It was a wild night of scoreboard watching Friday as college hockey fans tried to follow the tightly contested race in Hockey East.
Providence earned a 3-0 shutout of UMass-Lowell at Tsongas Center, tying the Friars with the River Hawks for first place in the league. The loss ended UMass-Lowell’s winning streak at seven games, while putting the title on the line Saturday night at Schneider Arena. It would be the first regular-season championship in Hockey East for either team.
In Vermont, Boston College settled for a 4-4 tie with the Catamounts at Gutterson Fieldhouse to give the Eagles 31 points and putting them in a tie for third with New Hampshire, which lost to Maine, 4-3.
Merrimack won in overtime, beating UMass, 4-3. The Warriors remain in sixth place, while the Minutemen were kept from a playoff berth for the first time since 2002.
Meanwhile, before 2,987 at Matthews Arena, Boston University got the best of Northeastern, 4-2, as the Terriers (17-15-2, 14-10-2) retained their spot in fifth place. Northeastern (9-20-4, 5-17-4) will be unable to get out of the Hockey East basement.
“Both teams are missing a lot of bodies, but the guys that are out on the ice are working like heck,’’ said BU coach Jack Parker. “Hats off to Northeastern for how hard they worked and they didn’t have anything to go for. We’re still looking to get home ice.’’
Five NU seniors played their last home game — Vinny Saponari, left wing Robbie Vrolyk, left wing Steve Morra, defenseman Drew Ellement, and goaltender Chris Rawlings.
The Terriers were without freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor, who was having a fine rookie season. Last Saturday morning, O’Connor was having trouble breathing, so the team held him out of the lineup for the game with Vermont. When he went to get checked out by doctors, it was discovered he had suffered a collapsed lung.
O’Connor had a procedure to fix the problem, but it didn’t take so he had another procedure to reinflate the lung Thursday. He will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
On Friday night, fellow freshman Sean Maguire was between the pipes and improved his record to 9-7-0.
The visiting Terriers scored a pair of goals in the opening period and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Terriers senior right wing Jake Moscatel, who was playing in his 10th career game, potted his first collegiate goal to give BU the lead at 12:19. Moscatel collected a rebound just outside the right post and rapped it past Rawlings.
Senior captain Wade Megan, who will play his final regular-season game at Agganis Arena on Saturday, doubled the Terriers’ lead at 16:55. Megan’s shot from the left circle trickled between Rawlings’s pads and rolled into the net.
The Huskies cut the deficit in half in the late going.
With 1.2 seconds remaining, junior center Cody Ferriero drove through the left circle, cut to the net, and lifted a shot past Maguire for his 12th goal of the season.
After a scoreless second, the Terriers created breathing room in the early part of the third.
At 2:14, junior left wing Matt Nieto made a nifty pass from the left circle to freshman center Danny O’Regan in the slot. O’Regan found an opening on Rawlings and his 13th goal of the season made it 3-1.
O’Regan has 31 points, and Parker said he’s the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Tony Amonte in 1989-90.
BU added a fourth goal at 5:28 when freshman left wing Matt Lane beat Rawlings from the doorstep.
At 7:28, Northeastern pulled to within two on a tally by sophomore right wing Adam Reid.
The victory came at what could be a pretty high price for BU.
Junior defenseman Garrett Noonan left the game at 1:36 of the second period. According to Parker, Noonan suffered a severe shoulder separation.
“My trainer thinks he’s out for the year and will probably need an operation,’’ said Parker. “Sometimes they strap it down and sometimes they don’t, but it’s a pretty severe separation.”