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Women's Hockey East Tournament Preview: Semifinals and Finals

BC eased past Providence in round one... can they take their second tournament title?

BU has been a thorn in BC's side for years. Can the Eages finally knock out their rival for a championship?
BU has been a thorn in BC's side for years. Can the Eages finally knock out their rival for a championship?
Arthur Bailin, BC Heights

Last week's Women's Hockey East tournament  quarterfinals went pretty much according to our tournament preview—Boston College advanced past Providence easily with scores of 6-2 and 8-0. Elsewhere, BU easily dispatched Vermont with surprising 8-1 and 7-2 scores, Northeastern squeaked by UNH in three games, and UConn pulled the only upset of the weekend with a sweep up at Maine.

That leaves two powerhouses and two teams hoping to play spoiler in this weekend's semifinals and finals. Can a Husky pull off an upset? Probably not, but we'll break it down anyway.

Semifinal #1: Hyannis Youth & Community Center, Hyannis, MA
Saturday, March 7th -- 1:30pm

(5) UConn Huskies (11-17-8, 5-15-5 WHEA)
at (1) Boston College Eagles (32-1-2, 20-0-1 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
11/21/14: @BC 6, UC 1
11/22/14: BC 6, @UC 0
12/6/14: @BC 6, UC

BC took the season series in straight sets, and UConn never once looked threatening. That's a change from last year, where the Huskies pulled off one of the biggest upsets in all of college hockey last season, shutting out the high-flying Eagles 2-0 at Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs.

UConn's strength is in its goaltending, and that's about it. Elaine Chuli is one of the most talented goaltenders in the nation, but unfortunately doesn't often get much credit because of the team she plays on.

Somewhat surprisingly, after shutting out the Eagles last season, the Huskies opted to start freshman Annie Belanger in the first two games against BC this season. BC pasted the Huskies to the tune of 6 goals each time.

Unfortunately, it didn't matter who was between the pipes, as BC scored 6 goals in the first two periods in the final matchup between the two teams, chasing Chuli after the 2nd intermission.

Whether or not the Huskies state Chuli or Belanger really shouldn't matter, though. This game is a complete mismatch and BC should be able to sleepwalk to the final.

Prediction: BC 6, UConn 0. BC's 8-0 effort against Providence was encouraging (despite the weak opposition) because the Eagles' high-flying offense hadn't put up more than 6 goals since January 11th. It's ridiculous that that's even a measure of this team, but that's how talented they are. Look for BC to hopefully put it in high gear from the get go.

Semifinal #2: Hyannis Youth & Community Center, Hyannis, MA
Saturday, March 7th -- 4:30pm

(3) Northeastern Huskies (14-16-5, 11-8-2 WHEA)
at (2) Boston University Terriers (23-8-3, 15-5-1 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
10/28/14: @BU 3, NU 2
11/11/14: NU 6, @BU 3
1/18/15: BU 4, @NU 3
2/10/15: BU 3, NU 1 (Beanpot consolation)

It's hard to get a feel for this game. BU has been playing very, very well, taking Vermont to the woodshed twice after struggling against the Catamounts all season.

It's a similar setup for the semifinal. BU went 3-1-0 against Northeastern in the regular season, but it was smoked pretty badly in the loss and only squeaked by in both wins. Has BU solved its issues against struggling teams?

Northeastern has been playing better of late, but it's come against very weak opposition. They just wrapped up a stretch of 5 consecutive games against UNH in which they went 4-1-0, following a 1-0-1 weekend against UConn. Can Northeastern continue to improve against a better opponent in BU?

Prediction: BU 5, NU 1. I'd love to go ahead and predict a Northeastern win (especially now that there's no added Pairwise benefit for BC to play BU in the finals), but BU has looked downright scary the last couple weeks. As decent as their tie to BC was, their dominating sweep last weekend over a Vermont team that had given them fits all year was somehow even more impressive. I like a BC/BU final (again).

Hockey East Championship: Hyannis Youth & Community Center, Hyannis, MA
Saturday, March 7th -- 1:30pm, NESNplus (7:30pm tape delayed on NESN)

All signs point to a rematch of last season's BC vs. BU clash for the Hockey East title. BU has, incredibly, won 4 of the last 5 conference tournaments, with BC's one and only title coming in 2011. Interestingly, last season's BC vs. BU was the first in conference history—all 3 of BU's other titles have come against teams other than BC.

The long and the short of it is BC is head an shoulders above the rest of Hockey East and to not take the conference title this season—particularly after losing the Beanpot to Harvard—would be a colossal disappointment in what has been easily the best season in program history, nearly going undefeated save for its one goal lost to the Crimson.

Prediction: BC 5, BU 1. If BC has been coasting for much of the 2nd half leaving some gas in the tank, this is where you'll see them shift into another gear. BU's tie in the regular season finale might have been the worst thing that could have happened to the Terriers. BC will be out for revenge, and there will be no overlooking their crosstown rival.