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Hockey East Friday Night Recap: UVM clinches final playoff spot; Merrimack, Maine, PC pull wins

With one night remaining in the Hockey East regular season, UMass Lowell and Providence sit in a first-place tie in the standings and can clinch the league's top seed with a head-to-head win at Schneider Arena.

Connor Toomey scored his second overtime winner of the season as the Merrimack Warriors defeated UMass on Friday in North Andover.
Connor Toomey scored his second overtime winner of the season as the Merrimack Warriors defeated UMass on Friday in North Andover.
Walter Rossini

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-- updated 3/8 at 11:00 p.m. --

Providence 3, UMass Lowell 0

Freshman Jon Gillies made stops on all 31 shots he faced as the Friars scored once in each period to take down the host and No. 7-ranked River Hawks, 3-0, on Friday night at the Tsongas Center. Sophomore Ross Mauermann, junior Kevin Hart and freshman Tom Parisi scored for the Friars as they moved into a head-to-head tie at the top of the Hockey East standings and also snapped Lowell's seven-game winning streak. The offensive trio also teamed to give freshman Connor Hellebuyck (23 saves) of the River Hawks his first loss in 14 career starts, breaking the longest stretch by any goaltender in the school's Division I history. With the win, PC captured its 13th league triumph this season for the third-highest mark in program history, while it has posted back-to-back years with at least ten wins for the first time since 1999-00 and 2000-01. A win by either club in Saturday night's rematch at Schneider Arena would clinch the regular season title.

Merrimack 4, Massachusetts 3 (OT)

Sophomore Connor Toomey kept Merrimack's hopes of home ice alive in the Hockey East quarterfinals next weekend as he scored 1:45 into overtime to lift the Warriors past UMass for the second time this season. After allowing three third period goals to the Minutemen to force overtime, Toomey - a local Billerica, Mass. native - sent the fans home happy from North Andover following the final regular-season home game this year. Merrimack now has 29 points and sits in sixth place in the Hockey East playoffs. Warrior captain Jordan Heywood, the game's second star, scored 11:53 into the first period and also added an assist to junior classmate Mike Collins in the third period. Despite defeat, Rocco Carzo and Branden Gracel each posted multiple points for the Minutemen, while sophomore Steve Mastalerz made 32 saves in goal. Merrimack's Sam Marotta bounced back from a shaky third period to earn the his 12th victory of the season heading into Saturday's season finale at Mullins Center.

Vermont 4, Boston College 4 (OT)

Eagle senior Steven Whitney scored twice - his Hockey East best 22nd and 23rd goals of the season - as visiting and No. 6 Boston College held on for a point in a 4-4 tie on the road at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vt. Despite earning a single point, the tie snapped BC's five-game winning streak over the Catamounts. With his second point of the night, Whitney matched his career-high of 44 points, set in his junior season, while sophomore Johnny Gaudreau completed his second 40-point campaign in a row with a second-period goal. UVM had nine different players post at least one point and three players with multi-point efforts on the night, including a goal and an assist from freshmen Robert Polesello and Caylen Walls. The result, coupled with UMass' loss, allowed the Catamounts to clinch the final open playoff spot in the conference race, joining the postseason picture for the seventh time in eight years as a member. Vermont is 5-2-3 in its last ten home games against Boston College since 2007 and has also outscored its opponents by an astounding 18-4 count while skating 5-on-5 over the last eight games. Freshman Brody Hoffman finished the night with 31 saves, while BC senior Parker Milner stopped 17 at the other end.

Maine 4, New Hampshire 3

Senior Kyle Beattie scored a pair of goals in the third period and junior Martin Ouellette made 31 saves in goal as the Black Bears pulled an upset victory over their archrivals on Friday at Whittemore Center - a 4-3 triumph over the No. 4 UNH Wildcats. The visitors got off to a good start against sophomore 'Cat Casey DeSmith (20 saves) as rookie Steven Swavely scored shorthanded at 8:45 of the opening stanza for the only goal of the opening 20 minutes. The offenses turned on in the third period as the sides combined for six of the game's seven goals, including a goal and an assist from UNH junior Eric Knodel. With the loss, UNH falls to 18-9-6 and 13-8-5 in league play, falling to Maine for the first time at home since Feb. 4, 2005. Additionally, the nation's two longest unbeaten streaks were both broken as UNH's 2-0-3 stretch entering the night was halted. With a win in Saturday's series finale, UNH can secure home ice for the 17th time in 18 years, but will also need a little outside help to back into one of the three remaining spots.

Boston University 4, Northeastern 2

The No. 19 Terriers used a goal from each of its four forward lines and 31 stops from freshman Sean Maguire to top the host Northeastern Huskies for the first time this season, 4-2, at Matthews Arena. Seniors Jake Moscatel and Wade Megan scored the first two goals of the game for BU in the first period, before it built a 4-1 lead early in the final stanza. Moscatel's goal came at 12:19 of the stanza and was his first point as a Division I player. NU was sparked by scores from junior Cody Ferriero and sophomore Adam Reid in the first and third. Ferriero, an Essex, Mass. native, also added an assist to Reid's goal for a multiple-point night - his fifth of the season. In his final career game on St. Botolph Street, senior Chris Rawlings made 33 saves for the Huskies, which look for their second win this year at Agganis Arena on Saturday.

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