NCAA Northeast Regional Final Preview: Boston College vs. UMass Lowell

Kevin Hayes and BC will look to break through UMass Lowell's tight defense. - Matt Dewkett

WORCESTER, MASS. -- Sunday's All-Hockey East Northeast Regional Final between No. 1 Boston College and No. 2 UMass Lowell pits offense against defense.

The high-flying Eagles meet the defensive-minded River Hawks at the DCU Center at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU with a spot in the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four on the line.

The Eagles won the regular season series between the two clubs, 1-0-1. BC won the first round of the home-and-home by a score of 3-0 at Conte Forum. Johnny Gaudreau, Adam Gilmour and Austin Cangelosi all found the back of the net, and Thatcher Demko stopped all 33 shots he faced.

A night later Gaudreau and Ryan Fitzgerald scored second period markers to give BC a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes, but Lowell came charging back in front of the biggest crowd in Tsongas Center history.

Adam Chapie and A.J. White scored just under three minutes apart as the building exploded with emotion. The end result was a tie, but it was one point that felt more like a win for the River Hawks given the circumstance.

When getting right down to it, these two teams and their styles of play couldn't be any further apart. Boston College is a team loaded with stars destined for the NHL. The Eagles are a team looking to push the pace and let their skilled forwards go to work.

On the other hand, UMass Lowell is a team with few stars, but a group that plays together in one cohesive unit with the same goal in mind. The River Hawks look to plug the neutral zone, force the play to the perimeter and control the puck for long stretches of time with a methodical forecheck.

Another interesting aspect of this matchup is the two coaches going against each other. BC's Jerry York is the winningest coach of all-time, a mastermind when it comes to recruiting blue-chip talent, and an expert at getting his team up for big games late in the season.

UMass Lowell's Norm Bazin is an up-and-comer in the coaching fraternity. The French-Canadian guiding his alma mater worked his way up the coaching ranks as an assistant at Lowell and Colorado College before biding his time at Division III Hamilton College.

Bazin could be compared to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. He prefers to focus on the team game and mastering a precise game plan. Bazin's style isn't for the super star that wants to rack up points. Also similar to Belichick is Bazin's careful approach to dealing with the media.

Bazin certainly doesn't have Jerry York's impressive resume that includes NCAA Championships at two schools, but UMass Lowell's hockey program has surpassed all expectations these last three seasons. Three trips to the NCAA Tournament, a Frozen Four appearance last season, a Hockey East regular season crown and two Hockey East Tournament titles.

The whole world knows if Johnny Gaudreau has time and space, it will cause trouble for his opposition. UMass Lowell needs to do what it does best. Get sticks in lane, block shots and do a good job with gap control. If the River Hawks can do that and Connor Hellebuyck is on his game, then Bazin's club has a chance to make its second consecutive appearance in the Frozen Four.

The winner advances to the Frozen Four Thursday, April 10 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to play No. 1 Union College. The Dutchmen took out two Hockey East teams, Vermont and Providence, on their way to winning the East Regional in Bridgeport.

--

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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