The hottest line in the nation showed just what it is made of Friday night at TD Garden when No. 3 seed Boston University knocked off No. 2 Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals, 6-3.
Junior left wing Matt Nieto, freshmen center Danny O’Regan, and sophomore right wing Evan Rodrigues combined for four goals and two assists in the win.
The trio has now racked up 79 points, 37 of them goals, in the last 21 games. Nieto has nine goals and 15 points in his last eight outings.
O’Regan and Rodrigues each had a pair of goals in the win, which keeps BU’s postseason alive, and Nieto added a pair of assists.
“He’s been a very streaky scorer ever since he arrived,’’ said coach Jack Parker, referring to Nieto. “He really struggled in the first semester of his freshman year and the last eight games of his freshman year, he really caught fire and took off. At the beginning of his sophomore year, he was on fire and extended his scoring streak. He’s always been like that. Now he is on the best streak he’s been on.’’
O’Regan has six goals and 16 points in his last 11 contests and Rodrigues, too, has averaged better than a point a game with 16 points in his last 14 games.
O’Regan said BU made some adjustments to turn the tables on BC after getting down by two goals.
“Nieto and Rodrigues are tough to keep track of,’’ said O’Regan. “They slipped behind [the defense] a couple of times and a couple of skilled guys are tough to contain. I think it was more us adjusting to them than them really changing.’’
In some interesting scheduling news, Hockey East released the tentative 2013-14 plans as the league expands to 11 teams with the addition of Notre Dame. All schools will make it to the postseason, unlike this year where the top eight qualified.
What is significantly different is the number of conference games. Instead of 27 Hockey East games, each team will play 20 and will have 14 nonconference games. In addition, the league postseason will be played out over three weekends instead of two. The top five teams will receive a bye while No. 6 will host No. 11, No. 7 will host No. 10, and No. 8 will host No. 9. The following weekend will be best-of-three quarterfinal round with No. 1 hosting the lowest remaining seed and so on. The semifinals and final will be the following weekend at TD Garden.
Lowell stays on roll
In the opener, UMass-Lowell improved to 19-3-1 in its last 23 games with a 2-1 win over Providence . . . The Friars lost for the first time when leading through two periods, ending their 16-game unbeaten streak (14-0-2) . . . Kevin Rooney netted his first collegiate goal in his 29th career game for Providence . . . UMass-Lowell freshman netminder Connor Hellebuyck improved his nation-best winning percentage to 89.5 and his record is now 17-2-0 . . . UMass-Lowell, looking for its first Hockey East title, will play in its third championship game overall and first since 2009, when it lost to BU, 1-0.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.