The Boston University Terriers swept the Merrimack College Warriors this weekend to end their season and advance to the Hockey East Semifinals next weekend at the TD Garden. The Terriers beat the Warriors by scores of 3-0 and 5-3 and swept all 5 games from the Warriors this season. The Terriers excelled at exposing Merrimack weaknesses defensively to get goals when they needed to. Theye also shut them down throughout the season defensively. Merrimack is a team that will outwork you to score goals and has given teams like BC and UNH fits this year. In order to beat them, you need to work equally as hard/if not harder which is no easy task. These games were the last two home games of coach Jack Parker's career as he announced his retirement this past week. The Terrier sweep was their first in the Hockey East QF's since the 2005-2006 season against UMass. The Terriers do advance through to the Garden for the 11th time in 12 seasons. The Terriers also hit the 20 win plateau for the second consecutive season and give themselves a chance to make the NCAA tournament by winning one or two games next weekend.
Friday night's win was a result of solid defense and opportunistic offense. After a scoreless first, BU got goals from leading scorers Wade Megan and Matt Nieto. Nieto's line of himself, Danny O'Regan and Evan Rodrigues continues to roll and produce points. The Terriers added a third goal on the powerplay from senior grinder Ryan Santana who battled hard in front of the net for the loose puck. Freshman tendy Sean Maguire had a great night for the Terriers pitching his 4th shutout of the season along with a gem of a press conference which you can see below. It was just the effort the Terriers needed to bring to a playoff game as they didn't score a ton of goals but did enough and played great defense in front of Maguire to pick up the victory.
Saturday night was a closer game as Merrimack took a 1-0 lead on a Shawn Bates goal on a great stretch pass from Jordan Heywood late in the first on the powerplay. BU responded in the second on a great pass from Danny O'Regan to Matt Nieto who buried his 18th of the year. I think there will be plenty of Merrimack fans rooting for Nieto to go pro after this season, which is really a great reason to stay and torture them all for another season. Mike Collins finally struck when he sniped one top shelf on Maguire about 3 minutes later on the power play. Maguire never had a chance to see the puck on the nice shot from Collins. Cason Hohmann potted his 10th of the year with his own powerplay goal on a fortunate deflection right back to him off his own pass. Merrimack took a 3-2 lead with 1:20 left in the period off a bad BU turnover but the Terriers responded with a Sam Kurker powerplay goal that turned out to be the turning point in the game. Ben Rosen scored the game winner with Kurker fighting in front of the net with 15 minutes left. Sahir Gill added an empty netter off of Wade Megan's great effort down a man late in the game. The third line was huge on Saturday night producing 2 goals and almost another as Matt Lane hit a post in the third on a slick move and had one of his best game of the season.
Post-game was quite the scene as everyone realized that they just watched Coach Parker's last game in Agganis Arena as head coach. The players thanked the student section up close and personal before watching a tribute video to Coach Parker on the jumbotron. Parker then addressed the crowd and thanked everyone(at the end of the highlights below). It was a historic moment in BU hockey history and certainly gave me chills just being there. There is a picture below showing the players watching the video tribute.
BU will now face BC on Friday at 8:00 following Lowell-PC/UNH at 5:30. Should be a great set of games as the Terriers need to win Friday to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Stay tuned this week as we release our Hockey LEast awards and continue not write previews because BU is 5-1-0 since we started