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BU 1, UMass-Lowell 0

Gone to the dogs

Terriers win Hockey East championship

Mike Potacco (19) and the River Hawks had a number of close calls but couldn't find the net. Mike Potacco (19) and the River Hawks had a number of close calls but couldn't find the net. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / March 22, 2009
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Top-seeded Boston University was playing for the prestige of winning the Hockey East championship and the hopes of heading into next weekend's NCAA Regionals on a high note.

Fifth-seeded UMass-Lowell was fighting to keep its season alive.

Despite playing a terrific game, the River Hawks (20-16-2) were shut out in front of 13,130 at TD Banknorth Garden. It marked the first time in conference history that the final was decided by a 1-0 score in regulation.

It was the seventh Hockey East title for BU (31-6-4). There was one very sour note for the team, however. The Terriers lost sophomore forward Joe Pereira to a ruptured spleen and he was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital.

"I thought it was bizarre that the game wound up 1-0," said BU coach Jack Parker. "We lost a championship game to UNH [in 2003] in overtime [1-0].

"I don't think we were uptight with the puck, we were casual the whole night. In general, it wasn't a good start for us and it wasn't a good middle frame for us. I thought we played great in the third period in a lot of ways, but the best way was how well we did killing penalties. Our goaltending and our penalty killers won the game for us."

BU's only offense came at even strength with 1:22 remaining in the first period. Freshman defenseman David Warsofsky took a shot from the left point that UMass-Lowell junior goaltender Nevin Hamilton (31 saves) stopped. Senior left wing John McCarthy, positioned just outside the left post, got to the rebound and sent the puck at the net. It went across the crease, caromed off the right post, and bounced to senior right wing Brandon Yip, who rapped it home for his 19th goal of the season.

At 10:38 of the middle period, the River Hawks had a goal disallowed. There were so many players in the BU crease, it looked like a clown car. River Hawks junior defenseman Barry Goers had two whacks at the puck from the top of the crease, but was denied by freshman netminder Kieran Millan. With Yip and sophomore center Nick Bonino in the crease trying to help Millan, River Hawks junior center Ben Holmstrom took a shot from just outside the left post. Bonino was down on his hands and knees trying to block it, but the puck squirted underneath him.

There was no indication from the on-ice officials of whether it was a goal.

When play stopped, the officials called up to the replay booth, which concluded that the whistle had blown prior to the puck crossing the line. One source in the NESN booth, however, said that after numerous replays by the NESN staff, there was no sound of a whistle before the goal and that the goal should have counted.

UMass-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald said he couldn't help but think his team deserved a better fate.

"We heard a whistle but not, in our opinion, before the goal went in," said MacDonald, whose team was 0 for 7 on the power play.

The River Hawks continued their excellent play and had another scoring chance at 15:08 when freshman left wing Michael Budd tried to jam the puck in from just outside the right post, but Millan (32 saves) held him at bay, going on to win tournament most valuable player honors.

It was a disappointing end for the River Hawks.

"We can take the sting of tonight, we lost tonight, but we are winners," said MacDonald. "I don't think a lot of people, myself included, pictured us playing in the championship game against a team like BU and competing as well as we did.

"We had our chances to tie it and/or win the game [particularly in the final minute during a power play]. I thought we really got stronger and stronger as it went on. They made a one-goal lead hold up."

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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