MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP/CBS) — Getting sent home from the NCAA Tournament rarely is a good thing.
For Boston University, it’s ideal.
The Terriers beat Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 on Saturday night to win the Northeast Regional and secure a berth in the Frozen Four a few miles from campus at Boston’s TD Garden.
“I couldn’t cap it off any better way,” said Evan Rodrigues, who scored with 2:24 left in the third period to break a 2-all tie and send the Terriers back to the Frozen Four for the first time in six years.
Rodrigues, one of three seniors on the Terriers’ roster, had two goals and Matt Lane also scored as top-seeded BU (27-7-5) won its seventh straight and — more importantly — extended the season.
BU reached the Frozen Four for first time since winning its fifth national title in 2009. It’s the 22nd time the Terriers have reached the national semifinals but first under coach David Quinn, the former BU player and assistant who took over the program two years ago when Jack Parker retired after 40 seasons.
“We certainly understand that our work isn’t done yet, but we’ll think about that after these next few days because these guys deserve to enjoy what they just experienced,” Quinn said. “I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded. It was kind of like a heavyweight fight.”
The No. 2 seed Bulldogs (21-16-3) tied it twice after falling behind 1-0 and 2-1, but Rodrigues didn’t leave them much time to rally again.
Rodrigues took a crossing pass from Matt Grzelcyk, hesitated just long enough to get the defense out of position and clear the way for a shot from the right circle that beat Duluth goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo.
“As soon as I passed it to him I really wanted him to shoot it because he seemed wide open. But he made a great play and just a great shot after that,” Grzelcyk said. “It seems like every time he gets the puck he’s making a play.”
Willie Raskob and Kyle Osterberg scored for the Bulldogs. Duluth pulled its goalie for the final 1:40 but the extra skater was no help against Matt O’Connor, who finished with 27 saves and was swarmed by his teammates after the buzzer.
“I thought we did what we do best,” Quinn said. “We played a great third period. We were relentless. We were smart and we just did the things we needed to do to win an incredibly important hockey game to extend our season.”
BU went on the power play when Duluth’s Andy Welinksi was called for holding with 4:23 left in the third. Welinksi was just one second away from coming out of the penalty box when Rodrigues scored the game-winner.
“It’s just unfortunate it has to end on … that,” Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. “For all the great chances they had, I would have liked to see them just continue to let the kids play and decide the game.”
Raskob tied it at 1-all 37 seconds into the second period on a slap shot. The Terriers regained the lead on Lane’s goal with 16:28 left in the period off a behind-the-back pass from J.J. Piccinich from behind the net.
Osterberg tied it again on a long wrist shot that O’Connor nearly stopped, but he batted the puck in the air and it continued across the goal line as Jared Thomas swooped in for a potential rebound.
The Frozen Four will be held at the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday, April 9. Providence will take on Omaha in the first semifinal game at 5 p.m., with BU facing off against North Dakota in the other semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. With Providence also making the Frozen Four, this marks the first time the Hockey East has had two teams in the Frozen Four since 2009.
The winners of the two semifinals will play in the title game on Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m.
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