Monday, March 12, 2012
BU's wild ride carries them to semifinals
By Brion O'Connor
Boston University forward Alex Chiasson, who must have felt snake-bit in the Terriers' first two Hockey East quarterfinal games against New Hampshire after converting on only one of several glorious scoring bids, proved lethal to UNH on Sunday when he buried the winner in double overtime to end New Hampshire's season, 5-4, and send the Terriers to the Hockey East semifinals.
It was the second double-overtime match between the teams in three nights.
Scoring the first and last goals of the series, Chiasson struck paydirt at 6:42 of the second extra session to cap a wild comeback and allowing the third-seeded Terriers (23-13-1) to take the best-of-three series over sixth-seeded New Hampshire (15-19-3), two games to one.
Evan Rodrigues (left) celebrates with Adam Clendening after getting the Terriers going.
The loss ends the Wildcats' impressive string of 10 straight NCAA postseason appearances, the second longest in the nation behind Michigan's 21 consecutive selections (the Wolverines, ranked No. 4 in the country and No. 2 in the PairWise, are assured of their 22nd consecutive bid).
In a roller-coaster game before 3,025 at BU's Agganis Arena, the Terriers took an early lead on Evan Rodrigues' strike at 4:11, then promptly fell behind when they gave up four unanswered goals to trail 4-1 halfway through the game. UNH's Casey Thrush got the Wildcats going with his third of the year at 8:09, then put his squad up 2-1 with his second of the game at 14:30.
Second-period goals by Greg Burke and captain Mike Borisenok gave UNH a commanding 4-1 lead, but BU began chipping away at the 16-minute mark. Garrett Noonan single-handedly got his team back into the match, scoring twice before the second intermission to cut the UNH margin to 4-3.
Thirty seconds into the third period, BU's Wade Megan knotted the game, 4-4, with his 19th of the season. From that point, the netminders -- BU's Kieran Millan and UNH's Casey DeSmith -- put on a goaltending clinic. Millan stopped 27 shots in the third period and first overtime, while DeSmith stopped 31 shots over the same stretch.
At 6:42 of the second OT, Chiasson finally solved DeSmith, registering his 14th goal of the season, and sending the Terriers into the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden. BU will match up against fourth seed Maine at 8 p.m. Friday.
In other Hockey East quarterfinals:
No. 7 Providence 1, No. 2 Lowell 0 (Friars wins series, 2-1) The clock hasn't hit midnight for Cinderella, but the glass slippers don't fit quite as comfortably for Norm Bavin's second-seeded River Hawks (23-12-1) after the seventh-seeded Friars shut Lowell out of the Hockey East playoffs before 3,963 at the Tsongas Center.
The Friars (14-19-4) got all the scoring that goaltender Alex Beaudry would need when freshman Ross Mauermann lit the lamp at the 7-minute mark of the opening period. During a scramble in front of the Lowell net, Mauermann was able to shovel the puck past Lowell goalie Doug Carr during a scramble in front for his 10th of the year.
From that point on, Carr slammed shut the door on the Friars, racking up 35 saves. Unfortunately for the River Hawks, Beaudry was every bit as good, turning aside all 29 Lowell shots to post the shutout and keep the Friars' season alive.
The reward for the Friars' quarterfinal victory is a date with No. 1 Boston College (27-10-1), the defending league champions, at 5 p.m. Friday at the Garden. Meanwhile, the No. 7 River Hawks, assured a spot in the NCAA tournament, must wait until March 19 to find where they play next.
No. 4 Maine 2, No. 5 Merrimack 1 (Maine wins series, 2-1) Merrimack is left to play the waiting game after Maine (22-12-3) put the Warriors' season on life support by ousting them from the Hockey East playoffs before 4,067 at Maine's Alfond Arena.
It was Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata's fifth 2-1 loss of the season. After Saturday's donnybrook -- a combined 184 minutes on 50 penalties -- Sunday's affair was relatively mild, with 15 total minors called. But the game wasn't decided until the final buzzer.
Maine's Spencer Abbott got the Black Bears on the board first with his 20th of the season at 11:38 of the opening period. Defender Brice O'Connor doubled the lead with a slapper from above the right face-off dot at 3:43 of the second.
Merrimack senior Ryan Flanigan got one back for the Warriors at 9:16 of the middle stanza, but from that point on, the goaltenders took over. Cannata, who was stellar all series, and all season, finished with 30 saves. But Maine's Dan Sullivan, the backbone of a rejuvenated Maine defense, was equal to the task, finishing with 20 stops.
Next stop for Maine is TD Garden. The No. 14 Warriors (18-12-7), however, can only hope for an NCAA bid, though the prospects look bleak.
In local ECAC Hockey action:
No. 3 Harvard 8, No. 6 Yale 2 (Harvard wins series, 2-1) Finally, a game that didn't go down to the wire. One night after Harvard (12-9-11) saved its season with a double-overtime win against Yale, the Crimson blew the Bulldogs out of the Bright Center to win their quarterfinal series.
Yale scored first, on Chad Ziegler's tally at 4:06 of the first, but then it was all Crimson. By the two-minute mark of the third period, Harvard had built a 6-1 lead on goals by Alex Killorn (2), David Valek (2), Alex Fallstrom and Marshall Everson.
Yale's Antoine Laganiere cut the lead to 6-2 with a power-play goal at 10:41 of the third, but Harvard answered with two power-play strikes of its own, by Daniel Moriarity (15:10) and Valek (19:41) to put the game, and the series, out of reach. Harvard's Raphael Girard secured the win with 39 saves, while a trio of Yale goaltenders -- Connor Wilson, Nick Maricic and Jeff Malcolm -- combined to stop 33 Crimson shots.
With the win, Harvard books a spot at next weekend's ECAC semifinals at Atlantic City, where it will face second-seeded Cornell (17-7-7).