By Mitch Fink
Fresh off a rejuvenating sweep over the University of Vermont, the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team will wrap up the regular season with a home-and-home series against Providence College this weekend.
BU (22-10-0, 16-6-0 Hockey East) will take on the Friars (14-11-7, 9-7-6 HE) at Agganis Arena Friday night, before the Terriers travel to Providence Saturday.
This weekend will straighten out a traffic jam at the top of the Hockey East standings, and cement the conference tournament bracket before the first round begins on March 8. BU sits atop the standings with 48 points, but Merrimack (47 points) and Northeastern (46) both remain in striking distance to snag the regular season title and top seed in the tournament.
Nevertheless, the Terriers control their own destiny to finish first in the standings. If BU drops points, though, the team’s fate could depend on Merrimack’s result against Vermont on Saturday night, and Northeastern’s series against UMass Lowell.
“I think we’ve obviously put ourselves in pretty good position here to have a chance to win the regular season title,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said in his weekly media availability Thursday. “It was obviously nice for us last week to get back on the winning track.”
BU’s 10 seniors will play in their final regular season home game Friday, which will be the Terriers’ senior night.
“A lot of these guys wanted to come back. They felt like they weren’t having as much success as they were hoping for, and they came back for a reason,” Pandolfo said. “They’ve helped me out. It’s my first year as a head coach, so I’ve learned from them as well.”
This weekend will test whether the Terriers have truly bounced back from their four-game slide in February. Providence is 23rd in the PairWise, nearly 30 spots up from Vermont (52). And while the Friars are a middle-of-the-pack Hockey East team, they have shown the capability to beat a team of BU’s quality at times this season.
At their best, the Friars are a high-powered offense that puts heavy pressure on the net and, ultimately, scores a bunch of goals — a lot like the Terriers. Providence has taken the fifth-most shots on net in the country this season with 1,145, which is the most of any Hockey East team. BU is sixth with 1,132.
Senior forward Parker Ford leads the Friars in goals with 11 and points with 25. Senior defenseman Max Crozier follows suit with a team-high 19 assists and 22 points. Freshman Philip Svedebäck has anchored the Friars in net for almost every game this season, posting a solid 2.23 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
Providence, tied with Maine for sixth place in the conference, is coming into the weekend well-rested after a bye week.
“They’re going to be fresh, they’re going to be hungry,” Pandolfo said. “We have to match that. This is playoff time now, like we’re playing for a regular season title. There’s a lot on the line.”
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. both nights, and we’ll have full coverage on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.