Mar 16, 2012, 6:30 AM EDT
It’s college hockey’s tournament season and a pair of games come your way tonight with the Hockey East semifinals taking place in Boston at TD Garden. One thing that won’t be lacking is history between the four teams remaining who are vying for the conference title and a secured spot in the NCAA tournament.
Providence College vs. No. 1 Boston College (5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
Providence earned their spot in the semifinals by stunning the conference’s second seed UMass-Lowell, beating them in three games last week. Coach Nate Leaman’s team was buoyed by the stellar play of goalie Alex Beaudry who shut out Lowell in Game 3 stopping 29 shots in doing so.
The Friars don’t pack a lot of offensive punch with Ross Mauermann, Tim Schaller, and Derek Army handling the bulk of their goal scoring with Schaller leading the way with 14. If they get a lead, they’ll do their part to burrow in and protect the lead. Providence has but one NHL draftee on the roster with junior defenseman Alex Velischek being a Penguins product.
Boston College we’ve seen plenty out of this season and their dynamic offense led by Rangers prospect Chris Kreider and buoyed by Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau and senior Barry Almeida make the Eagles more than dangerous. Junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin (Carolina) is the top scoring defenseman in Hockey East and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Getting scoring from all areas is something BC does well.
What’s made their story in the tournament interesting is while they had fits with UMass last week it was goalie Parker Milner who stood tall. If Providence’s defense makes life hard on BC, Milner will need to be more on point to help the Eagles make the finals. Expect coach Jerry York’s team to be inspired by playing in the Garden where they’ve had tons of success over the years.
No. 5 Boston University vs. No. 11 Maine (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
Boston U. is coming off a weekend that saw them pull off an incredible comeback in Game 3 against New Hampshire winning 5-4 in double overtime after being down 4-1 as late as the second period. After what’s been a tumultuous season for the Terriers, they’re back in a familiar place in the tournament semifinals.
With Stars prospect Alex Chiasson providing the heroics and Sharks prospect Matt Nieto lending support, BU has a lot of weapons. Add in 2009 national championship-winning goalie in Avs prospect Kieran Millan and BU shapes up to be a very dangerous team. With 13 NHL draftees on the roster, while BU may not have impressed last week, they’re more than capable of making a deep run.
Maine is no slouch either and their success in getting through a nasty, physical three-game series with Merrimack last week sets them up well for what should be war with BU. The Black Bears are led by Hobey Baker Award finalist Spencer Abbott (pictured), the nation’s leading scorer. With 20 goals and 59 assists, Abbott brings the punch on offense with guys like Joey Diamond, Brian Flynn and Matt Mangene following suit.
Goalie Dan Sullivan will need to hope his defense plays as tough as they did against Merrimack to make his life easier. If the Terriers get rolling, he could be in for a long night. One thing’s for sure between these two teams, there will be penalties. Maine was the second-most penalized team in Hockey East while BU was third.
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