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Hockey East Tournament: Observations from Friday night

Providence sophomore Jon Gillies stops Maine forward Cam Brown who had a good chance on the backdoor in the second period.
Providence sophomore Jon Gillies stops Maine forward Cam Brown who had a good chance on the backdoor in the second period.
Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

PROVIDENCE, RI --- The opening night of the 2014 Hockey East quarterfinals saw three of the four higher seeds win. The only higher seed to lose? No. 1 Boston College, the regular season champion in a land slide, was blown out of its own building by No. 8 Notre Dame, 7-2.

Defenseman Stephen Johns scored twice and Mario Lucia tallied the game-winner as the Fighting Irish defeated the Eagles for the second consecutive time. BC lost to Notre Dame, 2-1, in overtime in the regular season finale for each team.

Notre Dame is 7-0-1 over its last eight games and carries a six-game winning streak into tonight's game. After going 17-0-1 over an 18 game span, Jerry York's Eagles are now 0-2-1 in their last three.

Is it panic button time in Chestnut Hill? No, but the Eagles need to figure out a way to set up in the offensive zone and regain their ability to freely enter the zone. Jeff Jackson implemented a terrific game plan that prevented the Eagles from being able to possess the puck for great periods of time.

Quick start propels Friars

Providence's tenacious forecheck and speed were too much for Maine to handle for a third consecutive game. Nate Leaman's team jumped into a home ice spot in the quarterfinals on the final weekend of the regular season with a shocking sweep of Maine in Orono.

The ice was tilted in Providence's favor for much of the night, including the first half of the first and third periods. The Friars scored twice in a 1:29 span in the first period to go up 2-0 before the midway mark of the opening frame. PC also held Maine without a shot on goal for the first half of the third period, even with the Black Bears pushing for a comeback.

When the Friars did let down their guard, sophomore goaltender Jon Gillies was there to bail the Friars out.

"He makes big saves for us night in and night out," said sophomore Mark Jankowski who scored a goal and added an assist. "We know if we falter [in the defensive zone] he has our back. It gives us a little leeway to play offensively," added the fellow Calgary Flames prospect.

Third period rally for River Hawks

UMass Lowell needed two scored in the third period to escape an upset bid by Vermont. Freshman Evan Campbell scored with 8:43 to tie the score, 2-2, and Adam Chapie buried the game-winner on the power play with 1:17 to play in regulation.

The River Hawks survived, but the Catamounts proved they can play with the defending Hockey East Tournament champions. Freshman Brady Shaw scored both goals for Kevin Sneddon's UVM squad.

Similarly to the two above series, these two teams finished the regular season against each other. Tonight's game will likely be much the same -- low scoring and down to the wire. UMass Lowell needs to find that killer instinct it had last season to put teams away when given the opportunity.

Wildcats stymie Huskies' offense

In its 32 games against opponents not named New Hampshire, Northeastern has averaged 3.34 goals per game. In three games against the Wildcats, the Huskies have found the back of the net just once.

New Hampshire dominated puck possession on its big sheet at the Whittemore Center and prevented Northeastern's skill players from going to the net.

Freshman Tyler Kelleher's goal 4:49 into the third period was the difference as junior goaltender Casey DeSmith stopped all 27 shots he saw.

One noticeable difference in this game was the inability of Northeastern's third and fourth lines to generate much in terms of offensive productivity. There were no shots on goal by any of NU's forwards on the fourth line while Dalen Hedges had two and Adam Reid had one on the third line. The first and second lines had 10 and nine shots on goal, respectively.

Compare that to UNH that had much more balance in terms of shot production. The first, third and fourth lines each had five shots on goal while the second unit had six shots on target.

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