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Boston and Union set for Friendship finale



Kept out: University of Connecticut’s Kale Howarth is thwarted by BU netminder Jake Oettinger

Kept out: University of Connecticut’s Kale Howarth is thwarted by BU netminder Jake Oettinger

Kept out: University of Connecticut’s Kale Howarth is thwarted by BU netminder Jake Oettinger

Boston University and Union College will contest the final of the Friendship Four at the SSE Arena in Belfast tonight after they won yesterday's semi-finals.

BU defeated Hockey East rivals the University of Connecticut in the evening game, triumphing in a tight 3-2 contest, while Union needed a shoot-out to overcome Yale University in the ECAC match-up following a tense 1-1 tie after overtime.

It means BU's Terriers and Union's Dutchmen will face-off in tonight's Championship match for the Belpot Trophy at 7pm, while the UConn Huskies will take on Yale's Bulldogs in the Consolation match at 3pm.

In front of a packed SSE Arena, which was full for both games, fans were treated to two cracking college hockey matches that featured some of the best young talent in the game.

For Boston University it was an impressive victory as twice they came from behind to take the win over a resilient UConn team, riding 39 saves from netminder Jake Oettinger to reach today's final.

Having fallen behind after 5:20 to Karl El-Mir's finish following a rebound off a shot from Alexander Payusov, the Terriers fought their way back into the game and levelled proceedings at 14:46 when Mark Cheretema grabbed a goal on the powerplay.

However, the Huskies led at the first intermission when leading points scorer Jachym Kondelik grabbed a second at 18:00, flicking a rebound over Oettinger after he batted away Philip Nyberg's initial drive.

Back came BU though, and once again they drew level at 28:55, this time Logan Cockerill the goalscorer after good work from Patrick Harper.

And they deservedly booked their place in the Championship game when, after some sustained pressure in the UConn zone, Ty Amonte took the give from Cheretema behind the net and forced the puck through netminder Adam Huska's five-hole for the game winner.

Although the day's early game wasn't quite as high scoring, it didn't lack for entertainment either as it needed penalty shots to separate Union and Yale in a thrilling contest.

Indeed, the action got under way after just 1:48 when Sam Morton won the puck in his own zone and fed Jake Adams with a stretch pass that allowed the winger to beat netminder Corbin Kaczperski with a well-placed wrist shot from the right circle.

At the other end, Darion Hanson was in inspired form, denying Graham Lillibridge from the right circle before the first intermission break.

Both sides had excellent chances to find the twine at the start of the second period, and Hanson again came to Union's rescue when he produced an excellent stick check to deny Kevin O'Neil on the wraparound.

But, after receiving a warning at the start of the third period when he just managed to keep out Charlie Curti's ripper of a one-timer from the high slot, Hanson was finally to be beaten on the last of a string of powerplay chances for Yale.

Again it was Curti with the shot, this time the defenceman redirecting a shot in the slot that looped over the netminder and into the top corner at 51:32.

That took the game into overtime, and it was nearly settled after 15 seconds when Anthony Rinaldi was inches away from diverting Sebastian Vidmar's pass in at the crease, while Robbie DeMontis had a shot well saved by Hanson.

But with the league points shared - NCAA games end in ties after overtime - it went to a shoot-out to determine who went into the final, and it was decided when Adams once again found the net with his effort.

Belfast Telegraph