LOWELL – With the season on the line in game three of the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Tsongas Center in Lowell, Boston University used an explosive three-goal first-period en route to a 4-1 win to advance to the TD Garden for the third straight year.
“I thought we had a lot of energy and played with a lot of enthusiasm,” said head coach Albie O’Connell. “We have been in this situation before, where we were on the ropes last year and we wanted to keep playing and guys wanted to keep playing this year.”
Coming into the game BU needed two things in order to keep going: play from ahead and good goaltending. Tonight they got both.
The Terriers turned in arguably their best period of the year to open the game, scoring three times and allowing just three shots at the other end.
Just 3:28 into the first, Chad Krys buried a feed from Patrick Harper on a two on one in the slot to welcome Christopher Hernberg back to the crease. It was Krys’s eighth goal of the year and could not have gotten BU off to a better start.
Halfway through the frame, Joel Farabee doubled the Terriers lead. Cam Crotty made a strong defensive play to nullify a Lowell odd mad rush. Krys then picked up the loose puck and quickly headmaned to Farabee along the Lowell bench. From there, the Flyers first-round pick drove hard to the outside and at the top of the dot uncorked a wrister that beat Hernburg low glove side. It was Farabee’s fourth goal of the weekend.
“We caught them in a bad change,” added Farabee. “Chad had really good vision to get up the ice and I got past their change. I think we had a three on one there. I saw a little opening and I shot low glove and ya, it felt pretty good.”
Patrick Harper put an exclamation point on the period with a goal of his own in the closing minutes. After gathering the puck on the half-wall right as a BU power play expired, Harper skated into the slot, used a slight pick from Dante Fabbro to create space and beat Hernberg with a wrister, again to the glove side.
That was the end of the night Hernberg, who was pulled after allowing three goals on ten shots. The real question is why was he in net to being with? Lowell elected to start Hernberg instead of Tyler Wall, who stopped 27 shots in Lowell’s 6-4 win last night.
“I had no hesitation whatsoever,” said Lowell’s bench boss Norm Bazin about starting Hernberg. “His performance on Friday was excellent. Not just good, excellent.”
Wall took over following the Harper goal an stopped all 15 shots he faced.
The Terriers blocked a total of 14 shots in front of Jake Oettinger and never once yielded more than eight shots in a period. Oettinger finished with 18 saves on 19 shots.
Kenny Hausinger offered a bit off drama down the stretch, scoring his second of the series halfway through the third, but BU locked down afterward.
Patrick Harper and Logan Cockerill found themselves in alone on a two on none with nothing but and empty net. Cockerill opted for the assist and allowed Harper to put home his second of the game, icing the proceedings and rounding out the 4-1 score.
With the win, BU ends Lowell’s season and advances to the Garden yet again. This was BU’s first game three since 2012 and the now improve to 8-2 in the third and deciding game since the turn of the century. In addition, BU is now the first school to make 25 appearances in the Hockey East semifinals and reach the garden for the 15th time in 18 years.
BU will wait on the winner of BC and Providence to determine their opponent. A BC win and BU faces Northeastern. A Providence win and BU has a date with the top seeded UMass Minutemen.
“I’m not sure who we are playing right now, but I would be scared to play the Terriers at the Garden,” added Joel Farabee.