One Hockey East tournament semifinal Wednesday night could be compared to a roller coaster of epic proportions.
The other one was simply 60 minutes of hockey.
When the dust settled, UMass toppled Boston College in double overtime and UMass defeated Providence.
The two Massachusetts teams will now meet for the Hockey East championship for the first time ever Saturday night with the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.
If Lowell wins, it will be the first time a No. 7 seed has won the title. If UMass wins, it will be the first-ever conference championship for the Minutemen.
The Hockey East championship game gets underway at 7 p.m. Saturday night from the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.
UMass Lowell 6, Boston College 5 (2OT)
After a potential Boston College goal was overturned in the first overtime due to an offside call, Matt Brown won it for the River Hawks 12 minutes into the second extra session.
— UMass Lowell Hockey (@RiverHawkHockey) March 18, 2021
“Our team did a great job working the puck around the zone,” Brown said. “Seth Barton put it out in front, (BC goalie) Spencer (Knight) tipped it up, and I was able to bat it in.”
“We’re obviously very pleased to be moving on,” added Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “This is game three of the playoffs for us. It’s exciting to be able to play for a championship this year. These guys are resilient, and it wasn’t a perfect game for us, but we got through it.”
The third period saw BC enter the final 20 minutes up 4-1, only to see Lowell score four late sandwiched around an Eagles goal to send the game to OT tied 5-all.
BC appeared to win at 13:11 of the first overtime as Patrick Giles tipped Jack St. Ivany’s shot past UML goalie Henry Welsch, but BC was ruled offside earlier in the play after video review.
“It is not a season-ending loss for us,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We have a chance now to go to the national tournament so that is going to be our catalyst now and we are certainly not going to dwell on this game for long.”
Anthony Baxter scored twice for UMass Lowell, while Andre Lee and Brown each had a goal and an assist and Reid Stefanson and Lucas Condotta each posted goals.
Chase Blackmun had two assists and Welsch finished with 34 saves.
For the Eagles, Alex Newhook went for two goals and three assists, Matt Boldy added four assists, Mike Hardman tacked on a goal and an assist, and Marshall Warren and Marc McLaughlin each scored.
Knight made 43 saves in suffering the loss.
UMass 5, Providence 2
After a four-goal first period that had the game tied 2-2, the Minutemen scored the next three to knock off the Friars.
Bobby Trivigno collected a goal and two assists for UMass, while Marc Del Gaizo and Zac Jones each had a goal and an assist. George Mika and Josh Lopina scored one each to go along with two assists from Matthew Kessel and 20 saves from goalie Filip Lindberg.
— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) March 18, 2021
“It’s been a crazy year,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “I’m so proud of our kids. Tonight, they played a great playoff game. We scored early, and to me that’s not always a great thing, and Providence had a real good push back. I thought we responded well, but I thought the last two periods we were dominant. I don’t know what the final shots were, but I know we didn’t give up much. The kids played hard, they played right, they played good playoff hockey and deserved to win.”
Trivigno’s goal at 1:22 of the second period stood as the winner.
“It gave them a lot of energy and it took energy away from us,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “From that point on, we struggled managing pucks.”
Brett Berard and Parker Ford scored for Providence and Jaxson Satuber turned aside 22 saves between the pipes.
This marks only the second time UMass has reached the Hockey East championship game, with its only other time coming 17 years ago when the Minutemen lost to Maine in 2004.
“Now we’ve got a chance to win the whole thing on home ice,” Carvel said. “It’s a very exciting time for our program. I’m just really proud of our kids. They’re playing their hearts out and getting rewarded for it.”