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BC clinches top seed in Hockey East, share of regular-season title with win over Lowell

02.26.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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There will be plenty up for grabs on the final night of the regular season Saturday, but one thing is now set: Boston College will be the No. 1 seed in the Hockey East tournament.

The Eagles beat UMass-Lowell 3-1 at Conte Forum Friday night to clinch the top seed and at least a share of the regular-season title. Providence, who beat UMass 4-1 on Friday, could still tie BC in points and claim a share of the regular-season title with a win Saturday and a BC loss, but the Eagles hold the head-to-head tiebreaker that would give them the top seed. BC can win the title outright with a win or tie at Lowell.

The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 9:28 of the game with goals from Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald and senior captain Teddy Doherty, who was honored along with his classmates during a Senior Night ceremony before the game.

Fitzgerald also scored an empty-netter late in the third and now has a team-high 20 goals and 40 points on the season. He had to do without usual linemate Colin White — who has 39 points on the season — on Friday, as White missed the game with a shoulder injury. BC coach Jerry York said after the game that White will probably miss Saturday’s game as well, but that he hopes to have him back for the playoffs.

Lowell’s Adam Chapie cut BC’s lead to 2-1 with 6:19 left in the first. Then the Eagles seemed intent on giving the River Hawks every opportunity to tie the game, as they gave Lowell seven power plays over the remainder of the game.

Penalties have been an issue for the Eagles pretty much all season (they average the most penalty minutes per game in Hockey East), but it hasn’t hurt them too much thanks to their league-best penalty kill, and that trend continued Friday night. They killed off all seven Lowell power plays and were at their best on back-to-back kills early in the third period.

Perhaps because of his team’s struggles on the man advantage (and this isn’t anything new — the River Hawks are now 4-for-40 on the power play in their last 10 conference games), Lowell coach Norm Bazin decided to pull his goalie to make it 6-on-4 when the River Hawks got their seventh power play with 3:31 left in the game. The risk in doing that, of course, is that it gives the penalty killers a free shot at the open net without having to worry about icing. And that’s exactly how Fitzgerald wound up scoring the goal that sealed BC’s win.

“You have to go with your gut sometimes,” Bazin said when asked about the decision to pull the goalie. “Getting a 6-on-4 is better than 5-on-4. We weren’t generating much 5-on-4. You try something. … I was hoping we could generate more with a two-man advantage.”

For his part, York didn’t sound too concerned about his team taking so many penalties, as he took a lighthearted approach when asked about it.

“We like to practice our PK,” York said. “It gives us a chance to practice PKs and clears and blocking some shots and goalies making saves. It is what it is. We have a penalty, we just have to kill it.”

With the loss, the River Hawks now trail Boston University (who beat Notre Dame 3-2 on Friday) by two points for the fourth and final first-round bye. They can still get that bye with a win over BC on Saturday coupled with a BU loss to Notre Dame, as Lowell wins the tiebreaker over BU, but any other outcome would result in the River Hawks having to play in the opening round and then, should they win that series, go on the road for the quarterfinals.

Providence is locked into the No. 2 seed and Notre Dame clinched a first-round bye thanks to Lowell’s loss. Northeastern is locked into the No. 6 seed, while Merrimack, Vermont, New Hampshire and UConn continue to battle for the final two home-ice spots for the first round. Maine is locked into the 11-seed and will head to Northeastern in the first round, while UMass is locked into the 12-seed and will head to either Lowell or BU in the first round.

Dylan Zink hat trick leads Lowell to big win over BU to force weekend split

02.13.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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LOWELL — Boston University entered Saturday having allowed just 10 goals over its last eight games. That stretch of strong defense and goaltending did not continue Saturday night at the Tsongas Center, as UMass-Lowell smoked the Terriers, 6-3, to earn a weekend split as both teams continue to battle for home ice and a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs.

Friday night’€™s series opener at BU’€™s Agganis Arena played out just about how this series was expected to — good defense, low-scoring, not a ton of great chances. BU wound up winning that game, 2-1, in overtime.

Saturday was nothing like that. The River Hawks consistently forced BU into mistakes, and the Terriers helped the cause with plenty of sloppy defense. Dylan Zink scored Lowell’€™s first three goals to record the first hat trick by a Lowell defenseman in 20 years, and Adam Chapie — who missed Friday’s game due to suspension — scored two goals in nine seconds midway through the second to blow the game open.

Zink’€™s first and third goals both came on plays where he walked in virtually uncovered from the left point and took a pass from down low before scoring. His second came on an offensive-zone faceoff win after no one from BU got out to defend him. Zink now has nine goals on the season, tying for second among Hockey East defensemen. He said after the game that he couldn’€™t even remember the last time he had a hat trick.

“I don’€™t think since like squirts or something,” Zink said. “€œIt’€™s definitely something you’€™ll remember. I have to give a lot of credit on those first two goals to net-front presence. The goalie couldn’€™t even see it.”

BU’€™s defensive struggles continued with Chapie’€™s two goals. The first came after a miscommunication between BU goalie Connor LaCouvee and his defensemen that led to a turnover and an easy finish for Chapie at the left post. Then Lowell won the ensuing faceoff and started a rush up ice, and Chapie easily got behind the BU defense and finished off a nice passing play.

“€œIt just seemed like every mistake we made ended up in our net,”€ said BU coach David Quinn. “We give up a faceoff goal, completely blown coverage, as simple a coverage as you can have in hockey. Third goal’€™s a horrible goalie-D exchange. Fourth goal’€™s a bad turnover. Fifth goal we blow coverage on a backcheck. Looked like we got rattled after they made it four. We just completely abandoned our responsibilities.”

With Saturday’€™s win, the River Hawks maintain their edge over BU for fourth place in Hockey East (and the first-round bye that comes with it). They now have 26 points to BU’€™s 23, although the Terriers have two games in hand. The win was also big for the Pairwise rankings used to determine the 16-team NCAA tournament field, as Lowell — currently 13th — could’€™ve dropped closer toward the bubble with a loss. BU slipped two spots to 10th as 10:15 p.m.

Quinn said he wasn’€™t too worried about his team after Saturday’€™s loss, noting how well BU had been playing defensively over the last few weeks.

“We hadn’€™t given up a lot of goals lately,”€ Quinn said. “We did a good job last night. If this happens again, then I’€™ll be concerned. We’€™ve done a pretty good job of moving past performances like this.”

Lowell, meanwhile, now has two out-of-conference games against a pair of bottom-feeders in American International and UMass before closing out the regular season with a big series against Boston College. Coach Norm Bazin said his team has plenty to work on before that showdown with the Eagles.

“We want to keep improving,” Bazin said. “We have lots of areas we can improve upon, and we hope to do just that.”

UNC coach Roy Williams collapses during close win over BC

02.09.16 at 10:25 pm ET
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Boston College played its best game of the season Tuesday night, pushing ninth-ranked North Carolina to the limit before dropping a 66-63 decision at Conte Forum. Eli Carter led the way for BC with a game-high 26 points, while Dennis Clifford had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

However, the bigger news from the game was longtime UNC coach Roy Williams collapsing during a second-half timeout. A team spokesman said Williams had a bout of vertigo, something the 65-year-old has dealt with in the past but had never affected him in a game.

The incident occurred early in the second half. After the media timeout was called, Williams complained to an official about a call, then fell to the floor just after he got to his team’s huddle. Williams, who was holding his forehead, received immediate attention from the team’s trainer.

After the timeout ended, he was escorted to the locker room, where he remained for the rest of the game. He returned to shake hands afterward, saying he wanted to pay respects to BC coach Jim Christian.

“I felt like it was really important for me to come out and shake Jimmy’s hand,” said Williams, who joked, “I’m alive. I’m kicking.”

“For him to come back out and congratulate our kids on their effort speaks volumes as to why he’s a Hall of Fame coach,” Christian said. “He really wanted to congratulate them. And deservedly so. Anybody who saw this game today saw a lot of heart, a lot of character.”

Assistant coach Steve Robinson took over coaching duties for the Tar Heels, who trailed by seven points with just over seven minutes remaining after a dunk by BC center Dennis Clifford.

UNC (20-4, 9-2) then scored the game’s next eight points, taking a 57-56 lead on the second of two Theo Pinson free throws with just under four minutes left.

Eli Carter hit a 3-pointer for BC (7-17, 0-11) with 2:22 left to give the Eagles their final lead at 60-59. Marcus Paige answered with a 3-pointer (while being fouled, although he missed the free throw) 30 seconds later.

A Matt Millon trey with eight seconds left drew BC within one at 66-65. After two free throws from Paige extended the UNC lead to three, Carter missed a running halfcourt heave at the buzzer.

Justin Jackson scored 20 points off the bench to lead UNC.

For more on the game, click here.

BC tops BU in overtime thriller to win Beanpot

02.08.16 at 10:55 pm ET
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BC won its sixth Beanpot in the last seven years. (WEEI.com)

BC won its sixth Beanpot in the last seven years. (WEEI.com)

The Beanpot may be lacking variety — it’€™s been 23 years since someone other than Boston College or Boston University won — but it’€™s certainly not lacking excitement. For the eighth time in the last 13 years, the Beanpot championship game was decided in overtime. And this one was a classic, as BC took down BU in a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory.

The third-ranked Eagles and seventh-ranked Terriers combined for 67 shots on goal in regulation, but BU’€™s Sean Maguire and BC’€™s Thatcher Demko made one great save after another to keep the game goalless. Maguire made 38 saves in regulation (and 41 in the game), including 23 in the first period alone, while Demko made 30 in the game and twice stayed in after getting banged up.

The game-winning goal came 1:57 into overtime when Alex Tuch cut to the middle on the rush and fired a shot across the grain and through a screen that finally beat Maguire.

Each team had a golden chance to score midway through the third. Right around the 10-minute mark, Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald appeared to have a breakaway for BC, but fellow Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk caught him from behind and made a great play to knock Fitzgerald off the puck without taking a penalty.

Seconds later, BU had a chance at the other end. Jordan Greenway got a step on defenseman Michael Kim and shielded him off enough to get away a shot, but Demko made a great shoulder save. Greenway went down as he took the shot and wound up crashing hard into Demko. Demko was slow to get up, but stayed in the game.

If you just looked at the scoreboard at the end of the first period and saw 0-0, you might conclude that not much happened. And you’€™d be very wrong. For starters, the TD Garden lights went out at the 11:07 mark and the game was delayed 28 minutes before they came back on.

Beyond that, there were lots of quality scoring chances, most of them by BC. The Eagles dominated much of the first period, especially pre-blackout, but Maguire made one great save after another. BC put 23 shots on goal in the first period and 11 of them were from the home plate area.

Maguire made two big saves during a dangerous early-game sequence, first on an Austin Cangelosi rebound bid from right in front and then a few seconds later on a Miles Wood chance from the slot. His biggest save came with 1:50 left in the period when he stoned Wood on a breakaway.

The Terriers put 12 shots on goal in the first period, which only looks like a small number because of BC’€™s 23. Similar to the back-to-back chances by Fitzgerald and Greenway in the third period, Demko’€™s two biggest saves in the first came on BU’€™s counter-rushes after Maguire’€™s biggest saves.

After those back-to-back saves early in the game, BU broke in 2-on-1 the other way, but Demko made a great sprawling save on Danny O’€™Regan. And after Wood’€™s breakaway, Demko made a big save on a hard Charlie McAvoy shot, one that caught Demko up high and temporarily stunned him.

The second period wasn’€™t nearly as exciting. The most notable development was probably BC’€™s struggles on the power play. The Eagles got a pair of man advantages in the first half of the period, but did absolutely nothing with them. BU’€™s penalty kill certainly deserves credit, but the Eagles were sloppy even when they weren’€™t under pressure.

BU also tightened up its five-on-five defense in the second. After allowing 11 shots on goal from the home plate area in the first, the Terriers surrendered just one from that space in the second, as they just did a much better job slowing down BC’€™s rush and keeping the Eagles to the outside. Unfortunately for the Terriers, they didn’€™t create any really great chances at the other end either.

This was the Eagles’€™ sixth Beanpot title in the last seven years, as they had won five in a row before BU ended that streak last year. It was BC’s 20th Beanpot title overall.

BC leading scorer Colin White injured in win over UNH; status for Beanpot final uncertain

02.05.16 at 10:16 pm ET
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Just as it seemed like Boston College was starting to get over all the injuries and illnesses that plagued it throughout much of December and January, the Eagles find their lineup in flux once again with Monday’s Beanpot final again Boston University approaching.

Forwards Miles Wood (26 points in 24 games this season) and Chris Calnan (9 points in 21 games) both missed Friday night’s 4-3 win over New Hampshire with what Jerry York termed “lower-body injuries.”

Then to make matters worse, first-line center and leading scorer Colin White (35 points in 25 games) left Friday’s game in the third period and did not return. York said after the game that White suffered “kind of a sprained wrist.”

York said the statuses of White, Wood and Calnan for Monday night are all uncertain and that he would have to see how the next couple days go.

One minor positive for BC is that Ian Milosz was back in the No. 2 goalie role behind Thatcher Demko Friday night. The Eagles had to add student manager Chuck Van Kula (who did play goalie in high school) to the team for Monday’s Beanpot opener against Harvard because all three of their other backups were out.

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Boston University’s David Quinn: ‘Got a little hairy there… I thought we responded’

02.02.16 at 12:58 am ET
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Boston University coach David Quinn and senior forward Danny O’Regan talk about what it means to be headed back to the Beanpot final to defend their championship after a 3-1 win over Northeastern Monday night in the semifinals at TD Garden. They will be facing the Boston College Eagles, a 3-2 winner over Harvard in the first game.

Read More: 2016 beanpot, Boston University, Danny O'Regan, David Quinn

Northeastern’s Jim Madigan: ‘We had good effort but we didn’t have that second gear to our game’

02.02.16 at 12:55 am ET
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Northeastern coach Jim Madigan watched as his team’s season-best six-game winning streak came to an end Monday night with a 3-1 loss to Boston University in the 2016 Beanpot semifinals at TD Garden. Northeastern seniors fell just short of becoming the first class in school history to reach four straight Beanpot finals. The school still hasn’t won a Beanpot title since 1988.

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David Quinn on exorcising TD Garden demons: ‘Didn’t really talk about [Frozen Four loss] too much’

02.02.16 at 12:50 am ET
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John Stevens pounces on loose puck before scoring late for Northeastern. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Stevens pounces on loose puck before scoring late for Northeastern. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

No one could blame David Quinn for cringing when he heard the question.

But still the Boston University coach had to be asked what it felt like to be coaching his first game in TD Garden since the dramatic meltdown nine months earlier that cost his team the national title.

Last April 11, BU led Providence College, 3-2, with under nine minutes left in the third period of the Frozen Four championship game at TD Garden. Jack Eichel was going to head to the NHL with a national championship under his belt. Then, the Friars exploded for two goals in a span of two minutes, 19 seconds to skate away with the trophy.

In Monday’s 3-1 win, there was an eerie sense of deja vu when Northeastern made it a one-goal game with 3:12 left in the third. But there would be no next goal for Northeastern as the Terriers advanced to their 51st Beanpot title appearance. Was there a sense of exorcising some demons?

“No, we didn’t really talk about that too much,” Quinn said. “Really not a lot of connection between what happened last year and what’s going on right now. We’ve got such great seniors. And they’ve really done a great job and leading them on and off the ice. Your success is always tied to your upperclassmen, and you need seniors. We didn’t have a lot of them last year but we had great ones. And we’ve got more of them this year than we did last year and they have done a phenomenal job in so many ways to allow us to have some success so far.”

“I thought we had a great response from the guys,” said senior forward Danny O’Regan, who endured last April’s heartbreak. “Definitely a dagger, three minutes left, guys are starting to get a little worried.”

Quinn wasn’t thinking so much about last April as he was last month, when he felt he was outcoached by the legendary Jerry York and the Eagles beat the Terriers, 5-3, on Jan. 15 at Kelley Rink. The next night at Agganis, the Terriers gave up a late goal to allow the Eagles to salvage a 1-1 tie.

“It was funny. When that series ended, as a staff, we were not happy at all,” Quinn said after Monday’s win. “We looked like a very poorly coached team. We felt, I in particular, felt we had let a lot go in the time we had been back [from break]. I know the scores may look like the games were close even though BC scored in both games with two minutes to go. But I thought they were clearly the better team both nights. We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did against them three weeks ago if we’re going to have a chance.”

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Read More: 2016 beanpot, Boston University, David Quinn, Northeastern

Beanpot: BU holds off Northeastern, will face BC in championship game

02.01.16 at 10:42 pm ET
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BU advanced to the Beanpot final with a 2-0 win over Northeastern on Monday. (WEEI.com)

BU advanced to the Beanpot final with a 2-0 win over Northeastern on Monday. (WEEI.com)

There was reason to believe this year might be different. Harvard entered the Beanpot as a top-10 team in the country. Northeastern entered on an eight-game unbeaten streak. But in the end, Monday night was the same old story. After Boston College beat Harvard 3-2 in the night’€™s first matchup, Boston University knocked off Northeastern with a 3-1 victory in the night cap.

For the 23rd straight year, one of BU or BC will win the Beanpot title. They’€™ll meet next Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game. The Terriers will be looking to defend their title and repeat for the first time since 2006-07. The Eagles will be trying to re-establish their dominance, as they had won five in a row prior to last year.

Northeastern made things interesting late, as John Stevens’ rebound goal with 3:12 remaining cut BU’s lead in half, but the Huskies couldn’t finish the comeback. The Terriers responded to Stevens’ goal with a long offensive-zone possession, taking more than a minute off the clock in the process. The Huskies were finally able to get goalie Ryan Ruck off with about 1:30 to go and then get into the offensive zone, but Doyle Somerby picked off a pass in the slot and fired into the empty net from his own end to seal the win.

BU and Northeastern both struggled to get shots on goal through the first 12 minutes of Monday’€™s night cap, but there was a good pace and plenty of back-and-forth play. Each team had a quality scoring chance in the middle part of the period, but couldn’€™t capitalize. BU’€™s Matt Lane used his great speed to blow by the Northeastern defense, leading to a rebound chance for Jordan Greenway, but Ruck came up with a big save. A minute later, Northeastern’€™s Mike McMurtry forced a turnover in the BU zone and went in alone on Sean Maguire, but Maguire came up with a big pad save to keep the game scoreless.

The Terriers broke through to take a 1-0 lead with 6:46 left in the period. Ryan Cloonan made a great play to keep the puck in at the blue line, leading to a chance for Bobo Carpenter (son of Bobby Carpenter). Carpenter’€™s first shot was blocked, but he got the puck back and flipped a shot toward the post that Robbie Baillargeon tapped in out of mid-air.

BU struck again a little more than three minutes later. Oskar Andren made a nice cross-ice pass to Danny O’€™Regan through the neutral zone, allowing O’€™Regan to lead a rush into the offensive zone. O’€™Regan then dished to freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who fired a shot blocker-side for his second goal of the season.

McAvoy’€™s skillset was on full display Monday night, as he showed why he’€™s projected to be a first-round pick in this summer’€™s NHL draft. In addition to the goal, he also made a great one-on-one defensive play to fend off Nolan Stevens and then immediately turn the puck up ice to start a rush. Shortly after his goal, he sprang O’€™Regan on a breakaway with a long tape-to-tape outlet pass. In the second period, he had a great keep-in on the power play that eventually led to a golden chance for Greenway, who was robbed by Ruck.

The Terriers controlled play for much of the second period, outshooting Northeastern 15-8 in the frame. The Huskies did have a couple good looks, though. John Stevens led a shorthanded two-on-one, but his aerial centering pass skipped over Sam Kurker’€™s stick. Later in the period, Eric Williams and McMurtry both had shots that popped off Maguire’€™s glove and into the slot, but BU beat Northeastern to the rebound on both occasions. Through two period, the Huskies had just three shots on goal from the grade-A area.

With the loss, Northeastern’€™s Beanpot drought extends to 28 years since it last won way back in 1988.

Read More: 2016 beanpot, bu hockey, northeastern hockey,

Special teams lift BC to 3-2 win over Harvard in Beanpot opener

02.01.16 at 7:32 pm ET
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Harvard entered Monday’€™s Beanpot opener with the second-best power play in the country, but it was Boston College‘€™s special teams that wound up deciding the game. The Eagles scored a pair of goals on the man advantage in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead and wound up holding on for the 3-2 win. They also killed both of Harvard’€™s power plays, including one late in the third period as the Crimson were pushing for a tying goal.

The Eagles will take on the winner of Monday night’€™s Boston University-Northeastern matchup in next Monday’€™s Beanpot championship game. They will be looking to win their sixth Beanpot in the last seven years.

BC took a 1-0 just 1:35 into the game when Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald made a great backhand pass from the corner to find his brother, Casey, in the high slot. Casey Fitzgerald then teed up a slapper and beat Merrick Madsen blocker-side.

The Eagles held Harvard without a shot on goal through the first nine minutes of the game, but all it took was one for the Crimson to tie the game. Tyler Moy made a big shot block in the defensive zone and Bruins prospect Ryan Donato won a foot race the other way before beating Thatcher Demko five-hole on a partial breakaway with 10:13 left in the first.

Harvard also scored on its second shot of the game five minutes later. After Demko lost his stick in a collision in the crease, Alex Kerfoot got the puck out to Adam Baughman at the point, and Baughman took a shot that beat Demko — still without a stick — between the legs. The play was reviewed because of the collision in the crease, but replay showed that Demko clearly had time to reset himself, even if he wasn’€™t able to get his stick back. The goal was the first career point for the freshman Baughman, who was playing in just his second career game.

After killing off a Harvard power play late in the first period, BC tied the game on its first power play 6:05 into the second. Ian McCoshen took a shot from the point that was tipped by Alex Tuch, and while Madsen made that save, Zach Sanford was right there to bury the rebound.

The Eagles’€™ power play struck again four minutes later. Teddy Doherty worked the puck to Colin White in the left circle. White, the second-highest-scoring freshman in the country, then showed great patience in getting Baughman to bite on a shot fake before walking around him and firing past Madsen.

The Crimson got a golden opportunity to tie the game when Desmond Bergin drew a penalty with 6:59 to go, but they couldn’€™t capitalize on the ensuing power play. BC’€™s penalty kill was outstanding, as the Eagles repeatedly disrupted Harvard’€™s entries and never really let the man advantage get set up.

This marks the eighth straight year that Harvard has failed to reach the Beanpot championship game.

Read More: 2016 beanpot, BC hockey, harvard hockey,
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