Hockey East Saturday Night Recap: "Big Four" steps aside as UML takes regular season crown

(#12) Josh Holmstrom's third-period goal was the game-winner as UMass Lowell won its first-ever Hockey East regular-season title. - Justin Soderberg

On a wild final night of the regular season, UMass Lowell came up with a 4-1 win over Providence to capture the top seed in Hockey East. Boston College, Boston University, and the Friars will also host quarterfinal series.

UMass Lowell 4, Providence 1

River Hawk sophomore Scott Wilson scored a goal and added an assist as UMass Lowell captured its first-ever Hockey East regular season title with a 4-1 victory on Saturday night at Schneider Arena. The victory marked the first time in Hockey East's 29-year league history that a team other than Boston College, Boston University, New Hampshire or Maine won the top crown. Senior Tim Schaller scored just 19 seconds into the third period to tie the game for the Friars, but the River Hawks scored three unanswered for the victory, including the game-winner from junior Josh Holmstrom at 6:41 and a shorthanded empty-netter from freshman Christian Folin to make it 4-1 with 13 seconds remaining. After suffering his first loss in a starting situation, freshman Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves to earn his 14th win. UMass Lowell, which opened the season 4-7-1 after 11 games, has gone 18-3-1 since then with wins in eight of the final nine games. Despite the loss, the Friars finished the season in a tie for third place - their best showing in the league standings since finishing 2000-01 in a lock for second.

Boston College 7, Vermont 2

Saturday's 7-2 Eagle win at Gutterson Fieldhouse was a story of all about Johnny Gaudreau all the time. The sophomore forward scored twice and added four assists to set a new career-high with six points en route to the Maroon and Gold clinching the No. 2 seed in next weekend's quarterfinals, hosting the Catamounts down at Kelley Rink. In addition, junior Bill Arnold set his new benchmark with two goals, including the game's first at 14:01, and four total points. With the win, the Eagles secured their 20th win of the season, allowing head coach Jerry York to amass his 14th 20-win campaign in 16 years. Catamount juniors Connor Brickley and Chris McCarthy scored the first two goals of the third period within a span of about five minutes, but that was as close as they would come to BC senior Parker Milner (26 saves). John Vazzano (five saves on eight shots in 29:27) made his fifth-career appearance on his Senior Night in relief of rookie Brody Hoffman, who allowed four goals on 20 shots to start the contest.

Boston University 5, Northeastern 0

The Terriers used two strikes in a four-goal third period from junior Sahir Gill - his first goals in four games - and a 26-save shutout from rookie Sean Maguire to blank the visiting Northeastern Huskies at Agganis Arena and clinch the No. 3 seed in next week's Hockey East playoffs. Freshman Danny O'Regan tallied a goal and two assists for BU and is in the midst of a strong five-game point streak entering the postseason, allowing him to end the regular season in a tie with NU's Kevin Roy for points among league rookies with 34. Senior Chris Rawlings also made 26 saves for the Huskies, who finish their season with a record of 9-21-4 (5-18-4), and allowed just a single goal through the first 41:12 of the contest - O'Regan's 14th of the year at 7:01.

Massachusetts 3, Merrimack 0

Entering Saturday night's season finale at Mullins Center, the ninth-place UMass Minutemen had nothing to play for but pride on home ice against Merrimack. Sophomore Steve Mastalerz made 24 stops as he posted his second-career blanking, coming against his hometown team from North Andover, Mass. Juniors Adam Phillips and Conor Allen both had multi-point nights for UMass to finish the year, chipping in with a goal and an assist and a pair of helpers, respectively. Their classmate Braden Gracel added an assist in his 100th-career game, finishing the year with a team-best 34 points.

Maine 4, New Hampshire 4 (OT)

Junior Eric Knodel capped off a wild matinee from a sold-out Whittemore Center with the game-tying goal in the 17th minute of the third period as the No. 4 Wildcats salvaged a point on the weekend from their eighth-seeded archrival Black Bears in a 4-4 tie. Rookie Maxim Gaudreault and sophomore Trevor van Reimsdyk were the only 'Cats with multiple-point contests, while Gaudreault, a Maryland native, scored the lone goal of the duo to give the home team a 2-0 lead at the 14:06 mark of the second. Senior Joey Diamond scored a goal each in the second and third period, including a 3-3 equalizer at 5:58 of the third, while freshman Ben Hutton assisted on two Black Bear goals. Martin Ouellette made 31 saves in goal for the Black Bears as he improved to 9-10-8, while sophomore Casey DeSmith did one better for the Wildcats. Earning a point in the race was not enough as UNH was forced down to the fifth seed and will travel to Providence for the quarterfinals in what should be a tremendous match. Maine posted its eighth tie of the season in the contest and will be on the road at UMass Lowell for the first round of the quarterfinals.

And thus, the final Hockey East standings for the 2012-13 season...

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Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

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