On Friday evening at the TD Garden, Boston College punched their tickets to the Hockey East title game behind a shutout from junior goalie John Muse. Eighth-seeded Vermont fell behind early in the first period on a Chris Kreider goal but held tough for most of the second, only to see the Eagles double their lead on a Ben Smith goal with eight seconds to go in said period. Boston College tacked on an insurance goal from Jimmy Hayes in the third to create the eventual final score, 3-0. Muse stopped all thirty Catamount shots on goal.
#4 Boston College (24-10-3) remains red hot, having only lost two of their last fifteen games, and none of their previous eight. Also staying hot was the freshman Kreider, notching his tenth goal in fourteen games. Vermont (17-14-7), who came into the semifinals ranked #14 in the country, will now have their remaining postseason hopes at the mercy of the Selection Committee.
The last team standing in the way of the Eagles' fourth Hockey East title in six seasons will be fourth-seeded Maine, whom Boston College will face Saturday night at 7pm Eastern. The Black Bears (19-16-3) won their way into the matchup by beating the three seed, Boston University, 5-2 in the Friday late game.
This will be the sixth time that Boston College will meet Maine in the Hockey East Tournament championship game. The Eagles were victorious in 1987, 1990, and 1998, while the Black Bears won the title in 1989 and 2000. This will be Maine's thirteenth title game appearance, while it will be Boston College's fourteenth. Overall, Boston College's last Hockey East title and championship game appearance was 2008; Maine's came in 2004.
During the season, the Eagles and Black Bears met three times, with Boston College having a 2-0-1 record in those games. The Eagles went 1-0-1 in Orono in November, while the Eagles beat the Black Bears by five goals in Chestnut Hill in January. Boston College and Massachusetts were the only Hockey East teams Maine did not defeat during the regular season. Maine was one of four teams, however, to whom Boston College did not lose this year, with the other three being Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Providence.
Though Maine played well in their semifinal matchup against the Terriers, Boston College is a dangerous team that has the weapons to score at nearly any time. Making matters worse for Maine is that the best scoring offense in Hockey East, belonging to BC, will face goaltending that was ranked ninth of ten in the conference this season, allowing 3.33 goals per game. When Maine is on the power play, however, it will pit the conference's best team at power play conversions against the best penalty-killing unit.
Should Boston College win on Saturday night, it is highly likely that they will take a one-seed in the NCAA Hockey Tournament. Even if they are not victorious, it is all but assured that the Eagles will be playing beyond Saturday.
Joe is the author of Soaring to Glory, a Boston College blog.