Written by Liam O’Brien and Brady Gardner
We have made it to the final weekend of Hockey East play and the Boston University men’s hockey team is still alive.
After missing out on a golden chance to host a conference quarterfinal series, the fifth-seeded Terriers responded with fervor to knock off fourth-seeded UMass Lowell with two wins in a best-of-three series this past weekend.
While doubts had circled overhead leading up to the series, the Terriers impressed last weekend in Lowell. They could have been discouraged after relinquishing the chance to stay at home, but they instead unleashed their rage on the helpless Riverhawks.
“They earned it,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell of his Terriers.
In the opening game of the series, junior goaltender Jake Oettinger saved all 25 UMass Lowell shots on goal, pitching his 13th shutout as a Terrier to tie the program record. Meanwhile, his offense took care of him as freshman phenom Joel Farabee scored early in the second period to break a scoreless tie, and Cam Crotty and Patrick Curry finished off a 3-0 victory for the Terriers.
After a 6-4 loss on Saturday night, BU closed the door on Sunday afternoon. The Terriers have struggled in the first period often in the second semester, but that did not happen with the season on the line. Junior defenseman Chad Krys, Farabee and junior forward Patrick Harper said goodnight to Tsongas Center with a goal each in the first period and BU proceeded to win, 4-1.
“I thought we played a good hockey game from start to finish,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell after securing the series-deciding victory.
As a result of their victorious weekend in Lowell, BU receives the opportunity to defend its Hockey East crown this weekend, starting on Friday in the semifinals against Northeastern.
“I’m really happy for our players,” said Coach O’Connell. “Really excited for them.”
The Huskies roll into this matchup having won nine of their last 10 games. However, the Terriers have enjoyed relative success against their counterparts from Huntington Ave.
Each team has won once in the season series in addition to a 5-5 tie at Matthews Arena on Nov. 1, one of the more entertaining games of the season. BU entered the game winless and Northeastern scored twice in the first four minutes. Unfazed by the early hole, the Terriers made a statement that Thursday evening in front of a raucous road crowd.
Sophomore forward Logan Cockerill netted a highlight reel goal the slice the deficit in half before the first stanza concluded. Patrick Curry knotted the score in the second period off assists from sophomores Kasper Kotkansalo and Ty Amonte. The lead then changed hands multiple times before ending in a tie.
Two nights later, the Terriers hammered the Huskies, 4-1, at Agganis Arena for their first win of the season. In that contest, junior defenseman Dante Fabbro scored the first pair of goals before senior forward Bobo Carpenter and Curry netted goals in the latter part of the third period to give BU a 4-0 lead.
The teams met again on the first Monday of the Beanpot, a rematch of last season’s lopsided Northeastern win in the tournament finale. This tilt was a classic. Each team scored in the first period with junior defenseman Chad Krys doing the honors for the Terriers.
After that, neither team was able to put one past the keeper before Northeastern freshman forward Tyler Madden ended the game with a goal 51 seconds into overtime. The Huskies have been scary at TD Garden over the past two years, but there is no reason why BU can’t beat Northeastern at the Bruins den for the first time since 2016.
“I’d be scared to play the Terriers at the Garden,” remarked Farabee.
Should the Terriers best the Huskies, BU will be taking on the winner of Friday’s nightcap between the University of Massachusetts and Boston College.
Finishing as the Hockey East leaders in dominant fashion, the Minutemen hosted eighth-seeded University of New Hampshire in the quarterfinals. UMass suffered an early scare in their series with the Wildcats, going down 3-0 just past the halfway point in Game One. However, the Minutemen rallied for the 5-4 victory in overtime, and finished off the visitors the following night with a convincing 6-0 thrashing of UNH.
On the other side, Boston College had an underwhelming regular season, finishing in the conference’s seventh seed. However, the Eagles came through when it mattered, taking down Providence College on the road last weekend. The series went the distance, with the first two games getting split by way of two overtime finishes. Level through two periods in Game Three, BC would gain an eventual winner, shocking the hosts and leaving with the series win.
With so much potential variation in what could occur, only one thing is certain – it is going to be an exciting weekend of Hockey East playoffs at the TD Garden. Tune in to the games on NESN, and follow along with BU hockey through the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog during the game.