Hockey East Semifinals Live: BU Overwhelms BC in Final Period, Sets Up Date With UMass Lowell in Finals

Hockey East Live Blog

Final, BU 6-3: It’s official, Jack Parker and the Terriers will play for their eighth Hockey East title tomorrow after thoroughly dismantling Boston College in the final two periods.

BU will take on UMass Lowell in a rematch of the 2009 title game — the last appearance in the finals for both teams.

Puck drops tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Click here to find out what channel the game will be shown on in your area, and be  sure to check back in to NESN.com as we will live blog all the action from faceoff to the final horn.

Third period, 17:31, BU 6-3: Evan Rodrigues finds the Eagles’ empty net from his own faceoff circle and leaps into the arms of his teammates on the BU bench. That will just about do it.

Third period, 17:06, BU 5-3: Desperation time for BC, as Parker Milner heads to the bench to be replaced by an extra skater with 2:54 remaining in a two-goal game.

Third period, 13:43, BU 5-3: Boston College finally gets back on the board, with Hobey Baker finalist Steven Whitney bouncing the puck off the back of BU goalie Sean Maguire and into the net. The goal is crucial for the Eagles, who had been held scoreless for nearly 25 minutes. They’ll have their work cut out for them, though, as they still need to find the back of the net twice more in the final five minutes to force overtime.

Third period, 9:57, BU 5-2: O’Regan strikes again for the Terriers, and fans begin filing out of TD Garden. The score marks BU’s third power-play goal of the game and the second for the freshman sensation, who led all Terriers in scoring this season with 36 points.

Third period, 1:42, BU 4-2: The Terriers have a chance to seriously break this game open. Freshman Danny O’Regan scored just 30 seconds into the power play, but BC will remain shorthanded for another 4:30 because major penalties are not cancelled out by goals.

Milner has not played to the best of his ability tonight, as O’Regan’s tally again slipped under his glove hand.

Third period, 1:08, BU 3-2: Sean Escobedo is sent into the boards by Gaudreau and comes up favoring his left shoulder. He returned to the bench after a brief trip to the locker room but still looks to be in significant pain. The Terriers will be on the power play for five minutes as Gaudreau is assessed a major penalty for cross-checking.

Second intermission, BU 3-2: The complexion of this hockey game sure changed in a hurry.

BU turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead in under six minutes, and while BC still has a sizable edge in shots (31-16), the Terriers now have all the momentum.

Don’t expect them to let off the gas. As the No. 17 team in both the USCHO.com poll and the PairWise rankings, BU almost certainly needs a conference title to clinch a spot in the national tournament, meaning that a loss tonight would likely end Jack Parker’s legendary career.

Second period, 17:59, BU 3-2: We have bedlam at the Garden.

Garrett Noonan (great hockey name) beat Milner with a tough-angle shot on the power play to give the Terriers their first lead of the night. It was another goal that Milner should not have had a problem with — this one sliding under his glove and just inside the right post.

Second period, 14:21, 2-2: And just like that, we’re all tied up.

BC’s Danny Linell misplayed a pass in front of his own bench and Matt Lane capitalized for the Terriers, skating in on Milner and beating him five-hole for the unassisted goal.

Second period, 12:17, BC 2-1: That’s one Parker Milner will want back.

BU’s Evan Rodrigues deked his way into the BC zone, settled near the right faceoff dot and blasted a shot through the space between Milner’s body and his blocker hand.

That’s Rodrigues’ 13th goal of the season, and it brings the Terriers right back into this game with plenty of hockey still to be played.

Second period, 9:46, BC 2-0: No post this time. Smith found his way behind the BU defense, took a perfect feed from Mullane and beat Maguire top-shelf. That upper-right corner seems to be a problem spot for the BU goalie, as both Smith and Arnold have managed to lift pucks over Maguire’s left shoulder.

Second period, 5:02, BC 1-0: The Eagles came within inches of extending their lead with BU’s Ryan Ruikka in the penalty box, but Quinn Smith rang iron with his shot past Maguire.

The Terriers were then called for a borderline offside infraction — the second questionable call handed down in the past few minutes — to kill a potential breakaway. Some frustration seems to be setting in for the boys in red, who are voicing their disapproval to the officials.

Second period, 1:06, BC 1-0: BC’s Michael Matheson is whistled for interference, and the Terriers will go on the power play searching for the equalizer early in the second.

First intermission, BC 1-0: A huge cheer erupts as the TD Garden Jumbotron commemorates Johnny Gaudreau, who was announced as the Hockey East’s Player of the Year yesterday. It’s been some year for the sophomore, who led Team USA to a title at the World Junior Championship in Sweden earlier this year.

Overall, both rosters in this game are stacked with future NHL talent, as Gaudreau — a Calgary draftee along with Arnold and Providence’s Jon Gillies — is one of 14 BC or BU players whose rights are owned by an NHL club. Comparatively, this afternoon’s game featured just seven draftees.

First intermission, BC 1-0: Boston College’s offensive assault finally paid dividends in the closing minutes of the first frame, but Maguire has kept the Terriers in the game. BU will need to improve on the offensive end in the second, as Jack Parker’s crew has been outshot 18-7 and hasn’t put much pressure on Milner.

First period, 18:33, BC 1-0: Less than a minute after Maguire made the save of the game so far to keep the game scoreless, Needham native Bill Arnold finally put one by the BU goalie with under two minutes to play in the period, sniping a shot over Maguire’s left shoulder on the power play.

And, right on cue, the student sections begin trading chants that are not very family-friendly.

First period, 11:24, 0-0: Save for a pair of mini-breakaways during Gaudreau’s penalty, BU hadn’t been able to get any prolonged pressure on Milner, who’s had to make just two routine saves thus far.

They finally found a quality scoring chance more than halfway through the period — a shorthanded chance, no less — when Rosen pickpocketed Pat Mullane and nearly stuffed the puck past Milner. The goaltender did not budge, though, and the puck ended up on top of the net.

Rosen appeared to jab Milner a few times with his knee before referees came in to separate the two teams.

First period, 5:50, 0-0: BC escapes the Gaudreau foul unscathed, and BU weathers a shorthanded stint of its own after Ben Rosen is sent to the box for high sticking.

The Eagles have peppered the young Maguire early, notching five shots on goal in the opening five minutes. Don’t be surprised if this ends up being much more of a barnburner than this afternoon’s contest.

First period, 0:10, 0-0: We’re just 10 seconds into the game and the Terriers already have their first power play. BC won the opening faceoff, but winger Johnny Gaudreau was called for tripping immediately after, giving BU the early man advantage.

8:45 p.m.: With puck drop just minutes away, let’s take a glimpse at the two contestants. As one of the greatest rivalries in all of college hockey, BC and BU obviously know each other well, facing off three times each season and often again in the annual Beanpot.

But tonight’s game will mark the first time the two teams have met in the postseason since 2009, when the Kieran Millan-led Terriers toppled the Eagles in this same round en route to a Hockey East title and a national championship.

These two schools have thoroughly dominated the conference tournament for nearly a decade, combining to win the last eight championship games. It has been all BC in recent years, though, both on a regional and national scale. The Eagles have won both the Hockey East and NCAA titles in each of the last three years.

Senior Parker Milner was the starter in net for two of those championships, and he’s back again for BC. He’ll backstop the Eagles’ defense behind freshman Teddy Doherty and senior Patrick Wey, with Bill Arnold centering Johnny Gaudreau and Destry Straight up front.

BU will send out sophomore Cason Hohmann between Sahir Gill and captain Wade Megan, with Sean Escobedo and Ryan Ruikka on the blue line and freshman Sean Maguire in net. Let’s get it on.

8:15 p.m.: A few observations from the the first three of hours of hockey:

-For a team that has not enjoyed the success of some of the conference’s elite, UMass Lowell has a tremendous fan base. The River Hawks have always traveled well, and tonight they packed their corner of the Garden with students and older fans alike. The wide range of uniform styles spotted in the crowd — with some even sporting sweaters bearing the school’s old Chiefs logo that was retired in 1994 — illustrates the fact that these are true diehards rather than just front-running bandwagon jumpers.

-The crowd, as a whole, is very anti-BC. How much so? Well, any children caught on the Jumbotron camera wearing Boston College gear have been met with a spirited chorus of boos. So, yeah, these guys do not like the Eagles.

Final, UMass Lowell 2-1: The Friars’ final rush falls short and the River Hawks are headed to the finals.

We expected a defensive battle, and that’s exactly what we got. Both Jon Gillies and Connor Hellebuyck were sensational in net, finishing with 33 and 34 saves, respectively.

UMass Lowell now advances to the conference championship game for just the third time in school history and the first time since 2009. They’ll take on the winner of tonight’s matchup between Boston College and Boston University, who will face off in just under an hour.

You can check out viewing information for tomorrow’s title game by clinking here. So, take a break, take a peek at the basketball scores, but keep it tuned right here as we bring you all the action from the Eagles and Terriers starting in just a few minutes.

Third period, 19:10, UMass Lowell 2-1: Hellebuyck is pushed all the way back into his net but manages to keep the puck out. Providence calls its timeout and will look to draw up one final play.

Third period, 17:59, UMass Lowell 2-1: Lowell calls for a timeout, and Providence now has just two minutes to find a way to put the puck past Connor Hellebuyck — something the Friars haven’t been able to do since the 8:59 mark of the first period. PC sends out a line of four forwards and two defensemen, with Gillies sent to the bench.

Third period, 12:30, UMass Lowell 2-1: Scott Wilson puts the River Hawks on top for the first time all night with an incredible, highlight-reel goal.

Wilson carried the puck into the Providence zone and with Friars defenseman John Gilmour draped all over him, let off a shot that sailed between Gilmour’s legs and over Gillies’ left shoulder, giving Lowell a 2-1 lead with 7:30 remaining.

Third period, 8:49, 1-1: It seems like both teams have needed a little kick in the behind to get their offenses going tonight. Just as Lowell did after surrendering Kevin Rooney’s goal in the first, PC has ramped up its attack in the wake of White’s tally.

Derek Army and Steven McParland have managed a few promising rushes into the River Hawks zone, but Hellebuyck has been stout in net, his save total now up to 27.

The Friars continue their Kyle Arrington impression, though, as Velischek is sent to the box for PC’s fifth interference violation of the night.

Third period, 4:11, 1-1: Riley Wetmore gets sent off for slashing, and Providence has an opportunity to respond with the extra man.

Third period, 0:34, 1-1: The River Hawks finally solve Gillies barely half a minute into the final frame. After making a save on a shot from the point, the PC netminder was bowled over by his own captain, Kyle Murphy, leaving a wide-open net for A.J. White to bury his second goal of the season. Looks like we’re headed for a thrilling finish here in this one.

Second intermission, Providence 1-0: What Marshall Henderson is to Ole Miss basketball, Jon Gillies is to the Providence Friars. The second-youngest player on the ice (behind fellow Friars freshman Mark Jankowski) has been the best through two periods, stopping all 25 shots he’s faced to backstop PC to a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes.

If any representatives from the Calgary Flames (who own the rights to both Gillies and Jankowski) are in attendance at the Garden, they have to be encouraged by their investment.

Second period, 16:02, Providence 1-0: Riley Wetmore almost capitalized 45 seconds into the power play. The senior captain tried to sneak the puck between Gillies’ right skate and the post, but the goalie was able to cover the puck amid a mad scrum in the crease. A lengthy review determined that the puck had crossed the goal line, and the Friars continue to hold a 1-0 advantage.

Second period, 15:00, Providence 1-0: Gillies does it again, making the save of the night to deny Joseph Pendenza with his right pad. The Friar faithful certainly approve of their freshman’s performance, as a “We got Gillies!” chant echoes from the section decked out in black and white.

PC is not doing its netminder any favors, though, as Derek Army was whistled for — you guessed it — interference. The River Hawks will again go on the power play.

Second period, 10:57, Providence 1-0: The interference bug bites the Friars again, and Kevin Hart is sent to the box, marking the first penalty in what has otherwise been a very crisp period of hockey.

Second period, 8:30, Providence 1-0: To properly illustrate the reason for Providence’s remarkable turnaround this season, look no further than the man in the crease. Jon Gillies has been a brick wall for the Friars yet again tonight, stopping all 19 UML shots and foiling what to this point has seemed like a period-long scoring chance.

He hasn’t done it alone, though, as the Friars D-men — especially freshman Tom Parisi and senior Pittsburgh draftee Alex Velicshek — have done an excellent job of taking out the trash in front of the net.

Second period, 2:45, Providence 1-0: Strangely, the beginning of the second period is playing out much like the first one — only with the roles reversed. Providence can’t seem to get the puck out of its defensive zone, and the River Hawks were almost able to jam it home during a scrum in front of the net before Gillies found his bearings and stopped play.

Second period, 0:00, Providence 1-0: UMass Lowell wins the faceoff and the second period is underway.

First intermission, Providence 1-0: Norm Bazin’s club got its best scoring chance of the night in the closing seconds of the first period.

With Friars defenseman Myles Harvey in the box for interference, the River Hawks fired away at Jon Gillies. Gillies weathered the storm with a little help from the iron, as a rocket from the blue line rang the left post and allowed PC to go into the locker room with a one-goal cushion.

Play has been rough thus far, as is expected in a playoff game, but both teams could benefit from cleaning up their checking a bit. Officials handed out five penalties in the opening period — three for interference — and Lowell has shown the ability to exploit Providence’s far-from-dominant penalty kill.

First period, 13:20, Providence 1-0: Rooney’s tally seems to have altered the momentum a bit, and now it’s UMass Lowell spending a lot of time in the Providence zone. The Hawks have yet to find many quality scoring chances, though, as Gillies has stopped all eight shots that have come his way.

First period, 8:59, Providence 1-0: We have our first goal of the night, and it comes from an unlikely source.

Freshman Kevin Rooney lit the lamp for the first time in his collegiate career after Hellebuyck couldn’t control a Noel Acciari slap shot and and Rooney slipped the rebound into the exposed net.

The Canton, Mass., native played in 28 games this season but had only three assists on his record until today.

First period, 6:29, 0-0: PC had its chances, but the River Hawks’ top D-pairing of Amlong and Ruhwedel got their bodies on a few pucks in front of the net to kill off the Wallin penalty. Their reprieve didn’t last long, though, as Foxboro native Derek Arnold was called for a trip, again leaving Lowell shorthanded.

First period, 3:35, 0-0: A physical few minutes produce the first power play of the game, as UML’s Terrence Wallin is sent to the box for hitting from behind. Providence nearly sneaks one by Hellebuyck in the opening 20 seconds of the man advantage, but the 6-foot-4 netminder gets a glove on it to force a face0ff.

5:05 p.m.: The Garden crowd is definitely skewed toward the River Hawks at the moment. There’s a lot of blue, red and white in the building.

A quick adjustment to the starting lineups: Providence will open up with its line of freshman Steven McParland, senior captain Kyle Murphy and junior Derek Army in front of defensemen Tom Parisi and Alex Velischek.

4:45 p.m.: The fact that the Friars and River Hawks are playing with a spot in the conference title game today is a testament to how much the Hockey East has evolved in recent years.

Before this season, UMass Lowell had finished better than fifth in the conference just twice since 2005-06 (third in 2009-10 and second last year), while PC finished seventh or worse six times over that span.

The winner of this game will have an excellent shot at breaking up the Boston College-Boston University monopoly that has claimed every title game since 2004.

4 p.m.: Good afternoon, hockey fans. We’re just about one hour from game time here at the Garden, so let’s take this chance to get acquainted with the boys from Providence and Lowell.

As I mentioned earlier, the goalies will be the story in the afternoon matchup, as both Jon Gillies and Connor Hellebuyck (pronounced HELL-e-buck) have been stellar in their first year at the college level. Their success has been evident on the score sheet, as UML and PC are tied for second in goals allowed per game (3.66) in conference play.

The goalies aren’t the only young guns making a name for themselves, though, as the teams will send out a combined six freshmen for the game’s opening shift.

The River Hawks’ top line features senior captain Riley Wetmore — the squad’s top goal scorer with 15 — centering between junior Derek Arnold and freshman Ryan McGrath, with freshman Greg Amlong and junior Chad Ruhwedel making up the first defensive pairing.

On the Providence side, senior Tim Schaller centers the Friars’ first line with freshmen Mark Janowski and Paul de Jersey on the wings, and senior Myles Harvey and junior Kevin Hart (no, not that Kevin Hart) patrolling the blue line.

8 a.m. ET: This weekend — and much of the next few weeks — will be dominated by college basketball, but March Madness isn’t limited to just hoops.

Some of the finest collegiate hockey players New England has to offer will take the ice tonight at TD Garden for the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament, with the victors earning the chance to play for the conference title Saturday.

There weren’t any upset specials in last weekend’s quarterfinals, with the higher seeds going a combined 8-1 to sweep the four opening-round series.

Top seed UMass Lowell, coming off its first regular-season title in school history, punched its ticket to the Garden rounds with a two-game sweep of Maine. Lowell will take on a fourth-seeded Providence squad backstopped by freshman sensation Jon Gillies. The matchup will showcase two of the game’s best young goaltenders, as Gillies and River Hawks freshman Connor Hellebuyck rank second and first, respectively, in the Hockey East in both goals-against average and save percentage.

But the marquee event will be the nightcap, as Boston University looks to send coach Jack Parker to his 10th and final Hockey East title game with a win over crosstown rival Boston College. The Eagles’ own legendary coach, Jerry York, is expected to miss the game as he continues to recover from a detached retina suffered last Saturday.

UMass Lowell and Providence will get the action under way at 5 p.m., with BC-BU following at 8 p.m. Be sure to check back throughout the day for up-to-the-minute updates leading up to puck drop.

Photos via Twitter/@HeightsSports / Facebook/Boston UniversityTwitter/@HeightsSports / Facebook/Providence College Men’s Hockey