BOSTON, Mass. - After a tightly contested first period in which both squads were tied at 2-2, the Boston College Eagles punched their third-consecutive ticket to the Hockey East championship contest in a 4-2 final over the Providence College Friars on Friday night in the first semifinal showdown at TD Garden.
Boston College and PC traded blows early as each club netted a pair within the first nine minutes of the game, but the Eagles dictated the tempt throughout and scored in the second and third period to overpower the Friars.
Paul Carey directed the scoring efforts for BC, tallying the first marker of the game and chipped in an assist while Chris Kreider accounted for a pair of assists as the Eagles' other multi-point scorer. Destry Straight and Steven Whitney also scored while Johnny Gaudreau's second period power play goal stood as the game-winner.
Barrett Kaib scored his first-career goal while Derek Army netted his 11th tally of the year for Providence. Army was PC's leading point scorer with the assist on Kaib's goal.
BC netminder Parker Milner stopped 27-of-29 shots to pick up his 24th victory of the season while Friars' goalie Alex Beaudry steered aside 30 shots in the losing effort. Boston College outshot PC, 34-29, on the night.
Boston College lit the scoreboard within the first two minutes of the contest on aggressive forechecking by Carey behind Beaudry. The puck dribbled behind the net off a scrum and Carey chased after it. Carey gathered it, shot around the near post and tucked it under Beaudry's pad for the quick 1-0 lead at 1:19 of the first period.
The Friars did not back down and Kaib sewed it up moments later with a rifle from the right circle at 2:28. Army kicked it out of PC's end and moved it up ice to Andy Balysky in front of the Eagles' net. Balysky triggered, but Milner made the initial stop, forcing the puck out to the right dot. Kaib skated in and blasted it to the back of the net for the Friars' first strike of the night.
Two minutes later, Army stripped Patch Alber in Providence territory and turned it up towards BC's end. Army threw the puck off the boards, weaved around his defender and beat Milner with a near side wrist shot beyond the right dot to take the 2-1 lead at 4:31 of the first stanza.
Straight scored the last tally of the first period at 8:35 on a three-man transition involving Kreider and Kevin Hayes. Kreider carried the puck through the neutral zone and slipped a short pass ahead to Hayes on the near post. Hayes took the shot in close, but the puck bounced off of Beaudry right out to Straight. Straight swept the disc right back in to tie it up, 2-2.
Daniel New was issued an interference call to start off the second stanza at 3:45 and the Eagles capitalized 13 seconds later on a nifty maneuver from Gaudreau. Kreider broke the puck free from the boards and sent it over to Carey for the touch. Carey hit Gaudreau on the far wall and the freshman baited Beaudry between the circles with a deke to his left. With the entire left side unstaffed, Gaudreau converted at 3:58 for the power tally and Boston College edge, 3-2.
Near the 7:00-minute mark of the second period, Isaac MacLeod picked off an outlet pass from Providence and rimmed it around the back of the net to Barry Almeida. Almost parallel with the near post, Almeida sniped it by Beaudry, but the goal was disallowed because of contact in the crease from S. Whitney.
During the closing moments of the second period, PC's Chris Rooney and BC's Bill Arnold created a 4-on-4 situation at 18:05 after a post-whistle fracas. Neither team converted with the less crowded ice as the Eagles held the 3-2 edge after 40 minutes of regulation.
After each club was denied a power play chance to initiate the third period, the Eagles extended their lead to two goals with a rebound from Whitney at 8:00 minutes.
Arnold broke up a play in the Friars' end along the near board and linked up with Almeida in stride. Almeida took his chance from the right circle, but Beaudry kick saved it out to the goalmouth. Unfortunately for him, Whitney was waiting on the far post to tuck it back in for the 4-2 cushion.
The Eagles maintained control throughout the duration of the stanza, and despite a PC timeout at 17:01 and an extra attacker, Boston College held on to punch its ticket to the 2012 Hockey East championship game against the winner of Boston University against Maine.
Boston College will try and make Hockey East history on Saturday night at the TD Garden against BU-Maine. No school has ever captured three-consecutive Hockey East tournament titles. The championship bout at TD Garden is set for Saturday, March 17, at 8:00 p.m.
Hockey East Semifinal #1
#1 Boston College 4, #7 Providence 2
Semifinal Postgame Notes
This is BC's third consecutive trip to the Hockey East championship game, where the team will be seeking a league-record third consecutive title. It is BC's 7th trip to the final in the last eight years, and 16th overall. The Eagles are 10-5 all-time in the championship game, including 5-1 over their last six appearances dating to 2005.
The Eagles are 3-8 all-time vs. BU in the Hockey East tournament, and have lost both meetings vs. the Terriers in the championship game, 9-4 in 1986 and 2-1 in 2006. Against Maine, the Eagles are 7-5 in Hockey East tournament play all-time, and have met the Black Bears six times for the title, most recently a 7-6 overtime victory for Boston College in 2010. The Eagles hold a 4-2 advantage in title game play vs. the Black Bears.
This will be the 20th time the No. 1 seed has advanced to the final. The No. 1 seed has won the tournament 13 times previously, most recently last season when No. 1 BC triumphed over No. 4 Merrimack , 5-3.
The win was Boston College's 14th in a row, breaking the previous Jerry York era record of 13 set in 2007. BC's seniors are now 13-1 in the Hockey East tournament over the past four seasons.
Providence College freshman defenseman Barrett Kaib's goal at 2:28 of the first period was his first collegiate goal. The blueliner has played 30 games for the Friars in just his first season. The goal also broke a scoreless streak of 156:38 for the Friars against the Eagles dating back to Dec. 6, 2011.
This was the first time a No. 7 seed has advanced to a semifinal in Hockey East tournament history and the first time since 2001 that Providence College has qualified for the semifinals.
Semifinal #1 BC Postgame Quotes (PDF Format)
Semifinal #1 PC Postgame Quotes (PDF Format)
Video: Postgame Interviews (YouTube)