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Hockey East Friday Recap: BC clinches top seed; Merrimack climbs

Merrimack climbed into a tie for seventh place in Hockey East Friday night with a 4-1 win over Vermont.
Merrimack climbed into a tie for seventh place in Hockey East Friday night with a 4-1 win over Vermont.
Matt Dewkett

With a 3-1 win over UMass Lowell Friday night at Conte Forum, Boston College clinched the top seed in the Hockey East Tournament that begins next weekend. The Eagles, who can secure sole possession of the regular season trophy with a point or a Providence tie or loss tonight, will be gunning for a 10th Lamoriello Trophy in the Jerry York era.

Boston University's 3-2 win over Notre Dame Friday in South Bend meant the Terriers control their destiny heading into Saturday's regular season finale. With a win over the Irish, BU will get the No. 3 seed.

Notre Dame, of course, still controls its fate as a win over BU will wrap up the No. 3 seed as well. The Irish went into last weekend in first place, but three consecutive losses has derailed their hopes of a top two finish.

The only way UMass Lowell can climb back into the top four and earn a coveted bye in the first round is with a home win tonight over BC and a BU loss at Notre Dame.

Northeastern came into the weekend with little to gain except momentum heading into the post-season. The Huskies continued that last night with a 5-3 win over Maine. The result, coupled with other outcomes around the league, guaranteed Jim Madigan's team will face the Black Bears again next weekend in the first round.

Merrimack was possibly the biggest winner of the night Friday with a 4-1 triumph over Vermont. Due to UConn's win over UNH, the Warriors jumped into a tie for seventh place with the Catamounts. A win tonight and Mark Dennehy's crew will be the seventh seed in the playoffs. Not bad for a group that lost 10 games in a row during a rough stretch in December and January.

Hockey East Standings

Team GP W-L-T Pts. Games Left Playoff Seed
1 Boston College 21
15-1-5 35
@UML 1
2 Providence 21
15-3-3 33
UMA 2
3 Notre Dame 21
14-5-2 30 BU 3-4
4 Boston University 21 12-5-4 28 @ND 3-5
5 UMass Lowell 21 11-6-4 26 BC 4-5
6 Northeastern 21
9-8-4 22
Maine 6
7 Merrimack 21
4-10-7 15 UVM 7, 9-10

Vermont 21
6-12-3 15 @MC 7-9
9 Connecticut 21
5-12-4 14 @UNH 8-10
New Hampshire 21
4-11-6 14 UConn 8-10
11 Maine 21
5-13-2 12 @NU 11
12 Massachusetts 21 2-15-4 8 @PC 12

3 Thoughts from Friday

  • There is no doubting the terrific job Norm Bazin has done at his alma mater since taking over at UMass Lowell for Blaise MacDonald. However, last night's decision to pull Kevin Boyle for the extra attacker while on the man advantage is one he might have erred in judgement. It seems he would have been better off waiting to make sure his team got full possession of the puck since BC had free reign to ice the puck while down a man. His coaching philosophy and style of play he harps on his team makes Lowell a tough out, but one has to wonder if the River Hawks can beat one of the top four teams in a best-of-three series on the road.
  • Vermont is struggling to score against any team not named UNH. The Catamounts have scored just one goal in five of their last seven games. In the two games against UNH during that stretch, they scored two and three goals, respectively. Expectations weren't sky high this season, but a loss to Merrimack tonight could mean they are on the road next weekend, which would certainly be far below preseason prognostications.
  • Boston University is a team that no other team in the league should want to face in the post-season. Senior goaltender Sean Maguire has proven he can play up in big games and seniors are stepping up. Danny O'Regan has four goals and two assists in the last three games. The Terriers lack the depth to be consistently good, but in a short tournament, watch out.
  • Nolan Stevens has had a coming out season for the ages. The sophomore from Sea Isle City, NJ has more than doubled his production from his rookie campaign. The USNTDP alum has five goals and seven assists over the last six games. His line, with brother John Stevens at center and Zach Aston-Reese at right wing, has more than made up for Kevin Roy and Dalen Hedges' absence on the score sheet and in the lineup.