UMass-Lowell, Boston College, Boston University and Providence College will descend upon Causeway St. on Friday night to begin the conference’s 29th annual tournament.
The UML Riverhawks come in as this year’s No. 1 seed. Lowell was the regular season champion going 16-9-2 in conference play and swept Maine out of the playoffs last weekend at the Tsongas Center. Lowell has been led this year by junior forward Joseph Pendenza who has paced the team with 35 points and a plus-13 rating. UML will take on No. 5 seed Providence in the late-afternoon game Friday night.
The Friars come in after a hard-fought series victory over New Hampshire. PC got two late second-period goals to take a 3-2 lead over UNH on Sunday afternoon and then held off a third-period rally to advance. Providence finished the regular season in fourth place with a 13-8-6 record. Goaltender Jon Gilles has been vital to the Friars’ success, posting a 2.08 GAA, and PC has not won a game in his absence.
Defending national champion Boston College comes in as the No. 2 seed, but is probably the favorite heading into this weekend. The Eagles have fought through myriad injuries to finish with 33 regular-season points. BC swept Vermont in two easy games at Kelley Rink last weekend to advance to the Garden. With BU on the NCAA bubble, the Eagles would love to end Jack Parker‘s career Friday night. Hobey Baker hopeful Johnny Gaudreau has been phenomenal for BC, with 49 points (20 goals) this season to lead the Eagles with one of the best offenses in the nation.
The BU Terriers will be playing with a little extra incentive this weekend since Jack Parker announced his retirement after 40 years behind the bench for the Terriers. BU is certainly on the bubble and a loss Friday night would all but end their season — and subsequently Parker’s career. Freshman Danny O’Reagan and junior Matt Nieto will do their best to extend Parker’s career. The forwards have combined for 71 points this season and have led the Terriers to a strong finish after a tough start.
Regardless of which team takes it home, one thing is certain: there will be a lot of pride and intense hockey at the TD Garden this weekend.