would keep an eye on are freshman Johnny Gaudreau and senior Barry Almeida. Gaudreau scored a goal in yesterday’s game and he looked really refreshed out there. He was skating really well and his puck movement was very impressive particularly on his goal when he waited for Alex Beaudry to bite on the fake for the goal. Barry Almeida has 7 goals and 9 assists during BC’s 14 game win streak so I expect him to be pursuing the puck at all times, and getting shots on the net. BC’s last lost came against the Black Bears on January 21st, so I expect BC would want revenge.

Maine Black Bears
The Black Bears defeated Boston University 4-2 last night. Joey Diamond scored, with Will O’ Neil scoring twice and Mark Anthonie scoring another. Overall Maine had a 44-31 shot advantage and their powerplay, like I said in my other article was a major factor as they converted four times in six opportunities.

One player I would watch out for is Joey Diamond who has 25 goals and 21 assists. He is one of the most explosive players in the league and I expect him to shine on the big stage tonight. I predict one or two goals out of him in the game. Spencer Abbott will be key tonight as well. As the teams’ leading point-getter I expect him to be dishing the puck to teammates who are open which for Maine’s sake will hopefully lead to some goals. Last time they played Boston College Joey Diamond, Brian Flynn, Matt Mangene, and Connor Leen all scored to defeat the Eagles 7-4.

Tonight should be a very-high scoring game and I think both goaltenders will be tested early. With that being said, I think the Eagles will put it out, 8-6.

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Hockey East Semifinal Notebook: BC, Maine Edge Out Wins; Set Saturday’s Final

photo

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON – After a pair of exciting semifinal games on Friday night at TD Garden, the 28th Annual Hockey East Championship Game is set. No. 1 Boston College looks to make it three titles in a row as it takes on Maine for the second time in three years.

Tomorrow, the Eagles and Black Bears will meet to decide the champion for the seventh time in conference history. The game is a rematch of the 2010 title game when the Eagles won a 7-6 overtime thriller on a goal by then-senior Matt Lombardi. BC is 7-5 all-time against Maine in tournament play.

Game 1: Boston College 4, Providence 2
Post-Game Press Conferences: BC | Providence (Audio)

The top-ranked Eagles halted Hockey East Cinderella’s run through the Quarterfinals as they advanced the Championship for the third consecutive year and 16th time in all-time history. Overall, BC held a 34-29 advantage in shots on goal.

The Eagles got off to a fast start, potting the first goal of the game at the 1:15 mark of the opening stanza. Senior Paul Carey forced a turnover behind the net and beat Friar Alex Beaudry on the wrap-around for his 15th of the year.

Providence tied the game at 2:28 as rookie Barrett Kaib scored his first-collegiate goal on an unassisted drive from the right circle. At 4:31, sophomore Derek Army beat the BC defense on a low shot that trickled under the pads of BC junior Parker Milner – his 11th of the season.

BC took the lead back at 8:35 on a great give-and-go to freshman Destry Straight for the easy tap-in and his third of the season.

After holding a slim shots advantage in the opening period, the Eagles took a 3-2 lead at 3:58 as conference Rookie of the Year runner-up Johnny Gaudreau weaved his way into the left circle for the wrist shot goal, beating a diving Beaudry for his 17th of the season and ninth during their 13-game winning streak.

The Eagles appeared to have taken a two-goal lead with 7:28 left in the second period as senior Barry Almeida beat Beaudry from an impossible angle, but the play was called back since junior Steven Whitney was interfering in the crease.

The Reading, Mass. native redeemed himself at the 8:00 mark of the third period as he collected Almeida’s rebound and beat Beaudry for the backhand goal.

In the third, the Friars had the greater amount of scoring chances with a 9-7 shots edge and 20-15 in total chances.

Both goaltenders were strong in the contest as Milner earned his 24th win with a 27-save performance, which included nine saves in all three periods. Beaudry ends his season with a 13-20-4 record, despite making 14 stops in the second period.

Game 2: Maine 5, Boston University 3
Video: On-Ice Pre-Game | Closing Seconds | BU Post-Game | Maine Post-Game

Much like the opener, it did not take the residents of Commonwealth Avenue to hit the scoreboard as Terrier junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson broke free through the defense and slid the puck between the wickets of Maine sophomore Dan Sullivan.

The goal was Chiasson’s 15th of the season and marked his second in as many games as he scored the double-overtime winner last Sunday against New Hampshire.

Despite ending the period down by a goal, the Black Bears had some strong chances on BU senior Kieran Millan but he stopped all 13 shots he faced to keep Maine off the board.

The Black Bears came back to tie the score just 46 seconds into the middle period as junior Joey Diamond converted on the power play for his 24th of the season, taking advantage of a BU breakdown in front of Millan.

BU jumped back ahead on the man-advantage at 6:16 as sophomore Matt Nieto beat Sullivan on the right side, but the Black Bears answered at 11:22 when sophomore Mark Anthoine fed senior Will O’Neill for the top-shelf snipe to tie the score at 2-2.

O’Neill, a Salem, Mass. native, struck again at 18:25 as he took a sweet drop feed from Player of the Year Spencer Abbott for his second snipe of the game and third goal of the season. Before tonight, he had not scored since Maine’s fourth contest of the season – a 3-3 tie at North Dakota on Oct. 15, 2011.

BU tied things back up at 4:03 as Nieto scored his second of the game and 16th of the season on a backhander off a great pass from sophomore Adam Clendening. The Black Bears re-took a 4-3 lead for good at the 7:43 mark of the third as sophomore Mainer Mark Anthoine forced a turnover, spun around and beat Millan high for his 13th of the season.

With Millan pulled for the extra skater in the final 90 seconds, Clendening hooked Maine junior Matt Mangene off the puck on a breakaway to give the Black Bears a man advantage. Diamond scored his second of the game with 29 seconds left as O’Neill chipped the puck ahead to set up the clincher on the empty-net.

Sullivan finished the contest with 28 saves, including 15 in the second period to propel the Black Bears to victory. The Pennsylvania native improved to 22-9-3 on the season.

Millan kept the Terriers in the game as he made double-digit stops in each period to total 39 for the game while falling to 20-13-1. The Alberta native set a new Hockey East Tournament record with 189 saves in four contests, breaking the mark set by UNH’s Kevin Regan in 2007.

The Terriers held a 16-12 shots edge in the final stanza, despite trailing 44-31 through the entire game. Maine held a convincing 77-60 advantage in total chances.

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Hockey East Awards Banquet: Abbott Wins Player of the Year; Two Named as Hobey Finalists

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by Joshua Kummins

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Maine senior Spencer Abbott was named Athletic Republic Hockey East Player of the Year on Thursday night as the conference held its annual Championship Awards Banquet at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass.

Other individual awards and All-Star teams were announced as well as the ten finalists for the prestigious Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which is given to the top Division I player.

Abbott led the league and the nation in point production this season with 59 points, becoming the first Black Bear to win Player of the Year since defenseman Chris Imes in 1995. The Hamilton, Ontario native was also named a first-team All-Star and the league’s scoring champion.

UMass-Lowell’s Norm Bazin was named the Bob Cullen Coach of the Year as a near-unanimous selection from his peers, leading his alma mater from tenth place to second place in just one year behind the bench.

Coming from D-III Hamilton, Bazin set the D-I record for largest turnaround by a first-year coach as he led the River Hawks to 18 more wins than last season.

The league’s newest Rookie of the Year also called the Tsongas Center home as Scott Wilson took the honors back to Lowell for the first time since goaltender Peter Vetri in 2005. He finished the season tied for sixth in the league scoring race as he finished with just over a point per-game in league and overall games.

The Oakville, Ontario native finished the season with 28 points, which was tied with junior Riley Wetmore for the most on the River Hawk attack.

This weekend’s semifinalists — Boston College, Boston University, Maine, and Providence — each had three league All-Stars, including the league’s top three scorers.

Second Team All-Stars
G: Doug Carr, UMass-Lowell
D: Garrett Noonan, Boston University
D: Karl Stollery, Merrimack
F: Chris Connolly, Boston University
F: Joey Diamond, Maine
F: Chris Kreider, Boston College

First Team All-Stars
G: Joe Cannata, Merrimack
D: Adam Clendening, Boston University
D: Brian Dumoulin, Boston College
F: Barry Almeida, Boston College
F: Brian Flynn, Maine
F: Spencer Abbott, Maine

Before Thursday night’s event, the league announced the All-Rookie Team as well as seven individual award honorees:

Pro-Ambitions All-Rookie Team
G: Casey DeSmith, New Hampshire
D: Zack Kamrass, UMass-Lowell
D: Alexx Privitera, Boston University
D: Trevor van Riemsdyk, New Hampshire
F: Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College (unanimous)
F: Ross Mauermann, Providence College
F: Ludwig Karlsson, Northeastern (unanimous)
F: Kyle Reynolds, Vermont
F: Scott Wilson, UMass-Lowell (unanimous)

Individual Honorees
Old Time Hockey Best Defensive Defenseman: Brian Dumoulin, Boston College
Gladiator Best Defensive Forward: Chris Connolly, Boston University
Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award: Chris Connolly, Boston University
Bauer Goaltending Champion: Parker Milner, Boston College
Army ROTC Three Stars Award: Kieran Millan, Boston University
Turfer Athletic Award: Matt Ferreira, UMass-Lowell
Charlie Holt Team Sportsmanship Award: New Hampshire Wildcats

Abbott and Boston College junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin were named as two of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which were announced by Committee chair Wally Shaver, a guest all the way from Minnesota, as part of the event.

Dumoulin was a second-round draft selection of the Carolina Hurricanes and led all Hockey East defensemen in league scoring with 17 assists and 21 points.

Hobey Baker Top Ten Finalists
Spencer Abbott, F, Maine
Jack Connolly, F, Minnesota-Duluth
Brian Dumoulin, D, Boston College
Troy Grosenick, G, Union
Sean Hunwick, G, Michigan
Tim Kirby, D, Air Force
Torey Krug, D, Michigan State
Justin Schultz, D, Wisconsin
Austin Smith, F, Colgate
Reilly Smith, F, Miami

The 2011-12 Hockey East season finishes up this weekend as things shift over to TD Garden for the 28th Annual Championship Tournament. No. 1 seed Boston College faces No. 7 Providence in the 5 p.m. semifinal, followed by No. 3 Boston University taking on No. 4 Maine at 8 p.m.

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Ready for the Finish: 2012 Hockey East Championship Commences Friday at TD Garden

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON — The long and winding road of the Hockey East season has reached the final week. Late Saturday night, the conference’s tournament champion will be crowned for the 28th time at TD Garden.

Eight teams competed during an exciting quarterfinal round this past weekend, which included three overtime games and three of the four series going the distance to third games on Sunday night.

Top-seeded Boston College owns a Hockey East-record ten conference titles and is the two-time defending Lamoriello Trophy winner. For the first time ever, No. 3 Boston University, No. 4 Maine, and No. 7 Providence make the rest of the semifinal field.

SCHEDULE

Semifinals: Friday, March 16
5 p.m. – No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 7 Providence
8 p.m. - No. 3 Boston University vs. No. 4 Maine

Championship: Saturday, March 17
8 p.m. — PC/BC Winner vs. BU/Maine Winner

All three games will be televised live on NESN and nationally on the NBC Sports Network.

No. 1 Boston College Eagles (27-10-1) vs. No. 7 Providence Friars (14-19-4)
After capturing its second Hockey East regular season title in a row, BC invades TD Garden for the semifinals for the eighth year in a row, while Providence became the first No. 7 seed to advance past the opening round as it beat No. 2 UMass-Lowell in three games.

The Eagles swept UMass in straight games in the quarterfinals for their 12th and 13th straight victories, equaling the longest streak in head coach Jerry York’s tenure. 

These two squads will meet for the tenth time in Hockey East Tournament play, which is also including just one previous meeting semifinal to close the inaugural 1985 season.

The Eagles swept the regular-season series by a 3-0 count, including a two-game home-and-home sweep three weeks ago by a combined 10-0 score. The season series finished with an astounding 7-0 shutout on Feb. 25 at Kelley Rink.

Providence is making its 11th appearance in the Hockey East Semifinals, but the Friars have not done so in the past 11 seasons. They were the first tournament champion in 1985 and have also captured the title in 1996.

PC freshman Ross Mauermann scored the lone goal in Sunday’s series-clinching 1-0 win at Tsongas Center, which earned the Janesville, Wisc. native his first-career Rookie of the Week honor.

Mauermann’s 25 points are most on the team this season, while sophomore New Hampshire native Tim Schaller holds the team lead with 14 goals.

During BC’s nation-best winning streak, freshman Johnny Gaudreau has a team-leading eight goals and 18 total points. The New Jersey native was one of three unanimous selections to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

No. 3 Boston University Terriers (23-13-1) vs. No. 4 Maine Black Bears (22-12-3)
The Terriers and Black Bears continue their great rivalry in Friday’s second semifinal, meeting for the 15th-ever time in the league tournament and for the sixth semifinal game.

Maine fell to 5-8 in championship appearances as it fell to BC in overtime to cap the 2010 tournament, despite beating these same Terriers in the semifinal. The teams have each won the title when playing one another, while sporting seven wins each in 14 previous tournament games.

Junior Alex Chiasson scored the winning goal in double-overtime on Sunday night as the Terriers defeated No. 6 New Hampshire, 5-4, capturing a ticket to the Garden for the tenth time in 11 seasons.

The Terriers and Wildcats decided all three games by two goals or less, while the first and third games were decided in five periods.

Chiasson was named Hockey East Player of the Week as he scored two goals and five points in the weekend set, while posting a +3 rating. Senior Kieran Millan was named Defensive Player of the Week as he recorded a whopping 150 saves on the weekend, including a tournament-record 68 on Sunday night.

The Quebec native’s 43 points are tops on the team, while junior Wade Megan holds a team-best 19 goals and senior Chris Connolly sports 30 assists.

After suffering a brisk two-game defeat in 2011, the Black Bears earned revenge as they defeated No. 5 Merrimack in three games, advancing to their first semifinal since 2010 and eighth in the last 12 years.

Sophomore Brice O’Connor scored the game-winner in the second period of Sunday’s 2-1 win. The New Hampshire native also scored the lone goal of the season finale on Mar. 3 against UNH, which solidified home-ice advantage for Maine.

Maine’s top line of seniors Brian Flynn and Spencer Abbott and junior Joey Diamond are taking the nation by storm, leading the conference and the nation in several categories.

Abbott’s 39 assists and 59 points lead the nation, while Diamond’s 23 goals are best on a balanced attack which ranks a close third behind BU and BC in the conference.

Tournament Predictions
Semifinal #1: The Friars’ Cinderella run through Hockey East comes to an end at the hands of the unstoppable Eagles.
Boston College 5, Providence 2

Semifinal #2: Jack Parker has not been happy with his team’s play of late, especially in the quarterfinal round at home. With that said, his team will not be able to pull it out as the Abbott-Flynn-Diamond line proves too much.
Maine 5, Boston University 4

Championship: It’s a battle of the offenses. The speed and skill of the Eagles will prove just too much as York’s Eagles successfully chase another trophy and march into the NCAA Tournament automatically.
Boston College 4, Maine 3

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Friars’ Playoff Story is Truly Something To Behold

by Danny Jaillet

PROVIDENCE — One of the greatest things about sports are the upsets. In college hockey however, pulling off an upset is an especially difficult thing to do and it almost seems improbable. Well yesterday, the seventh-seed Providence Friars did the improbable. They defeated the second-seed UMass-Lowell River Hawks 1-0. Not only did they get the win, they also clinched their first trip to the TD Garden since 2001, getting a chance to play in the Hockey East semifinals against the # 1 ranked Boston College Eagles. Last time they played, BC they were shut out both times 3-0 and 7-0.

The Friars game plan hasn’t always been successful, but they’ve stuck with it. As a result, the rest of Hockey East is beginning to take notice, including Joshua Kummins of BSU18.com:

“They have a lot of strong players on both sides of the puck that have contributed to their successes this season. Some of their highest-scoring players like freshman Ross Mauermann and sophomore Derek Army are young and can only get better. Alex Beaudry has come a long way over four seasons and can be a scary goaltender for any team to face as you saw in the quarterfinal series.”

Personally, I think what Providence has done so far is very impressive. Yes, they may not be the most successful, flashy, or the most talented team, but they have stuck to their playing style and got it done. It is nice to see that someone other than the traditional hockey superpowers are competing in the semi-finals. It represents a common theme that we saw throughout the year: how incredibly balanced the Hockey East was. In my opinion, it makes the tournament itself a little more exciting and gives us another reason to watch it. Will we see an upset on Friday? Probably not.

However, as Al Michaels once asked his viewers on a special day in February 1980, “Do you believe in miracles?”

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