While Bostonians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team hopes that their third trip to TD Garden will be its lucky charm. At 4 p.m., the Terriers will face the Providence College Friars in the Hockey East tournament semifinals.
“We’re looking forward to this weekend,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said during his midweek media availability. “You work all year to get to this spot, having a chance to compete for a Hockey East championship.”
BU (25-10-0, 18-6-0 Hockey East) has rebounded impressively since its last trip to Legends Way.
After falling to the No. 16 Northeastern Huskies and the Boston College Eagles in the Beanpot Tournament, the Terriers continued their skid by losing five out of six points to the No. 14 Merrimack College Warriors.
Since then, Pandolfo’s team swept the University of Vermont Catamounts and Providence (16-13-7, 9-9-6 HE). Powered by a hat trick from junior forward Nick Zabaneh, BU defeated Vermont by a convincing 7-3 margin in the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Agganis Arena last weekend.
During the opening seconds of Saturday’s contest, senior defenseman Domenick Fensore left the game due to an injury. It was confirmed to be a lower body ailment after the game. The captain’s availability for tomorrow is still unclear.
“At this point, [Fensore] is still day-to-day,” Pandolfo said. “So we’ll have to wait till tomorrow just to see where it’s at. No decision yet, whether he’s in or out, still just kind of waiting now.”
Pandolfo told the media that he anticipates the captain’s return by the end of the season.
Since falling to the Terriers on March 4, head coach Nate Leaman’s Friars squad has picked up two overtime victories en route to the Garden.
Senior forwards Craig Needham and Jamie Engelbert found the back of the net in Providence’s 2-1 win over the University of New Hampshire Wildcats in the opening round of the tournament.
In the quarterfinals, senior forward Parker Ford and freshman forward Brady Berard each lit the lamp to elevate Providence over Northeastern (17-13-5, 14-7-3 HE) at Matthews Arena.
In the wake of two recent games against the Friars, Pandolfo was impressed with their ability to win at the dot.
“[Their faceoffs] are something we’ve looked at,” Pandolfo said. “Our centers looked at some video of what they do. You gotta give [Providence] credit, they are a really good faceoff team.”
Pandolfo also pointed to the Friars’ physicality as something to focus on heading into tomorrow.
“[They’re a] really good forechecking team,” Pandolfo said. “[They’re a] really good team in the neutral zone, they stay above the puck, they’re physical. You have to get inside against them in the offensive zone –– they’ll try to keep us away from the net.”
The winner of Friday afternoon’s matchup will face the winner of the Merrimack (22-12-1, 16-8-0 HE) and University of Massachusetts, Lowell matchup on Saturday evening back at the Garden. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Sunday.
The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of the semifinal game so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.