BOSTON — The unbelievable second half run for the Northeastern Huskies isn’t slowing down. This was proven on Saturday night when the Huskies topped the UMass Lowell River Hawks, 3-2, to win the Hockey East Championship. Northeastern is now 20-1-2 over their last 23 games.
“This certainly wasn’t the game that we envisioned, but good teams make you play out of your element at times,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “Our special teams wasn’t good enough and our edge and execution were a little bit off. I did feel like we didn’t have the energy that we needed in order to have success and, tonight, we came out on the losing end.”
The River Hawks found themselves fighting from behind starting at the 1:12 mark of the first period when Northeastern freshman forward Adam Gaudette tapped in a pass from senior forward Mike McMurtry for the backdoor goal.
UMass Lowell came extremely close to tying the game only a few minutes later, but the goal was waived off on the ice and play continued. With an almost automatic review at the next whistle, Lowell played on and sophomore forward John Edwardh manage to score anyway. After review the initial play was reviewed and determined it wasn’t a goal, so the insurance of Edwardh’s goal was beneficial.
The moment still seemed to be in Northeastern’s favor and titled the ice even further to the Huskies side when Nolan Stevens added another at 6:30 of the first period.
Adam Chapie evened the score for the River Hawks at 13:34 of the second period and was quickly becoming a star for UMass Lowell and keeping their chances alive. This was until he let his emotions get the best of him in the third period and retaliated with a slash at 10:05 of the third period. Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese would score on the ensuing power play, which would end up being the game-winning-goal when all was said and done.
Kevin Boyle stopped 21-of-24 shots and dropped to 23-9-5 on the season. For his outstanding play over the entire Hockey East Tournament, Boyle was named Tournament Most Valuable Player. He posted a 1.24 goals-against average over four tournament games. It was the first time since 2003 that the MVP was from the losing team and was the third time in four years a UMass Lowell goaltender won the award. The previous winner was Connor Hellebuyck in 2013 and 2014.
Dylan Zink and C.J. Smith were named to the All-Tournament team along with Northeastern’s N. Stevens, Kevin Roy and Colton Saucerman.
Northeastern becomes the lowest seed (6) to win the Hockey East title and picks up their first championship since 1988.
UMass Lowell finished the regular season tied for eighth in the PairWise and know their season is not completely over. The defending national champion Providence College Friars also did not win the Hockey East title and went on to win the national title. The River Hawks will find out on Sunday afternoon who and where they will play next weekend.
“We have to take the positive out of this: We get to play some more hockey,” said Bazin. “We get to play for the national championship. And I’m very proud of the kids in that room. Playing for the regional is going to be exciting and I’m sure our guys will be looking forward to it after they get over the sting of this loss.”