Hockey East Championship Live: BU Ends Lowell’s Reign, Wins First Title Since 2009

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Final, BU 5-3: The final horn sounds, and that will do it.

Boston University wins its first Hockey East tournament championship since 2009 on the back of a two-goal performance from freshman Jack Eichel. The Terriers now will advance to the NCAA tournament, while UMass Lowell’s season almost certainly is over.

Third period 16:52, BU 5-3: But wait, we’re not done yet.

Michael Louria lights the lamp for Lowell, making it a two-goal game with three minutes to play.

Third period 14:43, BU 5-2:  That should be the dagger.

Jack Eichel scores his second goal of the game, beating Kevin Boyle five-hole after a solo charge up the right side, to give the Terriers a three-goal lead with just over five minutes to play.

Third period 13:22, BU 4-2: Another kill for Lowell. Back to full strength.

Third period 11:22, BU 4-2: It’s time for another BU power play, as Zink heads to the box on a holding call. Time is running out for the River Hawks.

Third period 6:37, BU 4-2: Lowell kills the penalty, then gets to work closing its deficit. Sophomore Michael Kapla fires a shot over the right shoulder of Matt O’Connor off assists from Michael Fallon and Dylan Zink to trim BU’s lead to 4-2.

Third period 3:48, BU 4-1: BU will go on the power play for just the second time tonight as C.J. Smith is called for slashing.

Third period 0:01, BU 4-1: The third period is underway.

Second intermission, BU 4-1: The latter half of the second period was relatively uneventful, but BU added some insurance in the final minute of the frame.

Nikolas Olsson, who had a goal waved off in the first, finished off a beautiful 2-on-1 with Matt Grzelcyk by firing one past Kevin Boyle for BU’s fourth goal of the night.

Twenty minutes remain. The River Hawks have some serious work to do.

Second period 10:22, BU 3-1: Matt O’Connor comes up a fantastic save to rob Zack Kamrass, and the Terriers kill the penalty.

[tweet https://twitter.com/TerrierHockey/status/579437889836228608 align=’center’]

Second period 8:22, BU 3-1: The River Hawks will have a chance to close the gap on the man-advantage, as BU center Matt Lane is whistled for goalie interference.

Second period 5:38, BU 3-1: The Terriers are threatening to run away with this one.

Cason Hohmann trickles one through the legs of Kevin Boyle on a 3-on-1 breakaway for BU’s third goal of the game. A.J. Greer and Doyle Somerby were credited with the helpers.

Second period 0:01, BU 2-1: We are underway in the second period.

First intermission, BU 2-1: The Terriers lead it by a goal after a rough and rowdy 20 minutes. This is shaping up to be a fun one here at TD Garden.

First period 19:10, BU 2-1: The River Hawks get one back.

After John MacLeod is sent to the box for elbowing, Joe Gambardella capitalizes, using a nifty move to slide the rebound of a Tommy Panico slap shot past Matt O’Connor on the ensuing power play. The assist was the first point of Panico’s collegiate career.

That was an important one for UML, as BU had owned all of the momentum for the previous seven or so minutes.

First period 15:01, BU 2-0: Jack. Eichel.

The freshman sensation now has a goal and an assist on the night after deking around Dylan Zink and beating netminder Kevin Boyle for BU’s second tally of the game. It’s been a rough period for Zink, whose goalie interference penalty set up the Terriers’ first goal.

Evan Rodrigues and Brandon Hickey were credited with the assists on Eichel’s tally.

First period 13:49, BU 1-0: The Terriers lead it 1-0, and they nearly stretched that advantage to two.

BU appeared to score two goals in rapid succession — the first by Grzelcyk (a Bruins draftee) on the power play off an assist from Eichel and the second a Nikolas Olsson tally following a multi-player pileup along the right boards. Upon video review, however, officials ruled that Olsson had been offsides when he entered the UMass Lowell zone, negating the goal.

First period 12:41, 0-0: Lowell defenseman Dylan Zink runs into O’Connor after the goalie corrals a shot attempt, and he’s penalized for it. BU will go on the man-advantage for two minutes after Zink’s goaltender interference penalty.

First period 7:56, 0-0: Eichel’s penalty expires, and we’re back to 5-on-5.

First period 7:25, 0-0: Remember when we said this game has been chippy? Well, Evan Rodrigues and Danny O’Regan just went all “Bash Brothers” on Lowell’s C.J. Smith after Smith leveled BU captain Matt Grzelcyk with a late hit. Rodrigues and Smith both were sent to the box for roughing.

First period 6:56, 0-0: We have our first penalty of the evening, as BU’s Jack Eichel is whistled for interference.

First period 3:11, 0-0: It’s been physical here in the early going, with both teams dishing out some good hits along the side boards. UML defenseman Tyler Mueller also gave BU goalie Matt O’Connor a nice ice shower after a failed scoring chance — something netminders never appreciate.

First period 0:01, 0-0: Joe Gambardella wins the opening faceoff for UMass Lowell, and we are underway.

As the lower seed, Lowell is wearing its blue road unis with red and white trim, while BU is sporting its white home jerseys with red trim.

6:45 p.m.: Though these schools are located just a short drive from one another, BU’s roster has a much more local feel than that of UMass Lowell.

The Terriers boast 11 Massachusetts natives, plus another three from Connecticut, while the River Hawks feature just one player who calls New England home — Newton, Mass., native native Ryan Collins.

Collins, a freshman forward, has played in just 15 games and is not listed on tonight’s lineup sheet, but judging by his Twitter account, you never know when he could jump into the action.

[tweet https://twitter.com/Ryan_Collins22/status/554834940022771713 align=’center’]

“Waterboy” references will earn you a shoutout every time from this live-blogger.

6:25 p.m. ET: A champion will be crowned Saturday at TD Garden, as the men’s hockey teams from Boston University and UMass Lowell face off for the right to hoist the Lamoriello Trophy.

The Hockey East title game is a familiar stage for the River Hawks, who have won the last two conference tournaments thanks in large part to the play of goaltender and two-time tourney MVP Connor Hellebuyck, who posted shutouts in consecutive finals.

Hellebuyck has moved on, however (he now plays for the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate), and junior Kevin Boyle now backstops UML. Boyle has been a workhorse this season, making more saves than any Hockey East netminder, and the No. 4 seed River Hawks have relied on an explosive offense that ranked second in the conference in goals per game during the regular season.

The only team to score more? The Terriers, who have reclaimed their usual spot among the Hockey East elite after a down season in 2013-14. Leading that offensive charge has been 18-year-old center Jack Eichel, who leads the nation in both points (63) and assists (41) and this week became the first freshman finalist for the Hobey Baker Award since Zach Parise in 2003.

There’s more to BU’s attack than Eichel, however, as linemates Evan Rodrigues (second) and Danny O’Regan (tied for 11th) also are among the top point-scorers in Division I.

In net, the top-seeded Terriers will start junior Matt O’Connor, who carriers an impressive 31-3-4 record and ranks second in Hockey East in save percentage (.930) behind Providence’s Jon Gillies.

Both teams advanced to the title game with 4-1 wins in Friday’s semifinals. Eichel scored twice (including an empty-netter) to lead BU past New Hampshire, and UMass Lowell received goals from four different players in a win over Vermont. That has been the trend for the River Hawks this season — despite their high goal totals, their top scorer, freshman winger C.J. Smith, ranks 45th in the nation with 35 points.

Click below to see the full lines and pairings for both sides.

[tweet https://twitter.com/ZackCoxNESN/status/579406373550759936 align=’center’]

BU enters the game ranked third in the nation — a lock for the NCAA tournament — while UML comes in at No. 12 and almost certainly needs a win to secure a berth in the Big Dance.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@PR_NHL

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