BU Wins First Hockey East Title Since 2009
By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service
In 2009, current BU men’s hockey coach David Quinn was an associate head coach to then-head man Jack Parker when BU won the Hockey East championship, a 1-0 decision over a UMass-Lowell team led by Blaise MacDonald, Quinn’s brethren on the Parker coaching tree.
Six long years later, the Terriers returned to the Hockey East’s mountaintop, defeating the River Hawks — led this time by Norm Bazin — a 5-3 final at TD Garden on Saturday night.
“From September on, it’s been a lot of fun coaching this team,” said Quinn. “This is a true team. We have stars, but you don’t win with just stars. You win with everybody on your roster. You win with everybody within your program, and I just couldn’t be happier with everybody associated with our team.”
This one was a true team effort. BU rolled four lines all night against the two-time defending conference champions, skating hard, setting physical tone from the first drop of the puck. It was evident early that if Lowell was going to hoist the Lamoriello Trophy for the third straight year, they were going to get bumps and bruises in the process.
The Terriers work found its way on the scoresheet at 13:08, when Matt Grzelcyk scored his 10th goal of the season off a Jack Eichel pass attempt deflected off the stick of Lowell forward Robert Francis and onto the BU captain’s tape before putting the puck past goalie Kevin Boyle (19 saves) to open the scoring.
The tally extended Grzelcyk’s career-high point streak to 11 games. Adding two more assists following the goal, the junior has a 9-9–18 scoring line over that stretch.
Forty-one seconds later, Matt Lane forced a turnover in the neutral zone on a Lowell breakout. Breaking back into the River Hawks zone, Lane won the battle off the half-wall, Nikolas Olsson taking loose puck and putting it past Boyle to give the Terriers a 2-0 lead.
However, a review of the goal ruled Lane offsides breaking into the zone, and the goal was called back. Despite what could’ve been a painful blow in taking the goal off the board, BU responded just over a minute later, when Eichel added a tally of his own at 15:02 of the opening period to regain the 2-0 lead.
“I think that’s a testament to our resolve,” said Quinn. “No matter what the call is coming out of the review, we got to keep playing, you can’t let it affect you emotionally.”
With the goal, Eichel extended his streak of multiple points to six games. He has 16 points over that stretch, with eight goals. He has points in 18 of his last 19 games.
“I saw [Danny O’Regan] driving back door,” said Eichel. “I just tried to put the puck around the defenseman and then make a pass to him. I think it deflected off the defenseman and slid between the goalie’s legs.”
Lowell cut the lead to 2-1 late in the first. With John MacLeod in the box for elbowing, the River Hawks wasted no time. Joe Gambardella won the draw to begin the powerplay, dropping the puck back to Adam Chapie at the point. Chapie made the pass to Zack Kamrass in the high slot, who fired the puck on net. Matt O’Connor (22 saves) made the initial save, but Gambardella buried the rebound to cut the lead in half.
After Lowell went to the room after 20 with the momentum, the Terriers wasted no time taking it back. Cason Hohmann scored his 10th goal of the year at 5:38 of the 2nd on a pass from A.J. Greer to regain the two-goal lead.
Nikolas Olsson made it 4-1 with 45 seconds remaining in the period on a two-on-one with Grzelcyk.
“When things don’t seem to be going our way, we find a way to put our foot down and not worry about it,” said Grzelcyk. “I think that’s something we’ve had all year is a lot of resolve.”
After a Michael Kapla goal at 6:47 of the third period made it 4-2, Eichel took a feed from Nick Roberto on a breakout up the right side before slipping it through Boyle’s five-hole with 5:17 left in the game. Michael Louria scored with 3:08 left to cut it to 5-3, but it was too little, too late for Lowell.
Having won the Beanpot and the Hockey East regular season and postseason tournament, the Terriers become the seventh team to pull the trifecta, the fourth from BU. Of the six prior teams, three have gone on to win the national championship, including the 2009 Terriers, who were the last team to pull the trick.
The win marks BU’s eighth Hockey East title, which trails only Boston College, who hold 11 banners to their right. It’s the first of this decade. They won four in the 1990s (’91, ’94-95, ’97), two in the 2000s (’06, ’09), and one in the 1980s (’86).
“Tonight it’s about the 27 guys in the dressing room,” said Quinn, referring to his players. “And I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
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