UML wins HEA regular season championship, UNH ties late

By Ryan Barry

The No. 7 UMass Lowell hockey team won its first ever Hockey East regular season championship Saturday night with a 4-1 win over No. 18 Providence College in a winner-take-all showdown at Schneider Arena in Providence, R.I.

With the victory, the Riverhawks clinch the top seed in the Hockey East playoffs.

After the Friars tied the score at one in the third period, UML (22-10-2, 16-9-2 HEA) reeled off three unanswered goals in the final frame to seal the win. Josh Holmstrom broke the tie with his 11th goal of the year with 14 minutes, 19 seconds left. Scott Wilson and Christian Folin added insurance scores later in the period.

The Riverhawks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first period with senior Riley Wetmore’s 15th goal of the year. Meanwhile, the Friars (15-12-7, 13-8-6 HEA) were scoreless through the first two periods until Tim Schaller’s seventh goal of the year knotted the game up early in the third period.

UML freshman goalie Connor Hellebuyck kept Providence in check, saving 32-of-33 shots. Meanwhile, Friars freshman Jon Gillies had 22 saves in net on the night.

Despite the loss, Providence finished in a three-way tie for third place – its best finish since 2001, when it finished in second place.

The top-seeded Riverhawks take on No. 8 seed Maine in next week’s HEA quarterfinals in a best-of-three series at Tsongas Arena in Lowell. The Friars open up as the No. 4 seed against No. 5 UNH at Schneider Arena.

This is Providence’s first time hosting Hockey East postseason play since 2003.

UNH blows lead, salvages tie against Maine

No. 4 New Hampshire wrapped up the regular season with a 4-4 tie against Maine Saturday night in dramatic fashion.

Wildcat junior defenseman Eric Knodel secured the tie with 3:38 remaining in the third period, spoiling the Black Bears’ (11-17-8, 7-12-8 HEA) chance at moving up to a No. 7 seed in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

UNH (18-9-7, 13-8-6 HEA) held a 3-1 lead with four minutes left in the second period, backed by freshman Maxim Gaudreault’s three points. But Maine rattled off the next three goals, including senior Joey Diamond’s equalizer with 14:02 remaining in the third, followed by freshman Will Merchant’s go-ahead goal two minutes later to take a 4-3 lead.

Knodel’s goal salvaged the tie, but blew an opportunity to move into third place with a victory.

Wildcat sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith improved his record this year to 17-7-7, snagging 32-of-36 shots from the Black Bears on the night. Maine junior goalie Martin Ouellette stopped 31 shots.

UNH entered the weekend needing two points and some help to clinch the top seed and Hockey East regular season championship. But Maine denied that opportunity, and instead the Wildcats hold the No. 5 seed and will travel to Providence in a best-of-three series at Schneider Arena in Providence, R.I.

Terriers dominate lowly Huskies, clinch No. 3 seed

Saturday night’s 5-0 win over Northeastern brought an end to an up and down regular season for No. 19 Boston University.

After a rough February that saw the Terriers (18-15-2, 15-10-2 HEA) go 2-5-1, they finished the season winning four of their last five games and clinched the No. 3 seed in the HEA playoffs.

The Terriers got things going midway through the first period against the Huskies (9-21-4, 5-18-4 HEA) as freshman Danny O’Regan scored his 14th goal of the season.

It was a 1-0 game until the third period when the Terriers started the scoring arsenal, as sophomore Evan Rodrigues broke open the lead 1:12 into the third.

Following junior Matt Nieto’s goal with 7:08 left to make it 3-0, junior Sahir Gill scored a pair in a 4:21 span to all but end a chance of a Huskies comeback.

Northeastern had its fair share of chances on the power play, but came up empty on four man advantages in a scoreless effort. On the other side, the Terriers capitalized, as they notched two power play goals on five attempts.

The Huskies finished in the cellar of the HEA standings.

The Terriers clinched the No. 3 seed in the HEA quarterfinals and home ice against No. 6 seed Merrimack. The best-of-three series begins Friday night at Agganis Arena in Boston.

Ryan Barry can be reached at [email protected]