Manchester, NH -- Despite not playing its best hockey, Boston University escaped near disaster with a 3-2 overtime win against Yale Friday afternoon to move on to Saturday's Northeast Regional Final against Minnesota Duluth.
The Terriers young defense made several uncharacteristically careless decisions with the puck that led to turnovers and near misses for Yale.
In a season that has been dominated by story lines of Jack Eichel and four freshmen defensemen, it was the upperclassmen that shined brightest on Friday afternoon. Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk had eight shots on goal and was +2, senior Evan Rodrigues had a goal and an assist and junior Danny O'Regan also potted a goal including the game winner.
"That's kind of what gets lost in the success we've had this season. One of the reasons we've been able to overcome our slow starts, why we've had great third periods, why we've had the season we've had is because of our leadership and I'm not just talking about our four seniors. Our juniors and sophomores have assumed a leadership role and it's kind of got contagious throughout the roster," said BU coach David Quinn, who earned his first NCAA Tournament win as a head coach.
With so many youngsters in the lineup and even some of the veterans who haven't had the pressure of big games until this season, there were certainly some nerves early on.
"I think we were a little tense until they scored. Once we got down, it was like there was nothing to hold back for. When they scored, we got back to our game and started to do the things we do on a consistent basis," said Rodrigues.
"I think we're just young. We're one of the youngest teams in college hockey and playing at this big stage, it takes guys maybe a few extra minutes to get into the game and relax themselves," added Rodrigues.
Standing in the way of the Terriers advancing to the school's first Frozen Four since 2009 is a pesky UMD squad that has a balanced attack and a freshman goaltender playing like a chiseled veteran. Four different scorers lit the lamp for UMD in its 4-1 win over the rival Gophers on Friday.
Boston University (26-7-5)
Evan Rodrigues - Jack Eichel - Danny O'Regan
Robbie Baillargeon - Cason Hohmann - Ahti Oksanen
A.J. Greer - Matt Lane - Nick Roberto
Chase Phelps - Mike Moran - J.J. Piccinich
Matt Grzelcyk - John MacLeod
Brandon Hickey - Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby - Brien Diffley
Matt O'Connor - Connor LaCouvee - Anthony Moccia
Minnesota Duluth (21-15-3)
Alex Iafallo - Dominic Toninato - Adam Krause
Austin Farley - Tony Cameranesi - Karson Kuhlman
Kyle Osterberg - Jared Thomas - Justin Crandall
Charlie Sampair - Cal Decowski - Austyn Young
Derik Johnson - Andy Welinski
Carson Soucy - Willie Raskob
Willie Corrin - Brenden Kotyk
Kasimir Kaskisuo - Matt McNeey - Alex Fons
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.