Hockey East tournament semifinal roundup

TD Garden during the first intermission of the Hockey East tournament semifinal game between BU and Maine. Photo Courtesy of Chloe Wojtanik/BU News Service.

By Chloe Wojtanik

Boston University News Service

The most competitive conference in men’s college hockey is set to crown a champion as the Hockey East tournament takes place this weekend at TD Garden in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Boston College, Boston University, Maine and UMass are all fighting for the chance to be crowned the Kings of the East. 

Boston College vs. UMass

Despite the UMass Minutemen jumping out to a 1-0 lead just six minutes and 33 seconds into the first period, they were no match for the Boston College Eagles. The Minutemen’s first goal of the game would also prove to be their last goal of the game as they fell to the Eagles 8-1. 

BC scored eight unanswered goals from that point on, two of which came off of the stick of freshman phenom Gabe Perreault. BC’s two top-10 Hobey Baker Award finalists got on the board as well, as Cutter Gauthier netted two himself and Will Smith scored one for the Eagles. BC has been led by their young freshman firepower all season, and that proved no different in post-season play as seven of the eight BC goals were scored by a first-year player. 

The Eagles’ freshman firepower can be seen in net as well, as first-year goaltender Jacob Fowler held down the goal all game. Fowler stopped 28 of the 29 shots on goal he faced, helping the Eagles to seven goal lead and eventual win. 

With their offensive explosion and sound goaltending, BC became the first team since 1988 to score eight goals in a Hockey East Semifinal game.

BC currently sits atop of the Hockey East with championships won all time with 11 title wins. The Eagles will look to bring another championship home to Comm. Ave as they’ve clinched themselves a spot in the championship game Saturday night. 

Boston University vs. Maine

After BU’s practice on Thursday at Agganis Arena, star defenseman Lane Hutson referred to this Terrier team as “special.” In their semifinals win over the Maine Black Bears, BU continued to prove why they’re so special this season.

BU was led by the two players who have been lights out for this team all season, Hobey Baker Award top-10 finalists Macklin Celebrini and Hutson. Celebrini, who was recently named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year, racked up three assists. Hutson was able to notch himself a power play goal and an assist. Despite being so young, these two have shown that they can shine on the biggest stages under the brightest lights.

“I think just being in the situation of being able to play at TD Garden is really cool for our guys,” said Hutson. “Luckily pucks have been going in, so let’s hope they keep doing that.”

The true hero for BU during their semifinal win, though, was sophomore forward Ryan Greene. His two goals were pivotal in swaying the momentum of the game in BU’s favor. Greene’s first goal, which was also the first of the game, came at 8:59 of the first period. It quieted the rowdy Maine fans, and it put the Black Bears on their heels. His second goal of the game came nearly four minutes after Maine’s Lynden Breen scored to make it a 2-1 game, which put all of the momentum in Maine’s favor. Greene’s goal not only made it a 3-1 game but also put BU back in the driver’s seat, and they never lost control of the momentum after that.

Outside of his offensive successes, head coach Jay Pandolfo marveled over how important Greene’s two-way game is for this Terrier team. Greene is not only on BU’s first power play unit, but he is also on the team’s top penalty killing unit as well.

“Greene’s been excellent for us,” said Pandolfo. “He’s first over the boards on the penalty kill and first over the boards on the power play. He plays a ton of five on five. He’s out there at the end of games. He’s a big part of our team. He’s a big part of why we’re at where we’re at.”

The star of the show was BU’s top goaltender Mathieu Caron. Caron, who improved his record to 26-8-2 with the semifinal win on Friday, stopped 32 of the 33 shots on goal that he faced. Maine pulled their goaltender in the final minutes of the game, and they really put the pressure on in BU’s defensive zone. Despite this, Caron’s focus never strayed away, and he was able to turn away every high danger shot he faced, ultimately securing the BU win.

Championship Preview

A rivalry hotter than ever will become even more enraged on Saturday night as the Battle of Comm. Ave meets in the Hockey East championship game.

This will be the fourth time BC and BU will face each other this season, the first two times coming in the regular season and the third being their matchup in the first round of the Beanpot tournament. BC won both regular season games, but BU defeated the Eagles at TD Garden in the Beanpot.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere like it always is,” said Greene when asked about the excitement for the championship game against BC. “It’s always exciting playing those guys and to play them in the Hockey East championship is even more special. We’ll be ready.”

With BC ranked number one in the country and BU ranked number two, this is sure to be a game that will go down in Hockey East history.

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