BOSTON -- Good Saturday evening and welcome inside TD Garden where top-seeded Boston University will look to dethrone two-time defending Hockey East champion UMass Lowell in the conference's 31st annual title game, set for a 7 p.m. faceoff. The game will be televised live on NESNplus and NBC Sports Network.
Lowell's balanced attack showed through once again in the early game as nine different River Hawks scored points, including freshman Michael Louria who scored the game-winning goal 16:10 into the second period. Tonight marks UML's third consecutive title game appearance and fourth in seven years.
Sophomore Michael Kapla scored the first goal of the game for the victors, the national-best 29th by a River Hawk defenseman this season.
Junior Kevin Boyle made 30 saves on 31 shots, but allowed the River Hawks' first goal at TD Garden in more than 242 minutes. Connor Hellebuyck pitched shutouts in each of their championship wins as well as in last year's semifinal against Notre Dame.
The Terriers won Friday's nightcap on two goals by freshman Jack Eichel, one from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and the game-winner just prior to the midway mark off the stick of freshman Chase Phelps who hadn't recorded a point in 23 games.
Eichel's game-clinching goal into the empty net was his 22nd of the season and his 63rd point, tying him for most by a Division 1 freshman since Maine's Paul Kariya in 1993. Iona's Ryan Carter also tallied 63 in 1998-99, so Eichel can jump ahead with one point in tonight's game.
Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk assisted on Hohmann's tying goal after UNH sophomore Tyler Kelleher scored first, extending his point streak to ten games. The Bruins prospect has scored eight goals and added six assists in that stretch, dating back to Feb. 13 against UNH.
With its win last night, BU is now 11-11 in all-time semifinal appearances and improved to 3-1 against UNH in semifinal games. The Terriers are looking to become the 16th No. 1 seed to win the Hockey East crown, and the third in as many tries to do so against the No. 4 seed.
BU and UML have previously met three times for the Hockey East title, including a 1-0 win for the River Hawks in 2013. The Terriers were winners in 1994 and 2009, both as the top seed, and have a 8-2-0 all-time tournament record against Lowell. The winner of each game has advanced to at least the Frozen Four semifinal with BU's 2009 team winning the national championship.
Here are tonight’s lines:
RIVER HAWKS (21-11-6)
Ryan McGrath - Robert Francis - Adam Chapie
A.J. White - Michael Fallon - Michael Louria
C.J. Smith - Joe Gambardella - John Edwardh
Jake Kamrass - Michael Colantone - Terrence Wallin
Zack Kamrass - Tyler Mueller
Tommy Panico - Jake Suter
Dylan Zink - Michael Kapla
Evan Rodrigues - Jack Eichel - Danny O'Regan
A.J. Greer - Cason Hohmann - Ahti Oksanen
Nikolas Olsson - Matt Lane - Robbie Baillargeon
Chase Phelps - Mike Moran - Nick Roberto
Matt Grzelcyk - John MacLeod
- Brandon Fortunato
- Brien Diffley