NCAA Hockey: Michigan defeats BU 6-3, advances to Frozen Four

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NCAA Hockey: Michigan defeats BU 6-3, advances to Frozen Four

Kriby Paulson and Kirby Paulson

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When the Big Ten Hockey preseason poll was released, the Michigan Wolverines were ranked sixth out of seven in the conference.

The team was under new leadership as college hockey coaching legend Red Berenson had retired at the end of the season prior. The expectations were low and at the time, first-year head coach and former Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson believed that the team didn’t deserve a high ranking.

“All through the year we weren’t getting much love in the polls and I don’t know if you have a vote in that by the way but we weren’t getting a lot of love which is okay, we didn’t deserve it,” Pearson said addressing the fact. “We didn’t deserve it at the time but we knew we had some things within the team, that we had a chance if we could just get everything together but no doubt about it.”

Well, gas up the family car, the Michigan Wolverines are headed to the Frozen Four after defeating the Boston University Terriers 6-3 at the DCU Center on Sunday evening.

“So in my introductory press conference I talked about [how] I was just getting the keys to the prized family car and that the car was in good shape, it was in pretty darn good shape and we just needed to make a couple adjustments, a couple repairs to that car and then get it on the road and that car was heading to St. Paul, Minnesota,” Pearson said. “There’s going to be some detours in the road, there might be a flat tire, there’s going to be some adversity, we just have to navigate around that and we did.”

Heading into the third period, the Wolverines had a 3-2 lead on the Terriers. Michigan was 17-1-0 on the season when leading after two periods while Boston University was 2-11-0 when down after the same amount of time.

Hope was sparked for the Terriers exactly three and a half minutes into the third when Drew Melanson picked up a forced turnover and made a nifty move with a backhand to send the puck past Michigan goaltender Hayden Lavinge bringing the score to an even 3-3.

But this would be the last of the scoring for the Terriers, as less than three minutes later, Jake Slaker found the back of the net giving the Wolverines a 4-3 lead. Michigan never looked back, as an insurance goal by Nicholas Boka later in the period and an empty netter by Nick Pastujov slammed the door shut.

“It’s tough, this is the worst part of the season, certainly the worst part of my job,” Boston University head coach David Quinn said in his opening statement. “We had such a great run, such a great group of kids and it’s just a tough night.”

The Terriers had to play their way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Hockey East Championship. This created a do-or-die hockey situation straight from the jump.

“Very proud, it’d be hard not to,” Quinn said when asked how proud he was of this team. “Like you guys talked about, it showed an awful lot of the characteristics you need to get to this point, we thought we had them to be able to move forward, that’s what makes this so hard and I don’t say this with any arrogance, I don’t think anyone in that locker room expected to lose tonight. I thought there was an extreme level of confidence with an awful lot of respect for Michigan knowing we had to do some certain things to win. Unfortunately, in the early on we didn’t do them.”

Senior captain Brandon Hickey was a part of a class that won two Hockey East Championships in 2015 and 2018, a Beanpot in 2015 and came runner up in the National Championship in 2015. The Terriers made the NCAA Tournament in all four of Hickey’s seasons. He reflected on his tenure at Boston University.

“I couldn’t thank Coach Quinn enough for giving me the opportunity to play at BU,” Hickey said holding back tears. “It’s been amazing, it’s the best four years of my life so it’s really hard to see it end but you know I’m super proud of all the guys in the room. You know, our senior class, really tight group we’ve got there, we do a lot together and now I consider everyone in that room my brothers.”

For the Boston University Terriers, a hard fought season and playoff run has come to an end. For the Michigan Wolverines though, a Frozen Four semifinal matchup with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish awaits on April 5 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Once more for the people in the back: gas up the family car.