Friday, April 10, 2015

Hail Hockey East as BU, PC to Meet for NCAA Title

It'll be an all-Hockey East final on Saturday night in Beantown when Providence College and Boston University meet in the NCAA Division I men's hockey national championship game.

15th-ranked Providence advanced to its first NCAA title tilt in 30 years with a 4-1 victory over No. 9 (Nebraska) Omaha in the first Frozen four semifinal on Thursday at TD Garden in Boston. Jon Gillies made 25 saves for the Friars, who took a 2-0 second-period lead on goals by captain Noel Acciari and Mark Jankowksi before salting away matters with two third-period scores after Jake Guentzel had brought UNO within one goal. The Friars outshot the Mavericks, 48-26, as UNO senior goaltender Ryan Massa completed his collegiate career with a 44-save effort in defeat.

No. 2 Boston U. got two goals and an assist from fabulous freshman Jack Eichel, including the game's first and final goals, in the Terriers' 5-3 win over No. 3 North Dakota in the nightcap. BU took leads of 2-0 and 4-1 before of 40 minutes of play before North Dakota stormed back with two third-period goals. The former Fighting Sioux threatened to tie the contest late before Eichel scored into an empty UND net in the final minute of play. UND outshot BU, 39-28, including 14-7 in the final stanza, but couldn't come up with the equalizer in coming up empty again at the Frozen Four for the seventh time in the last 14 seasons.

Both schools cashed in twice apiece on the power play. Matt O'Connor made 36 saves for the Terriers, despite a third-period puck-playing gaffe that resulted in a UND shorthanded goal. Zane McIntyre, who won the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goaltender this season, finished with 23 stops for UND. McIntyre and Eichel are both finalists, along with Harvard's Jimmy Vesey, for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation's best player, which will be presented later today at Northeastern University's Matthews Arena.

BU and PC split a home-and-home Hockey East series in the fall in their only meetings of the 2014-15 campaign. The Terriers won, 4-1, at Providence on Halloween night, while the Friars notched a 2-1 win the next night in Boston.

Saturday's final will be the first to feature two Hockey East squads since 1999, when Maine edged New Hampshire, 3-2, in overtime in Anaheim, Calif.. It will also be the third all-Hockey East matchup all-time, as BU topped Maine, 5-2, in 1995 in Providence, R.I.

BU is seeking its sixth national title overall, and first since 2009, while PC is gunning for its inaugural NCAA crown. The Friars fell to Rensselaer, 2-1, in the 1985 title game.

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