Mass. College Hockey: BU Remains Focused On Winning A Championship

Boston University Logo

By Matt Noonan

BOSTON, MA – Jack Parker must have said something motivational to his troops during a media timeout last night during the Hockey East semifinals against Boston College.

The Eagles, who were leading the Terriers by two tallies midway through the second frame, appeared to have all the momentum on their side. Yet, something was different, especially about this particular match.

Boston College has always felt at home at the TD Garden. They’ve won four consecutive Boston Beanpot championships, as well as the last three conference crowns, too. And even though history appeared to be on their side with a two-goal advantage, their momentum vanished after two quick strikes from BU’s Evan Rodrigues and Matt Lane, which tied the game at 2.

Lane’s goal, his fourth of the season, was what really changed the contest as the first-year forward stole a pass off a face-off in his team’s zone and raced down the ice to net the equalizer.

“I don’t know if we got complacent, but they got a few lucky breaks, we didn’t catch those breaks and I think we kind of got away from what made us successful in the first 35 minutes,” said BC’s Pat Mullane, who watched Lane’s goal from the bench.

“I don’t think guys sat back, we still attacked, but maybe just the bounces didn’t go our way tonight.”

BU’s offensive onslaught continued with a go-ahead goal from Garrett Noonan, who didn’t appear in his team’s last three contests, late in the second, which pushed the Terriers ahead for good.

Danny O’Regan, a member of this year’s Hockey East 2013 Pro-Ambitions All-Rookie Team, tacked on two power play goals early in the third to seal the win for the Terriers and setup a rematch of the 2009 conference championship against UMass Lowell, who defeated Providence College in the first game on Friday.

The win was certainly an impressive performance for a BU team that had struggled in January and February, but entered the contest on a four-game winning streak, two of which came last weekend against Merrimack College in the first round of the tournament. And while the players know this is Parker’s last ride, they certainly don’t seem interested in concluding their season without some hardware.

“I think especially after the first period we kind of realized that he’s such a great coach that we weren’t going to let him lose to BC at the Garden,” said O’Regan. “We were willing to do whatever it took.”

BU appeared flat following the opening face-off and destined to skate off the ice with a loss, but whatever Parker said to his squad during that timeout provided the Terriers with the necessary spark to rally and beat the Eagles.

“We have our backs to the wall, we played pretty well down the stretch here, but buried ourselves earlier in January and February, (especially) early February and we have to win to continue the season,” said Parker.

“After the way we played in the Garden (during the Beanpot tournament), I didn’t think we were going to be here this time, but the way we fought back and got home ice and took advantage of home ice by beating a really good Merrimack team and then get by BC tonight (was good for our team). I’m very proud of these guys and very happy for them and they have a chance to play a championship, (so) we’ll see what happens.”

It certainly will be an emotional night for the Red and White, who will once again be the underdog against a River Hawks club that’s 6-1 in the current month. And even though they haven’t defeated UMass Lowell this season, don’t expect the Terriers to lie down. Friday’s game proved that BU is determined to extend their season for another week, as well as do whatever is necessary to pull out a win.

“It’s obviously good to beat BC in the Garden,” said Noonan. “I don’t know if we have yet in my career here, but the jobs not done yet and we need to win tomorrow and it was a good win tonight.”

Mass. College Hockey: Hockey East Championship Weekend Roundtable

By NoontimeSports.com 

In honor of the Hockey East semifinals and finals, which commence later today, we’ve decided to call upon the local college hockey gurus to breakdown each matchup and determine who’ll be skating around the TD Garden Saturday evening with some hardware.

Noontime Sports would like to thank Joshua Kummins (Associate Editor of BostonSportsU18.com & SB Nation College Hockey Contributor), Mike McMahon (Senior Writer/Recruiting Editor of College Hockey News), Josh Seguin (College Hockey News) and Rich Slate (Boston Metro) for their help with this particular post.

So, without further ado, here’s our breakdown:

Game No. 1: No. 1 UMass Lowell vs. No. 4 Providence College (Fri., 5 p.m.)

Who is one player to watch in this particular matchup? What can we expect from him? 

Mike McMahon: Has to be Jon Gillies. Quite frankly, the Friars have gone and will go as far as Gillies takes them. He hasn’t shown an indication that he’s wilt under the bright lights. That being said neither has Connor Hellebuyck. It’s definitely a showcase of goaltenders here and likely a 2-1 game. Goals will be at a premium.

Rich Slate: Providence’s freshman goaltender Jon Gillies, who was arguably the top player in Hockey East this season. He won’t give up many goals and was 1-2 against UMass Lowell this season.

Which line will make the biggest impact for Providence and UML?

Joshua Kummins: Each forward on the Friars’ top three lines are double-digit point scorers. Freshman Mark Jankowski and senior Tim Schaller start on the top line, while sophomore Ross Mauermann is a stalwart in the middle of the second unit.

McMahon: Getting Shane Luke back is a big plus for the Friars. He really helps solidify three lines for Providence. For UML it’s Riley Wetmore‘s line. They — and especially him — do a lot of things that go underappreciated. All three of those guys — Wetmore, Derek Arnold and Ryan McGrath — are solid two-way players.

How does UMass Lowell defeat PC and advance to Saturday? 

Kummins: This game will be about defense because after getting this far, I cannot expect either Gillies or Hellebuyck to have a “bad” game.

Josh Seguin: It will probably be a pretty defensive game, but they need to do what they do best, which is timely scoring and responding to everything the Friars send at them.

How does Providence College defeat UML and advance to Saturday? 

Seguin: Jon GIllies will have to take control of the game. The young guys have to stay composed, too.

Slate: Providence will have to find a way to score more goals against the River Hawks. In their two losses against them this season they had one goal in each contest.

Who wins this series and why? Score prediction? 

Seguin: UML wins, 3-1. Right now, they are playing some of the best hockey in the country. Providence is young and may struggle with the environment.

Slate: The River Hawks have been one of the hottest teams in college hockey for the second half of the season and they will be looking for revenge after getting upset in the Hockey East playoffs last season by PC. My pick: UMass Lowell wins 3-2.

Game No. 2: No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 3 Boston University (Fri., 8 p.m.)

Who is one player to watch in this particular matchup? What can we expect from him?

Kummins: Everybody knows how dynamic Johnny Gaudreau is for Boston College, but Steven Whitney is a senior that has kicked it up a notch in his final season in a Maroon and Gold sweater. The Reading, Mass. native and Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Walter Brown Award winner led all Hockey East players with 25 goals, but his 126 career points still trails his older brother Joe Whitney (2007-11), who is tied for 42nd in the all-time BC record books.

Seguin: Johnny Gaudreau has to be the go-to player for the Eagles. If the Terriers do not stop him, it will be a long night. Gaudreau has been a primetime player in his career and I would expect that to continue this weekend.

Which line will make the biggest impact for BC and BU? 

Kummins: Gaudreau-Pat Mullane-Whitney would have been the definite answer for the Eagles about six weeks ago, but head coach Jerry York has shuffled things up a bit after a dry spell that saw the Eagles go 2-4-1 in January. Even with Mullane and Whitney shifting down to join sophomore Quinn Smith on the second line, the trio is still potent in BC’s balanced attack.

For the Terriers, the answer is simple: Matt Nieto, Danny O’Regan, and Evan Rodrigues, who make up BU’s second line. They’ve combined for 33 goals and 40 assists this season. O’Regan, a St. Sebastian’s product, leads all Hockey East first-years with 36 points.

McMahon: The Gaudreau line for BC is the one to watch for, obviously. For BU, I’d keep an eye on Nieto’s line.

How does BC defeat BU and advance to Saturday? 

McMahon: They’re going to need their defense to really rise to the occasion. There’s no reason to believe they won’t, but at this time of year, you need to start from the back end.

Seguin: BC just has to be BC, quite simply. If they do the little things and don’t defeat themselves they will win this one. A steady dose of Johnny Gaudreau, Steven Whitney and Pat Mullane may be difficult to handle for the Terriers, so get them involved.

How does BU defeat BC and advance to Saturday? 

McMahon: They need to get a solid game out of Sean Maguire, who looked terrific vs. Merrimack last week. I also think they BU should try to keep the puck moving, especially in the offensive zone, cycle when they can. Make that BC defense work. BC’s dangerous with the puck, and the best defense is to make sure they don’t have possession.

Seguin: BU needs to play stout, defensive hockey. The defensive breakdowns that plagued them the better part of the second half cannot be present. BU needs to stop Gaudreau, Whitney and Mullane. If they can do those things they could easily pull the upset.

Prediction: Who wins this game and why? Score Prediction?  

Kummins: BC’s recent domination in the Hockey East Tournament (and its senior experience on the big stage) will prove to be the difference in this game. Over the last four years, the Eagles have won 14 conference tournament games and I see that streak continuing in a 5-3 win.

McMahon: It’s an interesting matchup because both of these teams aren’t nearly as deep as they typically are, but I was really impressed with BU last week and I think they upset the Eagles here. It’s a close game though, maybe even OT, but I’m going 4-3 BU. The Terriers need the win to stay alive in the Pairwise, where BC will make the NCAA tournament regardless of the result.

Game No. 3: Hockey East Championship (Sat., 7 p.m.)

Based off your predicted winners on Friday, who wins on Saturday and why? 

Kummins: My championship match of Boston College and UMass Lowell should be a great one, especially since both squads are headed to the NCAA tournament. Both teams are on strong streaks, but I think it is BC’s Garden experience that pays off in a close victory.

McMahon: Defense wins championships and there isn’t a better all-around defense than Lowell, who’ll win 3-2.

Seguin: UML right now is the most complete team of the four remaining. The River Hawks beat the Eagles about a month ago. They respond well and score in timely situations, which makes them dangerous.

Slate: BC will defeat UMass Lowell because of their experience in the Beanpot Finals, Hockey East playoffs and NCAA Tournament. BC beats UMass Lowell, 4-3.  

Early thoughts on the NCAA tourney: How far does the winner go in the Frozen Four? 

Kummins: I don’t think Boston College has quite enough to capture a second consecutive title, but UMass Lowell could certainly make some noise. With a pairing in Manchester or Providence likely, the River Hawks definitely have enough to break through with a trip to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh this year.

McMahon: Lowell has their best chance ever to make a Frozen Four. You look at their record — 20-3-1 in their last 24 games — and it’s so much about catching fire at the right time. Those BC teams that won national titles always went on runs to end their season.

Seguin: UML, BC and UNH are all in. The former two have the best chance of a deep run and if BU can get in they may be as well. UNH can make some noise if they get back to the defensive juggernaut they once were in the first half. Lowell is deep, while BC has a dangerous trio that can light up any team in the country. Lowell and BC both have the talent to earn a spot in the Frozen Four, but it’s all about matchups. Sometimes it’s the matchups and where teams play, which makes all the difference.

Slate: BC advances to the Frozen Four, but loses in the semifinals.

Mass. College Hockey: Saturday Afternoon/Evening Roundup

By Matt Noonan 

A variety of tournament hockey games occurred this afternoon and evening, and below are their summaries.

Men’s Ice Hockey

Boston University 5, Merrimack College 3 – Ben Rosen netted the go-ahead strike for the Terriers at 5:11 in the third as BU defeated Merrimack and earned a first round series sweep. BU’s Wade Megan, who was one of three players to finish with two points, recorded two assists in the victory, while Merrimack’s Jordan Heywood recorded two assists in the setback.

Boston College 4, Vermont 1 – Johnny GaudreauPat Mullane and Steven Whitney each registered one goal and one assist as the Eagles soared past the Catamounts and earned a first round sweep.   

Women’s Ice Hockey

Boston College 3, Harvard 1 – Alex CarpenterCaitlin Walsh and Haley Skarupa each netted one goal as the Eagles defeated the Crimson in the NCAA quarterfinals. Mary Parker netted the only strike of the afternoon for Harvard, which occurred at 16:00 in the first.

 

Mass. College Hockey: Friday Evening Roundup

By Matt Noonan 

Another evening of college hockey is in the books and below are the highlights.

Men’s Ice Hockey

Boston College 3, Providence College 2 – Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney each tallied one goal and one assist as the Eagles soared past the Friars in Providence.

UMass Lowell 4, Merrimack College 0 – Derek Arnold netted two goals and Ryan McGrath recorded two assists, which helped the River Hawks blank the Warriors in Lowell.

Maine 3, Northeastern University 1 – Vinny Saponari lone goal in the second didn’t propel the Huskies to victory as the Black Bears deposited the puck three times in the third, which snapped their one-game skid.

Boston University 3, Vermont 1 – Matt Nieto notched his first hat trick of the season, while Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues each recorded two assists as the Terriers topped the Catamounts in Boston.

UMass 2, New Hampshire 2 – John Henrion‘s tally at 19:56 helped the Wildcats force overtime. During the extra session Massachusetts outshot the hosts, 5-4, but couldn’t find the back of the net as the Minutemen and Wildcats skated to a tie. Michael Pereira and Eddie Olczyk each scored goals for the Minutemen, while Steve Mastalerz deflected 32 shots between the pipes.

AIC 2, Bentley University 1 – Alex MacMillian‘s third period strike proved to be the difference as the Yellow Jackets stung the Falcons in Springfield. Joe Campanelli provided the visitors with the lead, but AIC answered with an Adam Pleskach strike roughly 11 minutes later, which evened the score at 1.

Harvard 2, Quinnipiac 1 – Alex Fallstrom‘s overtime strike lifted the Crimson past the Bobcats in the team’s second to last game of the season.

Babson College 4, UMass Boston 3 (OT) – Ryan Smith‘s extra session tally at 3:18 lifted the Beavers past the Beacons in the semifinals of the ECAC East tournament and earned Babson a spot in tomorrow’s title match against Norwich University. UMass Boston led, 3-1 after two sessions, but Babson stormed back and evened the score with two goals in roughly 30 seconds by Mike Driscoll and Jay Haseley, which forced overtime.

Women’s Ice Hockey

Boston College 2, Maine 1 (OT) – Haley Skarupa netted the game-winning strike at 4:00 in overtime to secure the Eagles a spot in next weekend’s Hockey East semifinals. Maine commenced the quarterfinal match with a goal in the second by Jennifer More before Boston College tied the game in third off Melissa Bizzari‘s 17th strike of the season.

Harvard 3, Dartmouth 0 – Katey Stone collected her 400th win behind the bench as the Crimson cruised past the Big Green in the ECAC quarterfinal matchup. Harvard, which earned its first victory in this best-of-three series, will have two more chances to secure a spot in their conference’s semifinals with a win tomorrow or Sunday.