With seven of the teams finishing within four points of each other, quarterfinals going the distance and overtimes were to be expected and the conference delivered! Second-seeded BC swept the seven-seed UMass behind freshman goalie Parker Milner, who struggled, and junior John Muse. Other than that, the other three series went to a third game, including two matchups which required overtime in the final game. Top seeded UNH opened their series with eight-seed Vermont with an emphatic come from behind win in their game one. They rallied for five consecutive goals after trailing 4-2 and chased sophomore goalie Rob Madore. Madore rallied the Catamounts in the second and third games by shutting the Wildcats down entirely. UNH did not score in any of the final six periods of the series and in the overtime in the final game, falling 1-0 in both contests.
Third-seeded BU had all they could handle from Merrimack and their “stretch play”, where they keep one player at center ice while on defense to attempt to get one-on-one’s with the goalie. The Warriors opened the first game 2-0, but fell 3-2 to the Terriers. In the second game, Merrimack triumphed 3-2 in overtime, but Kieran Millan found his dominant form of last season and shut out Maerrimack 3-0 in the final game. Fourth seed Maine and UMass-Lowell needed overtime to settle their third game, a Black Bear victory to seal the come from behind series win. Maine fell on home ice in overtime in game one, but rebounded to win the second game 2-0 before taking Sunday’s final game to advance to Boston.
BC will face Vermont and BU will take on Maine on Friday, March 19 and the winners face off for th Hockey East Championship the following night. All games take place at the TD Banknorth Garden.
#2 Boston College Eagles vs. #8 Vermont Catamounts
Season Series: UVM 4-1, BC 7-1, UVM 3-2
How they got here: BC 2-0 over #7 UMass (6-5, 5-2); UVM 2-1 over #1 UNH (4-7, 1-0, 1-0 (ot))
BC: 3.67 goals per game (#1 HEA), 2.26 goals allowed per game (#1 HEA), 20.2% power play (#3 HEA), 84.8% penalty kill (#1 HEA)
UVM: 2.89 gpg (#7 HEA), 3.04 gapg (#4 HEA), 16.5% pp (#10 HEA), 79.1% pk (#6 HEA)
BC had no shortage of offense in the UMass series and Parker Milner, at the time the league’s hottest goalie, got eaten up. John Muse looked much more comfortable in the second game and will probably get the call for this game.
Vermont will go as far as Madore takes them. He was very uncharacteristically off his game in the opener and was pulled. However, he has now not allowed a goal for over six periods of play though Vermont could only score two goals over that time, just enough for two wins.
Outlook: Unless Vermont can find some more offense, they will struggle to win this game. Madore should be able to weather some BC flurries, but the Eagles scored more than any HEA team in the regular season or in the quarterfinals (and BC played one fewer game than everyone else). At the other end of the ice, BC has the top two goalies in the league, making Vermont’s challenge that much more difficult. These two teams also have not seen each other in four months as they ended their season series in November. BC moves into the final, likely ending Vermont’s season.
#3 Boston University Terriers vs. #4 Maine Black Bears
Season Series: ME 3-2, BU 7-4, BU 5-2
How they got here: BU 2-1 over #6 Merrimack (3-2, 2-3 (ot), 3-0); ME 2-1 over #5 UMass-Lowell (1-2 (ot), 2-0, 3-2 (ot))
BU: 3.44 gpg (#4 HEA), 3.37 gapg (#10 HEA), 19.6% pp (#4 HEA), 78.2% pk (#7 HEA)
ME: 3.52 gpg (#3 HEA), 3.33 gapg (#9 HEA), 27.8% pp (#1 HEA), 81.8% pk (#3 HEA)
BU had its hands full with an offensive Merrimack team and its stretch play. Kieran Millan was very good in the series, stepping up in the third game similar to how he played last season.
Maine is playing without their starting goalie and is rallying. After dropping the first game, they rebounded to win a tough series. They cannot afford a slow start in this game. Their power play is their main weapon and is tops in the nation.
Outlook: BU will probably want to avoid the penalty box in this game as Maine is lethal. Maine is vulnerable in net and an oppotunistic BU should be able to keep enough pressure on the net to score a victory. Unlike Madore in Vermont, Millan is not under pressure to shut out Maine to move on. BU should move on to face BC for the fifth time this season.
Tags: Boston College, Boston University, College Hockey, Maine, Merrimack College, UMass, UMass-Lowell, University of New Hampshire, Vermont