The storybook ending for BU men’s hockey and Jack Parker didn’t come together as they hoped it would on Saturday night as they lost 1-0 to UMass Lowell in the Hockey East tournament final at TD Garden. Parker’s 40-year career as head coach of the Terriers ends agonizingly close to another title and NCAA Tournament berth. The River Hawks captured the first crown in school history thanks to junior right wing Derek Arnold’s clutch wraparound goal with 8:51 left in the third period. Freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (18-2-0) made 36 saves for the shutout and was named tournament MVP.
Afterwards, Parker seemed partly stunned that this was it, he admitted that he really hadn’t thought about it until before the game when he took a walking tour of the Garden (checking out the old Celtics gear, apparently he’s a big Celtics fan). “Both teams played extremely well and it wasn’t to be for us. I couldn’t have asked for more from the team this weekend (they beat BC 6-3 on Friday in the semifinals),” said Parker. “I think we’re better than some teams that will be in the tournament but there are three or four losses from the middle of the season that we’d like to have back.”
The Terriers (21-16-2) had to win the title to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament (announced tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on ESPNU) while the River Hawks were theoretically playing for the highest possible seed except this also meant so much to their rapidly improving program. Despite the lack of goals, there was plenty of action on both ends as BU freshman goaltender Sean Maguire (28 saves; 13-8-0) was also excellent. After UMass Lowell senior center Colin Wright hit the post midway through the third period. It looked like overtime would be needed to settle this rematch of the 2009 Final.
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Arnold had other plans though as he gathered the rebound of a deflected shot by Chad Ruhwedel off Scott Wilson’s skate, wheeled around BU’s goal and stuffed it in over Maguire’s glove. It was Arnold’s 12th goal of the season and undoubtedly the biggest of his life. For BU senior left wing and captain Wade Megan, it was a tough way to end both his collegiate career along with Parker’s illustrious stay on Commonwealth Avenue. “We showed the younger guys what it means to wear a BU uniform, we have a talented freshmen and sophomore class so they’re going to be really good the next few years. You can’t ask for more from Danny O’Regan or Evan Rodrigues (who were both named to the All-Tournament Team along with Bruins prospect Matt Grezelcyk).”