By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, Mass. – A pair of Hockey East teams will compete on Causeway Street on Saturday evening at the TD Garden as Boston University and Providence College earned Frozen Four semifinal victories on Thursday evening.
The Friars, who competed in the first semifinal match, defeated Nebraska-Omaha (4-1), while the Terriers skated past North Dakota (5-3).
BU’s Jack Eichel clinched the victory for the Terriers late in the third period when he sailed a shot into an open North Dakota net from behind the face-off circle, which halted a late rally.
Eichel opened the scoring for the Terriers, netting a back-handed shot off a rebound before Brandon Hickey doubled the Red and White’s advantage with a strike at 19:12 in the first period.
North Dakota sliced the deficit 44 seconds into the second frame when Luke Johnson slipped the puck past Matt O’Connor, but the Terriers responded with back-to-back tallies from A.J. Greer and Doyle Somerby that provided BU with a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of hockey.
Troy Stecher and Connor Gaarder closed the gap for North Dakota at 12:10 and 16:17, respectively, in the third period, but that would be the closest they would get to the Hockey East champions. O’Connor deflected 33-of-36 shots, while North Dakota’s Zane McIntyre turned away 23-of-27 attempts.
Providence’s Nick Saracino led the Friars with three-points (one goal and two assists) and set-up the game’s first and second tallies, which were recorded by Noel Acciari and Mark Jankowski. Saracino eventually located the back of the net in the third period, capping the Friars’ offensive outburst at 19:23.
Jon Gillies picked up his 23rd victory between the pipes, deflecting 25 shots, including nine attempts in the opening frame. Omaha’s Ryan Massa dipped to 14-8-6 and recorded a game-high 44 stops. Massa’s 14 wins were the most the senior goaltender has recorded with the Mavericks.
Omaha’s Jake Guentzel recorded the Mavericks’ lone goal of the contest – his 14th of the season – at 10:46 in the third period. The loss ended Omaha’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance run.