Terriers win HE title, get Maine matchup

Posted March 08, 2009, at 9:14 p.m.

Boston University’s 3-0 win over Providence College on Sunday afternoon supplied the Terriers with the Hockey East regular-season championship and a date with the eighth-seeded University of Maine Black Bears for their playoff quarterfinal this coming Friday-Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday at Agganis Arena in Boston.

Boston College’s 4-1 win over Northeastern on Saturday night left the door open for BU, which needed only a tie Sunday to earn the top seed since they owned the tiebreaker over Northeastern by virtue of a 1-0-2 record vs. the Huskies.

BU is 27-5-4 overall, 18-5-4 in Hockey East. Maine finished 12-20-4 and 7-17-3, respectively.

The two teams have taken opposite paths to the playoffs.

Boston University, the nation’s top-ranked team, hasn’t lost since Jan. 13. The Terriers will enter the best-of-three series unbeaten in 16 (13-0-3). They are 20-1-4 in their last 25 games.

Maine hasn’t won since Feb. 7 and is mired in an eight-game winless skein (0-7-1). Maine is 2-15-3 in its last 20 games.

The teams have played nine times in the HE playoffs with the Terriers holding a 5-4 edge.

BU has won a pair of HE quarterfinal series, going 4-0, and the 1990-91 title game (4-3 in overtime) while Maine has won all four semifinal meetings.

In the other quarterfinal series, No. 2 Northeastern will host No. 7 Massachusetts, No. 3 New Hampshire will entertain No. 6 and defending national champion Boston College and No. 4 Vermont will await No. 5 UMass Lowell.

“We’ll have our hands full down there,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, whose Bears have 4-1 and 7-2 losses and a 2-2 tie against the Terriers. “The biggest thing will be to stay out of the penalty box. Our penalty-killing hasn’t been real strong of late and they have a devastating power play.”

Boston University has the nation’s top power play (24.3 percent) and Maine has surrendered 14 power-play goals in its last eight games.

“We’ve got to get more shots from the slot and get more second shots,” said Maine sophomore defenseman Mike Banwell. “And we’ve got to keep them to the perimeter. If we can hold them to the outside, they can move the puck around all they want. And we need to limit their number of shots as much as we can.”

The Terriers, whose 3.97 goals per game also lead the country, have 10 players with 22 or more points.

Maine has two: freshmen linemates Gustav Nyquist (10 goals, 18 assists for 28 points) and Brian Flynn (12 & 13).

“It’s going to be a huge test for us. But anything can happen in the playoffs,” said Maine sophomore center Tanner House.

lmahoney@bangordailynews.net

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