The Hockey East regular season went out with a bang.
Commissioner Joe Bertagna was prescient enough to once again schedule the Boston College – New Hampshire home-and-home series on the final weekend, a move that paid handsome dividends.
Boston College, which opened the weekend one point down, leapfrogged UNH on Friday with a dominating performance. Scoreboard: 4-0. Shots: 42-12. You name it, the Eagles did it.
(However, they also lost forward Chris Kreider for four-to-six weeks with a broken jaw. The best case scenario, then, is for him to rejoin the team at the Frozen Four.)
One night later, UNH appeared poised to hold serve back at the Whittemore Center, leading 2-0 early in the second period. However, BC rallied to take a 3-2 lead and after the Wildcats tied it, the Eagles got the game-winner and their first regular season title since 2005.
Boston University put itself in position to steal the number two playoff seed from UNH (based on winning the tiebreaker) by defeating Northeastern on the road on Friday night, but couldn’t seal the deal back at Agganis Arena on Saturday.
The split in that series opened the door for Merrimack, which had locked up home ice on Friday with a decisive 6-1 win over Providence, to overtake BU for third place. The Warriors, however, also had to settle for a split and finished in fourth.
Talk about missed opportunities! But hey, that’s why they play the games.
Providence’s win created extra drama in the battle for the final playoff berth. That win put UMass in the unenviable position of needing at least a tie on Saturday with the suddenly red-hot Maine Black Bears.
The Minutemen pulled that off, though, resulting in an excruciating finish for the Friars. They finally got their first league win since Nov. 5, which they might have expected would be enough to get them into the playoffs. But no. That’s a rip-your-heart out ending.
Vermont, which locked up a playoff berth with a tie against Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday, finished up a three-of-four points weekend on Saturday to take seventh place.
As a result, Providence and Lowell are done for the season. The playoff matchups look like this:
#1 Boston College hosts #8 Massachusetts
#2 New Hampshire hosts #7 Vermont
#3 Boston University hosts #6 Northeastern
#4 Merrimack hosts #5 Maine