You could not ask for a better weekend of QF play than was witnessed this past weekend. The parity that was so prevalent throughout the regular season was even further amplified in round 1 of the HE playoffs.
It is evidently clear that your league is talented from top to bottom when the #8 seed, in this case UMass, outplays the #1 team in HE and all of the land (BC) for the better part of 2 games – some could UMass deserved a better fate (not Toot Cahoon – see postgame comments in video link below). Give BC all the credit in the world as they did what elite teams’ do, win games their not supposed to win down the stretch through timely scoring and stout defense.
BC earned their 13th consecutive win – amazingly the longest such streak in the Jerry York era and advanced to Friday’s Garden Paaahty where they will face the upstart PC Friars in game one of the doubleheader (NBC Sports Network/NESN). Parker Milner continues to be the story for the Eagles down the stretch and his 33 save effort Saturday night was indeed the difference against a determined UMass team. UMass finishes the year with a disappointing (13-18-5) record while the Eagles improved to (27-10-1)
The “Official Take” from each School:
The first round had all the dramatics and exploits that playoff hockey is known for and featured 3 OT battles (2 in the BU/UNH series alone). Playoff hockey is palpable and its ingratiating manner is derived from the building desperation that comes from the sudden death – lose and go home potential. In watching the three out of the four series, the frenetic energy was indeed on a different level than any of the regular season games I witnessed.
The BU/UNH series was the ‘granddaddy of them all’ and broke, not one, but two longevity records with Friday and then subsequently, Sunday’s double OT spectacular. Alex Chiasson (St. Augustin, Que.) earned HE player of the week honors with his 6 pts (2G 4A) effort including the dramatic 2OT winner Sunday afternoon that propelled the Terriers into the semifinals against Maine Friday night at the Garden. Kieran Milan outdueled Casey DeSmith and made a tournament record 68 saves in Sunday night’s clincher.
BU was dead to rights, down 4-1 in the decisive game 3, but much like they have done all year long, they battled back for the OT winner. The win marks BU’s 10th trip to the semi-finals in 11 years
“Chiasson added three assists to tie his career high of four points while sophomore Garrett Noonan (Catholic Memorial) started the comeback from the 4-1 deficit with back-to-back goals late in the second period. Noonan also added an assist for the first three-point game of his career. Megan provided the game-tying goal just 30 seconds into the third period before assisting on the winner.”
The BF has been uber critical of #6 BU for most of the 2nd half but my hats are off to this tight knit bunch who have shown guts and resolve all season long. As much as I try and avoid emotional hyperbole – If the Terriers can claim any hardware whatsoever down the stretch, you could argue that this would be one of Jack Parker’s best coaching season of all time given the off ice shenanigans the Terriers have faced all year.
The “Official Take” from each school:
Maine avenged last years QF loss to Merrimack as the Black bears took game 3, 2-1. Brice O’Connor (Londonderry, N.Y.) scored on the rebound of a Nick Pryor shot from the slot 3:43 into the second period and it proved to be the game-winner as the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team skated past Merrimack 2-1 to win the Hockey East quarterfinal series. With the victory, Maine advances to the TD Garden and will face Boston University on Friday, March 16 at 8 PM.
Game 3 was somewhat uneventful following the “donnybrook’ that ensued in game 2 Saturday night. Maine is a very unlikeable squad in my opinion and tends to stir the pot quite a bit. The game was marred by a Hockey East playoff record 50 penalties for 184 penalty minutes. Merrimack was whistled for 26 penalties for 98 minutes, while the Black received 24 penalties for 86 minutes. Maine finished the game 1-for-8 on the power play, while Merrimack was 1-for-7.
Maine improves to 22-12-3 on the season, while Merrimack falls to 18-12-7. Merrimack sits on the bubble of the NCAA tournament – Merrimack blogger Mike McMahon breaks down the somewhat bleak scenarios that would put the Warriors into the Frozen Four Tournament. Kudos to the Merrimack faithful who took Orono by storm last weekend -it was estimated that 10% of the student body made the trek to Orono.
The “Official Take” from each School:
#7 Lowell has to be the biggest disappointment in the QF round as Norm Bazin’s Riverhawks perservered all season long, only to stumble in the opening round. Providence stunned the host Riverhawks and advanced to the Garden semifinal with a 1-0 blanking in the decisive game 3 at Tsongas.
Lowell was hindered by the injury (Riley Wetmore played with a broken hand) and an inability to get their transition game going – you certainly can’t blame goaltender Doug Carr who stopped all but one chance on Sunday. The playoffs are all about momentum and health and the Riverhawks were devoid of both.
Providence freshman Ross Mauermann (Janesville, Wisc.) scored the game’s only goal, seven minutes into play, and PC held on for the 1 goal win. It marked the first time in Hockey East history that a seventh-seed defeated a second-seed in the Quarterfinals. PC was aided by the return of top scorer Tim Schaller and the stellar play of senior G Alex Beaudry (Cumberland, Ont.).
The “Offical Take” from each School:
Where We Stand
HE Accolades and Awards
|ATHLETIC REPUBLIC PLAYER OF THE WEEK|
|#9 ALEX CHIASSON, BOSTON UNIVERSITY
(Junior Forward; St. Augustin, Que.)
|Chiasson tallied six points (2g,4a) and +3 plus/minus rating in the Terriers’ quarterfinal series against UNH. Scored double-overtime clincher in Game Three and added three assists for a career-high four points.|
|PRO AMBITIONS ROOKIE OF THE WEEK|
|#14 ROSS MAUERMANN, PROVIDENCE
(Freshman Forward; Janesville, Wis.)
|Mauermann scored the game winner in game three vs. UMass Lowell. Also had an assist in a game one win at the Tsongas Center. Finished the weekend with seven shots on goal and a +3 rating for the Friars|
|HEA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK|
|#31 KIERAN MILLAN, BOSTON UNIVERSITY
(Senior Goaltender; Edmonton, Alta.)
|Millan recorded 150 saves (.943 save percentage) for the Terriers over the three quarterfinal games, including a tournament-best 68-save performance in the decisive third game on Sunday afternoon at Agganis Arena.|