Bryan Rust beats Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko with 4.2 seconds to go in the second period to give Notre Dame the go-ahead goal in a 4-2 win on Sunday, in the decisive Game 3 of the Hockey East quarterfinals. (Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)
Top-seeded Boston College fell short of the Hockey East semifinals for the first time since 2004, dropping a 4-2 decision to Notre Dame in a deciding third quarterfinal game on Sunday afternoon at Kelley Rink.
With the win, the Irish (23-12-2) became the fifth No. 8 seed to advance to the Hockey East final four in its 30-year history, but the first since 2010 when Vermont won a pair of 1-0 games at New Hampshire. The Eagles (26-7-4) lost three times to Notre Dame over the course of their last four games.
Senior Bryan Rust’s goal with 4.2 seconds remaining in the second period proved to be the winner as the eighth-seeded Irish advanced to TD Garden in their inaugural Hockey East season.
Johnny Gaudreau was held off the scoresheet for just the second time this year, and the first time since Oct. 27 – a span of 135 days. Gaudreau's point streak included 29 goals and 61 points, and tied Paul Kariya's Hockey East record at 31 games.
Senior Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) opened the scoring for BC just 4:43 into the game, taking a pass from linemate Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) off an Irish turnover in their own end. At 11:31, the Irish leveled the score on Stephen Johns’ third goal of the series, a rebound that popped into the net over BC freshman Thatcher Demko.
After Sam Herr put Notre Dame ahead 4:10 into the second, Eagle captain Patrick Brown tied the score at 2-2 on a 5-on-3 advantage at 8:05, banging a rebound past Irish senior Steven Summerhays (30 saves) from the side of the net.
Rust took a pass from senior T.J. Tynan, his second assist of the day, and buried it for an easy finish on the winner in the final ticks of the second. Captain Jeff Costello added an insurance goal for good measure, his 13th of the season, at 18:08.
With BC’s loss, the Hockey East semifinals will not feature the Eagles or Boston University for the first time since 1988, and with Northeastern's loss, none of the three Boston teams will be in the final four group for the first time in league history. Notre Dame will open next Friday’s action at 5 p.m. against No. 2 UMass Lowell.
New Hampshire 5, Northeastern 4
In his final game at the Whittemore Center, senior Kevin Goumas scored his second career hat trick and added an assist as the Wildcats (21-17-1) advanced to the Hockey East semifinals with a victory over the traveling fifth-seeded Huskies (19-14-4). Senior Nick Sorkin opened the scoring for the Wildcats and was credited with three assists. Freshman Mike Szmatula scored twice for NU and junior Clay Witt made 21 saves in goal. UNH heads to the TD Garden for the first time since 2011 and will face Providence in the late game Friday night.
UMass Lowell 2, Vermont 1
Sophomores Christian Folin and A.J. White scored goals on special teams in the first period to lift the River Hawks (23-10-4) to victory over the pesky seventh-seeded Catamounts (20-14-3) at Tsongas Center. Folin scored while shorthanded on a shot that went through the UVM net, and White’s goal 15:43 into the game on a man-up situation proved to be the winner as UML avoided what would have been the second 2 vs. 7 upset in Hockey East playoff series history. Junior Jake Fallon’s goal gave the Cats some life at 17:46 of the second. Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck, last season’s playoff MVP, made 30 saves in the game. The Catamounts remain just inside the bubble for NCAA selection, but will await the results of conference tournaments to see if they make the cut.
Canisius 3, Bentley 2
Junior Mitch McCrank scored a goal in each period, including the winner at 8:52 of the third, to propel the seven-seed Golden Griffins (16-20-3) to the Atlantic Hockey final four for the second time in as many years with a win at Ryan Arena in Watertown, Mass. The Falcons (19-14-4) were in control with a 4-1 lead in the third period on Saturday night and watched their season fall short in the decisive third game. Brett Gensler scored and was credited with an assist in his final game for the Falcons, while Branden Komm made 29 stops in net.