|Connelly’s Top Ten: Comebacks, Championships and Doobie Brothers||Patriots 2014-2015 Position Review: Quarterbacks||Cubs Hire Manny, Youkilis to Try to Become ’04 Red Sox…Literally||Red Sox 2015 Preview: Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Masterson, Kelly|
UMass-Lowell scored the game-tying goal on a power play with the goalie pulled with 20 seconds remaining in the third period and then won the game three minutes into the extra period to rally past the second seeded Northeastern team into the Hockey East Championship Game. For Lowell, the 3-2 victory paves the way for only their second Finals appearance; their previous was a 3-2 loss to BU in 1994.
After a scoreless first period, Northeastern opened the scoring in the middle of the second period, scoring their two goals within 25 seconds of one another. The first goal was a power play tally for Kyle Kraemer and Rob Rassey followed with a goal of his own shortly after.
UMass-Lowell’s Ryan Blair scored in the four on four with just over one minute remaining in the second to halve the deficit. Scott Campbell scored the tying goal and Chris Auger won it in overtime as the River Hawks peppered Hockey East Player of the Year Brad Thiessen relentlessly with 44 shots. UMass-Lowell goalier Carter Hutton recorded 25 saves for the win.
Like the early game, the BU-BC game finished with a 3-2 score (though no overtime needed) and began with a scoreless opening period. Most of the first period was spent a man up or down for each team as BU lost Brandon Yip for the game less than two minutes in with a major penalty. BU killed off the five minute Eagle advantage and BC likewise held BU in check.
BC opened the scoring with a second period goal and took the 1-0 lead into the third period. BU appeared superior to BC most of the game as they looked like they were on a power play most of the time it was even strength. This caught up with BC midway through the third as BU’s Zach Cohen snuck one by John Muse to tie the game. 23 seconds later, Brian Strait wrapped another past Muse to take a 2-1 lead and another 21 seconds after that, a Colin Wilson shot from the blue line whizzed into the BC goal for an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
BC closed the gap with a power play goal with five minutes remaining as Joe Whitney beat Terrier netminder Kieran Millan, but could not control the puck enough in the last minute or so to even pull the goalie. The BC loss was Muse’s first playoff deafeat, falling to 6-1 in the Hockey East playoffs, and 10-1 overall. The win puts BU into the championship game for the first time since 2006, also the last year they won the conference title.
In terms of national implications, UMass-Lowell must win the Final to advance to the NCAA tournament, which would give Hockey East five teams in the field of 16, but if the Terriers win, HEA will settle for four. BU has a #1 all but locked up and would appear to lock up the overall #1 with a win and NU’s loss appears to knock them down to a #2 seed. UNH and Vermont are safely in the field, each right on the cusp of the two-three border and I do not see any scenario putting BC into the field as the best options put them at 17 or 18. The selections and pairings will be announced Sunday morning.