by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
The first two rounds of the Hockey East Tournament have come and gone in exciting fashion. Four teams remain heading into the final weekend of the competition at TD Garden on March 16 and 17.
Despite the fact that 12 of the first 15 games of the tournament were decided by only one goal, with six of those 12 games ending in overtime, there were relatively few upsets.
The only team to take down a higher seed was Merrimack College. The tenth seeded Warriors defeated the seventh place University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks in two overtime decisions, 2-1 in game one and 3-2 in game two.
The eighth seeded UMass Minutemen took on ninth seed University of Vermont in the only series of the first round that needed a third game to decide the victor. UMass decisively won the final matchup by a score of 5-1, moving on to face Northeastern University in the quarterfinals.
There was no lack of excitement in week two, as the top five teams jumped into action. First seed Boston College narrowly defeated Merrimack in two games, the first by a score of 1-0 and the second in overtime by a final score of 4-3.
Northeastern made quick work of UMass, winning both games by scores of 3-2 and 7-2. Senior forwards Dylan Sikura and Nolan Stevens combined for six of the Huskies’ 10 goals over the two games.
Providence played a tightly-contested series against the University of Maine Black Bears. Despite finding themselves down twice in game one, goals from Erik Foley ’19, Bailey Conger ’21, Scott Conway ’19, and Josh Wilkins ’20 propelled the Friars to victory. Wilkins scored with 3:10 left in the third period to give Providence their first lead of the night, one that would hold until the final buzzer. On night two, the Friars got up early with goals from Conway, Brandon Duhaime ’20, and Wilkins in the first period. The team never looked back, despite a two-goal push from the Black Bears, winning the game by a score of 3-2.
Fourth place Boston University faced off against Fifth seed University of Connecticut in a series that saw the Terriers squeeze out a 5-4 victory in overtime in game one, before winning game two in regulation by a score of 2-1.
Only the top four seeds remain heading into the final weekend of action, with BC taking on BU at 5 p.m. and Northeastern facing off against PC at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16. The winners of each game will play in the championship game on Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
Both of these matchups are expected to be closely-contested competitions, meaing fans will likely leave the TD Garden Friday night feeling they got their money’s worth. Boston College and Boston University have faced each other twice this season in back-to-back games on Dec. 1 and 2. BU took game one by a score of 7-4 while BC bounced back the night two to win 4-1. Keep an eye out for BU forward Brady Tkachuk (younger brother of current NHL player Matthew Tkachuk and son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk) who has a goal and assist in the tournament.
Northeastern and PC also played back-to-back on Jan. 26 and 27. Game one ended in a 4-4 tie after an overtime session, while the Friars took game two, also in overtime, by a score of 2-1.
Northeastern forward Adam Gaudette led all of Division 1 with 59 points in 36 games for the Huskies this season, and has a goal and two assists in the tournament thus far. Look for him and teammate Sikura, who is two places behind Gaudette in points with 52, to be key contributors if their team has success in this game.
Regardless of which teams move on, due to the high level of competition between all of the four remaining schools, the championship game will not disappoint. There is particular interest if BU and Northeastern advance, as that would create a rematch from the Beanpot final, which Northeastern won by a score of 5-2. Look at this as the potential for the Terriers to exact revenge on their inter-city foe.