By: Matt Dresens
BOSTON — Following Patrick Curry and Brandon Duhaime’s overtime goals last night in semifinal play, Boston University and Providence College have a date in the Hockey East Championship game tonight at TD Garden.
BU’s Curry scored late in overtime on a punch home shot from Shane Bowers to push the Terriers past Boston College 4-3 in the early game. Hours later, Duhaime netted his seventh goal of the season to put the Friars in the final for the first time since 2001.
The Terriers and Friars are 1-1-1 against each other this year. PC took the first meeting in late October 3-0 at home. BU won 2-0 behind a pair of goals from Chad Krys the following weekend and the two teams skated to a 2-2 draw in mid-January at Agganis.
“We won on our ice, they won on their ice,” said Providence head coach Nate Leaman. “We tied the third time we played on their ice. I think both teams played an overtime game [tonight] so I think it’s going to be a really good game. Us and them in this building tend to be good games.”
Yes… the last time BU and PC squared off on Garden use was the 2015 National Title Game. We’ll spare you the details, but Providence won 4-3.
2015 was also the last time BU advanced to the championship game, a 5-3 win over Lowell. As stated before, Providence’s last appearance in the championship game was 2001, when they lost to BC 5-3.
Scouting the Friars
The defensive mined Friars rank second in the conference in goals allowed at 2.08 per game. PC’s penalty kill is also second in the conference, working at an 87.1 percent clip on the year. This was critical in their win last night against Northeastern, whose power play has been absolutely lethal this season. The Friars blanked the Huskies on the man advantage last night, as NU went 0-3 on the power play.
“I give our assistant coaches Krys Mayotte and Scott Borek a lot of credit because we found a way to kill those three penalties,” added Leaman. “Hayden Hawkey made a lot of great saves and we were able to get through that stretch.”
Somewhat quietly, Erik Foley has amassed 35 points on 16 goals and 19 assists in 35 games played. Brian Pinho and Josh Wilkins have also hit the 30 point mark. Pinho, a Washington draft pick, has a dozen goals and 19 assists, while Wilkins has recorded an even 15 goals and 15 assists. Other players to watch include Hockey East first teamer Jacob Bryson, Scott Conway, and Vimal Sukumaran.
In goal, Hayden Hawkey owns a .915 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against average. Last night, the junior from Parker, Colorado turned aside 38 Husky shots for his 23rd win of the season.
In terms of NCAA tournament qualification, BU all but has to win tonight. College Hockey News’ Pairwise Probability Matrix gives BU a zero percent chance of qualifying at large. If the Terriers win, they can climb as high as the 13th seed. For that to happen, Princeton has to beat Clarkson in the ECAC championship game. That would more than likely slate BU up against Ohio State in the NCAA first round.
This is what college hockey is all about, and this is one of the most dramatic nights of the year. Get your seat belts fastened tight and hold on. Tonight’s going to be a wild ride.