Deja Vu All Over Again
Terriers Roll Over Mavericks, Will Meet Arch-Rival BC In Regional Final
by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor
WORCESTER, Mass. It was deja vu all over again.
No. 1 Boston University offered a reprise of its role from exactly one week ago, blowing past tournament rookie Nebraska-Omaha, 9-2, in the semifinals of the NCAA Northeast Regional.
The Terriers dispatched New Hampshire by the same score in the Hockey East semifinals seven days earlier.
As the game was developing, Maverick coach Mike Kemp knew he had seen this before — on videotape. The BU-UNH game was one of the tapes Kemp and his staff used to scout BU.
Little did they know, they would be living that nightmare themselves.
"We saw them snowball off that game against New Hampshire, it was very similar," Kemp said. "They were taking advantage of their opportunities. They'd come down, they were getting some great quality scoring chances. They were dominating play, getting their chances — the puck was finding a way to get in.
"It was very, very reminiscent, very similar, to watching that game."
On this night, the part of David Van der Gulik (hat trick vs. UNH) was played by Terrier freshman Chris Higgins, who set a regional record by scoring his three goals in a span of just 5:31 of the second period.
Just as Van der Gulik had done, Higgins snapped a 1-1 tie to give BU the lead for good with his first of the night.
"It was a scrum in front of the net, I just got a stick on it and put it in."
Higgins then added two more, sandwiched around a score by Kenny Roche, to break open a 3-2 game.
"Me and I think it was either Lawrence or Yip were down low, just cycling it, and Lawrence made a great pick for me," said Higgins. "I just came out and Yip went hard to the net and took his guy, which gave me room, and I just put it upstairs."
That goal came just :32 after Tomas Klempa had pulled the Mavericks within a goal. Higgins completed the trick less than two minutes later with his prettiest of the night, beating Maverick goaltender Jerad Kaufmann after steaming past defender Juha Uotila on a move right-to-left across the slot.
"Sean Sullivan made a great pass to me, and I came up one-on-one and slipped it through the guy, and got off a backhander that luckily went in," said Higgins.
BU scored many of its goals, including Bryan Ewing's two, by going hard to the net and dominating play down low, just as they did in whitewashing UNH.
"My hat's off to Boston University. I thought they did an excellent job in every phase of the game," said Kemp. "Their forecheck really kept us back on our heels. I thought they dominated the game down low, took advantage of us in the offensive end down low after the first period, and really took advantage of whatever their opportunities were."
"They played an excellent hockey game, and obviously they're a No. 1 seed for a very good reason."
In all, BU scored six goals in the second period, taking a 7-2 lead after two.
"We knew they could score a lot of goals," Higgins said. "At no point did we try to lay back. We just kept going at them."
"We saw them snowball off that game against New Hampshire. ... It was very, very reminiscent, very similar, to watching that game."
Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Kemp
Oddly enough, despite being in the midst of a streak that has seen them drop just one of their last 22 games (19-1-2), the Terriers have been making a habit of getting off on the wrong foot. BU has surrendered the first goal an unusual 22 times all season — including in both the Hockey East semifinals and championship game — yet in those games, the Terriers are 12-7-3.
That's the mark of a resilient team.
"We never get rattled," Higgins said. "If we give up the first goal, Coach just says, 'Relax, we've been in this situation hundreds of times. Just play your game.'
"So we don't let it bother us, we just come back out and try to answer."
BU's convincing win, along with BC's win in the nightcap, sets up yet another showdown between the Terriers and Eagles, this one in the regional final Saturday night at 6:00.
It might as well be high noon. Maybe they should rename the DCU Center the DCU Corral for the day. As in "Gunfight at the ...".
It will be the sixth time these two bitter rivals have met this season. And it will be the second time in a week and third time this season (Beanpot and Hockey East championship games) that they meet in a high-stakes, winner-take-all matchup.
BU has beaten BC four times in a row (4-1-0 this season). Things seem to be playing out the same way they did a week ago in the Hockey East Tournament. But Higgins and the Terriers say they're not expecting anything but another battle for the ages.
"We kind of had a little deja vu with UNH, but we knew that after that game, we just had to put that game behind us," Higgins said.
"It's going to be a tough game tomorrow night."