For the No. 18 Boston University men’s hockey team, the stakes were simple: Win and head to the NCAA tournament or lose and their season ends. BU (21-13-4, 12-8-4 Hockey East) kept its season alive and upset No. 7 Providence College 2-0 in the Hockey East championship game Saturday night at TD Garden.
“I can’t really put into words how good I feel for our players and our school,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “It’s been a tale of two seasons really for us.”
The Terriers’ sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger made 30 saves to shutout Providence (23-11-4, 13-7-4 Hockey East) and graduate transfer forward Drew Melanson provided the game-winning goal during the third period of the contest.
The last time these two Hockey East foes played at TD Garden, the Friars bested the Terriers in the 2015 National Championship.
“It definitely feels like a little bit of redemption especially beating them playing at TD Garden,” senior captain and defenseman Brandon Hickey said. “It’s obviously a special thing to go out there and win a championship and we kind of feel like we slayed our demons a little bit for the senior class at least.”
This win marked the Terriers’ ninth Hockey East championship title and first since 2015.
BU will find out on Sunday as to where the team is heading for the regional semifinals of the 2018 NCAA tournament.
Despite a high-paced and physical first period, neither team managed to find the back of the nets. However, it was not due to a lack of shots as the Friars put up 18 first period shots and the Terriers fired nine.
Both goaltenders remained perfect through the first 40 minutes of play.
Oettinger rejected all 24 shots that the Friars had during the first two period of play while Providence junior goaltender Hayden Hawkey thwarted off all 21 shots BU rifled off.
A goaltending battle seemed fitting as both netminders recorded a shutout of their opponents this season.
Hawkey recorded the first shutout of the two. The Parker, Colorado native blanked the Terriers Providence’s 3-0 victory on Oct. 28. In that game he recorded 22 saves.
Less than a week later, Oettinger returned the favor.
On Nov. 3 the Lakeville, Minnesota native was perfect on all 31 shots he faced from the Friars and led the Terriers to a 2-0 victory.
“Don’t underestimate Jake Oettinger,” Quinn said. “I think Jake will be the first one to tell you he didn’t have a great first half and it’s not easy being a first round draft pick [and] wanting to play on the World Junior Team. The pressures real… I’m so excited he was named MVP of this tournament.”
Despite neither team spending time in the penalty box in the first period, both teams committed two infractions in the second.
At 10:33, both BU junior forward and assistant captain Jordan Greenway and Friars junior defenseman and assistant captain Vincent Desharnais spent two minutes in the penalty box for hitting after the whistle.
With 16 seconds left on the matching penalties, Providence junior forward Erik Foley joined his teammate in the box as he picked up a two-minute minor for hooking.
The power play did not last long for BU. Only six seconds later, Terrier sophomore defenseman Chad Krys received a minor for kneeing.
The Terriers went 1-for-2 on the power play for the night while successfully killing off one penalty.
It took until the 41st minute of the contest until either team found the back of the net.
Just 56 seconds into the third period, Greenway found graduate Melanson in the slot who fired off one-timer that hit the post and beat Hawkey to give BU a 1-0 lead.
“I don’t really think I did anything special,” Melanson said on how he got open before his goal. “I was kind of just supporting them… Jordan obviously saw me and made a great play.”
Melanson scored what would ultimately be the game-winning goal in the Terriers’ semifinal victory while Greenway extended his point streak to eight games. Freshman forward Brady Tkachuk also picked up an assist on the goal.
With 1:22 left in the contest, junior forward and assistant forward Bobo Carpenter doubled BU’s lead with an empty netter.
“Give a lot of credit to them,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said. “They’re a desperate hungry animal right now. They were playing for their lives [and] to play next week. I thought they executed their game very well.”
The Terriers held on for their second win in as many nights — after beating No. 14 Boston College 4-3 in overtime Friday evening — and were named the Hockey East Tournament Champions
“Everyone in the room knew what position we were in,” Oettinger said. “It was do or die for our team. I know not one guy in that room wanted our season to end tonight… [I’m] just really, really proud of all the guys.”