COLLEGE HOCKEY NOTEBOOK
With a record of 17-13-4, it has been a down year for Boston University. Yet the Terriers rallied in the second half of the season to finish in fourth place in Hockey East, earning a bye and home ice for the conference quarterfinals, in which they will host Connecticut on Friday.
Not bad for a team that started 8-11-2.
“We felt we had played some pretty good hockey,” said BU coach David Quinn. “We were just finding different ways to lose. There’s a difference between playing pretty well and playing winning hockey, and we weren’t playing winning hockey.”
BU was able to turn it around in the second half, going 9-2-2. But the Terriers know they will have to win the Hockey East tournament to reach the NCAA playoffs.
First up will be the best-of-three series with UConn, which played BU three times this season, going 1-1-1.
The Huskies also had their share of struggles but managed to win seven of their last eight to finish 15-17-2. That stretch put UConn in fifth place, good enough to get the last bye for the first round. It’s the program’s highest finish in four seasons in Hockey East.
“We’re excited with the way we finished, and we’re looking forward to the playoffs,” said UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh.
■ Boston College (18-13-3) enters the quarterfinals as the top seed and will host Merrimack (12-19-4), which swept UMass Lowell at Tsongas Center last weekend. The Warriors were the only road team to advance out of the first round last weekend. The teams met twice during the regular season, with the Eagles sweeping the series the first weekend in November.
■ UMass (17-8-2) survived a thrilling opening-round series with Vermont. After each team won in overtime, the Minutemen won Game 3 decisively, 5-1. Their reward? A quarterfinal matchup at Northeastern (21-8-5).
The teams played each other twice during the regular season, with the home team prevailing with a shutout each time. Northeastern’s Adam Gaudette is the leading scorer in the nation with 29 goals and 56 points. He was named the national Player of the Month for February.
■ Maine (18-14-4) swept New Hampshire in the first round and will head to Providence (20-10-4). The Friars swept the season series and have won the last 12 meetings. They are 15-0-1 against the Black Bears since 2011.
■ Over in the ECAC, Harvard (13-12-4) will host Dartmouth (15-15-2). The Crimson swept the season series by a combined score of 9-1. Back for Harvard is Ryan Donato (22 goals, 11 assists in 25 games). Donato scored five goals for Team USA in the Olympics, prompting some to question whether this will be the junior’s final weekend playing at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. He was drafted by the Bruins in 2014.
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