Colleges

BC 6, MAINE 3

BC knocks off Maine to clinch Hockey East title

Boston College clinched the Hockey East title on the penultimate day with a 6-3 win over Maine Friday night.

The final placings went down nearly to the wire, No. 20-ranked BC (17-13-3, 17-6 Hockey East) moving to 34 points, three more than second-place Northeastern. BC and Maine (16-13-4, 10-10-3) will be rematched Saturday night, the Black Bears tied for fifth place and one point from gaining a first-round bye.

This is the 16th Hockey East title for BC, which shared first place the two previous seasons, finishing in two- and three-way ties. In 10 of the previous 15 Hockey East seasons, the top teams have been separated by a point or less.

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“It’s special to get a trophy,” BC coach Jerry York said. “Especially a trophy that says the whole season depends on this trophy — it’s not a three-game, get hot in the playoffs. It’s a battle from October through late February. So, our first goal is get home ice and try to chase that trophy.

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“Now, of course, we shift gears to the Lamoriello Cup [Hockey East tournament], which is significant because it gives, at least our team, access to the NCAA Tournament.”

BC compiled a 1-5-1 mark in October and the Eagles’ winless record in nonconference games has cost them a high placing in the Pairwise rankings. BC will be top seeded in the Hockey East playoffs and will likely have to win the tournament to return to the NCAA event.

The Eagles continued their rebound from a fourth-place Beanpot finish as the team’s oldest player, 24-year-old graduate student Kevin Lohan, and several of the Eagles’ teenagers led the way.

Maine, which has a six-game losing streak against BC and has not earned a point at Conte Forum since 2013, opened the scoring as Finnish freshman Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi finished from the left circle at 8:05, his second collegiate goal.

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Freshman Logan Hutsko and Lohan sparked BC to a 3-1 lead in the second period.

Hutsko took possession in the neutral zone, touched past a defender through the right circle and made a smooth backhand finish past Jeremy Swayman (29 saves) at 39 seconds of the second period. Hutsko extended his consecutive game scoring streak to five with his 12th goal.

Lohan, a defenseman who played for Michigan from 2013-17, scored for the first time this season, putting the Eagles ahead to stay with goals at 6:07 and 14:25. Lohan, who missed six games after sustaining a broken jaw in an off-ice incident, attempted to flip a centering pass from behind the net, the shot deflecting off a defender and sliding under Swayman. Lohan then wristed a point-blank shot past Swayman stick side off a feed from Michael Kim (three assists).

“That was great to see,” BC captain Casey Fitzgerald said of Lohan’s goals. “[Lohan] is one of the best character guys in the locker room and, obviously, with facing adversity this year, it was good to see him get that.’’

Sophomore Joe Woll (32 saves) made 18 saves in the second period, including a back-to-back stops on Tom Doherty and Nolan Vesey late.

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In the third period, BC freshman Casey Carreau converted his first collegiate goal off a Zach Walker assist at 3:15. Swedish freshman Emil Westerlund cut the Black Bears’ deficit with his seventh goal, but BC’s JD Dudek then converted his sixth of the season and Fitzgerald’s drive from the left circle upped the edge to 6-2.

“We’re still re-setting our whole roster,” York said. “I remember coming home from the Frozen Four two years ago and thinking that, boy, we’re going to be on a run here for a long time. And then, all of a sudden, seven players turn pro on us up and down our lineup, from freshmen to sophomores to juniors. But there was a moment on the bus that I thought, hey, we’re going to run the table here the next couple years with the players we have. And now we’ve rebuilt and we’re slowly getting back to where we can win a league championship. That’s a pretty good testament to the players we have and bodes really well for the future.”