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Rodrigues Hat Trick Paces BU at Lowell

Third-ranked Boston University scored three times in the first period, including the first two goals of assistant captain Evan Rodriges' hat trick, and never looked back en route to a 5-2 win over No. 11 UMass Lowell on Friday night at the Tsongas Center.

Matt Dewkett

LOWELL, Mass. -- Friday night was no Beanpot trap for Boston University.

The third-ranked Terriers scored three times in the first period, including the first two goals of assistant captain Evan Rodriges' hat trick, and never looked back en route to a 5-2 win over No. 11 UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center.

"I'm just really proud of our team," BU head coach David Quinn said after his team completed a crucial season sweep of the River Hawks. "To come in here and get two incredibly important points at this point in the season isn't easy to do."

Rodrigues netted his first trick of the season and also registered his 100th career point, while freshman linemate Jack Eichel handed two of three assists off to his senior to help lead the Terrier attack in their sixth straight win.

The Terriers came out firing with goals on three of their first five shots in the first, taking a commanding 3-0 lead. Junior Ahti Oksanen put BU up 1-0 just 38 seconds into the game, taking a pass from senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann.

BU's two Merrimack Valley native freshmen handed out assists on its second goal at the 3:01 mark of the first. After a secondary helper from Dracut native defenseman, North Chelmsford's Eichel fired a puck towards net that landed right on the stick of senior Evan Rodrigues for an easy goal.

It was an exciting night for Eichel as he played just minutes from home. Playing college hockey in Boston is a dream for anyone, but living the dream at home (for all intents and purposes) is something he won't soon forget.

"I was pretty excited," Eichel said. "We knew this was a huge game, we were trailing them in the standings between the two teams. For me personally, it was easy for me to get up for this one. It's kind of marked on my calendar, a lot of people came to the game."

At 8:16, Eichel and Rodrigues connected on a 2-on-1 which lifted the Terriers to the 3-0 lead they carried into the first intermission.

"To get off to the start we've had considering the way our season's gone in the first period was certainly a surprise to me," Quinn said. "We did think we were ready to play as a staff but we never envisioned getting out to a lead that early and building on it."

Quinn also said how the onslaught from the start "changed the complexion of the game" and it kept going at the tail end of the middle frame.

Rodrigues scored his 12th goal of the season 18:09 into the second to give BU a 4-0 advantage. Junior Danny O'Regan took advantage of a turnover and fed Rodrigues in stride through the offensive zone for a wrister over UML junior Kevin Boyle's glove.

The River Hawks cut their deficit in half with two goals in less than six minutes to start the third period. Freshman C.J. Smith's team-leading 13th of the season got UML going on a power play at the 1:22 mark as he placed a beautiful shot past BU's Matt O'Connor from in tight.

At 5:41, River Hawk sophomore Evan Campbell made it a 4-2 game as he drove down the left wing and placed a wrister between the post and O'Connor's blocker for his seventh goal of the season.

"It was a good game for Boston University (and) it was a good half-game for Lowell," River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin said. "I thought we played for half the game and unfortunately, I'm not sure why. ... We were plagued by missed assignments early, we got behind (the game) and we chased it."

BU closed the scoring at 8:15 as junior Matt Lane jammed away on the crease and beat Boyle through his five-hole off a feed from Eichel after he bobbled the puck upon receipt.

With the crucial win in the rear view, BU can turn its attention to securing its first Beanpot crown since 2009 as it faces Northeastern in Monday night's championship at 7:30 p.m.

Now, the message is clear.

"None of us have won a Beanpot and that's one of the reasons you come to BU," Rodrigues said. "We're all hungry for it."