When all is said and done Saturday night, there will be a new Hockey East Champion as Maine and Boston College will take the ice for the decisive match of the tournament at TD Garden. Winner take all.
Maine advances to the final after eliminating defending champion Boston University in a hard-fought contest Friday night in the semifinals. The Black Bears played a high-intensity, physical game. They gave themselves a three-goal lead and survived a late Terrier surge to hang on for the win and ended up out-shooting BU 37-24.
Coach Tim Whitehead is extremely pleased with the performance and continues to take it one game at a time.
"We're really pleased to extend our season at least one more day and take on BC here in Boston," said Whitehead. "It's going to be a great challenge that we're really excited about."
Maine goaltender Dave Wilson, who's 22-save performance also fell on his 25th birthday Friday night, couldn't have asked for a better present than having his team advance. His solid play in net has been a huge reason Maine has gotten this far in the playoffs.
"The one thing about Dave is he really persevered and I'm so proud of his ability to focus when we needed him the more," said Whitehead. "Every game was an elimination game for him. You never really know when guys are going to rise up like that which he certainly has this postseason."
With Friday night's win, Maine clinched just their fifth victory vs. BU in the postseason. It also marks their 13th championship appearance with their last title coming in 2004 when they topped BU 1-0. The last time they faced BC in the postseason was in 2006 when the Eagles eliminated them in the semis 4-1. Their overall tournament record is 46-24-0.
Boston College enters the final as the only team still undefeated in this year's postseason run. After sweeping UMass in the quarters and shutting out Vermont Friday night 3-0, they will look to keep the ball rolling against Maine and try to build on their perfect 3-0 record.
The Eagles also set the tone of their game Friday night from the puck drop to the final buzzer. Jimmy Hayes and John Muse stepped up to lead their team to victory. Hayes noticed three points, one goal and two assists, while Muse took care of business in net with 30 saves.
Coach Jerry York credits Muse for giving them the turning point in Friday night's match to send them onto the finals.
"I thought John's play was superb from start to the finish of the game, said York. "The real turning point was Muse’s save on the breakaway in the second to keep it 1-0. It allowed us to go ahead with the late goal to send us into the locker room with a two-goal lead."
Boston College will also be making their thirteenth championship appearance with an 8-5 all-time record in the finals. They own a record eight Hockey East titles with their last coming in 2008 in a 4-0 shutout against Vermont. Their overall record is 47-23-2.
In addition to having solid defense beginning with Muse in net, Boston College hopes to get a spread of scorers from their offense.
"Our goal is to have a mix of players step up for us," said York. "We can't have one or two lines win a championship for us. We created four solid lines, they are all have a unique personality that will all need to contribute to our team."
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