Men’s Hockey Closes in on Hockey East Regular Season Title
By: JD Biagioni
Who: UMass Minutemen
Where: Amherst, MA
When: Thursday, February 15
Result: BC 5 – UMass 2
Coming off a last-place finish in the Beanpot tournament, trips to Amherst and Orono were just what the doctor ordered for BC. Four third period goals jetted the Eagles past UMass Amherst and clinched a bye for BC in the first round of the Hockey East tournament.
UMass took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of play. Stud defenseman Cale Makar broke the puck into the attacking zone and handed it off to Oliver Chau. Jake Gaudet crashed the net and Chau hit him in stride. Gaudet corralled the puck and snapped the puck past Joe Woll.
BC was able to even the score and quell the UMass momentum before too much time ticked off the clock. Connor Moore dumped the puck down low to JD Dudek for a one-timer. UMass goalkeeper Matt Murray blocked the shot aside, but the puck bounced across the net to Jacob Tortora’s stick. Tortora was able to roof the puck and knot the score.
At the game’s midway point, George Mika put the Minutemen back on top with an even strength backhander. UMass cycled the puck to John Leonard and Leonard fired on goal. Woll wasn’t able to corral the rebound and Mika was alone at the goalmouth to give UMass the 2-1 advantage.
As the clock started winding down, BC bombarded Murray with shots and found the back of the net four times. A David Cotton power play tally off a Logan Hutsko feed drew the Eagles back even. At 14:08, BC took its first lead of the game when a Jesper Mattila wrist-shot snuck past Murray’s blocker. Forty seconds later, Jesper’s brother Julius padded the lead with a goal similar to Jesper’s. Julius completed the Mattila hat trick with an empty-netter with 2:12 left to ice the game.
Number to know: 24 – Julius Mattila and Logan Hutsko are tied at 24 for the Eagles’ leading point-getter.
Who: Maine Black Bears
Where: Orono, ME
When: Saturday, February 17
Result: BC 5 – Maine 0
The shots were an even 33-33, but the Eagles blanked the Black Bears 5-0 in a Saturday evening tilt in Orono. BC jumped out to an early lead on a Casey Fitzgerald one-timer. Ron Greco poked the puck free in the far corner where Casey Carreau shoveled it along to Michael Karow at the left dot. Karow tapped the puck out to Fitzgerald at the blue line. Fitzgerald ripped the one-timer past the screened Maine goalkeeper Jeremy Swayman.
Midway through the first, Julius Mattila extended the Eagles’ lead when he crashed the net and hammered home a carom. Logan Hutsko chased down a loose puck and found David Cotton in between the dots. Cotton wristed the puck on net. Swayman stopped Cotton’s attempt, but Mattila was in perfect position to cash in on the rebound.
In the middle 20, BC only recorded one goal, which doesn’t seem like much considering it was sandwiched between two two goal frames. Right around the halfway point of the game, Chris Grando’s hustle play freed the puck for Greco. Greco sent the puck behind the Maine goal where it found a streaking Zach Walker for a quick release, top-shelf goal.
BC kicked things off early in the third, scoring off the opening draw. Michael Kim possessed the puck in the neutral zone and entered the attacking zone alongside Logan Hutsko. Kim fed Hutsko and Hutsko buried the puck, ending Swayman’s night in goal.
The fifth and final goal came with under two minutes to play. Maine was on the power play and pulled the goalie to have a 6-on-4 advantage. The Eagles defense disrupted the Black Bears attack. After a puck battle along the boards, Graham McPhee came away with the puck and sealed the game by tossing it into the empty net.
The Eagles rebounded well from a tough stretch of play, beating up on two teams that, frankly, they should beat. In doing so, the BC inched closer to a Hockey East regular season title. With two games to go (both against Maine), BC can control its destiny by taking at least two points before season’s end.
Number to know: 18 – years since BC shut out the Black Bears on Maine’s home ice.