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Lowell hangs on to beat BC and capture 3rd Hockey East championship in 5 years 03.18.17 at 9:41 pm ET
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UMass Lowell captured its third Hockey East title in the last five years Saturday night. (WEEI.com)

UMass Lowell captured its third Hockey East title in the last five years Saturday night. (WEEI.com)

UMass Lowell is back on top of Hockey East. After coming up short in the conference title game each of the previous two seasons, the River Hawks captured their third Hockey East championship in the last five years Saturday night at TD Garden with a 4-3 win over Boston College.

The victory serves as the exclamation point on a remarkable run for a program that was nearly cut just 10 years ago. Since Lowell alum Norm Bazin took over behind the bench in 2011, the River Hawks have made five Hockey East championship games after only reaching two prior to that, they’ve won two regular-season titles after never having won that before, and they reached their first-ever Frozen Four in 2013. Now they’ve won three Hockey East tournaments after never having won it before, and they’re heading to their fifth NCAA tournament in six years after making it just three times pre-Bazin.

Saturday’s championship game looked like it had a chance to be a barn-burner at the first intermission, as Lowell and BC were tied 2-2 after an exciting opening frame. But the River Hawks had other ideas. They took control starting around the middle of the second period, got a two-goal lead before the intermission, and held on to the finish line despite BC’s desperate comeback bid in the third.

After failing to convert on their first two power plays, while also allowing a shorthanded goal, the River Hawks capitalized on their third man advantage at the 10:05 mark of the middle period when John Edwardh followed up a Joe Gambardella shot and flipped the rebound past BC goalie Joseph Woll.

Then Lowell struck again just a minute and a half later when Gambardella settled a puck in the left circle and beat Woll short-side over the shoulder. The Eagles played desperate in the third, as they obviously needed to, and registered 12 of the period’s first 14 shots on goal.

Freshman goalie Tyler Wall made some big saves to maintain the lead (and finished with 38 saves in the game), but BC finally broke through with 2:45 to go when Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald whacked a puck through his legs from the right side of the net that banked off Wall and in.

The Eagles nearly tied the game with 40 seconds to go when Fitzgerald ripped a shot from the point that hit the crossbar and stayed out. That close. But instead of forcing overtime, the Eagles saw their season come to an end, as they are not high enough in the Pairwise rankings to make the NCAA tournament.

Lowell opened the scoring just 1:06 into the game when C.J. Smith collected a bouncing puck in the neutral zone, skated in and sniped the top corner. The River Hawks got a chance to extend the lead a minute later when they went to the power play. They got some good looks and just missed on a couple cross-slot passes that wouldn’t settle, but they couldn’t find a goal.

A minute after Lowell’s man advantage ended, the Eagles went to the power play, and they took advantage just 10 seconds into it when Austin Cangelosi tipped in JD Dudek’s shot from the left point.

The River Hawks started to take a little bit of control through the middle part of the period and nearly made it 2-1 when Michael Kapla rang a shot off the post. They continue to pressure and then did retake the lead at the 12:06 mark when Smith set up Chris Forney for a shot from the point that beat Woll through heavy traffic.

The Eagles had a great chance to tie the game a few minutes later when they ended up with a 5-on-3 for 1:39. They got a couple decent looks, but Lowell managed to get the kill. Then the River Hawks got a power play almost immediately after, and it felt like a major momentum swing was right around the corner.

Instead, things swung in the other direction. BC freshman forward Graham McPhee made a terrific play to poke the puck away from Smith on a breakout, then raced in on a breakaway and beat Tyler Wall on the backhand. It was just the second goal of the season for McPhee, and it was the Eagles’ 11th shorthanded tally of the season, tying them with Harvard for first in the country.

The River Hawks didn’t let the game get away, though. They regrouped at the first intermission and stifled BC in the second while scoring twice themselves. Lowell now waits to find out if it will be a one- or two-seed in the NCAA tournament. That will be decided by other results around the country Saturday night.

Read More: Hockey East,
BC hangs on to beat BU, advance to Hockey East championship game, keep NCAA hopes alive 03.17.17 at 10:59 pm ET
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Boston College survived Boston University's late comeback push Friday night. (WEEI.com)

Boston College survived Boston University’s late comeback push Friday night. (WEEI.com)

Boston University made things interesting in the end, but ultimately Boston College’s dominance for most of the game was enough to lift the Eagles over their rivals and send them to the Hockey East championship game for the first time since 2012.

Propelled by a dominant second period, the Eagles escaped with a 3-2 victory to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. They’ll take on UMass Lowell, who stormed past Notre Dame in Friday’s first semifinal, Saturday night at 7 p.m. at TD Garden.

BC and BU were tied 0-0 after one, but the Eagles took a 1-0 lead 1:58 into the second on a seemingly benign play. Freshman forward Julius Mattila led a rush down the right wing and snapped off a shot from just inside the blue line that managed to beat Jake Oettinger glove-side. The shot may have deflected off BU defenseman Brandon Hickey’s stick, which could explain the usually-stellar Oettinger getting beat by it.

After that goal, BC took complete control of the game as BU seemingly fell asleep. The Eagles had a 12-2 shots on goal advantage through the first 12 minutes of the period and eventually built that up to a 17-5 edge as they pinned the Terriers in their own end pretty much all period. BU ran into all kinds of problems trying to break the puck out, as BC took away every opening and forced the Terriers to attempt desperate, low-percentage passes.

The Terriers got what could’ve been the break they needed when they went to the power play with 7:21 left in the period, but that turned out to be a disaster too. Christopher Brown beat Chad Krys to a loose puck and sent Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald in 1-on-1 against fellow Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy. Fitzgerald used McAvoy as a screen and beat Oettinger to make it 2-0.

The Eagles made it 3-0 in the first minute of the third when they took advantage of a BU defensive-zone turnover, with Brown once against setting up Fitzgerald. It looked like they’d be able to cruise to the finish line, but the Terriers, it turned out, did have some fight in them.

Jordan Greenway scored with 2:24 to go when he snuck a puck past Joseph Woll on a jam attempt, then Clayton Keller found the back of the net 1:02 later to cut BC’s lead to 3-2 with 1:22 to go. BU continued to pressure in the final minute and got off a couple shots on goal, but Woll stood tall and the Eagles survived.

There was a pretty good brawl at the final buzzer, with BU’s Hickey getting his helmet ripped off followed by him throwing a punch or two, so it will be worth keeping an eye on any potential discipline.

The game got off to a frantic start, with the two teams combining for 11 shots on goal in just over five minutes and each side ringing the post once on top of that. Keller went first, racing in shorthanded after a nice steal before pulling up and hitting pipe. Less than a minute later, Matthew Gaudreau set up Brown for a nice chance in the slot, but Brown likewise found nothing but iron.

Things slowed down a little after the early back-and-forth chances, but a key stretch came late in the period when BU got back-to-back power plays, including a 23-second 5-on-3 advantage. The Terriers got a few shots on goal, but they came from the outside and BC did a good job clearing rebounds and getting the kill.

It sounds weird to even suggest that Boston College getting to the Hockey East championship game was improbable, especially considering that the Eagles earned a share of the league’s regular-season title. But just a couple weeks ago, few people would’ve predicted that BC would be here.

The Eagles limped to an 0-5-2 record to close out the regular season, watching sole possession of first place and an at-large NCAA tournament bid slip away in the process. It looked like they’d be fortunate just to get by Vermont in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

The Eagles not only got by Vermont; they demolished the Catamounts. They won 7-0 in Game 1 and 7-4 in Game 2. Still, they remained the clear underdogs against archrival Boston University in the semifinals. The Terriers had already beaten BC three times this season and had surrendered just two goals in those contests. And yet, the Eagles triumphed again. Perhaps they’ve figured things out just in time.

The Terriers are still a lock to make the NCAA tournament despite Friday’s loss, while BC will need to beat Lowell Saturday night to make it. The Eagles are looking for their first Hockey East championship since 2012 and trying to avoid missing NCAAs for the first time since 2009.

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Young River Hawks lead Lowell back to Hockey East title game at 8:14 pm ET
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The River Hawks had a tough task ahead with the loss of a large senior class, including goalie Kevin Boyle, heading into the 2016-17 season. After falling in the Hockey East championship game to Northeastern last season, it seemed it would be difficult to return to a similar spot while having to rely on freshmen.

Yet, that’s exactly where the River Hawks are, heading back to the conference title game with a 5-1 dismantling of Notre Dame in the semifinals on Friday night, led by that freshman group that also helped them top New Hampshire the week before.

One full line of freshmen — listed on the line chart as the fourth line, but in reality closer to the second or third line — has emerged over the last few weeks, especially against UNH and Notre Dame. Norm Bazin, fresh off Hockey East Coach of the Year honors, kept that group of Ryan Lohin, Colin O’Neill and Kenny Hausinger together on Friday night, and it paid dividends in the victory.

“I laugh when you say fourth line, because he’s quite a player,” Bazin said when asked about Lohin. “I’m not sure who is our fourth line, it depends on the night. He’s good away from the puck, he’s good at faceoffs, he’s excellent as far as scrums and he’s got a good stick. So it’s a good combination, he’s also on the first unit penalty kill, which is a big statement for a freshman.”

With two goals in the first period, the all-freshman line not only gave the River Hawks the advantage, but they helped Lowell rebound from what could have been a deflating first tally for the Irish. Jack Jenkins, a sophomore forward, scored from center ice, slipping the puck past freshman goalie Tyler Wall to open the scoring early in the first.

Wall went on to make 19 saves in the game, facing 14 shots in the second period and turning them all aside.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said senior Joe Gambardella of how Wall responded. “He’s been a great goaltender for us all year long. That’s the way the game of hockey works, sometimes you get some unfortunate bounces. He did a really good job of being calm and collected in the net.”

It took 25 seconds for the River Hawks, and Wall’s classmate O’Neill, to respond. Later on in the period, Lohin was able to push the puck past Cal Petersen to take the first Lowell lead of the night.

“I think the leadership, Joe [Gambardella] and the others, they’ve done a good job with us,” said Lohin. “Keeping us calm, helping us know what to expect day in and day out.”

Lohin was able to cycle down low the entire game and create traffic around Petersen, which directly led to two of the River Hawks’ goals.

“I think any time you play with a good goaltender on the other side you want to get traffic,” said Lohin. “It’s going to be tough to beat on a straight shot. I wanted to get in front and create chaos out front. I think we did a good job of that, we’ll have to do that again tomorrow night regardless of who we face.”

Hausinger, the third member of that all-freshman line, assisted on the River Hawks’ fourth goal of the night, with 1:08 left in the second period as he connected with senior defender Michael Kapla to extend a 4-1 lead.

It’s not the first stellar performance from the first-year group, as they combined for four goals in an 8-2 Game 3 victory over New Hampshire to advance to the Hockey East semifinals last Sunday.

Nick Marin, another freshman, scored the fifth River Hawk goal of the night early in the third period. It was the second goal of the season for the Shrewsbury native.

Lohin, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, had 23 points in the regular season. Hausinger had 16 and O’Neill had seven, including just two goals.

“It’s awesome anytime anyone contributes,” said Gambardella. “At this point in the season, we don’t consider any freshmen to be freshmen. They’ve done a good job leading their class, basically being sophomores at this point. They’ve done really well all season, we couldn’t be any happier.”

Read More: Hockey East,
UMass Lowell crushes Notre Dame to advance to fifth straight Hockey East championship game at 7:22 pm ET
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UMass Lowell is heading to the Hockey East championship game for the fifth year in a row. (WEEI.com)

UMass Lowell is heading to the Hockey East championship game for the fifth year in a row. (WEEI.com)

The middle of March is a time for traditions, like filling out your bracket, drinking green beer and watching UMass Lowell win at TD Garden. For the fifth straight year, Norm Bazin got his River Hawks to the Garden. And for the fifth straight year, they dispensed of their Friday night semifinal opponent to advance to the championship game, this time knocking off Notre Dame, 5-1.

The River Hawks fell behind on an early fluke goal from center ice, but that was pretty much the only time the result was in question. Lowell scored twice over the next couple minutes to take the lead and twice more in the second period to put the game well out of reach with a full period to go.

The River Hawks now await the winner of Friday night’s second semifinal between Boston University and Boston College. With the win, Lowell became the first team to reach five straight Hockey East championship games since Maine went to seven straight from 1987-1993.

To help put that in perspective, note that Lowell had reached the Hockey East title game just twice before Bazin took over in 2011. The River Hawks captured back-to-back titles with wins over BU and New Hampshire in 2013 and 2014, respectively, then lost to BU in 2015 and Northeastern last year.

“The guys like playing here, there’s no question,” Bazin said after the game. “It’s an exciting time of year to be playing hockey. It shows the stability, it shows the consistency within the program, the culture of accountability. The guys were itching to come back this year.

“This year was probably the most brutal in terms of regular season, so it was very difficult to get here. So we’re thrilled we’re here, but we’ve been on both sides of this. We’ve lost two championship games, we’ve won two. We’d like to be on the side of that 2013-14.”

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the game on a classic St. Patrick’s Day luck o’ the Irish play. Dennis Gilbert fired a pass toward Jack Jenkins at center ice and Jenkins redirected it toward the Lowell goal. It was a completely unremarkable play you see a dozen times a game, right up until the moment it took a tough bounce in front of River Hawks goalie Tyler Wall and skipped past him into the net.

The River Hawks had their goalie’s back, though, and answered immediately. Just 25 seconds after falling behind, freshman Kenny Hausinger set up classmate and linemate Colin O’Neill in the high slot for a one-timer that beat Cal Petersen.

Then the River Hawks took over for the remainder of the period. They grabbed the lead two minutes later when Ryan Lohin, the third member of Lowell’s all-freshman line with Hausinger and O’Neill, dug out a rebound off Mattias Goransson’s point shot and flipped it in. The Irish mustered just nine shot attempts and three shots on goal the whole period, with one of those shots on goal coming on the center-ice goal and two others coming from the blue line (final shots on goal in the game were 40-20 in Lowell’s favor).

Lowell isn’t exactly known for landing blue-chip freshmen, but that all-rookie line has gotten hot at the perfect time. In addition to its big first period Friday night, that trio combined for four goals and three assists in last Sunday’s Game 3 win over New Hampshire that sent the River Hawks to the Garden, with O’Neill and Hausinger each scoring twice. And oh by the way, Goransson, who has emerged as a solid top-four defenseman, is also a freshman.

In the second period, it was time for Lowell’s top line to chip in. Early in the period, C.J. Smith led a rush into the offensive zone and dished over to Joe Gambardella, who then took the puck behind the net before getting it back to Smith in front for the finish. It was Smith’s team-leading 21st goal of the season and Gambardella’s team-leading 49th point.

The nail in the coffin came with 1:08 left in the second when Hausinger set up a pinching Michael Kapla to make it 4-1. Nick Marin, another freshman, scored early in the third as the River Hawks piled on. Regardless of what happens in Saturday night’s championship game, Lowell will also be heading to the NCAA tournament in a week.

Friday’s loss marked the final Hockey East tournament game for the Irish, who are leaving for the Big Ten after four seasons here. Notre Dame’s season probably isn’t over, though, as it will almost certainly get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. CollegeHockeyRanked.com has the Irish with a 94 percent chance of getting in despite losing Friday.

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Hockey East 2016-17 Season Preview: Excellent freshman class could lift BU to title 10.03.16 at 12:17 pm ET
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Clayton Keller was one of four BU players selected in the first round of this year's NHL draft. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Clayton Keller was one of four BU players selected in the first round of this year’s NHL draft. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are back in the playoffs and Tom Brady is back on the field, but I think I speak for all Boston sports fans when I say that the return we’re most excited about is that of college hockey. No? Whatever. Here’s a Hockey East season preview, power rankings style.

1. Boston University
Before we get into the reasons to be excited about this BU team, it’s worth pointing out that the Terriers actually do lose a lot from last season, including three of their top four forwards and top defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. They lost 53.1 percent of their points, which is the second-highest mark in the league behind only Providence. Now, onto the excitement. The biggest reason so many people, including myself, are picking them to win Hockey East is that they have what is easily the best freshman class in the country. Forwards Clayton Keller (7th overall, Coyotes) and Kieffer Bellows (19th overall, Islanders) and defenseman Dante Fabbro (17th overall, Predators) were all first-round picks this past summer, defenseman Chad Krys (2nd round, Blackhawks) and forward Patrick Harper (5th round, Predators) were also drafted, and goaltender Jake Oettinger is projected to be a first- or second-round pick next summer. (By the way, those freshmen scored nine of BU’s 10 goals in a blowout exhibition win over the University of Prince Edward Island on Saturday.) Fabbro and Krys join four other drafted defensemen on a loaded blue line, with sophomore Charlie McAvoy (1st round, Bruins) and junior Brandon Hickey (3rd round, Flames) leading the way. Up front, look for sophomores Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (2nd round, Bruins) and Jordan Greenway (2nd round, Wild) to set the pace along with Keller and Bellows. The Terriers are clearly the most talented team on paper and they are rightly being considered the favorite to win the league and one of the favorites to win the national championship.

2. UMass Lowell
The River Hawks certainly don’t have the star power of BU, but Norm Bazin’s teams are never loaded with stars and yet they’ve finished in the top four in each of his four seasons behind the bench. With a strong core of returning players, there’s little reason to think anything will change this year. They bring back all six starting defensemen from a unit that was already very good last year, with seniors Dylan Zink and Michael Kapla leading the way and chipping in on offense as well. Up front, the losses of Adam Chapie and A.J. White could hurt, but their top two scorers — junior C.J. Smith and senior Joe Gambardella — are both back. The biggest question will be in goal, where the River Hawks lose Kevin Boyle and his excellent .934 save percentage. But assistant coach Cam Ellsworth is part-wizard when it comes to working with goalies, and this year he’ll have two NHL draft picks at his disposal in freshmen Garrett Metcalf (6th round, Ducks) and Tyler Wall (6th round, Rangers). Sure, this could be the year Lowell doesn’t figure out its goaltending and the team takes a step back, but that seems unlikely.

3. Notre Dame
I’m still not entirely sure why so many Hockey East fans are so eager to get rid of a high-caliber program that brings the league more TV coverage, but they’ll get their wish when the Fighting Irish depart for the Big Ten after this season. Don’t expect them to go quietly, though, because this year’s team looks like an NCAA tournament team that could potentially compete for a league title. Their strength will be on the back end, where they return Sabres draft pick Cal Petersen — whose .927 save percentage is the highest mark among returning goalies — and four starting defensemen, including offensive contributors Jordan Gross and Bobby Nardella. The Irish do lose four double-digit goal-scorers up front, but top point-getters Anders Bjork (5th round, Bruins) and Jake Evans (7th round, Canadiens) are both back, and freshmen Andrew Peeke (2nd round, Blue Jackets) and Cam Morrison (2nd round, Blackhawks) should play key roles right away.

4. Northeastern
Remember that time Northeastern overcame a 1-11-2 start to go 20-1-2 down the stretch and win its first Hockey East title since 1988? That was awesome. Now the Huskies enter the season as the defending league champs and one of the favorites. If there’s one thing we know they’ll do, it’s score. After finishing second in the league in offense last year, they bring back five of their top six scorers in seniors Zach Aston-Reese and John Stevens, juniors Nolan Stevens (5th round, Blues) and Dylan Sikura (6th round, Blackhawks), and sophomore Adam Gaudette (5th round, Canucks), while also adding freshman Matt Filipe (3rd round, Hurricanes) to the mix. There is some uncertainty behind the forwards, though. The Huskies lose four starting defensemen, and while freshmen Ryan Shea (4th round, Blackhawks) and Jeremy Davies (7th round, Devils) will help, the blue line still has to be considered a question mark. In net, sophomore Ryan Ruck was very good for part of Northeastern’s turnaround, but it needs to be noted that he did fall off a bit in the final month and finished the season with a save percentage of just .909. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: BC hockey, bu hockey, College Hockey, Hockey East
Hockey East Power Rankings: Providence still on top; UNH, Maine on rise 11.26.13 at 9:00 am ET
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We get a quick break from conference play with Thanksgiving coming up, so now seems like a good time for some power rankings. We have a pretty clear top three and a pretty clear bottom two right now (you can debate the order in both places, though), but everything in between is pretty tight.

1. Providence (10-2-1, 6-2-0 HE)
The Friars suffered the scare of all scares Friday night when Jon Gillies left the game with an apparent leg injury, but the star goalie was back in net Saturday to help Providence pick up a split against UNH. The Friars have won six of their last seven, and they rank second in Hockey East in both offense and defense. Gillies is second in the league in save percentage and Ross Mauermann is second in points. The junior forward is already just one goal shy of his career high (12).

2. Boston College (8-3-2, 4-1-1 HE)
The Eagles would have had a good case for the top spot had they beaten Maine on Saturday, but a 5-1 loss keeps them behind Providence. Every team has stinkers, and there’€™s no reason to think Saturday was anything more than that. Getting freshman goalie Thatcher Demko healthy should be a nice boost, as junior Brian Billett has been inconsistent at times (in fairness, he had been very good in his four starts prior to getting pulled Saturday). Johnny Gaudreau leads the nation in scoring and has at least a point in all but one game this season.

3. UMass-Lowell (10-4-0, 4-1-0 HE)
So much for that slow start. The River Hawks have won nine of their last 10 after sweeping Notre Dame over the weekend, and they now look like the contender everyone expected them to be. Connor Hellebuyck was outstanding in the series, as he stopped 74 of the 75 shots he faced. The Winnipeg Jets draft pick leads Hockey East with a .951 save percentage. The River Hawks could still use some work on offense (they’re seventh in the conference), but their defense and goaltending should hold them over until the scoring picks up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hockey East Wraparound: David Quinn era off to 2-0 start; BC drops 7 on RPI; Friars pick up impressive sweep; Upset of the Year? 10.14.13 at 9:12 am ET
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It may not have been against the toughest competition in the world, but Boston University will gladly take a 2-0 start to the David Quinn era. The Terriers are a young team — 18 of their 25 players are freshmen or sophomores — so growing pains are going to be inevitable. They certainly experienced some of those this weekend, particularly on special teams, but they still managed to beat Massachusetts 3-1 on Friday and Holy Cross 3-2 on Saturday.

Coming into the season, there were really only six spots in the lineup that the Terriers felt totally comfortable with. They knew that Danny O’€™Regan, Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann would create offense up front. They knew that Garrett Noonan and Matt Grzelcyk were among the best two-way defensemen in the league. And they knew that Sean Maguire and Matt O’€™Connor made for a pretty solid goaltending tandem. Unsurprisingly, all of those guys played well this weekend (and O’€™Regan, Rodrigues, Hohmann and Noonan all scored).

Every other spot on the roster was something of a question mark. The Terriers knew they had talented players who could fill them, but none of them were really proven. They were going to have to rely a lot on freshmen, and they were going to need sophomores Matt Lane, Sam Kurker and Ahti Oksanen to play bigger roles and be more consistent.

Of those sophomores, Oksanen had the best opening weekend. He registered four assists and a plus-3 rating and looked strong in his own end. Lane notched a power-play assist on Saturday and brought some energy to his shifts on Friday. Kurker, on the other hand, definitely did not have the start he or BU was hoping for, as he took two offensive-zone penalties on Friday before getting benched and failed to register a shot on goal for the weekend.

As for the freshmen, Tommy Kelley registered his first career goal on Friday, and Nick Roberto did the same on Saturday. Both came on quick shots from the slot that showed an ability to finish from in close, and Kelley’€™s came on the power play. Roberto led the team with seven shots on goal for the weekend, and classmate Robbie Baillargeon tallied five while looking pretty comfortable alongside O’€™Regan and Rodrigues on BU’€™s top line. Pretty much all of BU’€™s freshmen saw time on special teams, and Quinn said he only expects them to get better in those roles. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston College hockey, Boston University, David Quinn, Hockey East
Hockey East Season Preview: This really might be ‘the deepest the league has ever been’ 10.07.13 at 9:22 am ET
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If you go to enough Hockey East media days, you’ll realize that there are certain lines you’re bound to hear from coaches year after year.

“Anyone can beat anyone in this league.”

“There isn’t much of a difference between the first-place team and the last-place team.”

“This might be the deepest the league has ever been.”

“There’s more parity now than ever before.”

The first quote is obviously true. That’s how sports work. We see upsets all the time, and Hockey East is no different. Just last year, we saw conference champ Massachusetts-Lowell drop the season series against eighth-place Maine (Lowell went on to sweep Maine in the playoffs, though), and second-place Boston College lose games against each of Hockey East’s bottom three teams.

But the fact that the first quote is true doesn’t necessarily mean the second quote is true. Let’s face it: the worst teams really only have a chance of beating the best teams when the best teams are off their game. There’s a reason Lowell and BC ended up with significantly better records than Massachusetts and Northeastern last season — because Lowell and BC were significantly better teams. And barring something crazy, they’ll be significantly better teams again this year.

As for the third and fourth quotes, when you hear them every year, you start to wonder if coaches would say those things even if they didn’t actually believe them. The league can’t really get deeper every single year, can it? There can’t really be more and more parity every year, right?
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston College, Boston University, Hockey East, maine
The inspiration of John Muse 02.09.10 at 11:15 am ET
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It’s hard to watch John Muse and not think of Mike Lowell.

Boston College coach Jerry York feels that way. His star goalie, who played every minute of the team’s 2008 NCAA title run as a freshman, had surgery last April 30 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, the same injury to the same hip that hampered the Red Sox third baseman in 2009. It was only natural for many to wonder if Muse could return to the ice and be effective, let alone return to championship form.

Ask Boston University and anyone who has come up against Boston College of late and they would say the East Falmouth, Mass. native is indeed capable of leading his team back to the promised land of college hockey like he did two seasons ago.

The goalie was voted MVP of the 2010 Beanpot following his performance on Monday night when he stopped 31 of 34 BU shots in a 4-3 win over the Terriers to capture the 58th Beanpot title.

“Anytime you have a hip operation, it’s a major surgery, even if it’s not hip replacement. He was on crutches for eight full weeks,” York said. “He keeps telling me, ‘I feel great coach and I feel more flexible,’ so hopefully, we’re past the area of concern.”

After starting the season, 3-3-1, Muse, who was platooning with freshman Parker Milner at one point, has caught fire in the last two months and is now 11-6-2, and appears ready to take his team back to the NCAA tournament. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston College hockey, College Hockey, Hockey East, John Muse
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