MANCHESTER, N.H. — Let’€™s get this disclaimer out of the way now: The biggest reason Evan Rodrigues has 61 points, the second most in the country, is because he plays on a line with Jack Eichel, a once-in-a-generation talent who makes everyone around him better and who happens to lead the country with 67 points.

Rodrigues, however, is a pretty damn good player in his own right. There isn’€™t much that the 5-foot-11 senior left wing doesn’€™t do for Boston University. He’€™s smart defensively and serves as one of the Terriers’€™ top penalty-killers. He plays the point on BU’€™s lethal top power-play unit. And he has the skating, vision and creativity to create chances for both himself and his linemates.

Some of Rodrigues’€™ goals this season have been easy tap-ins off Eichel setups, and some of his assists have come from just giving the puck to Eichel and watching him go. But plenty of goals for that top line have been the product of Rodrigues’€™ own great plays.

Take the game-winner in Saturday’€™s Northeast Regional final against Minnesota-Duluth, for example. First Rodrigues drew a penalty with his work down low in the offensive zone. Then on the ensuing power play, he took a pass at the right point, walked in, made a great toe drag around a sliding defender and fired a shot through a screen that beat Kasimir Kaskisuo glove-side.

Rodrigues was a force all weekend in Manchester and was rightly named the regional’€™s most outstanding player. He scored two other goals in the two games there and also picked up the second assist on Danny O’€™Regan’€™s overtime winner against Yale on Friday, but you could argue that none of those were even among the top five plays he made on the weekend.

With BU on the penalty kill in the first period Friday, Rodrigues made a great play to pull up in the neutral zone and make a pass through to Cason Hohmann that resulted in a Yale penalty when Hohmann got hooked. Later in that period he made a nice 1-on-1 move around a Yale defender to set up O’€™Regan for a redirect that went just wide. Rodrigues also drew a late penalty in that game when he won a foot race against Rob O’€™Gara and forced O’€™Gara to take him down to prevent a scoring chance.

“He’€™s been electric all year,”€ BU captain Matt Grzelcyk said of Rodrigues. “€œEvery time he gets the puck it seems like he’€™s making a play. Everybody knows that he has the skills, but not everybody knows he is one of the hardest workers on the team and he really sets the tone for the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

Thanks in large part to Rodrigues’€™ skill and hard work, the Terriers are heading to the Frozen Four for the first time since they won it all in 2009. So far this has been as good of a senior season as Rodrigues could’€™ve hoped for, both from an individual perspective and a team perspective.

Rodrigues may not have known exactly what the ceiling was for himself or the team coming into this season, but he knew he wanted this year to be much better than his first three. He and Hohmann, the only two seniors who are regularly in the lineup for BU, have been through some of the program’€™s most trying seasons.

Their freshman season, 2011-12, was one of the darkest times in program history. Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro were both dismissed from the team that season after getting arrested two months apart (Trivino on charges of assault and battery and trespassing that he ultimately pleaded guilty to, and Nicastro on rape charges that ended up getting dropped).

Those arrests led to widespread criticism of the team and university and the formation of a task force that looked into every aspect of the program over the next year. The fact that the Terriers actually made the NCAA tournament in that 2011-12 season was completely overshadowed, and understandably so.

The 2012-13 season, played with the task force hanging over the team’€™s head, was free of off-ice incidents and Rodrigues finished third on the team with 34 points, but the Terriers missed out on the NCAA tournament after losing to UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East championship game. That spring featured one of the biggest changes in program history, as Jack Parker retired after 40 years behind the bench.

The 2013-14 season, the first with new coach David Quinn, saw the Terriers post one of their worst records in program history. They won just 10 games, the fewest by a BU team since 1963-64. They had very little depth and their top players all seemed to have career-worst seasons.

That included Rodrigues, who managed just five goals and 14 points. Quinn has been adamant that Rodrigues played well as a junior even though the points weren’€™t there. Still, Rodrigues knew he needed to do more as a senior — specifically, he needed to score more.

“After what we went through last year, coming into this year I knew I didn’€™t want my senior year of my career at BU to not be what I expected,”€ Rodrigues said. “I’€™ve been putting in as much work as I possibly can to make this a special season. I think I’€™ve just gained more and more confidence throughout this year.”

After three years of personal ups and downs, not to mention program low points that were out of his control, Rodrigues’€™ hard work and growing confidence has helped the Terriers get back to the level at which BU hockey is expected to be.

Rodrigues and the Terriers have already won the Beanpot and the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles after not winning any trophies in the previous three seasons. Now they’€™re two wins away from winning the most important trophy of all.

“€œLast year was the exact opposite of what BU hockey is,”€ Rodrigues said. “To get back to the Garden and into the Frozen Four for our senior year, you couldn’€™t cap it off any better way.”

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Boston University’€™s power play had been oh for its first seven tries in the Northeast Regional. It ended up 1-for-8, and the one sent them to the Frozen Four.

With 4:23 left in Saturday’€™s regional final against Minnesota-Duluth, the Terriers went on the man advantage. They created a number of good looks, but it appeared as though they may not capitalize on this one either. But then with time winding down on the power play, Matt Grzelcyk slid the puck over to Evan Rodrigues, who made a great toe drag around a sliding defender before firing through an Ahti Oksanen screen to give BU a 3-2 lead it wouldn’€™t relinquish.

The Terriers now head to the Frozen Four for the first time since they won the national championship in 2009. They’€™ll get to play in a building they’€™re familiar with, as this year’€™s Frozen Four is at the TD Garden. BU has already won the Beanpot and the Hockey East tournament on that ice this season.

After starting slow against Yale on Friday, the Terriers came out flying Saturday and took a 1-0 lead 7:17 into the game. Brandon Fortunato won a foot race to make a nice keep-in at the left point and chipped the puck toward the slot in the process. The puck landed perfectly for Evan Rodrigues, who whacked it past Kasimir Kaskisuo for his 20th goal of the season.

UMD started to get the better of play in the middle part of the first period, but Matt O’€™Connor made some nice saves to keep BU in the lead. His best save actually came about a minute before BU’€™s goal when Dominic Toninato found himself with a golden look from the slot after a BU turnover. O’€™Connor got his glove on the shot as he slid across the crease, though, and then Toninato put the rebound wide.

The Bulldogs got the better of the Terriers in the second period, outshooting them 13-6 in the frame. UMD tied the game at 1-1 just 37 seconds into the period when Willie Corrin’€™s drive to the net resulted in a massive pile-up in the crease. The puck eventually popped out to Willie Raskob, who ripped a slap shot into the yawning net before O’€™Connor could recover.

The Terriers retook the lead three minutes later, though. Chase Phelps, J.J. Piccinich and Matt Lane combined for a great forecheck and Piccinich ended up making a nice behind-the-back pass out front to Lane, who cut across the crease and slipped the puck inside the left post.

The lead lasted just four minutes, though, as UMD tied it at 2-2 on a goal O’€™Connor would love to have back. Kyle Osterberg sent a soft wrist shot toward the net from above the right circle and O’€™Connor badly misplayed it, as the puck bounced off his glove and trickled over the line.

After BU took the late 3-2 lead, UMD had some chances. The best came with 23 seconds left when Adam Krause fired from the lower right circle, but O’Connor came up with a huge save in traffic.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Boston College will not get to play in the Frozen Four in its home city. In a rematch of last year’s NCAA tournament opener (a 6-2 BC win), the Eagles saw the tables turned on them as Denver earned a 5-2 win in the East Regional opener in Providence, Rhode Island, ending the Eagles’ season.

Joey LaLeggia opened the scored for Denver with a power-play goal 4:48 into the game. BC tied the game with 3:09 left in the first when Michael Matheson ripped a slap shot into the top corner from the point.

Denver stole momentum back just before the end of the first, though, when Trevor Moore wristed a shot past a sliding Thatcher Demko with 6.9 seconds left in the period. The play was reviewed because Demko knocked the net off its moorings as he was sliding across, but the goal was upheld.

Neither team scored in the second period, but the Pioneers scored two goals just 59 seconds apart midway through the third to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Ryan Fitzgerald scored a power-play goal with 5:09 left in the game to cut the lead to 4-2, but that was as close as BC would get. Grant Arnold added an empty-netter for Denver with 1:13 to go, his second goal of the game.

The Eagles finish the season 21-14-3. Denver advances to Sunday’s East Regional final, where it will take on the winner of Saturday night’s game between Providence and Miami (Ohio).

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

On the surface, it may seem surprising that Boston University looked so jumpy early on in its NCAA first-round game against Yale on Friday. The Terriers have won every trophy they’€™ve played for this season. They’€™re the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional. In theory, they’€™d be playing with all the confidence in the world.

But these Terriers have made a habit of getting off to slow starts. It happened numerous times in the first half of the season. It happened in both the first round of the Beanpot against Harvard and in the Beanpot championship game against Northeastern. It happened again last Friday in the Hockey East semifinals against New Hampshire.

BU coach David Quinn and his players pointed to the team’€™s youth and some nerves when asked about the slow starts. The Terriers are the youngest team in college hockey, after all. They play eight freshmen most nights, and six of them are still just 18.

A handful of their early mistakes against Yale were committed by freshmen, so maybe youthful nerves really were the biggest culprit. That seems odd considering that the Terriers have already played four games at TD Garden in front of much bigger crowds than the one at Manchester’€™s Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, but as Quinn pointed out after the game, this was the team’€™s first true elimination game — the first one where if they had lost, there was no next game.

Regardless of the reason for yet another slow start, the important thing is that the Terriers once again overcame it, took control of the game and went on to win, this time beating Yale 3-2 in overtime.

It was evident throughout Friday’€™s game that BU was the better team. Even with all the sloppy play in the first, the Terriers still outshot Yale 11-6 in the period. The Bulldogs didn’€™t really get anything going in the way of sustained offense until BU gave them a pair of power plays in the second. Yale scored on the second and carried a 1-0 lead into the third period.

It seemed to take Yale finally scoring for the Terriers to really relax and start to play the way they’€™re capable of playing. As it turns out, they were capable of dominating play once they got going, even against Yale’€™s stingy defense (ranked No. 1 in the country coming in).

‘€œIt was funny, once they went up 1-0, I thought we just started playing better,’€ Quinn said. ‘€œIt was almost like the pressure was off. We’€™re a lot more comfortable being down than we are ahead for some strange reason, and I just thought after that we started playing.’€

The Terriers, who have been an excellent third-period team all season, outshot Yale 14-2 in the third period and got a pair of goals from Ahti Oksanen (on a rebound off an A.J. Greer shot) and Evan Rodrigues (on a bad-angle shot that Alex Lyon should have stopped) to take a 2-1 lead with 8:40 left in the game.

But BU wasn’€™t done overcoming adversity just yet. Yale tied the game back up with 6:48 to go when Cody Learned fed Frankie DiChiara for a shot from the slot. That didn’€™t deflate the Terriers, though. They kept the pressure on and that relentlessness paid off when they drew two penalties in the final three minutes of regulation.

They didn’€™t score on either power play, but that didn’€™t deflate them either. They ended up outshooting Yale 6-2 in overtime and found the winner 7:27 into the extra session when Danny O’€™Regan buried a rebound off Jack Eichel’€™s shot from the right point.

‘€œYou’€™re playing good hockey teams and you’€™re going to have to weather a storm,’€ Quinn said. ‘€œYou’€™re going to have to fight through a difficult shift. I thought we did a good job of that.

‘€œNo matter what the hump is, we’€™ve seemed to overcome it so far this year. We’€™re probably going to have a few bumps in the road in tomorrow night’€™s game no matter who our opponent is. That’€™s the way it’€™s going to be from here on in.’€

Friday’€™s game probably should have never gotten to overtime given the talent disparity between the teams that became apparent as the game went on, but at this time of the year, no one’€™s going to complain about any win, regardless of how they came by it.

Now the Terriers prepare for Saturday’€™s Northeast Regional final against either Minnesota-Duluth or Minnesota (most likely Minnesota-Duluth given that they lead 4-0 as of this posting). Those teams are better than Yale, especially offensively, and should be able to do more to make BU pay should it start slow again, so the Terriers better hope all those NCAA nerves are out of their system for good.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

It didn’t take long for the 2015-16 version of the Providence Friars basketball team to start taking shape.
In a move that was largely expected, redshirt junior forward Tyler Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y.) will graduate in May and has decided not to return for his final season of eligibility. Harris, who transferred to Providence in 2012 after spending his freshman season at N.C. State, sat out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. After playing 69 games over the last two seasons with the Friars, Harris has one season of eligibility remaining.

“I would like to wish Tyler all the best in his future endeavors,” coach Ed Cooley said. “Tyler helped us move our program forward over the last two years as we won the Big East title (2014) and made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances during his two seasons of competition.”

In 2014, Harris started all 35 games and averaged 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while helping the Friars capture the Big East title and make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. In 2015, Harris played in all 34 games, making 12 starts. He finished third on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (4.4 rpg). His contributions over the two seasons helped the Friars post a 45-24 mark and make consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989 and ’90.

Tweeted Harris Tuesday afternoon: I would like to thank all of the fans and supporters at Providence College for giving me such a great experience. For the best interest of my future I will not be coming back to Providence and will be playing somewhere else. I had countless amount of memories here and still want to keep my heart with Providence … for this is the place where I was able to achieve a Big East Championship and most importantly get my degree.

Blog Author: 
John Rooke

After capturing the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles, Boston University will be the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire, and face fourth-seeded Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota in the regional final Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Boston College and Providence, both of whom earned an at-large bid, will be in the East Regional in Providence, the Eagles as the three-seed and the Friars as the four-seed. BC will face second-seeded Denver Saturday at 3 p.m. and Providence will take on top-seeded Miami (Ohio) at 6:30 p.m. The two winners will meet in the regional final Sunday at 5 p.m.

Harvard, fresh off its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, is a three-seed in the Midwest Regional in South Bend, Indiana, and will take on second-seeded Nebraska-Omaha Saturday at 7:30 p.m. If the Crimson can win that game, they would face the winner of Minnesota State vs. RIT Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the regional final.

The fourth regional is in Fargo, North Dakota, where North Dakota will face Quinnipiac and Michigan Tech will take on St. Cloud State in the first round.

The winner from Manchester will face the winner from Fargo in one national semifinal, with the winners from Providence and South Bend facing off in the other.

Here is the full bracket:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1. Minnesota State vs. 4. RIT
2. Nebraska-Omaha vs. 3. Harvard

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1. North Dakota vs. 4. Quinnipiac
2. Michigan Tech vs. 3. St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
1. Boston University vs. 4. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 3. Minnesota

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1. Miami (Ohio) vs. 4. Providence
2. Denver vs. 3. Boston College

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

After capturing the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles, Boston University will be the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire, and face fourth-seeded Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota in the regional final Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Boston College and Providence, both of whom earned an at-large bid, will be in the East Regional in Providence, the Eagles as the three-seed and the Friars as the four-seed. BC will face second-seeded Denver Saturday at 3 p.m. and Providence will take on top-seeded Miami (Ohio) at 6:30 p.m. The two winners will meet in the regional final Sunday at 5 p.m.

Harvard, fresh off its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, is a three-seed in the Midwest Regional in South Bend, Indiana, and will take on second-seeded Nebraska-Omaha Saturday at 7:30 p.m. If the Crimson can win that game, they would face the winner of Minnesota State vs. RIT Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the regional final.

The fourth regional is in Fargo, North Dakota, where North Dakota will face Quinnipiac and Michigan Tech will take on St. Cloud State in the first round.

The winner from Manchester will face the winner from Fargo in one national semifinal, with the winners from Providence and South Bend facing off in the other.

Here is the full bracket:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1. Minnesota State vs. 4. RIT
2. Nebraska-Omaha vs. 3. Harvard

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1. North Dakota vs. 4. Quinnipiac
2. Michigan Tech vs. 3. St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
1. Boston University vs. 4. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 3. Minnesota

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1. Miami (Ohio) vs. 4. Providence
2. Denver vs. 3. Boston College

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

While Jack Eichel was busy wowing everyone in Hockey East, Jimmy Vesey was doing the same in the ECAC. The North Reading native and Nashville Predators draft pick scored twice to lead Harvard to its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, as the Crimson beat Colgate 4-2 in Lake Placid in Saturday night’s conference championship game.

With the win, the Crimson qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. They will find out where they’re going and who they’re facing Sunday at noon when the bracket is announced.

Vesey opened the scoring 12:22 into the game, but Colgate’s Darcy Murphy tied it three minutes later. Vesey struck again early in the second period with a power-play goal, and Patrick McNally added another power-play tally later in the period to make it 3-1.

John Lidgett cut the lead to 3-2 with 7:43 left in the game, but that was as close as Colgate would get. Colin Blackwell sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

Vesey now has 31 goals on the season, four more than anyone else in the country. His 1.58 points per game are second only to Eichel. He was at his best in the ECAC tournament, finishing with nine goals and four assists in seven games.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

While Jack Eichel was busy wowing everyone in Hockey East, Jimmy Vesey was doing the same in the ECAC. The North Reading native and Nashville Predators draft pick scored twice to lead Harvard to its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, as the Crimson beat Colgate 4-2 in Lake Placid in Saturday night’s conference championship game.

With the win, the Crimson qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. They will find out where they’re going and who they’re facing Sunday at noon when the bracket is announced.

Vesey opened the scoring 12:22 into the game, but Colgate’s Darcy Murphy tied it three minutes later. Vesey struck again early in the second period with a power-play goal, and Patrick McNally added another power-play tally later in the period to make it 3-1.

John Lidgett cut the lead to 3-2 with 7:43 left in the game, but that was as close as Colgate would get. Colin Blackwell sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

Vesey now has 31 goals on the season, four more than anyone else in the country. His 1.58 points per game are second only to Eichel. He was at his best in the ECAC tournament, finishing with nine goals and four assists in seven games.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

UMass-Lowell’€™s reign as Hockey East tournament champions is over. Jack Eichel registered two goals and an assist as top-seeded Boston University ended the River Hawks’€™ hopes for a three-peat with a 5-3 win at TD Garden in Saturday night’€™s conference championship game. It is the Terriers’ first Hockey East tournament title since 2009 and eighth overall.

The Terriers, who also won the Hockey East regular-season title, outscored their opponents 20-6 in four Hockey East tournament games and locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with Saturday’€™s win. They will head to either Manchester or Providence for next weekend’€™s regionals. The bracket will be announced Sunday at noon.

The River Hawks’€™ season is over with the loss, as they did not do enough during the regular season to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. It is the first time they have missed NCAAs during Norm Bazin’€™s four years behind the bench.

Eichel now has 66 points (24 goals, 42 assists) on the season. That is the most by any freshman since Maine’€™s Paul Kariya in 1992-93 and the most ever by a BU freshman, as he passed Dave Silk and Mark Fiddler on Saturday. The Hobey Baker favorite has nine goals and 17 assists during a 12-game point streak, including six goals and five assists in four Hockey East tournament games.

The Terriers took a 1-0 lead 13:08 into the game with a power-play goal. Eichel entered the zone and made a pass over to Matt Grzelcyk that was partially deflected, but it still reached Grzelcyk, who buried it blocker-side for his 10th goal of the season. Three of those goals have come at TD Garden — where his father is a longtime bull gang worker — as he also scored twice in the Beanpot championship game.

BU appeared to score again just 41 seconds later when Nikolas Olsson collected a loose puck and beat Kevin Boyle glove-side. The goal was overturned after a video review, though, because Matt Lane, who was the first Terrier to the puck, had entered the zone offsides by half a step.

The no-goal could have been a momentum swing in Lowell’€™s favor, but Eichel put an end to that theory just over a minute later with one of the best plays he’€™s made in a season full of great plays. Eichel carried the puck down the right wing, made a great move inside Dylan Zink as Zink went for the hit and then slid the puck under a sliding Joe Gambardella and through Boyle’€™s legs for his 23rd goal of the season.

The River Hawks responded well, though, and cut the lead to 2-1 on a power-play goal with 1:50 left in the first. Tommy Panico fired a shot from the point that produced a rebound that Joe Gambardella gathered right in front and flipped past Matt O’€™Connor.

BU regained its two-goal lead 5:38 into the second when Cason Hohmann took a pass from A.J. Greer on a two-on-one and held the puck before beating Boyle five-hole. It was Hohmann’€™s fourth goal in four Hockey East tournament games.

Lowell nearly cut the lead to 3-2 on a power play midway through the second when the puck popped out to Zack Kamrass in the slot, but O’€™Connor made a great sliding glove save to rob Kamrass. The Terriers then made it 4-1 on another two-on-one in the final minute of the period. Olsson fed Grzelcyk, who then sent it right back to Olsson for an easy finish.

The River Hawks cut the lead to 4-2 with 13:13 left in the game when Michael Fallon fed Michael Kapla for a shot that beat O’€™Connor blocker-side, but then Eichel scored again with 5:17 left in the game when he raced down the right wing and beat Boyle five-hole to make it 5-2. Michael Louria cut the lead to 5-3 with 3:08 to go, but that was as close as Lowell would get.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin