By Liam O’Brien and Brady Gardner
Hockey players and fans alike have made it to the final weekend of Hockey East play, and the Boston University men’s hockey team is still alive.
After missing out on a golden chance to host a conference quarterfinal series, the fifth-seeded Terriers (16-17-4, 12-9-3 Hockey East) responded with fervor to knock off fourth-seeded UMass Lowell with two wins in a best-of-three series this past weekend.
“They earned it,” BU Head Coach Albie O’Connell said of his team.
In the opening game of the series, junior goaltender Jake Oettinger saved all 25 River Hawks shots on goal, pitching his 13th career shutout as a Terrier to tie the program record. Meanwhile, his offense took care of him as freshman forward Joel Farabee scored early in the second period to break a scoreless tie, and sophomore defenseman Cam Crotty and junior forward Patrick Curry finished off a 3-0 victory for the Terriers.
After a 6-4 loss Saturday night, BU closed the door on Sunday afternoon. The Terriers have struggled in the first period this semester, but that did not happen with their season on the line. Junior defenseman Chad Krys, Farabee and junior forward Patrick Harper said goodnight to Tsongas Center with a goal each in the first period, and BU proceeded to win, 4-1.
“I thought we played a good hockey game from start to finish,” O’Connell said after securing the series-deciding victory.
As a result of a victorious series in Lowell, BU has the opportunity to defend its Hockey East crown this weekend, starting on Friday in the semifinals against Northeastern University.
“I’m really happy for our players,” O’ Connell said after the series win against Lowell. “Really excited for them.”
The Huskies (25-10-1, 15-8-1 Hockey East) roll into this matchup having won nine of their last 10 games. However, the Terriers have enjoyed relative success against their counterparts from Huntington Avenue.
The teams split their series this season, in addition to a 5-5 tie at Matthews Arena in November.
BU entered the first leg winless and Northeastern scored twice in the first four minutes. Terrier sophomore forward Logan Cockerill netted a highlight-reel goal to slice the deficit in half before the first stanza concluded, and Curry knotted the score in the second period off assists from sophomores Kasper Kotkansalo and Ty Amonte.
The lead would go on to change hands multiple times before ending in a tie.
Two nights later, the Terriers hammered the Huskies 4-1 at Agganis Arena for their first win of the season. In that contest, junior defenseman Dante Fabbro scored the first pair of goals before senior forward Bobo Carpenter and Curry netted in the latter part of the third period to give BU a 4-0 lead to carry them to the win.
The teams met again in February for the first round of the Beanpot, a rematch of last season’s lopsided Northeastern win in the tournament finale. This season’s tilt was a classic. Each team scored in the first period with Farabee doing the honors for the Terriers.
After that, neither team was able to put one past the keeper before Northeastern freshman forward Tyler Madden ended the game with a goal 51 seconds into overtime. The Huskies have been scary at TD Garden over the past two years, but there is no reason why BU can’t beat Northeastern at the Boston Bruins’ den for the first time since 2016.
“I’d be scared to play the Terriers at the Garden,” Farabee said after the team’s win at Lowell.
Should the Terriers best the Huskies, BU will be taking on the winner of Friday’s nightcap between the University of Massachusetts and Boston College.
Finishing as the Hockey East leaders in dominant fashion, the Minutemen hosted eighth-seeded University of New Hampshire in the quarterfinals. UMass suffered an early scare against the Wildcats, going down 3-0 just past the halfway point in the game.
However, the Minutemen rallied for the 5-4 victory in double overtime, and finished off UNH the following night with a convincing 6-0 thrashing.
On the other side, Boston College had an underwhelming regular season, finishing in the conference’s seventh seed. However, the Eagles came through when it mattered, taking down Providence College on the road last weekend. The series went the distance, with the first two games split by way of two overtime finishes.
With so many possible outcomes this weekend, only one thing is certain — it is going to be an exciting set of Hockey East playoffs at TD Garden. Follow along with BU hockey through the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog during the game and on Twitter.