Hockey East: Boston University wins Championship, earns spot in NCAA Tournament


Kriby Paulson and Kirby Paulson

Boston, MA – After losing to Maine 3-0 on January 6, the Boston University Terriers were 8-11-1 with a 6-7-1 conference record. It had been a rough start and the team struggled during the first semester of play.

Fast forward just about two and a half months to Saturday night and for the first time since 2015, the Terriers were able to raise the Lou Lamoriello trophy high above their heads in TD Garden. They had won the Hockey East championship defeating the Providence Friars by a score of 2-0 and securing a berth in the NCAA tournament.

“What had to go into it and the adversity we faced and the path that we created for ourselves just says an awful lot about the guys in the locker room,” Boston University head coach David Quinn said reflecting on the team’s journey thus far. “Such a great group to coach, they care for each other, they come to the rink and give their all every day.”

The Hockey East title matchup was a rematch of the 2015 National Championship, a game in which Providence College defeated Boston University by a score of 4-3 on the TD Garden ice. Senior Brandon Hickey, who was a member of the Terrier team that made that Championship run, spoke of what this game means to him.

“You know it’s obviously a special thing to go out there and win a championship, but to kind of feel like, you know, we kind of slayed our demons a little bit, for the senior class at least it felt outstanding,” Hickey said. “I couldn’t be happier for the guys out there for them to get to experience winning a championship here, because it’s something special and something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

After a scoreless first two frames, the Terriers were able to break the game’s scoring seal. Just 56 seconds into the third period, Drew Melanson fired a feed from Jordan Greenway into the back of the net to give Boston University a 1-0 lead.

Melanson scored a goal the night before against crosstown rival Boston College and unlocked the key behind his recent success in finding the scoresheet.

“I play with two great players so that definitely helps out, puts me in a lot of spots where I can score,” Melanson said. “But obviously I think this game is a lot about confidence and I’m starting to build some at the right time right now.”

Boston University forward Bobo Carpenter was then able to slam the door shut with 1:22 left in regulation when he netted an empty net goal lifting the Terriers up to a 2-0 lead that would end up being the final tally.

Having beat Northeastern in overtime late the night before, the Providence Friars were back on the ice on the same calendar date that they had ended their previous game on. When asked if that was a factor in the team’s performance though, Nate Leaman admitted that it was a factor but not an excuse.

“They took advantage of that. I thought they took advantage of that by getting pucks deep and wearing us down by getting their big guys wearing this down and I thought we got some extended shifts in the [defensive] zone where we bent but we didn’t break,” Leaman said. “I mean, I thought is it a factor? Yeah, is it an excuse? No, you can’t let the circumstances matter. You have to function to get the job done.”

Leaman also gave credit to the Terriers for their efforts to maintain a chance to keep their season alive.

“We had a great first period, you know we had a terrific first period we just weren’t really able to sustain that,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to [Boston University], they’re a desperate hungry animal right now, they were playing for their lives to play next week, I thought they executed their game very well.”

The Friars’ performance during the rest of the season will be good enough to secure an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. They will be joined by Northeastern and Boston University as the representatives of Hockey East in the bracket. The fate of where these three will end up playing next weekend will be announced Sunday at noon.

As for the Hockey East champion Terriers and what their attitude was going into this game, goaltender Jake Oettinger, who made 30 saves and registered a shutout in the effort, was straightforward and to the point.

“Obviously everyone in the room knew what position we were in,” Oettinger said. “It was do or die for our team so I know not one guy in that room wanted our season to end tonight and we showed it, we were the more desperate team and I’m just really, really proud of all the guys.”

Going forward, Boston University and the rest of the teams in the bracket will be playing with a do or die attitude in hopes of winning a National Championship. For tonight though, they can rest assured knowing that their school’s banner will hang in the rafters of the TD Garden for the next year, symbolizing their hard work and a tournament well played.