Iconic BU men’s hockey head coach Jack Parker’s retirement was put off for at least another night as his No. 17 Terriers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score five unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win over rival No. 4 BC in the nightcap of Hockey East semifinals. In the first game, No. 5 UMass Lowell held off No. 16 Providence 2-1. BU faces UMass Lowell Saturday night (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network) back at TD Garden.
After going 0 for 2 at the Beanpot in February, Parker couldn’t predict that his team would find itself here at the most important time yet over the last few weeks, they’ve responded both for their coach and for themselves. “I didn’t think we’d be here,” admitted Parker after the win. “We’ve played well down the stretch, now we have to win it for the seniors.”
What makes BU’s victory so meaningful (besides Parker’s pending retirement) is that they have to win the Hockey East tournament to gain entry into the NCAA Tournament field of 16. Freshman goaltender Sean Maguire (44 saves) allowed the Terriers to stay within range of the Eagles when their offense was non-existent through the first 30 minutes or so. BC built up a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal by Bill Arnold late in the first period then a tip in by Quinn Smith in the second period.
Evan Rodrigues sparked BU’s offense, getting them on the board after a spectacular move past two BC defensemen. Matt Lane tied it up with a backhander only 2:04 after that and the Terriers were off. Garrett Noonan’s one-timer on a power-play snuck by BC goaltender Parker Milner (21 saves) and gave BU a 3-2 lead after two. Danny O’Regan scored a pair of power-play goals to put it out of reach before Steven Whitney finally stopped BC’s run but it was too late. Rodrigues’ empty-netter clinched a rematch of the 2009 Hockey East Tournament final.
O’Regan is only a freshman but he realizes how special his coach is in terms of college hockey history. “We weren’t going to let him lose at the Garden to BC.” It’s going to take a similar effort, albeit more complete, to beat the River Hawks who are rolling after a Hockey East regular season title (the program’s first), a sweep of Maine in the quarterfinals followed by their win against Providence. O’Regan said that Maguire has been “unbelievable through the whole stretch, he’s the most competitive kid that I know.” You could say the same thing about Jack Parker who has a great chance to add to his incredible legacy on Saturday night.