By Stevie Potter
Cover Photo Credit: Jessica Lam
As it heads into the most crucial weekend of the season thus far, No. 1-seeded Boston University Men’s Hockey (25-10-0, 18-6-0 HE) is preparing to face off against the No. 7-seeded Providence College Friars (16-13-7, 9-9-6 HE) in the Hockey East semifinals. The game will occur at 4 pm on Friday at TD Garden.
BU finished its regular season play with a series sweep against Providence, beating the Friars 6-4 on March 3 and shutting them out 2-0 on March 4. While this is undoubtedly a positive for BU, it will be necessary for the Terriers to stay sharp against Providence, especially after their upset 2-1 victory over Northeastern University in the quarterfinals last week.
“You have to get inside against them in the offensive zone,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “They’ll try to keep us away from the net, so we have to make sure that’s something we’ve gotten better at recently is getting to the net and getting inside.”
The most recent tournament matchup between these two programs was during the 2018 Hockey East championship, which BU won 2-0. Historically, BU has fared well against Providence and has a 12-10 edge in all-time Hockey East tournament games. That said, the schools are tied 2-2 all-time in semifinal games against one another.
The second semifinal game of the evening will be between UMass Lowell and Merrimack College at 7:30 pm. If BU is victorious in its semifinal game, it will then play the winner of these two schools in the championship round.
Both Lowell and Merrimack were tough competition for BU this season. BU split their series with Lowell early in the season, losing the first matchup 2-1 on Oct. 28, then mounting a comeback on Oct. 29 and winning 2-1 in OT. Merrimack managed to best BU in both games they played against each other and stretched BU’s only losing streak of the season to four. In their series, BU lost 4-1 on Feb. 17 and again on Feb. 18, 4-3 in OT.
Hockey East Rookie of the Year winner, freshman defenseman Lane Hutson, will undoubtedly serve an essential role for the Terriers this weekend. Hutson leads the team in points, with a total of 44 (12g, 32a). Senior forward Matt Brown, who has 43 points and led the Terriers with 15 goals, will also bring his much-needed playmaking skills and a veteran presence, which will be crucial with the captain and senior defenseman Domenick Fensore listed as day-to-day.
“I do anticipate him [Fensore] being back this season,” said Pandolfo. “Whether he plays tomorrow night or not is still to be determined. I certainly hope so, but right now he’s still day-to-day… knowing him he will do everything in his power to try to play.”
If the Terriers can advance to the Hockey East Championship, that game will occur on March 18 at TD Garden.