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Hockey East Championship Preview: Northeastern vs. UMass Lowell

Previewing the Hockey East title game between UMass Lowell and Northeastern, set for a 7 p.m. faceoff from TD Garden on this Saturday.

Billie Weiss/Getty Images

BOSTON -- Good evening and welcome inside TD Garden before the Hockey East Association crowns a champion for the 32nd time and culminates its 2016 postseason. Sixth-seeded Northeastern and fourth-seeded UMass Lowell are the two teams left standing following Friday's wild semifinal contests.

Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Alex Faust and Billy Jaffe have the local television call for New England Sports Network, while the game is also being broadcast to a national audience on NBC Sports Network.

The River Hawks endured the second-longest game in Hockey East playoff history on Friday night, ultimately earning a 2-1 triple-overtime win over Providence. Senior captain A.J. White scored the winning goal 12:27 into the sixth period, lifting Lowell to its fourth consecutive title game.

UML is now just the fourth team in Hockey East history to play for four consecutive championships. Maine appeared in the title game for seven straight years from 1987-93, while Boston College has turned the feat twice (1998-01 and 2005-08).

Sophomore C.J. Smith has scored three goals in the River Hawks' three-game postseason run to this point, including the game-tying goal 18:54 into Friday's marathon contest.

Senior Kevin Boyle, the co-winner of the Hockey East Player of the Year Award, became just the tenth goalie in Hockey East history make 55 or more saves in last night's contest. He has allowed just three goals in UML's three playoff games after totaling 58 stops against the Friars.

The Huskies only needed the 60 regulation minutes to advance to their first Hockey East title game since it won the Lamoriello Trophy in 1988, holding on for a 5-4 win over top-seeded Boston College. Northeastern pushed ahead with four goals over the first two periods, but saw three of its goals answered over the course of the contest.

Thatcher Demko, BC's junior goaltender who was named a top-ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award earlier this week, allowed at least five goals for just the second time this season last night.

NU is just the third team to play for a Hockey East title as the No. 6 seed, a position that has not produced a championship team in the league's history. The Huskies remain riding high after last night's win, boasting the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games.

Five different players found the back of the net for the Huskies last night, including sophomore Nolan Stevens and freshman Adam Gaudette who were each named to the game's Three Stars. Freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck continued his personal hot play, making 21 stops in the contest.

Gaudette scored with 0.9 seconds left in the first period and also assisted on the Huskies' third goal of the night, while classmate Lincoln Griffin tallied the game-winning goal without assistance at 9:44 of the final frame.

The River Hawks have a 10-4 all-time record against the Huskies in Hockey East postseason play. The teams have played in three semifinal contests, including an overtime contest in 2009, but are meeting for a title for the first time ever tonight.

Here are tonight's lines:

HUSKIES (21-13-5)

Nolan Stevens - John Stevens - Zach Aston-Reese
Dylan Sikura - Adam Gaudette - Mike McMurtry
Kevin Roy - Brendan Collier - Sam Kurker
Lincoln Griffin - Tanner Pond - Patrick Schule

Dustin Darou - Matt Benning
Colton Saucerman - Eric Williams
Jarrett Fennell - Trevor Owens

Ryan Ruck
Derick Roy
Jake Theut

RIVER HAWKS (27-6-5)

C.J. Smith - Joe Gambardella - John Edwardh
A.J. White - Michael Fallon - Michael Louria 
Jake Kamrass - Nick Master - Adam Chapie
Ryan McGrath - Robert Francis - Ryan Collins

Michael Kapla - Dylan Zink
Tyler Mueller - Niklas Folin
Tommy Panico - Chris Forney

Kevin Boyle
Christoffer Hernberg
Sean Cleary