ORONO, Maine — Two years ago, Joey Diamond was having a typical freshman season with its share of ups and downs as he made the adjustment to college hockey.
Entering the Hockey East semifinals, he had six goals and two assists in 30 games.
But Diamond made a name for himself at the TD Garden in Boston, scoring a highlight-reel goal in the 5-2 win over Boston University in the semifinals and adding two goals and an assist, including the tying goal with 27 seconds left in regulation, in the 7-6 overtime loss to eventual national champion Boston College in the title game.
He was chosen to the All-Tournament team.
Diamond will return to the Garden for the first time Friday night when the 22-13-3 Black Bears, the fourth seed, square off against 23-13-1 Boston University Terriers, the third seed, in the Hockey East semifinals beginning at approximately 8 o’clock.
Top seed Boston College, 27-10-1 and winner of 13 straight, will take on seventh seed Providence College, 14-19-4, in Friday’s 5 p.m. opener.
Providence, under first-year coach and former University of Maine and Old Town High School assistant Nate Leaman, became the first seventh seed to ever reach the semifinals when it ousted No. 2 UMass Lowell in three games.
The championship game will be Saturday at 8 p.m.
Diamond has fond memories of his first trip to the Garden and he enters the game tied for third in the country in goals per game at 0.68. He has 23 goals in 34 games.
He said returning to the Garden “brings back some good memories. Scoring that first goal and, obviously, the tying goal against BC was pretty special.”
Now he is hoping to go a step further this season.
“It definitely feels like we belong there,” Diamond said. “Maine hockey deserves to be there. We wanted to be there last year but we didn’t make it.
“You have to work hard to get there. It’s such a tough league. Anything can happen. You saw that with three of the four quarterfinal series going to a third game,” Diamond said.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it,” Diamond added. “BU has a great team. It’s going to be a battle.”
Diamond is one of 11 Black Bears who played in that BU semifinal two seasons ago. Boston University has eight.
“It’s always fun to be there,” Maine senior center Brian Flynn said. “Just being in Boston and playing in that rink, you know you’re playing for something [special].”
“Most of us know what it’s going to be like down there,” Maine junior right wing Matt Mangene said. “This time, we want to get the job done. We want to bring the [Lamoriello] trophy back to Orono.”
The Terriers have been on a “roller-coaster ride pretty much the whole time” according to senior center and captain Chris Connolly, who was referring to the loss of three key players.
Two were arrested (center Corey Trivino and defenseman Max Nicastro) for alleged sexual assaults and the other, center Charlie Coyle, left to pursue a professional career.
The arrests led to BU forming a committee to explore the culture of the hockey program.
Connolly said the loss of the three players opened opportunities for other players and they’ve made the most of it.
“I’m very proud of the guys and they way they’ve stepped up,” Connolly said.
He said he expects a “football game on ice” against Maine.
BU beat Maine 5-1 in Orono on Dec. 10 but Maine avenged the loss with 4-2 and 3-1 victories at Agganis Arena Jan. 27-28.