BU, Providence to clash in semifinal
Merrimack, UMass Lowell will meet in the nightcap
The Boston University Terriers are back in an old familiar place under a new head coach.
BU will make its 25th appearance in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals when the No. 5 ranked Terriers (25-10-0, 18-6-0) encounter the Providence College Friars (16-13-7, 9-96) in the opener (4) on Friday night at the TD Garden.
Coach Jay Pandolfo guided the Terriers to the conference regular season title. Pandolfo was recently named the Hockey East Coach of the Year in his first season behind the bench of his alma mater. BU closed out the regular season with a home and home series sweep against the Friars.
BU drew the No. 1 seed and advanced with a 7-3 win over Vermont in a quarterfinal match at Agganis Arena on March 11. Providence entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed and advanced with a 2-1 overtime upset win at No. 15 ranked Northeastern on March 11. No. 2 seed Merrimack and No. 5 seed UMass Lowell will face off in the nightcap scheduled for 7:30.
“We are looking forward to this weekend,” said Pandolfo. “I think you work all year to get to this spot and having a chance to compete for a Hockey East championship.
“We’ve had a good week of practice and I liked our game overall against Vermont so hopefully we will have some confidence going against Providence. I know that it is going to be a tough match. We just recently played them so I do not think there are going to be any surprises from them or from us.”
Pandolfo is happy with the state of the team and does not plan to make any alterations to his four lines as well as the power play and penalty kill units.
The only question mark is on the Terriers’ first defensive pairing. Senior captain Domenick Fensore was injured in the game against Vermont and he hasn’t been able to practice. Fensore is the backbone of the Terriers’ blue line group having played in 31 games with nine goals and 18 assists.
“I think at this point Dom is still day to day,” said Pandolfo. “We have to see where he is at but there is no decision on if he is in or out.”
BU had a solid nucleus of veteran returning from last season that was bolstered by a stronger than expected freshmen class that are tournament ready. Five of the 10 Terriers with 20 or more points are from the Class of 2026.
Defenseman Lane Hutson, a Hobey Baker Award candidate, leads the Terriers with 44 points on 12 goals and 32 assists.
Hutson is followed by left wing Jeremy Wilmer (9-21-30), second-line center Ryan Greene (9-19-28), right wing Quinn Hutson (13-13-26) and right wing Devin Kaplan (9-12-21). All five qualified for the scoresheet in the quarterfinal win over Vermont.
“They have been really good since day one,” said Pandolfo. “They have had some ups and downs over the course of the year but for the most part, they have been a consistent group.
“The contributions they have had for our group offensively has been good, all of them. They have all been productive and it is not easy, this is a tough league.
“To come in in their freshmen year and be as productive as all five of them have been is impressive. Give them a lot of credit, they have done well and are a big reason why we are where we are right now.”