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BC picked 1st in Hockey East preseason polls; Goalie Thatcher Demko may not be ready for start of season 09.21.15 at 4:04 pm ET
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Boston College is the favorite to win Hockey East this season, according to both the media and coaches around the league. The Eagles received 20 of 35 first-place votes in the league media poll released over the weekend and seven of 12 first-place votes in the coaches poll released Monday at the league’s annual media day event.

Defending Hockey East champion Boston University got three first-place votes in the coaches poll and defending national champion Providence got the other two. In the media poll, BU got seven first-place votes, UMass-Lowell got five, Providence got two and Notre Dame got one.

Besides the coaches poll, the other big news item to come from media day is that BC goalie Thatcher Demko may not be ready for the start of the season. Demko, a Canucks draft pick and preseason All-Hockey East pick by the media, had surgery on both hips after last season.

Demko’s hips had actually been bothering him for several years, but he still managed to put together a strong first two seasons at BC, posting a .919 save percentage in 24 games as a freshman and a .925 in 35 games last year, good for fourth in the league. The expectation is that Demko will be more mobile (not to mention more comfortable) once he’s completely recovered from the surgery.

“He’s not 100 percent yet, but we expect by late October, early November that he should be fully healed,” York said.

The Eagles open the regular season Oct. 9 against Army.

Here are the complete preseason polls from the coaches and media, with points included and first-place votes in parentheses: Read the rest of this entry »

Source: Jack Eichel to leave BU, sign with Sabres 07.01.15 at 9:24 am ET
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This isn’t surprising but now it’s finally on the verge of being official. Jack Eichel will leave Boston University and sign with the Sabres, according to a source. The Sabres drafted Eichel with the second overall pick Friday night.

Eichel was expected to turn pro all along after dominating college hockey as a freshman, but he and those close to him insisted that he was giving serious consideration to a return to BU for one more season. Eichel often spoke about how much he enjoyed being at BU.

Eichel, a North Chelmsford native, won the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman after leading the country with 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 40 games. He became the youngest player to win the Hobey and just the second freshman to do so, joining Maine’€™s Paul Kariya (1993).

He helped lead the Terriers to Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles as well as a Frozen Four berth, although they ultimately fell to Providence in the national championship game.

Shawn Stepner of WKBW in Buffalo reported earlier Wednesday that Eichel is expected to sign his contract with the Sabres today. WEEI.com’s source could not confirm that the deal will definitely get done today, but Eichel is indeed signing with Buffalo.

Hurricanes draft BC defenseman Noah Hanifin with fifth overall pick 06.26.15 at 7:43 pm ET
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Make it two local players in the top five. After Jack Eichel went second overall to the Sabres, Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin was drafted fifth overall by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hanifin, a Norwood native, finished his freshman season with five goals and 18 assists in 37 games. The 6-foot-3 Hanifin is good at both ends of the ice, with his defensive-zone play notably improving throughout the year at BC. His biggest strength is his skating. He was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team and was also a Second Team All-Star.

Hanifin had originally been ranked third by Connor McDavid and Eichel, but his stock slipped a little despite a very good second half with the Eagles.

Sabres draft BU’s Jack Eichel with second overall pick 06.26.15 at 7:30 pm ET
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As expected, the Buffalo Sabres drafted Boston University star Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in the NHL draft.

Eichel, a North Chelmsford native, won the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman after leading the country with 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 40 games. He became the youngest player to win the Hobey and just the second freshman to do so, joining Maine’s Paul Kariya (1993).

He helped lead the Terriers to Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles as well as a Frozen Four berth, although they ultimately fell to Providence in the national championship game.

Eichel now needs to decide if he’s going to turn pro and sign with the Sabres or return to BU for his sophomore season. The prevailing thought is that he’ll turn pro, but Eichel and those close to him have insisted all along that returning to BU is a realistic option.

When asked about the decision after getting picked Friday night, Eichel told NBC Sports, “I guess we’ll find out in a few days.”

Sources: BU’s Evan Rodrigues to sign free agent deal with Sabres 04.21.15 at 8:31 pm ET
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Boston University forward Evan Rodrigues will sign with the Buffalo Sabres, according to sources. The undrafted free agent ranked second in the country with 61 points (21 goals, 40 assists) in 41 games as a senior while playing on a line with freshman star Jack Eichel. Interestingly enough, Buffalo is also the probable landing spot for Eichel now that the Sabres have the second overall pick.

Rodrigues is a 5-foot-11 right shot from Etobicoke, Ontario. He played left wing this season, but had also played on the right side for stretches of his BU career. Rodrigues is a stellar two-way player who featured prominently on both the penalty kill and power play for the Terriers. BU coach David Quinn has said that Rodrigues is one of the smartest college hockey players he has ever coached.

Rodrigues helped lead the Terriers to Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles this season, as well as a Frozen Four appearance. They ultimately fell to Providence in the national championship game.

BU refuses to blame Matt O’Connor, remains ‘proud’ of goalie despite costly mistake in national championship game 04.12.15 at 1:52 am ET
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Anthony Moccia tried. He tried saying something when there was so little to be said. He tried picking up his best friend after watching him commit one of the costliest blunders in the history of college hockey.

With 8:34 left in Saturday’€™s national championship game, Boston University goalie Matt O’€™Connor gloved a seemingly harmless dump-in from the neutral zone. But then he bobbled the puck, lost track of it in his pads and wound up knocking it into his own net to tie the game for Providence. Two minutes later, the Friars took the lead.

During the next TV timeout, O’€™Connor slowly made his way to the BU bench. It was there that Moccia, BU’s third-string goalie and O’€™Connor’€™s roommate, grabbed the downtrodden goalie and spoke from his heart.

“I just said, ‘I’€™m so proud of you,'” Moccia said. “‘You’€™re my best friend. I love you, bud. We’€™re gonna pick you up. Just keep kicking. Hang tough because you’€™re the one who took us here.'”

The Terriers couldn’€™t pick O’€™Connor up, though. They had done it numerous times throughout the season, just as O’€™Connor had picked them up many times. But it didn’€™t happen Saturday. Jon Gillies was too good at the other end of the ice. The Terriers had chances over the game’€™s final six minutes, but they couldn’€™t find the tying tally.

After the game, Moccia put his arm around O’€™Connor again. He knew it was just about impossible to say anything that would actually make O’€™Connor feel any better in that moment, but he had to try. He couldn’€™t bear to see his best friend feeling the way O’€™Connor felt.

“I’€™m so proud of this guy,” Moccia said. “The character he showed the whole year, he’€™s the reason that we’€™re here. He’€™s made my last year unforgettable. I love the guy. I hate to see him upset like that. You hate to see your best friend, your brother upset. Honestly, that’€™s what hurts the most. It’€™s not even the loss. It’€™s just seeing the guys and seeing Matt so upset.”

It was a sentiment echoed throughout the BU locker room after the game. There was obviously disappointment. Disappointment that they had come this far and had won every other trophy they had played for this season, but couldn’€™t win this one. Disappointment that they had the lead in the national championship game with under nine minutes to go, but couldn’€™t close it out. Read the rest of this entry »

Providence tops Boston University to win first national title in program history 04.11.15 at 10:25 pm ET
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Providence won its first national championship on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Providence won its first national championship on Saturday. (Getty Images)

For the first time in program history, the Providence Friars are national champions. The Friars overcame a 3-2 third-period deficit to beat Boston University 4-3 in Saturday night’€™s title game at TD Garden.

The Friars had been pressuring BU throughout the third period, but they ended up tying the game one of the softest and flukiest goals you’€™ll ever see. Defenseman Tom Parisi dumped a pop-up on net from the neutral zone that BU goalie Matt O’€™Connor easily gloved. Then things got weird, though. O’€™Connor completely misplayed the puck as he went to drop it to the ice and wound up kicking it into his own net.

Providence smelled blood and struck again two minutes later. Kevin Rooney won an offensive-zone faceoff to Brandon Tanev right after a BU timeout and Tanev walked into the slot before firing a shot high glove.

BU turned up the pressure for the remainder of the game, but Jon Gillies and the Providence defense stood tall. The Terriers’€™ best chance came with 1:03 to go when a puck pinballed over to Nick Roberto with Gillies down, but the puck rode up Roberto’€™s stick and fluttered into Gillies’€™ chest. Gillies finished the game with 49 saves on 52 shots to cap off a remarkable individual season.

The Friars opened the game’€™s scoring 9:25 into the first period. A scramble began after a rebound popped off O’€™Connor and landed in the slot. Noel Acciari hit the post and the puck caromed out to West Roxbury native Anthony Florentino, who ripped a slap shot blocker-side.

The Terriers tied the game with 7:10 left in the first. After making a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, Ahti Oksanen fired a shot through a Cason Hohmann screen that squeaked through Gillies. It was the 25th goal of the season for Oksanen, who was converted to forward before the season after playing defense for his first two years at BU.

It took just four second for BU to strike again. Jack Eichel won the ensuing faceoff and immediately turned it into a rush in the Providence zone. He then slid the puck over to Danny O’€™Regan, who flipped a backhander past Gillies for his 23rd goal of the season. The two goals in four seconds were the fastest two goals in NCAA tournament history.

The Friars tied the game at 2-2 on a power-play goal 4:29 into the second. With four seconds left on the man advantage, Trevor Mingoia got the puck in the left circle and made a beautiful backhand pass through the slot to Mark Jankowski, who one-timed a shot past a sliding O’€™Connor for his second goal of the Frozen Four.

The Terriers retook the lead with 8:24 left in the second. After Hohmann won an offensive-zone draw, Oksanen threw the puck the front and it ricocheted off a skate right to Hohmann, who waited out a sprawling Gillies before scoring.

BU’s Jack Eichel becomes youngest player to win Hobey Baker Award 04.10.15 at 5:32 pm ET
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Jack Eichel became the youngest player to win the Hobey Baker Award on Friday. The Boston University star beat out Harvard’€™s Jimmy Vesey and North Dakota’€™s Zane McIntyre to become the second freshman to win college hockey’€™s top individual award, joining Maine’€™s Paul Kariya (1993 winner).

Eichel, a North Chelmsford native who is expected to go second overall in this summer’€™s NHL draft, leads the country with 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists) and 1.79 points per game. He registered two goals and an assist in Thursday night’€™s 5-3 win over North Dakota in the national semifinals at TD Garden. The Terriers take on Providence in the national championship Saturday night.

Eichel becomes the third BU player to win the Hobey Baker Award, joining Chris Drury (1998) and Matt Gilroy (2009). He also becomes the second straight player from a Boston school to win, as Boston College‘s Johnny Gaudreau won the award last year.

This year’s Hobey Baker Award presentation was held at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, the only arena still standing in which Hobey Baker played.

The All-American teams were also announced Friday. They are as follows:

First Team East
G Alex Lyon (Yale)
D Matt Grzelcyk (BU)
D Rob O’€™Gara (Yale)
F Daniel Ciampini (Union)
F Jack Eichel (BU)
F Jimmy Vesey (Harvard)

First Team West
G Jake Hildebrand (Michigan State)
D Joey LaLeggia (Denver)
D Mike Reilly (Minnesota)
F Zach Hyman (Michigan)
F Tanner Kero (Michigan Tech)
F Matt Leitner (Minnesota State)

Second Team East
G Jon Gillies (Providence)
D Mike Paliotta (Vermont)
D Robbie Russo (Notre Dame)
F Sam Anas (Quinnipiac)
F Matt Garbowsky (RIT)
F Kevin Roy (Northeastern)

Second Team West
G Zane McIntyre (North Dakota)
D Zach Palmquist (Minnesota State)
D Colton Parayko (Alaska)
F Austin Czarnik (Miami)
F Dylan Larkin (Michigan)
F Trevor Moore (Denver)

Grzelcyk, O’€™Gara and McIntyre are all Bruins draft picks, while Czarnik just signed with the Bruins as a free agent last week.

Frozen Four: BU hangs on to beat North Dakota, setting up all-Hockey East national title game 04.09.15 at 11:16 pm ET
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It took some luck to get ahead and some desperation to hold on, but Boston University beat North Dakota 5-3 Thursday night to advance to Saturday night’€™s national championship game.

After North Dakota cut a 4-1 BU lead to 4-3 with a pair of third-period goals, Jack Eichel sealed the win with a late empty-netter, his second goal and third point of the game. The Terriers will now take on Hockey East rival Providence, who beat Nebraska-Omaha 4-1 in Thursday’€™s first semifinal.

It will BU’€™s first appearance in the national title game since 2009, when it beat Miami (Ohio) in overtime after mounting a last-minute comeback in regulation. And it will be the first all-Hockey East national championship since Maine beat New Hampshire in the 1999 final.

The Terriers haven’t need much luck this season — they’ve won most of their games simply because they were the better team — but they got some on Thursday. After cutting BU’€™s lead to 2-1 early in the second, North Dakota started to take control of the game. It put together one offensive zone shift after another and it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before it tied the game.

North Dakota didn’€™t tie the game, though. Tucker Poolman hit the crossbar on a good power-play chance. Michael Parks couldn’€™t lift a shot over a stick and into an otherwise empty net. Bryn Chyzyk hit the post on a rush down the right wing.

The Terriers appeared to be hanging on for dear life. But whereas North Dakota continued to just miss on its chances, the Terriers made the most of theirs once they finally got one. Eichel got the puck in the neutral zone, took a couple strides and made a pass over to fellow freshman A.J. Greer, who ripped a one-timer past a sliding Zane McIntyre to make it 3-1 Terriers.

BU scored again less than two minutes later when Doyle Somerby threw a bad-angle shot on net that somehow got through McIntyre. The goal was the second BU goal of the game that found a hole that seemingly wasn’€™t there, as Brandon Hickey had scored a power-play goal in the first period on a slap shot from the point that McIntyre appeared to be in position to stop, only to have it squeeze through him.

BU deserves credit for creating its own luck by getting those pucks to the net, but the fact is that McIntyre probably makes those kinds of saves more than 95 times out of 100. The Bruins prospect is a Hobey Baker finalist for a reason.

Eichel is also a Hobey finalist (and the Hobey favorite) for a reason, and he showed why with two goals and an assist Thursday. His goal came on the power play 4:59 into the game. Ahti Oksanen threw a puck to the front that deflected off a skate and right to Eichel, who flipped a backhander into the open net before McIntyre could get across. The goal was Eichel’€™s 25th of the season and his nation-leading points total now stands at 70.

BU made it 2-0 on Hickey’€™s power-play goal with 48 seconds left in the first on another power-play goal. The Terriers have now converted on 32 of their last 101 power plays, and they’€™ve scored 33 power-play goals in their last 25 games.

North Dakota mounted the third-period comeback with a shorthanded goal from Troy Stecher and a power-play goal from Connor Gaarder to cut BU’€™s lead to 4-3 with 3:43 left in the game, but the Terriers hung on and then sealed the win with Eichel’€™s empty-netter.

Frozen Four: Providence dominates Omaha, advances to national championship game 04.09.15 at 7:40 pm ET
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When a really good possession team plays some of its best hockey against a bad possession team that comes out flat, the result is generally going to be a pretty lopsided game. That’€™s exactly what happened in Thursday’€™s first national semifinal at TD Garden, as Providence dominated Nebraska-Omaha and came away with a 4-1 win to advance to Saturday’€™s national championship game.

The Friars will take on the winner of Thursday’€™s second semifinal between Boston University and North Dakota, and they’€™ll be looking to win their first ever national title. This will be their second championship game appearance, as they lost to Rensselaer in the 1985 final.

The Friars were in control of Thursday’s game from start to finish and outshot Omaha 48-26. Shots were 33-16 Friars after two periods and shot attempts were 57-27 in that span. In the second period, the Friars held Omaha to zero shots on goal from between the faceoff dots, while taking 11 from that dangerous area themselves.

The Friars won the vast majority of 1-on-1 battles and foot races and they consistently disrupted Omaha’€™s breakout with ease. They had little trouble entering the Omaha zone cleanly and were able to set up long offensive zone possessions throughout the game. On the infrequent occasions that Omaha did venture into the Providence zone, the Friars did a great job of attacking the puck and not giving the Mavericks time or space.

Despite all that, the game was actually scoreless halfway through. Omaha goalie Ryan Massa, who was tied for first in the country in save percentage going into the game, stood tall to keep it 0-0. He made several saves on wraparounds and jam attempts from in close and found a way to cover the puck in the midst of several mad scrambles.

But Providence finally broke through with 8:58 left in the second when it capitalized on a rare mistake by Massa. Brian Pinho threw a soft shot on net from the right side and Massa bobbled it right into the slot. Nick Saracino came flying in and the puck wound up squirting loose to Noel Acciari, who flipped in a backhander to give the Friars a 1-0 lead.

The Friars scored again four minutes later when an Omaha defensive breakdown left Mark Jankowski alone in front. Nick Saracino got the puck down to Jankowski, and the Calgary Flames first-round pick made a quick move to pull the puck out of the reach of Massa’€™s stick before flipping it over the goalie’€™s right pad.

Omaha got a little bit of life with 9:14 left in the game when Jake Guentzel took a pass in the slot and beat Jon Gillies with a quick snap shot, but the Friars responded just 24 seconds later. Ross Mauermann forced a puck loose with a hard forecheck and Jankowski swooped in to grab the puck and set up Trevor Mingoia in the slot for the finish to make it 3-1 Friars. Saracino sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

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