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After bulldogging their way through the NCAA Northeast Regional, the Boston University men’s ice hockey Terriers are heading back to TD Garden. This time, it’s for a chance at the national title.
The Terriers became the first team to punch a ticket to this year’s Frozen Four thanks to a power-play goal by Evan Rodrigues (SMG’15) with 2:24 remaining in regulation, giving BU a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA Northeast Regional final on Saturday, March 28, at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. It was Rodrigues’ 61st point this season.
Rodrigues, who also scored the first goal of the game, toe-dragged around a Bulldog defender in the right circle and beat freshman goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo glove side with a wrister for the late winner.
Duluth erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before the middle of the second period. The teams went scoreless for more than 30 minutes before Rodrigues, named the Northeast Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, sent the Terriers to their 22nd Frozen Four, where they will face West Regional champion North Dakota in the first round of the Frozen Four on April 9.
“I can’t tell you how proud and happy I am for every guy on our team,” says David Quinn (CAS’89), who became the first head coach in program history to win his first two NCAA tournament games. “We know there’s a big challenge ahead of us, but we’re certainly going to enjoy this over the next few days.”
Matt Lane (SMG’16) also scored for the Terriers, who extended their win streak to seven games and improved to 27-7-5 on the season. In goal, Matt O’Connor (SMG’16) recorded 27 saves to push his stellar record on the year to 24-3-4. Kaskisuo also made 27 saves, as the Terriers edged Duluth in shots, 30-29.
The decisive power-play chance was earned thanks to a drawn penalty by Rodrigues behind the UMD goal. Captain Matt Grzelcyk (COM’16) and Danny O’Regan (COM’16) both assisted on the game-winner and the two joined Rodrigues on the All-Regional Team, along with Kaskisuo and Willie Raskob, who scored Duluth’s first goal.
The Terriers got on the board first just 7:17 into the contest when Brandon Fortunato (CAS’18) kept the puck in the zone at the left point and chipped it to Rodrigues, who swung his stick at the puck from between the hashmarks and found the back of the net, for his 20th goal and 60th point of the season.
Each team recorded 11 shots in the opening period before the Terriers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Duluth’s first equalizer came on its first scoring chance of the second.
From the right point, Raskob caught O’Connor out of position and had plenty of net to work with before scoring to make it 1-1 just 37 seconds into the second period.
Lane allowed BU to regain the lead less than three minutes later when J. J. Piccinich (CGS’16) spotted him crashing the net at the right crease. The pass from the behind the net was perfectly placed, allowing Lane to stretch out and push the puck off the left post and in for his eighth tally of the season.
The Bulldogs (21-16-3) came back once again, however, when Kyle Osterberg started a rush and flung the puck on net soon after getting into the BU zone. O’Connor was unable to handle the puck, and it trickled past him to make it 2-2 at 7:31 of the second.
BU held a 13-5 shot advantage in the third period and got the winning goal off its second power play of the contest. The Terriers did not allow the Bulldogs’ power play to take the ice the entire night.
A version of this article originally appeared on the BU Athletics website.