Category Archives: Hockey East

March 11 in Hockey East: Providence Pulls Stunning Upset; Garden Semifinal Field Set

Team Huddle.JPGby Joshua Kummins

LOWELL — Friars rookie Ross Mauermann scored the game’s only goal at the 7:00 mark of the first period as the Providence Friars became the first-ever No. 7 seed to advance to the Hockey East semifinals with a 1-0 win over the UMass-Lowell River Hawks on Sunday at Tsongas Center in the deciding third game of the best-of-three quarterfinals.

Senior Alex Beaudry was a star of the show as he earned his fourth-career shutout with 29 saves, lifting the Friars into the TD Garden field for the first time since advancing to the title game in 2001.

Sophomore Doug Carr was tremendous in net, stopping 35 shots, including double-digits in the second period, in just his ninth loss this season for the River Hawks.

UMass-Lowell now sits at 23-12-1 overall and seems to be a sure lock in the NCAA Tournament with a No. 7 national ranking, but that will have to wait until brackets are announced live next Sunday morning.

As the lowest remaining seed in the tournament, the Friars will take on No. 1 Boston College in the opening game on Friday at 5 p.m.

at Boston University 5, New Hampshire 4 (2OT)
Senior Kieran Millan made a tournament-record 68 saves and junior Alex Chiasson scored at 6:42 of double overtime as the No. 3-seeded Terriers staged an amazing comeback from 4-1 down to reach the Hockey East semifinals. With the win, the third-seeded Terriers improve to 23-13-1 on the year and advance to the Garden for the tenth time in 11 years to face Maine at 8 p.m. Chiasson added three assists to tie his career-high four points, while sophomore Garrett Noonan started the comeback from the 4-1 deficit with back-to-back goals late in the second period. Freshman Casey Thrush opened the scoring for UNH in the first period with a pair of goals — just his third and fourth of the season. Fellow rookie Casey DeSmith made 50 saves for UNH to surpass his league-best mark of 48 set on Feb. 24 at UMass.

at Maine 2, Merrimack 1
New Hampshire native and sophomore Brice O’Connor scored on the rebound of a Nick Pryor shot from the slot at 3:43 of the second period, lifting the Black Bears back to the Garden for second time in three years with the victory at Alfond Arena. With the extra attacker on in the final minute, senior Jesse Todd’s wrister from in between the circles was stopped by sophomore Dan Sullivan’s blocker as Merrimack’s season likely ended with the loss. Ryan Flanigan scored the Warriors’ only goal at 9:16 of the second period, closing the scoring for both sides. Sullivan made 20 saves in goal, improving to 21-9-3 on the season for Maine. Warriors senior Joe Cannata made 30 saves for Merrimack as he fell to 17-12-7.

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Boston College 3, Massachusetts 2: Mixed Emotions Fly as Eagles Celebrate Another Garden Party

Brian Dumoulin scored the game-winning goal as the Eagles advanced to the Hockey East semifinals yet again.

by Joshua Kummins

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – It was a hard-fought two-game series and as a final result, the top-ranked Boston College Eagles are headed to the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden following a 3-2 victory over the eighth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday night at Kelley Rink.

With the victory, the Eagles advance to the Garden for the eighth season in a row and defeated the Mass Attack in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, all coming in two-game sweeps.

VIDEO: Boston College Post-Game Press Conference
Head Coach Jerry York with juniors Brian Dumoulin (left) and Parker Milner (center)

“Historically, we’ve made some long runs in the playoffs,” said BC head coach Jerry York, whose team has not failed to reach TD Garden since 2005. “But the quarterfinal series in your league to get you to the Garden is always extremely difficult.”

“We’ve always felt on Sunday morning how fortunate we are to advance. We know exactly what to expect from their team. They are going to skate well at a very top level and they always give us a real battle…From our perspective, we played much better tonight than we did last night and I am very happy about that.”

The Minutemen jumped ahead first in the contest at the 2:54 mark as sophomore Conor Sheary took a great centering pass from senior captain T.J. Syner in the slot for his third score in five games.

It did not take long for the Eagles to respond as they did so twice on a five-minute hitting from behind penalty on UMass sophomore Steven Guzzo just 3:39 into the contest. Guzzo, an Ontario native, was the Mass Attack’s lone goal scorer in Friday’s series-opening 2-1 loss.

At 4:25, freshman Johnny Gaudreau sprung junior Pat Mullane on the breakaway, changing from forehand to backhand before beating Minuteman freshman Kevin Boyle for his eighth goal of the season.

At 8:18, sophomore Bill Arnold played give-and-go with senior Paul Carey for the easy tap-in for his 14th goal of the season and fourth point in as many games.

In the opening stanza, the Minutemen out-shot the Eagles by a 9-7 margin despite just four more total chances.

Although it looked like things would remain status quo following the second period, the Minutemen were able to tie the score at 18:03 as sophomore Joel Hanley beat Eagles junior Parker Milner on a shot from the slot.

Just over a minute later at the 19:11 mark, junior Brian Dumoulin beat Boyle on a snapper from just outside the left wing circle to lift BC to a 3-2 edge. In the stanza, the Eagles were more dominant on the offensive with a 25-18 edge in total chances, despite a 13-9 shots on goal disadvantage.

Minuteman head coach Don Cahoon was disappointed with the call and felt that an icing or several penalties could have been called as the puck bounced back from beyond the end line before junior Chris Kreider dished the puck for the goal.

“I have never been more frustrated in all my life,” Cahoon said. “I have 28 kids in that locker room that are absolutely devastated and do not feel like they lost this series. We should still be playing out there right now and I do not think there is any question in the world.

“If you go back and look at that third goal, you won’t believe what you’ll see. It was disgraceful…There is no way around it. There is nobody in this league or any league that is going to tell me otherwise, because it just ended our season.”

UMass had some great chances on the power play and during 5-on-5 action, but Milner and the BC defense were equal to the task as they closed out the contest with no further offense in the third period.

In the end, the Eagles captured their 27th victory of the season and their 13th in a row. BC has not lost since being swept by Maine in two straight games to close January.

Milner made 33 stops, playing exceptionally well in goal for the Eagles to lift them back to the semifinals. Boyle made 19 stops in the contest as the Minutemen fell to 13-18-5 to end the season.

“Parker was very, very good both nights,” York said. “Last night, he was the reason we won the game. Tonight, we did a lot of really good things and we also got excellent goaltending. Last night, it was ‘The Milner Show’ and that was kind of all we had going for us.”

The Eagles will take on the lowest remaining seed when the semifinals begin for the 28th time next Friday night. No. 6 New Hampshire would be that team if it were to pull out a series win on Sunday against No. 3 Boston University over at Agganis Arena.

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Boston College 6, St. Lawrence 3: Eagles Clinch Second-Straight Frozen Four Berth, Defeat ECAC Foe Saints

Danielle Welch scored the game-winning goal at 2:23 of the third period, lifting the Eagles for good.

by Joshua Kummins

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Heading into Saturday’s NCAA national quarterfinal at Kelley Rink, the Boston College Eagles had never clinched berths in back-to-back Women’s Frozen Fours and with a 6-3 win over the visiting and No. 7 St. Lawrence Saints, that will change.

Post-Game Press Conferences:
St. Lawrence (Chris Wells)
Boston College (Katie King Crowley & Blake Bolden) 

The Eagles took a 1-0 lead at the 16:30 mark of the first period as freshman Alex Carpenter led a shorthanded rush down ice, scoring her 20th goal of the season on a rebound shot on the left side of the cage.

Saints freshman netminder Carmen MacDonald was on the spot to stop the first two swipes at the puck, but could not move across the crease to stop the first score.

Meanwhile, the Saints also had some strong scoring chances in the period as they trailed the Eagles in shots on goal by just a 14-13 count.

SLU’s best chance came on the power play at the 14:51 mark of the period when junior defender and Bloomfield, Conn. native Brooke Fernandez beat BC redshirt junior Corrine Boyles over the shoulder, but hit the crossbar to keep the game scoreless at that point.

The second period featured offense aplenty as the teams closed the stanza tied 3-3 with the Saints holding a convincing 14-7 shots edge and 26-21 through 40 minutes.

The Saints came out flying for the period’s first three goals, including a pair of goals within the first 40 seconds of the stanza. First, graduate student Karell Emard snapped sophomore Rylee Smith’s cross-ice pass past Boyles from the left side to tie the score at 1-1 just 20 seconds in – her 14th of the season.

Just 20 seconds later at the 0:40 mark, Michelle Ng was on the spot on the right side for the rebound off senior Vanessa Emond’s initial shot. Her fourth goal of the season had extra meaning for the junior, as Ng is a Milton, Mass. native and product of the Assabet Valley junior program as well as Milton Academy.

On the power play, the Saints took a two-goal edge as freshman Ellie Williams banged home a rebound on an open side past Boyles for her sixth goal of the season at 3:33.

The Eagles came back for the period’s final two goals to close the stanza with a tie score. At the even 11:00 mark, freshman Emily Field’s shot from the right side hit the inside of MacDonald’s glove and dribbled over the goal line to make it 3-2 on the Littleton, Mass. native’s 12th score of the season.

With 10.1 seconds remaining, junior Blake Bolden re-directed a cross-ice pass from senior Mary Restuccia high over MacDonald for the tying goal – her eighth of the year.

BC jumped back on top at 2:23 of the third period as senior captain Danielle Welch fired a wrist shot though traffic for her 11th of the season, after taking an awkward deflection behind MacDonald.

The Eagles added insurance on a beautiful offensive play at 15:47 as sophomore Taylor Wasylk took a head feed from junior Dru Burns, chipping the puck up and over MacDonald to extend their lead to 5-3.

With 32 seconds remaining in the contest, junior Ashley Motherwell chipped a loose puck into an empty-net to send the Eagles to the Frozen Four yet again.

Both goaltenders were extremely efficient in the contest. Boyles made 28 stops in the contest, while allowing just three goals. The Wheaton, Ill. native made double-digit saves in each of the first two periods to earn the victory.

MacDonald made 13 stops in the first and 15 in the third to total 33 in the contest, falling to 11-13-0 to close the season.

With the win, BC improves to 24-9-3 on the season and will face the winner of tonight’s Wisconsin/Mercyhurst quarterfinal game on Friday. St. Lawrence finishes the season with a very respectable 24-10-4 record and No. 7 national ranking.

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March 9 in Hockey East: UML Sends Series to Third Game; BC, UNH, Maine Take Leads

Zack Kamrass picked a great time for his first goal as a River Hawk, sending their series with Providence to a third and deciding game (Photo/Bob Ellis).

by Joshua Kummins

LOWELL — Freshman defenseman Zack Kamrass scored his first-collegiate goal 11:29 into overtime as the No. 2 UMass-Lowell River Hawks earned a 3-2 win over the No. 7 Providence Friars in the second of three Hockey East quarterfinal games on Friday at the Tsongas Center.

The rubber match is set for Sunday at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to the semifinals next weekend at TD Garden.

With another win, the River Hawks can advance to the Garden for the first time since 2009 and just the fourth time in 12 years. Providence has not reached the semifinals since 2001 when it upset Maine to advance to the title game.

The win was UMass-Lowell’s first playoff victory at home since taking down Northeastern in three games to advance to the 2002 semifinals. UML earned its 23rd win of the season in front of 4,512 fans in what became the longest game in Tsongas Center history at 71:29.

The win marked a NCAA hockey record for first-year head coach Norm Bazin, who has recorded the largest turnaround in Division I history by a newcoming bench boss as he has guided UML to 18 more victories than during all of last season.

Sophomore Joseph Pendenza assisted on senior Matt Ferriera’s power-play goal early in the second, before connecting with Kamrass on the game-clinching strike.

Providence came back to tie the game at 2-2 with quick scores off the sticks of junior Myles Harvey (13:43) and freshman Stefan Demopoulous (15:39), but the River Hawks came back for their third win in four games against the Friars.

For the night, sophomore Doug Carr stopped 34 shots to improve to 21-8-1 on the season and held the Friars scoreless on their lone man-up chance. PC senior Alex Beaudry also made 34 saves, allowing just one power-play goal.

at Boston College 2, Massachusetts 1
Junior Pat Mullane and senior captain Tommy Cross scored 39 seconds apart in the second period as the No. 1 seed Boston College Eagles squaked by UMass in the opening first-round game at Kelley Rink. BC junior Parker Milner stopped 25 shots in his 11th victory in a row, which was also the Eagles’ 11th in a row at home against the Minutemen, dating back to Nov. 17, 2007. Senior Danny Hobbs scored UMass’ lone goal at 6:55 of the third period, while freshman Kevin Boyle was strong with 16 stops between the pipes. With a win in the second contest on Saturday, the Eagles can enter the semifinal for a league-record 20th time and the eighth time in a row.

New Hampshire 3, at Boston University 2 (2OT)
UNH freshman Grayson Downing scored the game-winning goal two minutes into overtime, lifting the Wildcats ahead in their first road quarterfinal series since 1996. Read the full game story (complete with quotes and video) below.

at Maine 2, Merrimack 1
Junior forwards Joey Diamond and Kyle Beattie scored goals in the second period and that was all the No. 4 Maine Black Bears needed to edge past the fifth-seeded Merrimack Warriors in the quarterfinal opener at Alfond Arena. Beattie’s tally at 12:04 proved to be the game-winner and sophomore Dan Sullivan made 20 saves in goal. Sophomore Mike Collins scored late in the opening stanza for Merrimack’s lone goal of the contest and senior Joe Cannata posted his second 40-save effort of the season with 41 stops. Maine goes for its 19th semifinal appearance and first since 2010 on Saturday night in the second game of the series.

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New Hampshire 3, Boston University 2 (OT): Downing Double-Overtime Winner Lifts Wildcats Ahead in Quarters

Grayson Downing scored UNH's game-winning goal just two minutes into double overtime.

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON – Freshman Grayson Downing scored on an awkward wrap-around from the right post two minutes into the second overtime as the sixth-seeded New Hampshire Wildcats posted a stunning upset of the No. 3 Boston University Terriers, by a 3-2 score in the opening game of the 2012 Hockey East Quarterfinals on Friday at Agganis Arena.

The loss was BU’s first against UNH since Nov. 19, 2010, snapping a five-game winning streak in the head-to-head series. In the regular season, the Terriers swept the three-game series for the first time since 1996-97.

Press Conference Video:
New Hampshire (Grayson Downing & Dick Umile)
Jack Parker

“It happened really quick,” Downing, an Abbottsford, B.C. native said of his winning strike. “The puck sort of bounced up against the glass and the defender…was trying to get to the net. I know I took it off his stick and just threw it on net.”

“All you need is one and you want to get it before they do. We knew that if we just kept throwing them on net that they would eventually go in and it did.”

Overall, the Wildcats out-shot the Terriers by a 50-36 count, while posting 106 total chances against a struggling BU defensive unit that spent an awful lot of valuable time in the defensive zone.

“Needless to say, it was a great game for us,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile, whose team avenged a 1-0 loss to Maine last Saturday in Orono. “I thought our team played extremely well in every part of the game…I thought we did a better job than we did last week. All lines played well defending BU.”

The opening half of the first period was somewhat of a boring one with limited chances at both ends but as action picked up, the Wildcats potted two quick scores to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission.

BU scored the game’s opening goal at 14:39 as sophomore Matt Nieto led the rush down ice before passing to junior Alex Chiasson for the backhand score past a trailing UNH freshman goaltender Casey DeSmith.

That was Chiasson’s first goal in six games since a four-point outburst in a 7-4 victory at UMass-Lowell on Feb. 17.

UNH tacked on the next two goals with the first coming on a rebound goal by sophomore Nick Sorkin at 17:20, beating BU senior Kieran Millan under the crossbar to tie the score. Sorkin, a native of Rockville, Md., scored his third goal in four games on the play and his ninth of the season.

At 18:06, sophomore Kevin Goumas took a lazy shot from just inside the blue line, beating Millan under his left arm for a goal he would surely like to have back, especially in a playoff atmosphere.

The Long Beach, N.Y. native continued his strong four-game stretch, which includes two goals and four assists.

The Wildcats held a 12-10 advantage in shots on goal, but gave up their one-goal lead on the scoreboard in the final minutes of the second period as the Terriers were able to re-knot the score heading into the locker room a second time.

After a very slow power play a few minutes prior, freshman Alexx Privitera fed senior Kevin Gilroy for a backhand goal on the semi-breakaway for his first and only score since the season opener against these same Wildcats on Oct. 8, 2011.

The game headed into overtime, but that was not after some great chances on both sides throughout the third period.

The most golden chance of the final frame came in the final 90 seconds as Millan stoned UNH junior Greg Burke’s shot on the post with 1:15 to play. The Wildcats handily out-shot BU by an 18-10 margin in the third and finished regulation with a 36-28 edge.

The first overtime was more of the same as UNH dominated the scoring chances to the tune of 13-7 and 30-16 in total attempts.

In the midst of the fourth period, Millan set his new career-high with 45 saves to break a mark he had set twice, including once on Feb. 13, 2011 against rival Boston College.

Millan finished the night with an even 50 stops, including a staggering total of 18 in the third period alone, despite allowing the third and final goal of the contest. Downing’s goal was his tenth of his rookie campaign, capping the new longest game in the arena’s seven-year history at exactly 82 minutes.

“I thought my team looked absolutely legless tonight,” said BU head coach Jack Parker, whose team has now dropped two in a row after a season-closing overtime defeat at Northeastern last Saturday. “UNH certainly deserved the win. They played extremely well and if it was not for Millan, I thought they could have had seven goals.”

DeSmith earned his ninth win of the season as he made 34 stops, including ten in the third to seal the deal.

“Defending BU is never easy,” Umile said. “They are obviously a very talented team with a very talented goaltender and getting pucks by him is not easy. We found a way to get it done tonight.”

The second game of the best-of-three series will be televised on NESN and takes place back on Comm. Ave. tomorrow at 4 p.m. BU would earn its 100th all-time win over the rival Wildcats with a victory to send the set into a deciding third game on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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Boston University vs. New Hampshire: Hockey East Quarterfinal Pre-Game Perspective with Danny Jaillet

BOSTON — In preparation for the Hockey East quarterfinals this weekend at Agganis Arena, our own Danny Jaillet spoke with The Boston Hockey Blog‘s Meredith Perri and‘s Pete Zorbrist to get their take on the series this weekend.

Danny Jaillet: What are BU’s strengths on the ice?
Meredith Perri: The Terriers perform well on special teams. Their power play is the best among all Hockey East teams in conference play and their penalty kill ranks second in league statistics. BU has a strong goaltender in Kieran Millan, who has performed well in big games for BU in the past and has experience in championship games. BU also has a habit of scoring in bunches, a trait that can be the mark of a championship team.

DJ: What are some weaknesses that this team has?
MP: BU takes way too many penalties. The Terriers are the most penalized team in Hockey East (as well as in the nation), and although BU kills penalties well, playing a man-down exhausts an already thin team.

BU is severely lacking in depth both in the faceoff circle and on the blue line. If the Terriers suffer any injuries on defense, they will have to play Matt Ronan (who is virtually a practice player for the team) or rotate five defensemen. The team’s second-line center is Ben Rosen, who was a defensemen until last season. Their bottom two lines are filled with freshmen and older players who don’t put up many points on the score sheet. BU definitely has a few talented players on its top two lines and on defense, but it does not have the overall talent that other teams in Hockey East have. That they have gotten this far, however, says something about the competitive nature and will to win on this team.

DJ: BU as a whole this season has been up and down. Their most recent game was a 5-4 overtime loss to Northeastern. Which team will show up? The confident, explosive team or the flat, disorganized team?
As much as BU has not always played well this season, they have shown up in big games. BU played very well in the Beanpot final and bested BC in two of three games this season. The Terriers won in front of a big crowd at Madison Square Garden in November. BU also has the added motivation of losing in the quarterfinals last season because it did not play thoroughly in all three games. It would be surprising for the thorough BU team to not show up in this season’s quarterfinals, but since we are not a part of this team, it is nearly impossible to get inside their heads.

DJ: Which BU player will need to make an impact if the Terriers want to win the series?
Sahir Gill. BU gets regular scoring from its top line and Wade Megan, but to really put games away, they’ll need to get a solid contribution from Gill. The sophomore adds another dimension to the Terrier offense both during even-strength play and on the man-advantage. He plays on the second power-play unit, and his production there can help lift the pressure from a top forward unit of Matt Nieto, Chris Connolly and Alex Chiasson. Gill’s contributions to the team can be seen in the team’s results, as BU is 17-2-1 when Gill records a point and just 4-10 when he does not make an appearance in the box score.

DJ: If you were to describe this Terriers team in one word, what would it be?MP: Resilient.

Boston Hockey Blog Prediction: BU in three.

Danny Jaillet: What is UNH’s biggest strength on the ice?
Pete Zorbrist: UNH’s biggest strength is their top line with Stevie Moses, Nick Sorkin and Kevin Goumas. Moses is super fast and has a great shot. Sorkin has great size and vision and Goumas is a very well rounded player.

DJ: What is their biggest weakness?
PZ: Their biggest weakness is their defense. It has been much better as of late but they sometimes put goaltender Casey DeSmith in tough situations

DJ: BU has beaten you guys three times this season. But the last game was on December 8th, before all the trouble happened within the program. Do you think this will make it easier for UNH to win at least one game?
PZ: I think UNH can definitely take a game in this series. BU has been through a lot this year, but sometimes that can pull a team together.

DJ: Who needs to step up for UNH in order for the Wildcats to win?
PZ: I think their 3rd and 4th lines need to play well and chip in a few goals to take the pressure of their top lines.

DJ: Do you think there will be a good showing of Wildcats fans?
PZ: I know a few of the diehard fans will make it, unfortunately I can’t but I think we’ll have at least a few down there, hopefully more

DJ: Lastly, who do you think will win?
PZ: BU has been through a lot this year and I think UNH can steal a game, maybe even the series. DeSmith has been really good and UNH is playing better, but BU goalie Kieran Millan is one of the best in the league. I think UNH has a chance, but BU is definitely the favorite to win the series.

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March 8 in Hockey East: Providence Upsets UML in Quarterfinal Opener at Tsongas Center

Derek Army and the Friars turned in an impressive performance to open the Hockey East quarterfinals at Tsongas Center.

by Joshua Kummins

LOWELL — There is a first time for everything and the seventh-seeded Providence Friars are showing how true that is, especially in college hockey’s post-season.

Heading into Thursday night’s contest at Tsongas Center, a No. 7 seed had never won a Hockey East playoff series but PC can clinch its spot in the semifinals for the first time since 2001 after a 5-3 victory over No. 2 seed UMass-Lowell.

Providence is looking to capture its first quarterfinal since 2001 when it defeated Boston University in three games at Schneider Arena. Before capturing the seventh spot ahead of UMass and Northeastern, the Friars had not reached the playoffs since 2008.

Even with the win, seventh seeds are still 4-44-1 in first-round playoff games. Providence had not won a road game in Lowell in its last seven tries as the last Friar win came seven games back on Jan. 12, 2008.

The victory was also PC’s first in six games – a streak which dates back to a 5-4 road win over Massachusetts on Feb. 11. The Friars had scored just six goals during that ugly six-game skid.

Sophomore Derek Army and senior Matt Bergland posted two goals each as the Friars beat UML for the first time since a 1-0 shutout on Jan. 24.

With the pair, Army broke a six-game point streak and potted the puck for the first time since Jan. 15 at Vermont. Bergland had been without a goal since scoring a pair on Feb. 10 against Maine.

UML sophomore Josh Holmstrom scored the opening goal of the game and his 11th of the season at 9:59. At 12:03 of the second, rookie Scott Wilson scored an equalizer for his team-best 16th this year.

Friar senior Alex Beaudry turned in a strong effort as he stopped 33 shots, including 13 in the opening period.

River Hawk sophomore Doug Carr posted double-digits in each period, including 15 in the second and 36 for the entire contest. The Hanover, Mass. native was 2-0-1 since his last loss to Merrimack on Feb. 24.

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On The Road to TD Garden: The (Quarter) Final Push in the Hockey East Race


With a weekend sweep of UVM, Boston College wrapped up the league's regular-season crown and will face UMass for the third-straight quarterfinal series at Kelley Rink.

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON — With Boston College having locked up its 12th Hockey East regular season title, the post-season can officially begin with the quarterfinal round this weekend.

Three series will commence on Friday evening and follow the traditional three-day schedule. The exception is at UMass-Lowell because of a Tsongas Center schedule conflict.

Coach Speak (Tuesday’s Media Teleconference) | Quarterfinal Central (Schedules & Stats)

No. 8 Massachusetts (13-16-5, 9-14-4) at No. 1 Boston College (25-10-1, 19-7-1)
UMass won two of the three games played between the teams this season, both of came at Mullins Center while the Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the nation. This weekend’s series at Kelley Rink will mark the third-straight quarterfinal between the teams and BC will look to make it two in a row as the top seed.

Thanks to a 5-1 win against Merrimack on Friday and Northeastern’s loss at Boston University, the Minutemen captured the final playoff spot and eliminated the Huskies from post-season contention on the second-to-last night of the regular season.

The Eagles, ranked first in the country in both national polls, swept Vermont to capture the league title for the second-straight season. Junior Parker Milner was named Hockey East co-Defensive Player of the Week as he stopped 55 of the 56 shots he faced against Vermont, including a 26-save performance in Saturday’s 4-0 shutout.

Entering its tenth quarterfinal series in as many years, the Minutemen are led by sophomore Michael Pereira and his 33 points. UMass has sworn in three goaltenders this season, including freshman Kevin Boyle, who was named league Rookie of the Week for his 25-save performance on Friday.

  • Prediction Time: The Eagles are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak and have way too much firepower with the likes of senior Barry Almeida and junior Chris Kreider. With that said, give me BC in a two-game sweep for its eighth-straight trip to TD Garden.

No. 7 Providence (12-18-4, 10-14-3) at No. 2 UMass-Lowell (22-10-1, 17-9-1)
The River Hawks captured two of the three regular-season meetings against Providence, including a home-and-home sweep last weekend. Under Coach of the Year favorite Norm Bazin, UML will be hosting a first-round playoff set for the first time since defeating Northeastern in three games as a No. 4 seed back in 2002.

PC clinched its first Hockey East playoff spot since 2008 and will play the River Hawks for the first time since 1997.

The Friars finished the season a single point ahead of the eighth-place tie between Northeastern and UMass, winning ten league games for a six-win improvement in Nate Leaman’s first season as head coach. Led by Ross Mauermann’s 23 points, the Friar rookie class has accounted for 37 percent of the team’s goal scoring this season.

Sophomore Joseph Pendenza scored two goals and five total points, including two game-winning assists against PC over the weekend, earning conference Player of the Week honors. Rookie of the Year clubhouse leader Scott Wilson has had a record season, leading his team by potting 15 goals and 35 points to lead all league freshmen.

  • Prediction Time: The nation’s ninth-ranked offense should not have much trouble against the nation’s tenth-worst defense. I predict UML to advance to its 14th semifinal and first since 2009 in another sweep.

No. 6 New Hampshire (14-17-3, 11-14-2) at No. 3 Boston University (21-12-1, 17-9-1)
The Wildcats will be looking to avenge a regular-season sweep against the Terriers, which saw BU hold a combined 11-2 advantage. BU and UNH have matched up just once in the quarterfinals back in 1986 — a two-game sweep for the Terriers.

The No. 6-ranked Terriers are coming off a weekend split with playoff-ousted Northeastern, including a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday that killed BU’s chances for a top-two spot. The loss shattered their ten-game Hockey East road winning, which was the longest in the conference since Maine went undefeated in 1992-93.

Junior Alex Chiasson leads the team with 38 points on the strength of 12 goals, while sophomore Adam Clendening leads all of Hockey East with 28 points from the blue line. Fellow sophomore Garrett Noonan’s 14 goals are second on the team to junior forward Wade Megan (18), which ranks second in the nation amongst defensemen.

Rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith made 28 saves, but the Wildcats dropped their lone game of the week by a 1-0 score at archrival Maine on Saturday. Despite the loss, the Wildcats maintained the sixth seed with a pair of Providence losses to UML.

The loss marked the first time UNH was shutout since Oct. 14, 2011 in a 4-0 loss at Northeastern, forcing the Wildcats on the road for the quarterfinals for the first time in 16 seasons.

DeSmith, a native of nearby Rochester, N.H., is 5-3-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average since February. He took over the starting job from senior Matt DiGirolamo earlier in the season and has compiled a strong freshman campaign, which includes road wins at Merrimack, Providence, and UMass.

On the offensive side, there are few more prolific than senior Stevie Moses, who leads the team with 21 goals and 34 points. Rookie Grayson Downing’s nine goals are second to Moses for the Wildcats.

  • Prediction Time: Despite a Friday win against Northeastern on Senior Night, the Terriers have not enjoyed much home cooking of late with four losses in five games. I think the Wildcats can continue their strong finish (5-3-1) with one win in this series, but no more. Terriers in three.

No. 5 Merrimack (17-10-7, 13-9-5) at No. 4 Maine (20-11-3, 15-10-2)
In a rematch of last year’s exciting two-game quarterfinal at Lawler Arena, the Warriors will take this year’s playoff tussle on the road to Alfond Arena after a 2-0-1 sweep this regular season.

Merrimack won at Alfond Arena for the first time in 24 games, 2-1 in the season opener back on Oct. 7, 2011.

If Merrimack wants its second-straight NCAA Tournament berth, it needs to capture the series in Orono in order to jump back into national PairWise contention. The Warriors have achieved the second-most wins in the school’s Division I history this season with 17, trailing only last year’s 25-win campaign.

MC split a weekend series with UMass last weekend, including a 5-3 win on Saturday to beat the Minutemen at home for a sixth time in a row.

The Black Bears boast the top-three scoring players in Hockey East, including seniors Spencer Abbott (56) and Brian Flynn (45). In Maine’s 1-0 win, sophomore Dan Sullivan made 32 saves to earn co-Defensive Player of the Week honors with Parker Milner.

The win was Maine’s 20th of the season, marking the first time since 2006-07 that it has reached that plateau. Sophomore Brice O’Connor scored the lone goal of the game for Maine and marked just the second of his career.

Senior Ryan Flanigan is the leader of a very balanced Warrior attack, sporting 28 points. Classmate Joe Cannata is the go-to man in goal, leading the league with 743 saves in conference games.

  • Prediction Time: Home-ice advantage will have an effect in this one and with Maine’s firepower, I think they win the series in three hard-fought games and go to the Garden for the 19th time.
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March 3 in Hockey East: Final Night of the Regular Season, Standings, and Playoff Match-Ups

by Joshua Kummins

at Boston College 4, Vermont 0
Four different BC skaters registered a goal and junior Parker Milner stopped all 26 shots he faced as the Eagles captured their league-best 11th Hockey East regular season title at Kelley Rink. Freshman Destry Straight scored a goal and an assist in BC’s 11th victory in a row, dating back to a 7-4 loss at Maine on Jan. 21.

at UMass-Lowell 4, Providence 2
Sophomore Joseph Pendenza scored two goals and an assist as the River Hawks locked down second place for just the fourth time ever, defeating Providence at Tsongas Center. Ironically, these two teams will open the quarterfinals on Thursday night as the Friars were locked into the seventh seed with a loss and UMass’ loss to Merrimack.

at Maine 1, New Hampshire 0
With its second win of the season against the archrival Wildcats, Maine captured the fourth and final home-ice spot for next weekend’s quarterfinals with an afternoon shutout at Alfond Arena. Sophomore Dan Sullivan recorded his second shutout of the season, while Brice O’Connor scored his second goal of the season which turned out to be the game-winner. The win was the 20th of the season for the Black Bears, who also improved to 15-10-2 in conference play.

at Merrimack 5, Massachusetts 3
Four third-period goals proved to be the dagger as the Warriors rallied to split the weekend series with the Minutemen at Lawler Arena. Trailing 2-1 after two periods, Merrimack exploded for three unanswered goals in a 5:54 span, as led by senior Ryan Flanigan’s goal and an assist.

at Northeastern 5, Boston University 4 (OT)
BU transfer and now-Northeastern junior Vinny Saponari scored the overtime winner as the ninth-place Huskies played spoilers to the Terriers’ hopes of the regular season title at Matthews Arena. Read the full game report (complete with quotes and video) here.


(8) Massachusetts at (1) Boston College — UMass won season series, 2-1-0.
(7) Providence at (2) UMass-Lowell — UML won season series, 2-1-0.
(6) New Hampshire at (3) Boston University — BU swept season series, 3-0-0.
(5) Merrimack at (4) Maine — Merrimack won season series, 2-0-1.

Stay tuned this week for Hockey East quarterfinal playoff series previews and more post-season coverage.

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Northeastern 5, Boston University 4 (OT): Saponari Scores Bittersweet OT Goal; Huskies Down Archrivals

by Joshua Kummins

BOSTON –Following Friday’s 5-2 loss to No. 4 Boston University at Agganis Arena, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said his team needed to play with “pride” in the series finale on Saturday night at Matthews Arena and is was clear that the troops surely listened to that comment.

Despite having its playoff hopes dashed with the loss, NU showed no quit as it posted a 5-4 victory for its second overtime victory of the season which salvaged the season series finale from the Terriers after two losses, including one at home in January.

Press Conferences: BU | Northeastern

“I was really pleased with how my guys battled and competed,” said Madigan. “It is a tough game to play, even though our season is over for a playoff spot…”

“The guys came in and battled because it meant something to them…The game was up-and-down. There were a lot of penalties, they came back and I just liked our resiliency and our determination.”

At 2:35 of the overtime, junior Justin Daniels fed Vinny Saponari with a drop pass to set him up for a backhand shot that clinched the season finale for the Huskies.

“It’s always fun playing BU, especially for me,” Saponari, a BU junior transfer student. “A lot of good friends out there. [BU senior goaltender] Grant Rollheiser was one of my roommates, so it was pretty fun to score a goal against him…It feels good because we wanted to go out with a win.”

The Huskies jumped on top at the 6:15 mark of the first period as sophomore Braden Pimm re-directed classmate Anthony Bitetto’s shot low past Rollheiser.

At the 18:39 mark of the stanza, the Terriers tied the score when junior Sean Escobedo fired a high wrist shot over the left shoulder of NU sophomore Clay Witt. The New York native took a pass from captain Chris Connolly and slipped the puck into the back of the net as Witt hugged against the left post to no avail.

The Terriers out-shot the Huskies by a 14-10 margin in the opening stanza and it seemed as if the teams saved all the offense for the second period, which saw four goals combined for the teams.

BU took a 2-1 lead just 25 seconds into the middle stanza as Connolly re-directed a point shot from sophomore Adam Clendening. Northeastern responded right back at 2:16 as junior Alex Tuckerman picked the puck off the draw and beat Rollheiser high glove-side to make it a 2-2 tie game.

At 3:43, junior Drew Ellement trickled a low shot through traffic and past Rollheiser as he took advantage of junior Steve Quailer’s forced turnover on the left wing boards.

The Terriers tied the score with a power-play goal at the 6:02 mark as sophomore Garrett Noonan slid the puck past a trailing Witt to conclude a great puck-moving sequence that started at the points before sliding down low.

Northeastern took the lead back with a power-play goal at 18:06 as junior Drew Daniels slid the puck to classmate Garrett Vermeersch for a high wrister from between the circles.

The only goal of the third period came at 3:14 as Noonan spun off a defenseman and beat Witt on a low shot through traffic to tie the score at 4-4.

The Huskies rallied around the solid performance of Witt, who made 36 saves to earn his only win of the season in the end. The Brandon, Fla. native made 13 stops each in the first two periods. Rollheiser finished the contest with 33 saves, including 14 in the second period.

Overall, the Terriers handily out-chanced Northeastern, 78-57 in the contest, which included a 40-38 shots on goal advantage.

“I thought we had some chances to win the game,” said BU head coach Jack Parker said. “We had more than enough chances to control the course of this game and we let them back in it too many times. I don’t think we were as thorough as we needed to be for the second night in a row.”

“I give Northeastern an awful lot of credit…They are out of the playoffs, their season is over and they just kept battling right to the end.”

BU will return to the ice next Friday night at Agganis Arena as it takes on sixth-seeded New Hampshire in the opening game of the Hockey East quarterfinals. The Terriers swept the Wildcats 3-0 in the regular-season series.

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