CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Matt Brown's goal 12 minutes into the second overtime capped a pair of late game comebacks to lift seventh-seeded UMass Lowell to a stunning 6-5 win over top-seeded Boston College in the semifinals of the 36th annual Hockey East Championship Friday afternoon at Kelley Rink. The overtime goal capped a thrilling finish in which the River Hawks rallied from a three-goal third period deficit and trailed by one with 1:26 left in regulation.
The River Hawks (10-8-1) advance to the Saturday's final for the sixth time in the last eight tournaments and will bid for their fourth title, the last in 2017. They are the second seventh seed to play for the championship, also tying as the lowest ever.
Brown fired one home from the mid-slot cashing in a pass by Seth Barton to end the double-overtime contest. Lucas Condotta started the play with a strong play at center ice, carrying the puck into the BC zone. Goaltender Henry Welsch backboned the UML comeback making 19 of his 34 saves in the two extra sessions, allowing just one third period goal over the last 52 minutes of action.
In the wild third period with UMass Lowell trailing 4-1, Reid Stefanson started the rally cutting the deficit in half beating Knight with a hard wrist shot at 10:25, capping an early stretch of nearly nine minutes of play without a whistle. Brown and Chase Blackmun would pick up assists. On a delayed penalty, UML's Andres Lee made it a one-goal game at 15:33 blasting one in, also from the high slot, after Blackmun won a puck battle along the right boards. Just 1:06 later Condotta completed the three-goal comeback beating Knight inside the near post with an assist to Lee. The power play goal tied it at 4-4, and was UML's first in six attempts with an extra skater.
Matt Boldy, on BC's second power play of the contest, set up captain Marc McLaughlin with 2:07 left in regulation to give the Eagles a brief 5-4 edge. Then with the goalie out for an extra attacker, the River Hawks rallied yet again 41 seconds later to force overtime. It was defenseman Anthony Baxter tallying his second of the game and third of the season, all in the playoffs, with a low bullet from the blue line with assists from Charlie Levesque and Sam Knoblauch at 18:34.
Both teams came out skating hard at the start and BC's Marshall Warren opened the scoring 7:34 into the first with his third of the season. Warren, a defenseman who joined the rush down the left side, rapped home a nice cross-ice feed from Boldy with Alex Newhook also getting an assist on the nice three-way passing play.
Boston College expanded its lead with three second period goals. Taking advantage of a River Hawks turnover at the BC line, three Eagles would break in alone on Welsch with Mike Hartman made it 2-0 converting a feed from Boldy at 6:44. After the BC defense held stopped a UMass Lowell scoring opportunity. Newhook would make it 3-0 at 12:40 drilling home a nifty feed from behind the cage from Hartman.
Just 21 seconds later, defenseman Anthony Baxter snapped one past BC goalie Spencer Knight to get UMass Lowell on the board. The goal was Baxter's second of the campaign, both coming in the postseason. Newhook would answer with his second of the game and seventh of the year to make it 4-1 with 1:13 left in the frame, again set up by Boldy.
Both teams had solid chances in the overtimes. BC had a 13-8 advantage in shots in the first overtime that saw two River Hawks shots rattle off the post and the Eagles had a goal disallowed after a video review. UMass Lowell out-shot Boston College 49-36 for the 92-minute contest with a 35-20 edge in regulation.
Newkirk and Boldy each tied all-time tournament single-game records in the defeat. Newkirk scored twice and added three assists and his five points equaled several others for the most in one game. Boldy finished with four assists to tie two others for the single-game assist mark, and he's the first with four helpers in a semifinal.
Knight finished with 43 saves for the Eagles who will await a certain at large selection to the NCAA tournament. Each team had a power play goal in the fast-paced game, UML in six attempts with BC going one-for-two.
Saturday's title game will be held at the highest remaining seed and will face off at 7 p.m. (TV-NESN). With all tournament games at the home sites of the higher seeds this season, it marked the first time the semifinals were held at a campus site since 1990, also at Conte Forum's Kelley Rink at Boston College. Until this year, the semis and final had been held at either the old Boston Garden or at TD Garden in Boston.