Boston College and the University of Maine won their semifinal games on Friday evening to advance to the Hockey East Championship game on Saturday evening.
How They Got There: Boston College defeated Providence College, 4-2, in Friday’s first semifinal. The two teams played a tight first period. The Eagles took a quick lead with a wraparound goal by Paul Carey, but the Friars quickly answered with two tallies. Barrett Kaib got help from teammate Derek Army to get Providence on the board, and then Army went down the ice with the puck, moved around a defender and scored to give his team a 2-1 lead. Destry Straight evened the game for the Eagles and finished the first period’s scoring blitz taking advantage of a rebound. The two teams went into the first intermission tied, 2-2.
The Eagles exerted their dominance in the second. Boston College freshman Johnny Gaudreau shot on the left side of Providence goalie Alex Beaudry to give his team a 3-2 lead. The Eagles kept Providence off the scoreboard through the second period. In the third, Steven Whitney took advantage of a rebound off a Barry Almedia shot to put the game away for Boston College.
In the second semifinal, Maine beat Boston University, 5-2. Boston University’s Alex Chiasson got his team on the board early, with a goal just over two minutes into the game. The remainder of the first period was filled with shots that didn’t convert for both teams.
Maine came out of the first intermission powerfully, and Joey Diamond tied the game with a power play goal mere seconds into the second period. Matt Nieto gave the Terriers another lead a few minutes following with a slapper on Maine goalie Dan Sullivan, but Maine defenseman Will O’Neill scored two goals in short time to give Maine a 3-2 lead they would carry into the second intermission.
In the third period, a hard hit into the boards took Maine’s Spencer Abbott (the league’s player of the year) out of the game, and the Terriers capitalized with another Nieto goal to tie the game. Despite the tying goal, Boston University was playing sluggish and penalty filled, and an inspired Maine took advantage. Mark Anthoine got in the middle of a Terriers’ clear attempt and shot undisturbed on BU’s Kieran Millan to give Maine a 4-3 lead. Diamond added an empty netter as time ticked down to secure Maine their spot in the championship game.
Game Notes: Saturday night will be the seventh time Boston College and Maine have met for the Hockey East Championship. It is the third straight year that the fourth playoff seed has advanced to the championship game. The Eagles are looking to set a league record with a third straight championship. Maine’s Abbott is doubtful for Saturday’s game after taking a hit to the head during the semifinals. He spent the last half of the third period Friday in dress clothes near the Maine bench.
Where To Watch: The championship game will be held at the TD Garden at 8 p.m. on Saturday. It will be aired on NESN in New England and NBC Sports Network nationally.