Hockey East Playoffs Move to TD Garden; Semifinal Schedules Set

The best-of-three quarterfinal round of the Hockey East Lamoriello Cup playoffs is complete. The top two seeds, Boston College, and Providence College, move on to the single-elimination semifinals at TD Garden where they will be joined by number four seed UMass Lowell and number six seed Northeastern University.

BC needed to go into overtime of Game 3 of its series with the University of Vermont before Eagles forward Ryan Fitzgerald scored 9:47 into the extra period to extend his team’s quest for league supremacy.

Defending NCAA champion Providence College dispatched Merrimack College in two straight games to move on to Boston.

UMass Lowell gained a bit of revenge in its series with Boston University. UML lost to BU in last year’s Hockey East championship game and set out to dethrone the defending champs and did so in two games.

It seems that there is an upset almost every year and this year was no exception as the Northeastern Huskies ended the Hockey East season for Notre Dame winning two straight in South Bend, Indiana.

The semifinals will see PC and UML squaring off at 5:00 pm on Friday at TD Garden with NU facing off versus BC at 8:00 pm.

The winners will skate against each other Saturday in the Hockey East championship game at 7:00 pm.

No. 1 Boston College (15-2-5 HEA), the 2015-16 Hockey East regular season co-champion, advances to the TD Garden for the first time since 2013 in its 22nd appearance in the semifinals. After claiming its fourth regular season title in six years (2010-11, ‘11-12, ‘13-14, ‘15-16), Boston College looks to win the Lamoriello Trophy for the first time since 2012. The Eagles have won a league-best 11 tournament titles, nine of which have come under current head coach Jerry York, and are 16-5 in semifinal tilts all-time. No. 6 Northeastern enters the Hockey East semifinals as one of the hottest teams in the NCAA, carrying an 18-1-2 record in its last 21 contests and riding an 11-game win streak. The Huskies have appeared in just one title game in program history, winning the Hockey East postseason tournament in 1988, and carry a 1-7 record into the semifinal round. Overall, Boston College boasts a 6-1-0 record against Northeastern in the postseason, including a 2-0 mark in the semifinals (1987, 2011). During the regular season, the Eagles took three of four points from the Huskies, as the squads skated to a 3-3 stalemate Dec. 5, 2015, before BC took a 4-3 decision the next day. Those two contests were the final games before Northeastern began its 18-1-2 streak Dec. 19, 2015, against Michigan State.

No. 2 Providence (16-3-3 HEA) skates into the semifinals seeking its first Hockey East championship since 1996. The Friars finished the regular season as conference co-champions, earning a share of the crown for the first time in program history. Providence last appeared at TD Garden in the Hockey East semifinals in 2014, and has moved on to the final weekend four times in the last five seasons, but has not competed in the championship contest since 2001. No. 4 UMass Lowell (12-6-4 HEA) returns to the TD Garden for the fourth consecutive season. The River Hawks have appeared in the championship contest in each of the last three years, capturing two tournament titles, in 2013 and 2014. Historically, the Friars and River Hawks have played each other nine times previously in the postseason, with UMass Lowell owning a 5-3-1 record including a victory in the only semifinal meeting in 2013. In two regular season tilts during the 2015-16 campaign, Providence and UMass Lowell split a home-and-home series, Jan. 22-23. The home team took two points in each game, the Friars earning a 4-2 win at Schneider Arena before UMass Lowell rebounded with a  3-1 win at the Tsongas Center.

For fans who cannot get to the Garden, the New England Sports Network will produce and air the Hockey East championship weekend from TD Garden. The first semifinal game will be shown on NESN in its entirety beginning at 5 p.m. ET while the second semifinal begins at 8 p.m. ET on NESN and NESNplus before moving exclusively to NESNplus at 9 p.m. ET. The title game is set to be played at 7 p.m. ET Saturday night and shown on NESN. Across the country, NBCSN will also air all three games as part of over eight hours of coverage of the tournament on the weekend.

Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL/NCAA Hockey Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

Photo: lowellsun.com

   

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