Ice Hockey, Sports

Ice Dogs blank Providence to capture 8th HE regular-season crown

After spending the entire season staring up at Northeastern University in the Hockey East standings, the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team finally ‘- and deservedly ‘- captured the eighth Hockey East regular-season crown in program history Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Providence College at Agganis Arena.

After NU dropped its regular-season finale to Boston College Saturday night, a win over the Friars in Sunday’s matinee would have given the Terriers their first Hockey East regular-season title since 2006.

They did just that.

After trouncing PC 8-2 Friday at Schneider Arena, BU (27-5-4, 18-5-4 HE) topped Providence (7-22-5, 4-18-5) again Sunday to cap a storybook regular season that buried the torturous memories of last year’s failures.

Highlighted by a late third-period goal from senior forward Chris Higgins, the Terriers completed their run to the title in dominant fashion, scoring 24 goals in their final four games.

‘We kind of hit a bump, we weren’t finishing,’ BU senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said. ‘We talked about it and said we want to start rolling before the playoffs, so it’s a good start. Now the playoffs start next week.’

Freshman goaltender Grant Rollheiser, who got the nod over classmate Kieran Millan to close out the regular season, recorded his first collegiate shutout with a 16-save effort.

While Millan will start Friday in the opener of BU’s quarterfinal series against the eighth-seeded University of Maine, Rollheiser’s strong outing gave Millan a chance to rest, recuperate and prepare for the postseason

BU jumped ahead of Providence early in the first period, as junior forward Luke Popko blasted a wrist shot past PC freshman goaltender Alex Beaudry (33 saves) at 7:18.

Popko collected a pass from junior linemate Zach Cohen and rocketed the puck past Beaudry’s blocker.

‘I just picked it up at the blue line, shot and it went in,’ Popko said.

BU doubled its lead midway through the second period when freshman forward Vinny Saponari lifted the puck past Beaudry’s glove at 6:04.

Higgins capped the Terriers’ 27th win of the year with a one-time wrist shot with 20 seconds left in regulation.

‘That was the type of game I thought we would see tonight,’ BU coach Jack Parker said. ‘It’s been a long haul. I was thinking about it last night after Northeastern lost: ‘We have a chance to win the Hockey East championship.’ Now we can put this regular season away. Now, we start all over again.’

‘Now it’s a whole new season,’ Gilroy said. ‘The important season starts next weekend. We’re excited to get started.’

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