Saturday, March 21, 2009
College hockey, the OTHER March Madness.
The UMass-Lowell River Hawks seemed dead in the water midway through the 2nd period last night. They were down 2-0, with the newly named Hockey East Player of the Year in Northeastern's net, and the #5 team in the nation bearing down on them. You could understand how a team might lose confidence in that situation.
But Ryan Blair picked up his teammates with 1:16 left in the period. The importance of late period goals cannot be overstated. UMass-Lowell spent their 15 minutes in the locker room with positive thoughts, and only a 1 goal deficit facing them. Northeastern, on the other hand, must have had a doubt or two.
In the 3rd, a bench minor for too many men gave the River Hawks a power play. They pulled their goalie, and Scott Campbell found the back of the net with 1:05 ticks on the 3rd period clock. 2-2, and UMass-Lowell had the momentum.
Three minutes into OT and Chris Auger tipped a shot past NU goalie Brad Thiessen, who summed up the stunningness of the moment by standing frozen in his half-butterfly for a good 3 minutes.
UM-Lowell now vies for their first ever Hockey East title against a team with 6 Hockey East Championships, and 4 national titles.
The BU Terriers and BC Eagles met for the 4th time this season and 246th time in history. It did not disappoint. Unlike BC's basketball team, their hockey team went down with a fight.
A duel between goaltenders for 2 periods saw BC up 1-0. It took BU 50 minutes to get onto the scoreboard. But once they did, it only took them 44 seconds to score all 3 of their goals. It was an offensive explosion that will send chills up the spines of college coaches nationwide as they prepare for the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles made it a game when Joe Whitney scored with little less than 6 minutes left. BC peppered the BU net with shots, but Hockey East Rookie of the Year Kieran Millan stood strong and the Terriers advanced to the title game.
I'm rooting for UMass-Lowell, but I don't see them having much of a chance. The River Hawks upset Northeastern, but they've been cold lately, losing to UMass and BC. BU is red hot. They've lost 2 games since January, and they've already beaten UM-L 3 times this year.
BU 5, UML 1
The 25th Hockey East Championship is tonight at 7 on NESN.
Source & Photo Credits: