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College Hockey:
Weekend recap: Mar. 4-5

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

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  • Ab5infam

    unh fan here rooting for my team but I must say i have my doubts after fridays game against bc and I think umile is not half the coach york is

    • UNHcats

      You’ve got that right! As another UNH fan who shares your opinion on both counts, I offer a case in point… the decision to change lines with 15 seconds left in the 2nd period on Sat. night was the back-breaker as the Cats were caught with the long outlet pass that created the 1-0 breakaway and the goal to tie it a 2-2 with 12 seconds left. The Cats were deflated and flat for most of the 3rd. DUMB decision!! AND MORE… enough of the whistling to change lines!! That’s high school and below nonsense that signals the other team of your intensions! If your players need that kind of help at this level then you need a different set of guys! Oh well… there’s always next year.

      Good luck to Chris Kreider and wishing you a speedy recovery.

      My prediction… BC and North Dakota will face off in St. Paul for the Championshp and it sould be another great one! Is it just me, or is BC actually better than last season’s champs? Yikes!

      • HENH10

        Just because Umile whistles for the line change, a player doesn’t have to go 100% to get off the ice. It was an error from the coaching staff, all the way down to the players who left the ice. They ALL need to be aware of the situation and if they can suck it up for 15 seconds, not change. The players really are just as much at fault as the coach.
        Friday night was just ugly, but UNH fought back and played very well up until that point on Saturday. They dominated large stretches of the first two periods and looked evenly matched with arguably the best team in college hockey. I don’t think UNH has to fold up the tent yet, but I would be afraid if they stay a #3 seed that even if they win their first round NCAA game, their likely opponent in game 2 would be BC again.

    • Bharvey13

      I think the line change that led to the game tying goal is definitely a questionable call on saturday, but understand what Umile is working with. All the best players are going to BC now. You have a $250,000 a year education, a stable of great assistant coaches that preps the players the best for NHL, being in Boston instead of Durham (or Orono, Burlington, North Andover, Amherst, Lowell or Providence), being able to bring in Bill Bellicheck on the Thursday prior to this last series for a pep talk.

      You’re going to end up with 12 or 13 guys who are NHL draft picks, as opposed to the 4 that UNH is able to muster (2 of which don’t even play this year). I think Jerry is probably a better coach, but I don’t think Umile is that far off. Maybe we need a guy who’s a better recruiter than Umile leading the team, but from a coaching standpoint i don’t think Dick is half of Jerry. Maybe like 85 or 90% of him.

      • Ab5infam

        they are going there because that is where the best coach is…the real coaching at this level begins early, and shows up late, hence the eagles soaring in march consistantly……….

  • Blueliner

    I’m sensing some upsets in the quarterfinals. I like BC and Northeastern in one semi and UNH vs Maine in the other. Sorry BU is back on the bubble.

  • Luigi

    Two quick thoughts.

    1) Umile is not even close to the coach that Parker is. I like Umile, I think he’s a good coach. It’s just a testament to how good Jerry is. He is head and shoulders above a guy like Umile. I put him well ahead of even Parker for many reasons.

    2) BC vs. ND for the title will be a tough one because unless Yale drops out of #1 they would probably be #2 and #3 in some order and their brackets will get aligned to play in the semifinals.

    Hey Dave, not bad for the preseason #8 team, huh? Whoops wrong year.

  • Stating the obvious

    Well, Kreider will still get to play this year. BC is going to the FF anyways.

  • Smudge

    M A I N E! Go BLUE!

  • gtm

    “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.”

    Hmmm…if he was so prescient, why didn’t he televise the final game???

    Come on Joe, Hockey East TV is way overdue.

  • Rockwhisperer

    Why isn’t BC back in the number one spot in the national standings?

  • Ab5infam

    Does Umile actually coach during his timeout calls? I listened to the game Sat night from a broadcast station that was from durham and the announcers were completely for UNH,understandable right. When Umile called his timeout with say 5mins left in the game even these announcers were asking that ?. they were saying Umile was yelling at the team and what they should have been doing while York had his dry erase board out drawing up a play…go figure. Umiles striking pose seems to be both arms crossed head slightly cocked in the up position triing to figure out what the scoreboard really says…

  • Anonymous

    So as a Maine fan it is hard for me to say positive things about Umile but, that being said, I feel this may be slight over reaction to one weekend and maybe even one or two particular bad decisions. I have sat here in Orono, which is about all there is to do in Orono so I would go to BC if I was a recruit with that option as well, and watch Whitehead mess things up with bad decisions over and over again. If UNH is looking to get rid of Umile he can come up the road and we will give you Whitehead, no questions asked. Even as the coach of my teams arch rival I can recognize he has been one of the most consistent coaches in Hockey East for quite some time.

    • HENH10

      Thanks msoucy21, I am not necessarily a Umile fan, but I have said this for years. You have your 2 national championships and congratulations for that (I’m not a bitter UNH fan), Walsh was a great coach, love him or hate him. Umile has UNH in a position to do well every year. 20+ wins, always in NCAA’s, always in the HE regular season hunt, he recruits well. Maybe someday, I hope, they will win one for me… but, at the very least, maybe someday the players will take some of the crap that THEY didn’t deliver when it counted!