The Boston University men’s hockey team had a golden opportunity to finish in the top four of the Hockey East heading into last weekend.
Maine had other plans, silencing the Terriers (14-16-4, 12-9-3) in a 6-0 shutout that bounced BU into the Hockey East tournament with a sour taste in its mouth.
The Terriers had the chance to eclipse UMass Lowell in the standings with a win against the Black Bears. The result was far from satisfactory, however, forcing BU to make the trek to Lowell for the quarterfinal round of the Hockey East tournament this weekend.
The best-of-three series will begin on Friday night at Tsongas Center, extend into Saturday night and conclude with a Sunday afternoon Game 3 if necessary.
“Lowell is a pretty good hockey team,” BU head coach Albie O”Connell said. “They are well-balanced. They have a lot of go-to guys, a lot of guys with good experience. A highly-competitive team.”
This should be an entertaining affair as these two teams split the season series with each team taking care of business on the road. In the first meeting on December 7, the Riverhawks (18-11-5, 12-7-5) continued the Terriers rough beginning to the season with a 5-3 win at Agganis Arena.
“It’s been a challenge with the group this year,” O’Connell said. “There have been some ups and downs.”
UMass Lowell scored twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, but goals by sophomore forward Ty Amonte, sophomore defenseman Cam Crotty and senior forward Bobo Carpenter evened it up at 3-3 early in the third stanza.
The Riverhawks took control from there, however. Freshman defenseman Seth Barton scored his first career goal 7:45 into the third period to give his team a lead they would not relinquish.
“It’s a team that is very impressionable,” UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin said. “They are going to rely on the experience of some of our seniors who have been there before and have gotten to the championship game.”
The series moved north to Tsongas the following night and that result should give the Terriers confidence they can go to Lowell and win this playoff series.
BU responded well from its defeat the previous night. The Terriers scored three times in a four-minute stretch in the first period to take a 3-0 lead. Carpenter accounted for two of those tallies with sophomore forward Shane Bowers chipping in the other one.
“It’s really about getting off to a good start and having a good first period,” O’Connell said. “There have been times where we have gotten down and we have had to chase the game.”
Sophomore defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo assisted on the first two goals and BU continued its offensive dominance in the third period. Junior forward Patrick Curry extended a one-goal lead to 4-2 five minutes into the last frame before putting the game out of reach by assisting on Bowers’ second score of the night with three minutes remaining.
“Guys know their role and understand how we have to play to be successful,” O’Connell said.
That win signaled a massive swing of momentum for BU. This game kicked off a five-game streak without a loss, a stretch which included crucial Hockey East wins over New Hampshire and Providence.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” O’Connell said. “We started out slow. Then we got going a little bit. Towards the end of the first semester, we had some big games. As we went into the second half, we had a pretty good stretch there. Right now, we are relatively healthy for the first time in awhile.”
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