By: Jake Reiser
For as much as Saturday night’s matchup between No. 5 Boston University and No. 13 University of Notre Dame was about the seniors, there was still so much at stake for both teams. Even on the last day of the regular season, the seeds for the top four teams in Hockey East were still up in the air.
A win for either team or a tie would have resulted in completely different results, putting the Terriers in either a better place or a worse place going into the playoffs.
For Boston University, the former prevailed. After going down 1-0, BU scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 victory and a share of the Hockey East regular season championship. Clayton Keller potted two goals in the win, while Jake Oettinger stood tall to make 40 saves.
The Irish broke through first, as they did on Friday night. On a 2-on-1 coming towards Oettinger, the BU netminder saved the first shot from Mike O’Leary, but the Irish forward battled to get his own rebound and push it through a falling Terrier goaltender. BU has now given up the first goal in their last six outings.
It took a power play in the second period for the Terriers to break through Cal Peterson, but it was Kieffer Bellows who evened the game. A Dante Fabbro shot tipped by Bobo Carpenter found Petesen’s pads, but Bellows was there to spin and slip the rebound past the Notre Dame goalie putting BU on the board.
Boston University’s power play went 1-4 on the night, but looked much more mature, according to head coach David Quinn.
“You can gain momentum off a power play and you can get deflated by a power play and we’ve been getting deflated lately by our power play,” Quinn said. “I thought tonight, it gave us energy.”
With 3:30 to go in the second period, John MacLeod put the Terriers ahead for good. His “johnny rocket” one-time slapper landed top corner on Petersen, putting BU up 2-1.
Clayton Keller added two third period goals to put the game away. Keller’s first came off a slot tip of a Dante Fabbro shot, while his second was a wrister from a drop-pass by Bobo Carpenter that broke through.
“I just tried to get the puck on net, and I think when you do that, good things happen,” Keller said.
This win not only meant a tremendous amount to the team as whole, but to the seniors who played their final regular season game at Agganis Arena.
“These guys have been a big part of it. They’re great people…those three guys are exactly what you want in your program, from on ice and off ice, the student athletes that they are,” Quinn said.
“It’s a really nice way to go out,” senior and captain Doyle Somerby said. “Fans were buzzing all night, a really fun atmosphere for my last regular season home game, and luckily we get to come back here in two weeks.”
With that, the Terriers share a third of the Hockey East regular season championship title, along with the University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks and the Boston College Eagles. Based on head-to-head match-ups during the season, Lowell will take the #1 seed, BU will hold the #2 seed and BC will land in the #3 seed.
“To share the league regular season championship is a great accomplishment for our guys,” Quinn said. “It’s been a lot of fun coaching this group so far, I’m really proud of the way we finished the season.”
All three teams, as well as Notre Dame, will have bye week and await to see who they will play in their respective home rinks two weeks from now in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
In the first round, Providence College will host UMass Amherst, Vermont will be home against Maine, Merrimack plays Maine at Lawler Rink, and Northeastern and UConn will be in Boston.